Probiotics, psyllium and peppermint eased symptoms of IBS in several new studies.
In a probiotics study, 70 men and women with IBS, aged 19 to 75, took the probiotics Bifidobacterium bifidum and lactis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus and casei twice per day or a placebo. After four weeks, compared to placebo, the probiotics group reported half as much discomfort, and at eight weeks, 80 percent reported greater pain relief.
In a fiber study, 275 people with IBS, aged 18 to 65, took 10 grams of the soluble fiber psyllium, 10 grams of the insoluble fiber bran or a placebo. Soluble fiber, found in fruits and vegetables, dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber, found in grains, does not. A majority in each group reported at least one moderate side effect during the study, and doctors noted many did not tolerate bran well, and that there was no particular clinical benefit with bran. After three months, symptom scores decreased 49 points for placebo, 58 for bran and 90 for psyllium.
In a review of IBS studies, researchers analyzed 38 placebo controlled clinical trials covering 2,761 participants who took fiber, prescription antispasmodics or peppermint oil. In all cases, the treatments were more effective than placebo. Peppermint oil was the most effective treatment of all, with one out of every 2.5 participants experiencing relief from IBS symptoms compared to one out of five for antispasmodics, and one out of 11 for fiber. Doctors said that many of these products are available over the counter, and are just as effective as newer, more expensive drugs.