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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (cont.)


Surgery is not done for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Other Treatment

A wide range of other therapies has been used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Treatment methods that help you better cope with stress can help reduce symptoms.

Other Treatment Choices


Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can help with some symptoms of IBS, especially constipation. You can get more fiber in your diet by eating foods that are high in fiber such as fresh fruits (raspberries, pears, apples), fresh vegetables (peas, spinach, celery), wheat bran, and whole-grain breads and cereals.

If you have trouble getting enough fiber in your diet, try a fiber supplement. Examples include psyllium (such as Metamucil). If you take a fiber supplement, start with a small dose and very slowly increase the dose over a month or more. Also, make sure you drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water.

Psychological treatment

Some kinds of psychological treatment may help with IBS symptoms. These treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and hypnosis.5

These treatment methods are usually more effective if they are used along with other treatment methods, such as diet changes, stress reduction, and sometimes medicine.

Other psychological treatments that are sometimes used for IBS include relaxation therapy, meditation, and biofeedback.

Complementary treatment

Because IBS is so different for each person and because no medicines have been proven to work really well for IBS, many people try alternative or complementary treatments. Some of these treatments have been studied and some have not. The evidence to support their use varies as much as the evidence seen when medicines for IBS are studied.

  • Herbal therapies, including Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese herbal medicine, may improve the symptoms of IBS. This has been shown in many studies of herbal therapy for IBS.6
  • Acupuncture is used as a treatment for IBS. But the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating IBS is still unknown.7
  • Peppermint oil has also been used to treat IBS. Studies have shown that peppermint oil works to improve IBS symptoms by preventing cramps and spasms in the intestines.5
  • Aloe is commonly used for IBS, especially IBS with constipation. There is currently no evidence for the use of aloe as an effective treatment for IBS.
  • Ginger has been used to treat nausea and has been studied as a treatment for nausea caused by seasickness and surgery. It is not known how well ginger helps in IBS.
  • Helpful bacteria, called probiotics, may help with IBS symptoms. Studies show that a supplement with a combination of types (called strains) of bacteria probably helps more than just one type. But more research is needed.5


Experts are studying whether antibiotics may relieve symptoms of IBS. One antibiotic in particular, rifaximin (Xifaxan), has been shown to help IBS symptoms, especially bloating and diarrhea.5

What To Think About

Some people have been successful at handling stressful situations and controlling their symptoms after trying psychological therapies. These techniques are not harmful and have no side effects. Some of them can be used before a stressful event to prevent or reduce symptoms.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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