Product Review

BowelSoothe® for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When it comes to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the symptoms can be so debilitating that people often search for any potential cure or treatment. There are many products targeted to address this uncomfortable digestive disorder. I was asked to review a natural product on the market called BowelSoothe®.

According to the website that sells BowelSoothe®, it contains the following herbs: white Peony root, atractylodes rhizome, cardamom seed, paederia scandens stem, sonchus brachyotus entire plant, and Chinese (DGL) licorice root. The other ingredients it contains are: gelatin, cellulose, stearic acid, magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide. The information used to review this product was derived from The Natural Science Medicine Comprehensive Database. It is a comprehensive database that provides objective evidence-based information on natural medicines and is considered the gold-standard for evidence-based information. I will discuss the four ingredients that this database reviewed: atractylodes, cardamom, licorice, and peony in terms of their effectiveness, safety, interactions, and adverse reactions.


Use For: Indigestion, stomachache, abdominal distention, diarrhea, in Chinese Medicine with other herbs for lung cancer, and for complications of peritoneal dialysis
Effectiveness: Insufficient information
Safety: Insufficient information
Interactions: None known
Adverse Reactions: Can cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to the asteraceae/compositate family; e.g. ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies.


Use For: IBS among other uses
Effectiveness: Insufficient information
Safety: Likely safe when used orally and appropriately, insufficient information for lactating and pregnant women
Interactions: Can trigger gallstone pain
Adverse Reactions: None


Use For: Ulcers and colic (attacks of abdominal pain caused by muscle spasms in the intestines) among other uses
Effectiveness: Insufficient information for IBS
Safety: Likely safe when used orally in amounts commonly found in food, possibly safe when used orally for medicinal purposes for short term. Long term use may increase risk of high blood pressure and low potassium levels. Unsafe for pregnancy, and not recommended for lactating women
Interactions: When coupled with other laxatives or cardiac herbs, may increase potassium loss, which is very dangerous. Many drug and disease interactions for licorice pertaining to heart health, hormone sensitive cancers/conditions, kidney problems, and sexual problems
Adverse Reactions: 50 g or more a day or chronic use for over 6 weeks can cause high blood pressure, water retention, edema, sluggishness; loss of menstrual period, and headache, higher intake levels may be even more dangerous


Use For: Spasms among other uses
Effectiveness: Insufficient information
Safety: Insufficient information, possibly unsafe for pregnancy and insufficient information for lactating women
Interactions: May interfere with the effectiveness of the drug Dilantin
Adverse Reactions: Oral overdose may lead to gastroenteritis (infection or irritation of the stomach and intestines) with vomiting, colic, and diarrhea

Based on the information gathered, I would not recommend the use of BowelSoothe®. There is insufficient information on the four ingredients reviewed and there was little information to be found on the other ingredients in the product. The website claims that the product is scientifically tested, but there are no references on the website or links to any references. As well, when it comes to herbal supplements, caution is needed. Herbal supplements are not well regulated; what is written on a bottle label is not always accurate. The product is also expensive; one bottle only lasts 5 days.

When it comes to IBS, individual care is needed as everyone’s symptoms are different from one another and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Some of the dietary supplements available may work, but the safety is unknown. The most effective treatment would be customized care where individual trigger foods are identified coupled with dietary and lifestyle recommendations that would regulate your gastrointestinal system. If dietary supplements are needed, only those that have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective should be added to the IBS management regime.

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue 150 – July/August 2005
Note: The GI Society has received no remuneration from BowelSoothe® or its affiliates for this review.