Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Research Digestive Disorders

It connects the small intestine with the rectum and anus. Digestive products enter the colon from the small intestine, and may sit there for several days while water and salt are absorbed through the colon’s walls. Muscles in the intestine contract and push stool along toward the rectum, eventually forming a bowel movement. In people with irritable bowel syndrome, the colon seems to be more sensitive than in most people, so that muscle contractions are triggered more easily and pain and constipation or diarrhea result. Causes No one knows what causes irritable bowel syndrome. The intestines of people with IBS don’t look any different than those of people without the disorder, although they do seem to react more strongly to foods and stresses. Research has shown that people with IBS have problems with motility, the rhythmic muscle contractions that push fecal matter through the large intestine. In one study, people who had IBS with constipation had almost no contractions in 24 hours, compared with six to eight per day in healthy volunteers. IBS patients with diarrhea, by contrast, had as many as 25 contractions a day. Either problem can cause symptoms of IBS. The longer it takes for the muscle contractions to move the stool through the colon, the harder the stool becomesand the tougher it is to pass. By contrast, water won’t be absorbed from the stool if muscle spasms push it through too rapidly, leading to diarrhea.

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Irritable bowel syndrome can be treated

Associate Professor of Medicine Baha Moshiree, M.D., M.S.  director of the motility program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine talks with Dr. Leopoldo Arosemena, a second year gastroenterology fellow on Tuesday, September 24, 2013.  
Dr. Moshiree sees patients diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and offers the treatments available.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, an alteration of bowel movements, diarrhea, constipation and bloating. Currently, there are no tests available to diagnose IBS, which is why it is considered a symptom-based diagnosed disorder. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, 10 to 15 percent of the population is affected by IBS, and less than one-third of people seek care for their symptoms. Dr. Baharak Moshiree, director of the motility program at the University of Miami, says treating IBS can be very challenging because every patient has a different experience with the disorder. Although the cause of IBS is currently unknown, several factors have been said to aggravate symptoms: stress, anxiety, dairy products, legumes such as beans, and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Which came first the chicken or the egg is kind of hard to figure out, she said. What was happening before the symptoms occurred? You want to find out what factors were there before patients started having these symptoms, or if they started having these symptoms and then when they get stressed or anxious, everything gets worse. Unfortunately, the gut does its own thing. Although IBS is uncomfortable, can greatly affect patients quality of life and currently has no cure, people do not die from the disorder. There are several medications available to help relieve pain, diarrhea and constipation that can be purchased over the counter or prescribed. Moshiree also says that counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnosis can also help patients cope with the pain, and alleviate their stress and anxiety. Her advice: Stay away from narcotics when treating IBS. Although narcotics are effective for relieving pain, these drugs can worsen the symptoms.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Herbal Help?

25, 2006 — Some traditional Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian herbal medicines may improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, researchers report. The finding comes from a review of 75 studies on irritable bowel syndrome. The herbal medicines that stood out in the review were: Standard and individualized Chinese herbal formulations including “STW 5” and “STW 5-11” A Tibetan herbal formula called “Padma Lax” An Indian formula of two unnamed herbs used in Ayurveda, a traditional Indian health system However, the review doesn’t endorse or recommend any herbal medicines for irritable bowel syndrome, since many of the studies weren’t of top-notch quality. The report appears in The Cochrane Library, a health care research journal. The scientists included Jianping Liu, MD, PhD. Liu works at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine’s Evidence-based Chinese Medicine Centre for Clinical Research and Evaluation. He is also on staff at the National Research Centre in Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Norway’s University of Tromso. Helpful or Not? The studies, which were mainly done in China, had a combined total of nearly 8,000 patients with IBS. “Some herbal medicines may improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome,” the researchers write. For instance, IBS patients in nine studies either got herbal and conventional medicines or conventional medicines alone. Those who got herbal and conventional medicines reported greater improvement of their IBS symptoms, the researchers note. None of the studies reported serious side effects from any of the herbal medicines. But the researchers note that that doesn’t mean that the medicines are safe for everyone. Liu’s team urges “caution” in considering positive findings from studies with poor design, small numbers of patients, and unconfirmed results.

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