Western Herbal Treatment of IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS) part (2)

December 1, 2010 by  

Photographer: Frank C. Müller
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  • Constipation Remedies

Aloe Vera (Aloe Vera) juice has a gentle, soothing effect on the bowel and is particularly appropriate for people with IBS who have chronic constipation. Take a tablespoon of the commercially extracted juice twice daily.

Other remedies for the constipation of IBS include psyllium seeds. Psyllium is a soluble fiber, similar to oat bran, and has a gentle, bulk-forming effect on the stool. Psyllium has been researched for more than 20 years in the treatment of IBS and many people with constipation find it effective. One reliable trial showed that both psyllium and wheat bran were effective in normalizing stool consistency and frequency in IBS, but that psyllium was better for improving frequency and reducing abdominal distension. However, results of research trials have been inconsistent, and better research is needed.

Dark psyllium seeds often work best stirred into a little warm water as a bulk laxative. Pale psyllium seeds, also known as isphagula seeds, and linseeds are other alternatives (linseed must be crushed to obtain its full effect). A tablespoon a day taken with porridge or natural yoghurt is likely to ease constipation without any side-effects. For these bulk laxatives to work effectively, drink a glass or two of water with them.

The use of anthraquinone-containing stimulant laxatives, such as rhubarb root (Rheum officinale), senna (Senna alexandrina) and cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), is generally to be avoided in the treatment of constipation associated with IBS. These remedies are likely to make it worse in the long term.

  • Soothing Herbs

There are several herbs that soothe the bowel. Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) powder contains an abundance of mucilage (a sticky substance).When mixed with powdered ginger (Zingiber officinale), cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) and caraway; it helps to reduce abdominal bloating. Slippery elm powder combines well with cooked porridge oats. Other herbs that soothe an irritated bowel are marshmallow root (Althea officinalis) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum).

They work best if combined with pungent warming spices, such as ginger and/or cinnamon, when they can be used to treat both diarrhoea and constipation in people with IBS by helping to restore normal bowel function.

  • Herbal Combination Products

Over the counter herbal products for IBS are popular in many countries. A recent randomized controlled trial compared two

herbal combination products, both containing a mixture of several plant extracts, including bitter candytuft (Iberis amara), chamomile and other extracts, with a bitter candytuft extract and a placebo (inactive substance). The patients taking the combination medicines had significantly fewer IBS symptoms than those taking either the bitter candytuft extract or the placebo.

  • Other Remedies

A useful remedy for loose stools is arrowroot (Pueraria labata), which can be taken up to three times a day, flavored with a little ground cinnamon or nutmeg. Stir two teaspoons of arrowroot into a paste with water or chamomile tea, or combine it with live yoghurt.  Commercially formulated charcoal tablets can also be effective for reducing the swing from loose bowel movements to constipation. It also helps to reduce flatulence too.

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