Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Separating Fact From Fiction

August 17, 2015 , ,

Do you feel like you’ve tried all the treatments for irritable bowel syndrome and you’re now tempted to try your hand at alternative methods? In this article, I’ll untangle the rumours from the facts to help you make the best decision possible. Hope this enlightens you, so let’s get started right away!


You might have heard that turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that can “calm” your digestive system and thereby diminish your symptoms. According to some studies, turmeric could have a beneficial effect in certain people with irritable bowel syndrome, but there is no proof that this is one of the effective treatments for irritable bowel syndrome.

Verdict: not enough supporting evidence.
But if you enjoy cooking with this spice, go right ahead! Here are some recipes that use it:

Grilled Chicken in Coconut Milk with Spices (IBS)


Who doesn’t like to sit down quietly and relax with a nice cup of tea? Hot beverages may help you reduce your stress level and take a little time for yourself. Be careful not to choose a blend that might contain FODMAPs: avoid camomile, dandelion and fennel tisanes, oolong and chai tea. Instead, opt for a black or green tea or better still, a peppermint tisane.

Verdict: if it helps you, continue; but no supporting evidence.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil works on muscle contractions in the digestive system and helps reduce stomach aches and other symptoms. But it can cause heartburn, which is why it is advisable to take it in enteric tablets that will allow the oil to travel to the intestine without irritating the stomach. These tablets are available in pharmacies. Peppermint oil appears to be safe in small quantities for adults and could allow some people with IBS to have greater control of their symptoms (especially abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea).

Verdict: to be tried.


Probiotics are living organisms similar to bacteria that are found in the digestive system and will encourage the development and maintenance of “good” bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are mostly sold as tablets or incorporated in yogurts. Although some people have found that probiotics reduce their bloating and intestinal gases, there is a lack of evidence to recommend taking probiotics.

Verdict: no supporting evidence.

*FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates that are partly responsible for causing symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For more info, read this article.

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Jef L'Ecuyer
Member of the Quebec College of Dietitians (ODNQ) and Dietitians of Canada,Jef graduated from McGill University in December 2014. Recently graduated and passionate about culinary arts, Jef poses a simple, effective and practical look at daily meal planning. With this in mind, she works in conjunction with the mission of SOSCuisine...

One comment to “Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Separating Fact From Fiction”

December 7, 2015 Lily Isabelle said:

Short but good description some important treatment option for getting control over the IBS problem. Thanks for share such helpful post. My brother have IBS problem and I will share this ideas with him. May be he likes to follow these ideas. Apart from that now he is taking the natural medicines as “Lean N Clean®”.

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