ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
CANCER
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Poor Women Seem to Be Skipping Breast Cancer Drugs
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
5 Reasons why you could gain weight while dieting
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Blueberry Drink Protects Mice From Obesity, Diabetes
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
EYE CARE, VISION
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
FITNESS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Showerheads Harbor a Bounty of Germs
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
The Unmedicated Mind
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
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
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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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