Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The following nontraditional therapies may help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome:

  • Acupuncture. Although study results on the effects of acupuncture on symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome have been mixed, some people use acupuncture to help relax muscle spasms and improve bowel function.
  • Herbs. Peppermint is a natural antispasmodic that relaxes smooth muscles in the intestines. Peppermint may provide short-term relief of IBS symptoms, but study results have been inconsistent. If you'd like to try peppermint, be sure to use enteric-coated capsules. Peppermint may aggravate heartburn. Before taking any herbs, check with your doctor to be sure they won't interact or interfere with other medications you may be taking.
  • Hypnosis. Hypnosis may reduce abdominal pain and bloating. A trained professional teaches you how to enter a relaxed state and then guides you in relaxing your abdominal muscles.
  • Probiotics. Probiotics are "good" bacteria that normally live in your intestines and are found in certain foods, such as yogurt, and in dietary supplements. It's been suggested that people with irritable bowel syndrome may not have enough good bacteria, and that adding probiotics to the diet may help ease symptoms. Some studies have found that probiotics may relieve symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain and bloating, but more research is needed.
  • Regular exercise, yoga, massage or meditation. These can all be effective ways to relieve stress. You can take classes in yoga and meditation or practice at home using books or videos.
Jul. 29, 2011