Cutting Edge Nutrition Strategies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Gerard Mullin, MD, MS, CNSP

Presentation Overview:

IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder seen in general practice, representing 30% to 50% of all referrals to gastroenterologists. Determining the precise incidence or prevalence of IBS is virtually impossible, as many sufferers never seek medical attention. It has been estimated, however, that approximately 10-15% of the population has irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The etiology of the greater colonic motility seen in IBS has been attributed to physiologic, psychological, gut microbial and dietary factors. The approach to treatment emphasizes education, reassurance, dietary modification, and stress management.  Current drug therapy is of limited benefit. Based on low levels of satisfaction both with the treatment they receive and their overall care, it is not surprising that almost 50% of IBS patients turn to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies with nutraceuticals being the most common form of CAM therapy. This presentation reviews the evidence for and against dietary and nutraceutical interventions for IBS. Nutraceuticals to be reviewed include traditional Chinese medicine, Iberogast, peppermint oil, artichoke leaf extract, curcumin, antimicrobial herbs, probiotics and melatonin. Specialized diets to be discussed will include the gluten free diet, elimination diets, and the low FODMAPs diet.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the pathophysiology and root causes of IBS.
  2. Become familiar with the mechanisms of action of nutraceutical supplements by IBS patients.
  3. Critically evaluate the evidence for and against using special diets and nutraceutical supplements in treating IBS.