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Peppermint oil best for IBS

14th November 2008

Research has suggested that traditional treatments for irritable bowel syndrome could prove to be effective for patients.

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A review of existing studies in the British Medical Journal showed that "fibre, anti-spasmodic drugs and peppermint oil" could help to treat IBS.

The review called for current recommendations on how the condition is treated to be "updated".

It is thought that between 5% and 20% of people in the UK have IBS. The condition causes pains in the abdomen and erratic bowel habits.

The researchers said treatments such as peppermint oil had been "overlooked" in the hunt for new pharmaceutical drugs to treat IBS.

The review considered information where 2,500 adult patients with IBS were given dummy pills, no treatment or fibre, peppermint oil or anti-spasmodics.

Soluble fibre, anti-spasmodics and peppermint oil were all shown to work, with peppermint oil having the most effect on patients.

The head of the study Dr Alex Ford, said these types of treatment had fallen "out of favour with the development of new drugs" but were not expensive and did not have safety concerns.

"This is good news for patients," he added.

Professor Roger Jones, head of the Department of General Practice at Kings College London, and founding president of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology, said: "This puts these simple remedies back on the agenda."

 

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