Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea. Doctors in China routinely use Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal remedies to treat IBS. While Western medical doctors have shown reluctance toward these products, many are becoming more accepting. Medical researchers at the University of Sydney released a report almost a decade ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing strong scientific support for treating IBS with TCM.

In their year long, double-blind study, researchers randomized 116 patients with IBS into three groups. Researchers gave the first group a standard TCM herbal preparation, the second group individually customized TCM herbal formulas, and the third group a placebo, or inactive product. Each patient had regular consultations with both a Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal practitioner and a gastroenterologist.

At the end of the treatment, both groups taking the TCM herbs showed significant improvement compared with those patients taking the placebo. Although there were improvements in both groups of patients taking the TCM herbs, it is important to note that the positive effects lasted longer for those patients who received individually customized formulas.

The researchers concluded that TCM herbal preparations can be effective in the management of irritable bowel syndrome.

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue – 161 May/June 2007
Journal of the American Medical Association. 1998. 280:1585-1589.