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IBS: St. John's Wort 0, Placebo 1

St. John's wort may be helpful in several medical conditions such as depression and other pain syndromes, but it is not an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, according to a study by Mayo Clinic researchers.

01 Mar 2010
St. John's Wort may be helpful in several medical conditions such as depression and other pain syndromes, but it is not an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, according to a study by Mayo Clinic researchers.

Seventy participants with IBS - 86% women, median age 42 - were randomised in a three-month placebo-controlled trial, half of them receiving St. John's Wort and the rest a placebo. 

After three months of observing symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhoea, constipation and bloating, the researchers found that the placebo group had a better response than the group taking the herbal supplement.

Lead researcher Dr Yuri Saito said that the study evaluated St. John's Wort as a medication for IBS because it had been postulated that, given several of the chemical neurotransmitters in the brain were also found in the colon, anti-depressants might affect sensation in the colon in the same way they affected sensation in the brain.

"People tending to struggle with IBS looked for inexpensive, over-the-counter treatments such as St. John's Wort," he said.  "Unfortunately, our study showed that St. John's Wort was not successful in helping IBS patients."

The Mayo study has been published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.



Published: 01 Mar 2010