ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Bone Loss Stable on Restricted Calorie Diet
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Scientists ID New Genes Tied to Crohn's Disease
CANCER
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
CAREGIVING
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
Organ Donation Policies Vary Among Children's Hospitals
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating your way to Good Health
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Main Ingredients in Household Dust Come From Outdoors
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
EYE CARE, VISION
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
FITNESS
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
As Temperature Plummets, It's Still Safe to Exercise
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Drink Away Dementia?
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
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Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- For some patients, the best therapy for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be older, cheaper drugs such as fiber, antispasmodics and peppermint oil, a new study finds.

According to researchers, these simple treatments have fallen out of favor because of the availability of newer (and more expensive) drugs, some of which have been taken off the market due to safety concerns.

But more traditional therapies should become first-line treatments in guidelines for the treatment of IBS, the experts say.

"IBS can be difficult for physicians to treat," noted lead researcher Dr. Alex Ford, from McMaster University, Health Sciences Centre in Ontario, Canada.

"New drugs are always being developed, but recent ones such as alosetron and tegaserod have been withdrawn, and are now only available on a restricted basis, and renzapride has not been shown to be effective," he said. On the other hand "older drugs, which are cheap, safe, and in some cases available over the counter, appear to be effective in IBS."

The report is published in the Nov. 14 online edition of the BMJ.

As many as 45 million Americans may have IBS, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders reports. Between 60 percent and 65 percent of IBS sufferers are women.

In addition to pain and discomfort, people with IBS experience chronic or recurrent constipation or diarrhea -- or bouts of both. While the exact cause of the condition isn't known, symptoms seem to result from a disturbance in the interaction of the gut, brain and nervous system, according to the foundation.

For the study, Ford's team reviewed trials that compared IBS treatment with fiber antispasmodics and peppermint oil to a placebo or no treatment. The trials included more than 2,500 IBS patients.

The researchers found that fiber, antispasmodics and peppermint oil were effective treatments for IBS. Specifically, that meant that to prevent IBS symptoms in one patient, 11 needed to be treated with fiber, five with antispasmodics, and 2.5 with peppermint oil.

There were no serious side effects associated with any of these treatments, the researchers note.

Peppermint oil appeared to be the most effective therapy of those reviewed, the researchers found.

In trials comparing fiber with placebo, insoluble fiber such as bran was not effective. Instead, only soluble fiber, such as ispaghula husk, reduced symptoms. For antispasmodics, the most effective was hyoscine. This should be used first among antispasmodics, Ford's group advised.

"Physicians, particularly those in primary care, who are being asked to take increasing responsibility for the management of IBS, should consider the use of these agents as first-line therapies for IBS," Ford said.

Dr. Roger Jones, from Kings College London and author of an accompanying journal editorial, welcomed the study.

"These treatments might be slightly more effective than recently thought and they are worth trying," Jones said.

For some patients with pain and diarrhea the antispasmodics may be useful. Patients with constipation should try fiber and for other patients, peppermint oil may be helpful, Jones said.

"If you have IBS which is not under reasonably good control or you are not happy with your symptom profile, you should see your primary-care doc or gastroenterologist for review and perhaps remind them that there is new evidence about the effectiveness of these traditional medicines and you would like to give it a go," Jones said.

"Alternatively, if you feel sufficiently well-informed and confident, you can go do it yourself and get these treatments at the pharmacy," Jones added.

More information

For more information on IBS, visit the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.



SOURCES: Alex Ford, M.D., McMaster University, Health Sciences Centre, Ontario, Canada; Roger Jones, M.D., Kings College London, London; Nov. 14, 2008, BMJ, online

Last Updated: Nov. 14, 2008

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