A wide range of other
treatments can be used to treat
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Some kinds of psychological treatment may help with IBS symptoms. These treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and hypnosis.6
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Stopping negative thoughts with CBT has been shown to help with IBS symptoms.6
- People who practiced thinking positively using CBT reduced their IBS symptoms, anxiety, and negative thoughts and improved their quality of life compared to people who practiced stress management exercises.7
- In another study that compared mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to a support group, people who practiced MBSR had a much greater reduction in their IBS symptoms, even 3 months after the study ended.8
- Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy and psychological therapy have been shown
to help people who have IBS more than doing nothing.6
- Hypnosis. Hypnosis has also been shown to help with IBS symptoms.6
Other psychological treatments that are sometimes used for IBS include relaxation therapy, meditation, and biofeedback.
People who have IBS are
more likely than people without the condition to have
depression, panic disorder, or other psychological
conditions.1 Acknowledging these factors may help you and your doctor successfully manage your condition.
IBS is different for each person, and no medicines have been proved to work
really well for IBS. So people often try alternative or complementary treatments.
Some of these treatments have been studied, and some have not.
- Herbal therapies, such as
Ayurvedic medicine and
Chinese herbal medicine, may improve the symptoms of
IBS. This has been shown in many studies of herbal therapy for IBS.9
- Acupuncture is used as a treatment for IBS. But how well it works to treat IBS is still unknown.10
- Peppermint oil has also been used to treat IBS. Studies have
shown that peppermint oil works to improve IBS symptoms by preventing cramps and spasms in the intestines.6
- Aloe is commonly used for IBS, especially IBS with
constipation. There is currently no evidence for the use of aloe as an
effective treatment for IBS.
- Ginger has been used to treat nausea. It has been studied as
a treatment for nausea caused by seasickness and surgery. It isn't known how
well ginger helps in IBS.
- Helpful bacteria, called probiotics, may help with IBS symptoms. In one study, people with IBS who took a daily pill containing the bacteria Bifidobacterium bifidum had fewer symptoms after 1 month compared with people who took a placebo pill. And almost half of the people taking the probiotic had what they considered "adequate" relief of symptoms.11 Other studies show that a supplement with a combination of types (called strains) of bacteria probably helps more than just one type. But more research is needed.6