St. John's Wort May Not Help IBS
Study Shows Herbal Supplement Doesn't Treat Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 7, 2010 -- The herbal supplement St. John's wort is unlikely to ease
symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),
according to a new study.
The study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, is
the first to scientifically evaluate St. John's wort as a treatment for IBS.
The herb is used to treat depression. Since antidepressants are commonly
used to treat IBS, researchers wanted to see if St. John's wort might also
"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 researcher Yuri Saito, MD, MPH, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester,
Minn. "Unfortunately, our study showed that St. John's wort was not successful
in helping IBS patients."
IBS affects up to 20% of adults in the U.S., mostly women, according to the
National Institutes of Health. It's a common disorder that causes symptoms such
as cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas,
diarrhea, and constipation.
"Several of the chemical neurotransmitters that are in the brain are also in
the colon. Therefore, it's been
thought that antidepressants may affect sensation in the colon in a similar way
to how they affect sensation in the brain," says Saito in a news release.
In the study, 70 people with irritable bowl syndrome (86% women) were
randomly divided into two groups. One group was treated with 450 milligrams of
St. John's wort twice a day; the other group received a placebo treatment.
After three months of treatment, researchers found both groups reported an
improvement in IBS symptoms, including
abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.
But the study showed that a greater improvement in IBS symptoms was seen in
the placebo group than in the group treated with St. John's wort.