Irritable Bowel Syndrome supplements
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Peppermint is a flowering plant that grows throughout Europe and North America. Peppermint is widely cultivated for its fragrant oil. Peppermint oil has been used historically for numerous health conditions, including common cold symptoms, cramps, headache, indigestion, joint pain, and nausea. Peppermint leaf has been used for stomach/intestinal disorders and for gallbladder disease. Mint plants such as peppermint and spearmint have a long history of medicinal use, dating to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The scientific name for peppermint ( Mentha x piperita ) is derived from the name Mintha, a Greek mythological nymph who transformed herself into the plant, and from the Latin piper meaning "pepper." Peppermint is believed to be a cross (hybrid) between spearmint and water mint. Peppermint oil is available in bulk herb oil, enteric-coated capsules, soft gelatin capsules, and in liquid form. In small doses, such as in tea or chewing gum, peppermint is generally believed to be safe in healthy, non-pregnant, non-allergic adults. The United States is a principal producer of peppermint, and the largest markets for peppermint oil are manufacturers of chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Psyllium, also referred to as ispaghula (or isphagula), is derived from the husks of the seeds of Plantago ovata . Psyllium contains a high level of soluble dietary fiber, and is the chief ingredient in many commonly used bulk laxatives, including products such as Metamucil® and Serutan®. Psyllium has been studied as a "non-systemic" cholesterol-lowering agent, with generally modest effects seen on total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels. Several psyllium-containing cereals such as Heartwise® and Bran Buds® have appeared in the U.S. marketplace during the last 15 years and have been touted for their potential lipid-lowering and "heart health promoting" effects. Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, have been reported, particularly in healthcare workers with previous experience preparing psyllium-containing bulk laxatives. Obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract by such laxatives has also been reported, particularly in patients with prior bowel surgeries or anatomic abnormalities, or when mixed with inadequate amounts of water.
  • Belladonna is an herb that has been used for centuries for a variety of indications, including headache, menstrual symptoms, peptic ulcer disease, inflammation, and motion sickness. Belladonna is known to contain active agents with anticholinergic properties, such as the tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscine (scopolamine), and hyoscyamine. There are few available studies of belladonna alone for any indication. Most research has evaluated belladonna in combination with other agents, such as ergot alkaloids or barbiturates, or in homeopathic (diluted) preparations. Preliminary evidence suggests possible efficacy in combination with barbiturates for the management of symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome. However, there is currently insufficient scientific evidence regarding the use of belladonna for this or any other indication. Common adverse effects include dry mouth, urinary retention, flushing, pupillary dilation, constipation, confusion, and delirium. Many of these effects may occur at therapeutic doses.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii is a non-pathogenic yeast strain that has been used for treatment and prevention of diarrhea. Saccharomyces boulardii is classified as a "probiotic," or a microorganism that when ingested may have a positive influence on the host's health. Probiotics may exert their effects on the gastrointestinal system directly, or may modulate the immune system in a larger scope. Human studies indicate Saccharomyces boulardii may prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Clostridium difficile diarrhea in combination with antibiotic therapy, diarrhea associated with tube feeds, and acute childhood diarrhea. Promising initial studies have shown that Saccharomyces boulardii may be beneficial in treating diarrhea associated with HIV. The German Commission E has approved the use of Saccharomyces boulardii for symptomatic treatment of acute diarrhea, prophylactic and symptomatic treatment of diarrhea during travel, treatment of diarrhea occurring while tube feeding, use as an adjuvant for chronic acne, for a dietary supplementation, and for a source of B vitamins and protein.
  • Probiotics are beneficial bacteria (sometimes referred to as "friendly germs") that help to maintain the health of the intestinal tract and aid in digestion. They also help keep potentially harmful organisms in the gut (harmful bacteria and yeasts) under control. Most probiotics come from food sources, especially cultured milk products. Probiotics can be consumed as capsules, tablets, beverages, powders, yogurts and other foods. Pro biotics should not be confused with pre biotics. Prebiotics are complex sugars (such as lactulose, lactitol, a variety of fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin) that are used as fuel by the healthful bacteria to stimulate their growth and activity while suppressing the growth and activity of harmful organisms. Other foods that support probiotic activity include Japanese miso, tempeh, kefir, raw milk, kombucha, bananas, garlic and onions. When prebiotics and probiotics are combined in one product, it is called a syn biotic. Probiotics work by colonizing the small intestine and crowding out disease-causing organisms, thereby restoring proper balance to the intestinal flora. They compete with harmful organisms for nutrients and may also produce substances that inhibit growth of harmful organisms in the gut. Probiotic bacteria have been found to stimulate the body's immune system. They may also aid in several gastrointestinal illnesses such as inflammatory bowel diseases, antibiotic-related diarrhea, Clostridium difficile toxin-induced colitis, infectious diarrhea, hepatic encephalopathy, irritable bowel syndrome and allergy. Probiotics have been found to enhance the digestion and absorption of proteins, fats, calcium and phosphorus. They may help overcome lactose intolerance. Finally they may help restore healthful bacteria after a course of antibiotic therapy has altered the normal gastrointestinal flora.
  • Bacopa ( Bacopa monnieri ) leaf extract is called brahmi in Ayurvedic medicine and is widely used in India, especially for enhancing memory, analgesia (pain relief), and epilepsy. Bacopa has traditionally been used to treat asthma, hoarseness, and mental disorders, to help improve mental performance, epilepsy, and as a nerve tonic, cardiotonic (heart tonic), and diuretic (increases urine flow). Bacopa was prominently mentioned in Indian texts as early as the 6th Century. Most research on bacopa has concentrated on its effects on learning. Bacopa may also be helpful in managing pediatric attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but clinical evidence is lacking.
  • Globe artichoke ( Cynara scolymus ) is a species of thistle. The edible part of the plant is the base of the artichoke head in bud, harvested well before any fruit develops. In traditional European medicine, the leaves of the artichoke (not the flower buds, which are the parts commonly cooked and eaten as a vegetable) were used as a diuretic to stimulate the kidneys and as a "choleretic" to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder. Cynarin, luteolin, cynardoside (luteolin-7-O-glycoside), scolymoside, and chlorogenic acid are believed to be artichoke's active constituents. The most studied component, cynarin, is concentrated in the leaves. Artichoke has been used in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), alcohol-induced hangover, and for its choleretic (stimulates bile release) and antioxidant properties. Artichoke extracts are becoming increasingly available in the United States, with public interest and the availability of standardized extracts resulting in efforts to develop more rigorous support for clinical studies exploring the beneficial effects of artichoke.
  • Lactobacilli are bacteria that normally live in the human small intestine and vagina. Lactobacillus acidophilus is generally considered to be beneficial because it produces vitamin K, lactase, and anti-microbial substances such as acidolin, acidolphilin, lactocidin, and bacteriocin. Multiple human trials report benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus for bacterial vaginosis. Other medicinal uses of Lactobacillus acidophilus are not sufficiently studied to form clear conclusions. The term "probiotic" is used to describe organisms that are used medicinally, including bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and yeast such as Saccharomyces boulardii . Although generally believed to be safe with few side effects, Lactobacillus acidophilus taken by mouth should be avoided in people with intestinal damage, a weakened immune system, or with overgrowth of intestinal bacteria.
  • The rhizome (root) of turmeric ( Curcuma longa Linn.) has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat gastrointestinal upset, arthritic pain, and "low energy." Laboratory and animal research has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties of turmeric and its constituent curcumin. Preliminary human evidence, albeit poor quality, suggests possible efficacy in the management of dyspepsia (heartburn), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and scabies (when used on the skin).
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