ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Scientists ID New Genes Tied to Crohn's Disease
CANCER
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
DASH Diet Has Extra Benefits for Women's Health
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
EYE CARE, VISION
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
FITNESS
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
New Methods Could Speed Production of Flu Vaccines
Week of Historic Senate Hearings on Integrative Medicine May Open New Doors
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
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

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