Peppermint tops fibre and drugs for IBS

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal showed that fibre, antispasmodics and peppermint oil are more effective than placebo in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Digestive health is one of the top global health concerns. IBS affects approximately 10-20% of the general population and is the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists and one of the most common disorders seen by primary care physicians.

Though fibre, peppermint and two commonly prescribed antispasmodics, otilonium and hyoscine, showed positive results, peppermint came out a clear winner when the study looked at the number needed to treat (NNT)—NNT for fiber was 11, NNT for antispasmodics was 5 and the NNT for peppermint oil was only 2.5. Of the three, peppermint oil was the better choice.

The review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials included 12 studies that compared fibre with placebo or no treatment in 591 patients; twenty two trials compared antispasmodics with placebo in 1778 patients and four trials compared peppermint oil with placebo in 392 patients. The study was published in the November 13 issue of the British Medical Journal.

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