Peppermint oil has been shown to be an effective natural treatment for IBS. [Photo: Bigstock]

Alternative therapies can provide relief for bowel disorders

6 October, 2016

Natural Health News — A new review  suggests that several natural therapies can be effective for the treatment of bowel disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional constipation, and ulcerative colitis.

The review looked at a range of therapies including  probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics (which combine probiotics and prebiotics in a synergistic form),fibre, and herbal medicinal products.

According to the authors, results show that, based on available studies, probiotics, synbiotics, psyllium, and some herbal medicinal products (primarily peppermint oil) seem to be effective in ameliorating IBS symptoms.

What you need to know

» Bowel disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional constipation, and ulcerative colitis seem to be on the rise worldwide.

» There is no cure for these disorders which can be expensive to treat over the long term. This is why patients turn to alternative adn complementary solutions

» A news review shows that, based on available evidence, natural therapies such as probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, fibre, and herbal medicinal products do have a role to play in providing effective treatment for bowel disorders.

Synbiotics and fiber seem to be beneficial in patients with functional constipation, and administration of the non-pathogenic strain Nissle 1917 of Escherichia coli (used in Faecal Microbiome Transplantation, or FMT) appears to be as effective as the anti-inflammatory drug mesalamine in maintaining remission in patients with ulcerative colitis.

In addition, in patients with mild clinical forms of ulcerative colitis probiotic treatment may help prevent relapse.

A widespread problem with no cure

The authors note that bowel disorders are a widespread global problem.  In particular inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, although less common, can have a strong impact on patients’ quality of life, and can be expensive to treat.

Since conventional medicine can offer no definitive cure for these disorders many patients turn to alternatives for relief.

“Patients with common functional bowel disorders such as chronic idiopathic [i.e. no known medical cause] constipation and irritable bowel syndrome who cannot find benefit or have adverse effects with the use of traditional drug therapies, or do not want to use them, should be told that alternative medicines are available that may be effective,” said Dr. Diego Curro, lead author of the study , which was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.