Natural Remedies for IBS: Do They Work?
Should you use complementary health remedies to combat Irritable Bowel Syndrome? The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), part of the National Institutes of Health, offers an overview:
There is some preliminary evidence that suggests these microorganisms may improve symptoms of IBS; however, benefits have not been conclusively demonstrated, and not all probiotics have the same effects. The American College of Gastroenterology said last year that “taken as a whole, probiotics improve global symptoms, bloating, and flatulence in IBS.” At the same time, the NCCIH experts say, they can’t make recommendations for the use of probiotics because there isn’t enough reliable data.
The side effects are minor or nonexistent for healthy people, experts say. But underlying health problems, such as weakened immune systems, can cause serious complications, including infections.
According to the NCCIH, some studies have indicated that hypnotherapy could be of use for IBS, including gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety, depression, disability, and health-related quality of life. But the American College of Gastroenterology says the quality of evidence supporting the use of hypnotherapy is “very low,” the NCCIH experts say.
The NCCIH says hypnosis directed at treating IBS is generally considered safe and tolerable among children and adults when led by licensed hypnotherapists with special training in this technique.
The experts acknowledge that there is some evidence that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules may be modestly efficacious, in the short-term, in reducing several common symptoms of IBS, especially abdominal pain, bloating, and gas. It’s not yet known whether peppermint oil is effective in the long term. Additionally, the quality of evidence is seen as just “moderate.”
Herbs and homeopathic medicine have been tested less frequently and have shown even less evidence of effectiveness.
The best thing you can do, if you think you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is to consult your health-care practitioner for more mainstream options.