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Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2010 Nov;6(11):705-11.

Complementary and alternative medicine modalities for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: facts or myths?

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Dr. Wu serves as a Professor in the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics and the Institute of Digestive Disease at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Prince of Wales Hospital in Shatin, Hong Kong.


Due to unsatisfactory results from conventional treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities are increasingly popular treatment alternatives. Unfortunately, most CAM clinical trials have been of poor quality, and the efficacies of these therapies have not been adequately elucidated, even through systematic reviews or meta-analyses. There is also a general lack of understanding of their mechanisms of action. Currently, insufficient evidence exists to support the use of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, meditation, and reflexology for treatment of IBS. However, there is some evidence supporting the use of peppermint oil and gut-directed hypnotherapy for IBS treatment. Due to mounting evidence of the microbiologic and immunologic basis of IBS, probiotics and exclusion diets are also becoming promising treatment modalities. This paper will review the current literature on various CAM practices for IBS treatment and appraise their advantages and disadvantages in clinical practice.


Complementary and alternative medicine; acupuncture; herbal medicine; hypnosis; irritable bowel syndrome; meditation; probiotics


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