Alternative treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) remains a common and difficult to manage gastrointestinal condition. There is growing interest in the use of traditional medicine to manage IBS, as prescribed drugs often fail after time and revolve around symptom management of cramps and diarrhoea rather than addressing the cause of the problem. In particular, curcumin, a biologically active phytochemical, has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in several studies. 

Last year a group of researchers looked at all the studies available with IBS and curcumin. 3 studies were included in the final analysis this included treatment of 326 patients.

They found curcumin to have a beneficial effect on IBS symptoms. With its unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, and ability to modulate gut microbiota, curcumin is a potentially useful agent for IBS. It also appears safe and well-tolerated, with no adverse events reported in the available trials. 

There are more studies on the way looking at even more benefits that it may have in the gut and elsewhere in the body, so watch this space!

Altruvita’s Happy Tum supplement contains highly absorbable curcumin, green tea and vitamin D. Take a closer look at Happy Tum here.

Vitamin D and IBS

Over the past few years there has been a renewed interest in vitamin D as it has been found to be strongly associated with many diseases. For example intestinal inflammation, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and some cancers cancer have strong associations with vitamin D deficiency.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal system affecting a large number of people worldwide. Although it doesn’t directly kill people, flatulence, bloating, distention, pain, diarrhoea and constipation have a substantial impact on patients’ quality of life. Appointments for IBS symptoms also put a large financial burden on healthcare services and patients are often forced to trialling unsafe dietary restrictions alone without professional support.

Although the role of vitamin D deficiency in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has not yet been established one new study tried to establish the role of vitamin D deficiency in IBS patients compared to a healthy control group.

Sixty patients with IBS and 100 healthy individuals were included as test and control groups, respectively, in the study. The average blood level (nmol/L) of IBS patients was compared to the control group levels.

Although vitamin D is common in various parts of the world, there was a statistically significant difference in the mean vitamin D level between healthy and IBS patients. Vitamin D deficiency was detected in 49 patients (82%) in the IBS group and 31 patients (31%) in the control group.

These results suggest that vitamin D should be tested in IBS patients and vitamin D supplementation could play a therapeutic role in the control of IBS.

Reference

Khayyat Y, Attar S. Vitamin D Deficiency in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Does it Exist? Oman Medical Journal. 2015;30(2):115-118. doi:10.5001/omj.2015.25.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Fecal Microbiota Transplant

Fecal Microbiota transplant (FMT) is making the news this week. It is where faeces are transplanted from a healthy person [1] into another bowel to help change the bacterial make-up; the microbiota. Yes, you read this correctly!

Why would you want to do this? It acts in the same way as a probiotic and although it sounds disgusting, it has been used very successfully in treating clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection. It also looks to be one way of treating inflammatory bowel diseases; Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, since the causes of these may be from bacterial imbalance.

You may be wondering how the new microbiota get there? It is performed using nasogastric tubes, endoscopy, enema or colonoscopy. There are also ongoing trials on using carefully sealed capsules for oral administration. If the disease is in the small intestine, access through the mouth is favoured and if in the large bowel, access through the rectum is preferred.

There are some websites that show how you can try it yourself, although this could be very risky business. Faeces should be pre-screened for infectious diseases, or there is a risk of picking up more than you bargained for.

An excellent review published a few years ago, explaining the topic in more depth [2].

Have you tried diet and supplements first?

References

[1] Bakken J S et al (2011) “Treating Clostridium difficile Infection With Fecal Microbiota Transplantation”. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology; 9(12):1044–1049.

[2] Kelly CR, Kahn S, Kashyap P, et al. Update on Fecal Microbiota Transplantation 2015: Indications, Methodologies, Mechanisms, and Outlook. Gastroenterology. 2015;149(1):223–237. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4755303/

Photo by Gesina Kunkel on Unsplash