Chinese Herbs Soothe
Irritable Bowel

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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From The March 1999 Issue of Nutrition Science News

Traditional Chinese herbal remedies do what modern medicine can't for people with irritable bowel syndrome, according to researchers at the University of Western Sydney Macarthur in New South Wales, Australia. At this time, no effective pharmaceutical treatment exists for the painful gastrointestinal condition that affects between 10 and 20 percent of both the U.S. and Australian populations.

This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study provided patients aged 18 to 75 with placebo (32 patients), a standard Chinese herbal preparation (38 patients) or individual herbs (30 patients). The standard preparation of 20 different Chinese herbs included ginger (Zingiber officinal) or Pao Jiang in Mandarin Chinese, peony root (Paeonia lactiflora) or Bai Shao, and shizandra (Schisandra chinensis) or Wu Wei Zi. Patients and gastroenterologists both used a scale to rate symptoms such as bloating, pain, constipation and diarrhea. Scores were recorded at the beginning of the study, at eight weeks and at the 16-week conclusion.

By the end of the study, one-third (11) of the patients receiving placebo said their condition improved. However, 76 percent (29) of those getting the standard herbal remedy felt better, and 64 percent (18) of those on individualized treatment felt better. The gastroenterologists generally concurred with patients' subjective impressions.

Journal of the American Medical Association 1998 (Nov); 280 (18): 1585-1589


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