Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Add your Article

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

Copyright 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

More articles at