Supplements That May Help IBS

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on July 22, 2022
3 min read

There’s no cure for IBS, but along with a healthy diet, nutritional supplements may help ease your symptoms.

But while most supplements aren’t harmful, some may not be right for you if you have another health condition. You could also have side effects.

Talk with your doctor before trying any of the ones below.

It's the first line of defense against the symptoms of IBS, especially constipation. The best way to get it is naturally, like through whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Over-the-counter supplements that dissolve in water (called soluble fiber) may help if you have a hard time getting it in your diet. Be sure to drink lots of water while you take them.

Too much fiber can sometimes make cramping and gas worse. If your symptoms don’t get better, talk to your doctor. They may recommend a dietitian who can give you a meal plan that can help you.

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that may ease the belly pain and gas you get with IBS. There aren't specific recommendations on how much you should take, which kinds, or how often. Studies have shown there is a potential for benefit, but more research is needed.

You can take supplements as capsules or sprinkle them as a powder on food. You also can get probiotics naturally in foods like yogurt, aged cheeses, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh.

Prebiotics: These sugars serve as food for “good” bacteria and can help them grow. There’s not a lot of research on these supplements and how they can help with IBS, but they’re not harmful for most people. Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of prebiotics, especially bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, and artichokes, plus soybeans and whole wheat foods.

Synbiotics: These are a combination of probiotics and prebiotics. Early studies show these might help people with IBS. But doctors need more research to learn if and how they should be recommended.

This soluble fiber supplement may boost the number of good bacteria in your intestines. Research shows it may also ease constipation and diarrhea and help with belly pain.

People in some studies said taking it gave them a better quality of life.

This supplement traces its roots as far back as ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. Though it’s been used for tension headaches, it’s most common use now is to help with IBS.

It can ease pain caused by inflammation. There’s no standard recommendation for how much to take or for how long, but some studies have shown that one or two capsules of enteric-coated peppermint oil three times a day for 6 months can help with constipation, diarrhea, and other issues.

You can take it in many forms, like capsules or a liquid. You can put it in drinks like tea.

Many other supplements have a connection to IBS. For example, some people find that chamomile or blond psyllium helps with their symptoms. Certain combinations of Chinese herbs could ease IBS pain for others.

But there’s not enough research related to IBS on those, or on any of the following, for doctors to recommend them: