Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The following nontraditional therapies may help relieve symptoms of IBS:

  • Acupuncture. Researchers have found that acupuncture may help improve symptoms for people with IBS.
  • 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 make heartburn worse. Before taking any herbs, check with your doctor to be sure they won't interact or interfere with other medications.

    A blend of herbs called STW 5 (Iberogast) has been shown to help some people.

  • 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 if you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may not have enough good bacteria and that adding probiotics to your diet may help ease your symptoms.

    Recent studies suggest that certain probiotics may relieve symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and quality of life, although additional investigation is needed.

  • Regular exercise, yoga, massage or meditation. These can all be useful ways to relieve stress. You can take classes in yoga and meditation or practice at home using books or videos.
July 31, 2014