St. John's wort not helpful treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, Mayo Clinic researchers say

Jan 04, 2010

A Mayo Clinic research study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology finds that St. John's wort is not an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While antidepressants are frequently used to treat IBS, to date, no study has examined the success of using the herbal supplement St. John's wort in treating IBS.

"Our study investigated if herbal antidepressants such as St. John's wort could benefit irritable bowel disease patients," says Yuri Saito, M.D., M.P.H., gastroenterologist and lead physician scientist on the study. "Several of the chemical neurotransmitters that are in the brain are also in the colon. Therefore, it's been thought that may affect sensation in the colon in a similar way to how they affect sensation in the brain. Our goal was to evaluate the usefulness of St John's wort in treating IBS."

In this placebo-controlled trial, 70 participants with IBS were randomized where half the patients received St. John's wort and the other half received a placebo for three months. In all, 86 percent of the participants were women, and the median age was 42 years. After three months of observing symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation and bloating, Mayo researchers found that the placebo group had a better response than the group taking the ,
St. John's wort.

"Because people tend to struggle with IBS for several years, patients are really looking for inexpensive, over-the-counter treatments such as St. John's wort," says Dr. Saito. "Unfortunately, our study showed that St. John's wort was not successful in helping IBS patients."

St. John's wort is an herbal supplement derived from the St. John's wort plant. It has been shown to be helpful in several medical conditions such as depression as well as other pain
syndromes. Research has shown it to be as effective as conventional, prescription anti-depressants in treating mild to moderate depression.

"The challenge with IBS is that there is no cure, no one treatment tends to be wholly effective and some treatments come with significant side effects," explains Dr. Saito. "However, well-designed studies of herbal supplements are important so that physicians and patients can make informed decisions about which supplements to recommend or try. Studies of alternative treatments are generally lacking and patients are forced to use a "trial and error" approach to over-the-counter treatments for their IBS."

IBS is a common disorder that affects the colon and commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. Approximately 58 million people struggle with IBS, mostly women.

Explore further: NY and NJ say they will require Ebola quarantines

More information: www.nature.com/ajg/journal/vao… ull/ajg2009577a.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

St. John's wort relieves symptoms of major depression

Oct 08, 2008

New research provides support for the use of St. John's wort extracts in treating major depression. A Cochrane Systematic Review backs up previous research that showed the plant extract is effective in treating mild to moderate ...

FDA OKs Amitiza for treatment of IBS-C

Apr 30, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced approval of Amitiza (lubiprostone) to treat constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

Allergic disease linked to irritable bowel syndrome

Jan 30, 2008

Adults with allergy symptoms report a high incidence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), suggesting a link between atopic disorders and IBS according to a study published this month in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, ...

Recommended for you

NY and NJ say they will require Ebola quarantines

1 hour ago

The governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine for all doctors and other arriving travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa.

WHO: Mali case may have infected many people

5 hours ago

The World Health Organization says a toddler who brought Ebola to Mali was bleeding from her nose during her journey on public transport and may have infected many people.

Two US nurses are declared cured of Ebola

6 hours ago

Two American nurses were declared cured of Ebola on Friday, and one was healthy enough to leave the hospital and meet President Barack Obama for a hug.

User comments : 0