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Research on Chinese medicine and IBS

Last updated: 11 March, 2017
by Steven Clavey, Traditional Chinese Gynaecology

Efficacy of Chinese Herbal Medicine for Diarrhea-Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trials.

This meta-analysis shows that Chinese herbal medicine is an effective and safe treatment for Diarrhea-predominant-IBS.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:4071260. doi: 10.1155/2016/4071260. Epub 2016 Jul 31.

Zhu JJ1, Liu S2, Su XL3, Wang ZS2, Guo Y4, Li YJ4, Yang Y3, Hou LW3, Wang QG2, Wei RH5, Yang JQ3, Wei W3.

OBJECTIVE:

To explore the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine in treating diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (D-IBS).

METHODS:

Four English and four Chinese databases were searched through November, 2015. Randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trials were selected. Data extraction and quality evaluation were performed by two authors independently. RevMan 5.2.0 software was applied to analyze the data of included trials.

RESULTS:

A total of 14 trials involving 1551 patients were included. Meta-analysis demonstrated superior global symptom improvement (RR = 1.62; 95% CI 1.31, 2.00; P < 0.00001; number needed to treat = 3.6), abdominal pain improvement (RR = 1.95; 95% CI 1.61, 2.35; P < 0.00001), diarrhea improvement (RR = 1.87; 95% CI 1.60, 2.20; P < 0.00001), pain threshold assessment (MD = 54.53; 95% CI 38.76, 70.30; P < 0.00001), and lower IBS Symptom Severity Score (SMD = -1.01; 95% CI -1.72, -0.30; P = 0.005), when compared with placebo, while for defecation threshold assessment, quality of life, and adverse events, no differences were found between treatment groups and controlled groups.

CONCLUSION:

This meta-analysis shows that Chinese herbal medicine is an effective and safe treatment for D-IBS. However, due to the small sample size and high heterogeneity, further studies are required.

 

Efficacy of a Chinese Herbal Medicine in Providing Adequate Relief of Constipation-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

“In a prospective, controlled study, Chinese herbal medicine reduced symptoms of Constipation-predominant-IBS, increased bowel satisfaction and stool consistency, and reduced straining and hard lumpy stools, compared with placebo.”

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Nov;13(11):1946-54.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2015.06.022. Epub 2015 Jun 29.

Bensoussan A1, Kellow JE2, Bourchier SJ3, Fahey P4, Shim L2, Malcolm A2, Boyce P5.

BACKGROUND & AIMS:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common chronic functional bowel disorder, with few treatment options. IBS affects 10%-20% of the population; as many as 58% of patients have constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C). We evaluated efficacy and safety of a standardized, specifically formulated Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) preparation in treatment of patients with IBS-C.

METHODS:

We performed a double-blind trial of 125 patients with IBS-C (according to Rome III criteria), who were recruited from 13 medical centers or clinics in Australia from July 2009 through February 2012. Patients were randomly assigned to groups given a standardized extract of 7 selected CHM ingredients (n = 61) or placebo (controls, n = 64) for 8 weeks (5 capsules, twice daily). Subjects were then followed for 16 weeks. Chemical definition, standardization, and stability testing of the formulation were completed. Subjects completed a self-administered, validated binary questionnaire of global symptom improvement at weeks 2, 4, 8, and 16 (primary outcome). Secondary outcomes included results from the self-administered IBS Symptom Severity Scale and the Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSFS), which were completed at weeks 4, 8, and 16.

RESULTS:

There was statistically and clinically significant (per protocol analyses) improvement among subjects who received CHM (n = 50) vs controls (n = 58) for 8 weeks. A greater proportion of subjects receiving CHM reported adequate relief (P = .010). Compared with controls, the CHM group had improved bowel habits vs controls at week 8, including lower IBS Symptom Severity Scale scores (P < .001), reduced straining during defecation (P = .002), and a significant decrease in hard lumpy stools (P = .031). The CHM group also had increased stool consistency, which was based on the Bristol Stool Form Scale (week 8, P < .001). There was no statistically significant difference between groups in abdominal pain at week 8 (P = .692). The CHM was well-tolerated.

CONCLUSIONS:

In a prospective, controlled study, CHM reduced symptoms of IBS-C, increased bowel satisfaction and stool consistency, and reduced straining and hard lumpy stools, compared with placebo.

 

Electro-acupuncture better than drugs for constipation

Chinese authors have concluded that electro-acupuncture is more effective than medication for improving the symptoms of functional constipation (FC). Analysing the results of nine randomised studies, they found a small but significant increase in the frequency of spontaneous bowel movements in patients treated with EA, compared with those receiving anti-constipation medicine. Greater improvement was also observed in treatment response rates and constipation scores in EA-treated patients compared with medication-treated patients.

Comparison of electroacupuncture and medical treatment for functional constipation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupunct Med. 2017 Jun 19. pii: acupmed-2016-011127.

 

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