Peppermint oil and bran are two effective treatments for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), researchers have found.
They were both better than placebo when they were tested on groups of IBS patients, and researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, are urging the therapies to become part of the standard treatment for IBS offered by doctors.
The researchers claim to be the first to carry out a proper scientific review of the therapies. While peppermint and bran had been thought to be effective treatments, doctors had been reluctant to try them as good scientific evidence had not been available.
The researchers reviewed 36 studies that involved 2,795 IBS patients, and they discovered that the bran, ispaghula, helped ease symptoms after 11 treatments, while peppermint oil improved IBS after 2.5 treatments.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2008; 337: a2313).