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Chiropractic Research Review

Treating IBS with Chinese Herbal Medicine

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional bowel disorder that accounts for a significant proportion of patients seen by gastroenterologists. It is a chronic condition characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and disturbed bowel function.

Drugs, dietary modifications, and counseling are employed for symptom management, but there is no reliable medical treatment for IBS.

Although there is no strong scientific evidence available that supports the use of Chinese herbal agents to combat IBS, Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been used for centuries and is still routinely used in China.

Several Chinese studies have suggested that CHM is effective for IBS.

This study was intended to employ a randomized controlled trial to test the contentions of the Chinese studies and usage of CMH for IBS. The subjects of the study were 116 patients of gastroenterologists who received CHM in three Chinese herbal clinics.

The Chinese herbal formulations appeared to offer improvement in symptoms for some IBS patients. These results hold promise that after more scientific testing, this and other long-used forms of Asian healing may prove themselves acceptable to the traditional western biomedical community, and those who already trust and use alternative medicine regularly and successfully.

Bensoussann A, Talley NJ, Hing M, et al. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with Chinese herbal medicine: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 11, 1998;280(18), pp1585-89.

Chiropractic Research Review

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