ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
CANCER
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
Functional Foods Uncovered
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Hairspray Exposure Ups Risk for Birth Defect in Sons
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
EYE CARE, VISION
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
FITNESS
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Health Gains From Lowered Smoking Rates in Jeopardy
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
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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