There’s a health problem that may affect as many as one in five people in the UK, yet just 30 per cent of those who suffer from its symptoms tell their doctor – and even fewer receive an accurate diagnosis.1 We’re talking about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the name given to a spectrum of digestive misery that includes abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea.
Unlike some bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, there is currently no reliable test that can pinpoint IBS. Instead, it’s often diagnosed by eliminating other, more easily identified conditions. Nor does it have a single, recognised cause. IBS might result from stress, a food intolerance, an infection, or the antibiotics used to treat one. Often, it involves disrupted gut bacteria, increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome), inflammation and changes in how the gut and brain communicate.2
Conventional IBS treatment often involves drugs, such as laxatives, anti-diarrhoea medicines and antispasmodics. Many IBS patients are even prescribed antidepressants, on the basis that these could reduce pain perception and make the condition easier to cope with. But antidepressants come with unpleasant side effects, including constipation or diarrhoea, nausea, dry mouth and eyes, drowsiness, weight gain, agitation and sexual dysfunction.
That’s why JNHS has rushed to bring you this report on a new supplement, formulated by leading UK nutritionist Dr. Marilyn Glenville, which is designed to provide safe and effective relief from IBS. It contains a unique combination of nine tried-and-tested herbal extracts for digestive health including peppermint oil, marshmallow, slippery elm, ginger, chamomile, artichoke, fennel, turmeric and liquorice.
Peppermint oil proven to significantly reduce abdominal pain and cramping
Peppermint oil is a well-known natural antispasmodic that can help relieve the cramping suffered by many people with IBS. A recent review of scientific studies found that peppermint oil acts in several ways.3 It not only relaxes the muscles in the wall of the gut, it also reduces ‘visceral hypersensitivity’ (when nerves in the gut over-react), calms inflammation and has anti-microbial properties.
Clinical trials involving people with IBS have shown that peppermint oil offers a safe and effective treatment. A meta-analysis of nine such placebo-controlled trials concluded that peppermint oil significantly reduced abdominal pain and improved total IBS symptoms. The only side effect noted was mild heartburn in some patients.4
Together with peppermint, marshmallow and slippery elm are traditionally used for their ability to soothe the digestive system. Marshmallow root contains mucilaginous compounds that form a protective coating on the gut lining, soothing local irritation and inflammation. In animal studies, one such compound isolated from marshmallow (hypolaetin 8-glucoside) has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-ulcer activity.5
The inner bark of the slippery elm tree also contains mucilage that can soothe gut inflammation. In modern herbal medicine, it is used to treat inflamed mucous membranes of the throat and gastrointestinal tract, gastric and duodenal ulcers and other inflammatory conditions.6
As well as coating and soothing the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines, slippery elm mucilage stimulates nerve endings in the gut lining, promoting mucus secretion. This extra mucus is thought to protect the digestive tract and help prevent ulcers from developing.
Ginger root is another herb that has been used since antiquity for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Modern research has discovered that components in ginger have a balancing effect in the bowel, speeding up transit if necessary, while inhibiting the muscle spasms that cause abdominal cramps.7 In laboratory studies, ginger was also found to be anti-inflammatory and to help maintain the gut’s barrier function, so combating leaky gut syndrome.8
Soothing herbs help relieve bloating and get bowel movements back to normal
The other herbal ingredients in IB Support are chamomile, artichoke, fennel, turmeric and liquorice. Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind and is commonly used to soothe a stomach upset and relax an irritated gut. A four-week clinical trial carried out with IBS patients in Iran found that chamomile extract significantly reduced their symptoms after just two weeks. Symptom relief also continued for a further two weeks after the end of the study.9
Artichoke is best known for its ability to aid liver function and stimulate the flow of bile, but is also a valuable herb for people with IBS. A study at the University of Reading gave artichoke extract to 208 volunteers suffering from IBS and chronic indigestion, for a period of two months. The results showed a 41 per cent drop in IBS symptoms and a significant shift from alternating constipation and diarrhoea to normal bowel movements.10
The anti-inflammatory property of turmeric and the antispasmodic and wind-relieving effects of fennel further add to IB Support’s effectiveness in easing the distressing symptoms of IBS. A combination of fennel and curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric) has been used with success in a placebo-controlled trial involving patients with mild to moderate IBS. One month of treatment with these herbs resulted in a significant reduction in abdominal pain and improvement in quality of life.11
Liquorice, the final ingredient in IB Support, is a natural antacid, helping relieve heartburn, indigestion, stomach ulcers and acid reflux. Glycyrrhizinic acid, a major component of liquorice, promotes mucus secretion in the stomach, which protects the stomach lining. Liquorice compounds are also active against the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, the main cause of stomach ulcers.12
What to take for best results
The recommended dose of Natural Health Practice IB Support is one or two capsules daily, 30 minutes before food, with a glass of water. IB Support is free from yeast, dairy, gluten, artificial flavours, colours and preservatives. It is suitable for vegetarians and vegans and is Kosher certified.
You should seek medical advice if gastrointestinal symptoms or abdominal discomfort persist for more than two weeks. You are advised to consult your doctor before using IB Support if you’re taking prescription medication or receiving treatment for a medical condition.