For those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), good news is often in short supply. Symptoms can be a nagging presence every day, with stomach pains and problems with constipation or diarrhea. It can also be somewhat tricky to treat IBS. Prescription meds don’t always help and sometimes they add prescription side effects on top of everything else. Well, here’s some side-effect free relief discovered by Australian researchers: slippery elm and licorice root.
The Aussie scientists looked at the effects and tolerability of two natural medicine supplements in improving bowel function and abdominal symptoms in patients with IBS. One supplement was designed to treat IBS with diarrhea as a symptom, while the other was designed to treat IBS with constipation.
The study included 31 patients, 21 one of whom were classified as suffering from diarrhea-predominant IBS and 10 of whom were classified with constipation-predominant IBS. The patients were given either a supplement containing powdered bilberry fruit, slippery elm bark, agrimony and cinnamon quills, or a mixture of dried powdered slippery elm bark, oat bran, and licorice root. The aim of each supplement was to normalize bowel movements.
The researchers found that the first slippery elm formula significantly increased bowel movement frequency along with less straining in the patients. Patients also reported less abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence. Participants taking the second formula experienced the same benefits, but to an even more significant degree. In particular, these patients recorded a 20% increase in bowel movement frequency.
The researchers noted that both treatments were well tolerated and did not cause any side effects. They concluded that both formulas were effective in improving bowel function in patients suffering from IBS and that further research should be done to establish the slippery elm supplement as a therapeutic formula.
Slippery elm can also be used for other common ailments. Read Why Alternative Remedies Might Be Better for Your Cough for more options.
Hawrelak, J.A., et al., “Effects of two natural medicine formulations on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: a pilot study,” J. Altern. Complement. Med., Oct. 2010; 16(10): 1,065-71.