IBS: Herbal relief for IBS symptoms

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Ancient healers in the mountains of Tibet once treated digestive disorders with an herbal formula, handed down through generations and still in use today as a treatment for constipation.

According to a new review of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) research, this Tibetan formula may help IBS patients relieve some of their most irritating chronic symptoms.

Digestive relief from Asia

Dr. Jianping Liu of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine recently lead a team of researchers who analyzed 75 published studies that tested the effectiveness of dozens of individual herbs and herbal formulas in the treatment of IBS. Nearly 8,000 IBS patients participated in the combined studies.

Researchers concluded that most of the studies were poorly designed. For instance, many of the studies conducted in China were not placebo controlled because Chinese researchers generally consider placebo use unethical.

Coincidentally, however, Chinese herbal formulas known as STW 5 and STW 5-II (the commercial name is Iberogast) were found to provide a significant improvement in IBS symptoms in a study conducted in Germany.

If you are interested in trying Iberogast, you should use this formula only after consulting with your doctor. It is available mainly through practitioners.

Non-drug way to relieve symptoms can include diet restrictions and probiotics

IBS patients looking for ways to address symptoms without resorting to drugs may find relief with a dietary adjustment.

Ive written you before about a University of Iowa study that examined how IBS patients responded to a fructose-restricted diet. The Iowa team reported that 30 of 80 IBS patients were tested and found to be fructose intolerant, a condition that triggers bloating, cramping and diarrhoea.

Fructose is found primarily in alcoholic beverages, corn, and corn-based products. Unfortunately, derivatives like corn oil, corn syrup and fructose syrup are used in a wide variety of foods.

Probiotic supplements may also bring IBS relief. Here is what US HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., had to say about treating IBS with probiotics in the e-alert Alleviate IBS symptoms with yoghurt and a sleep hormone (12/7/05).

Dr. Spreen: ‘I absolutely would be giving probiotics for such a problem, along with any agents that might assist strengthening the intestinal wall, such as FOS (fructo-oligo-saccharides), which helps the ‘good’ bugs to reestablish, aloe juice, which has a long history of calming bowel problems, essential fatty acids, and digestive enzymes (which are usually under produced in such situations).’

FOS is a natural fruit and vegetable fibre that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Bacterial imbalances in the intestine should not be taken lightly. So, talk to your doctor or a health care professional before using a probiotic supplement to address IBS or any other chronic digestive problem.


Bear in mind all the material in this email alert is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


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  • I have IBS, but I also have Paradoxal Vocal Fold Motion (vocal cord disorder) that is very serious. I have to find something I can take to gain back the great weight loss as well as get rid of the IBS which I have had for about a week. Can you give me any information to help?

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