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National Institutes of Health • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCCAM Clinical Digest

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Complementary Health Practices

March 2013
Woman sitting on bed holding stomach, head bowed

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder that interferes with the normal functions of the colon. IBS is characterized by symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS is challenging to study because its symptoms vary, are non-specific, can be episodic, may resolve for long periods, and there are no definitive diagnostic tests.

This issue summarizes research on some of the most popular complementary and health practices people try to treat symptoms of IBS. Overall, although there is some emerging evidence suggesting that some complementary health practices may be helpful for IBS, there have been few large well-designed studies, and most of the studies have had methodological flaws. Systematic reviews generally conclude that more well-designed studies are needed to firmly establish whether complementary health practices are helpful treatments for IBS.

Time to Talk Tips: What You Should Know About IBS and Complementary Health Practices

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NCCAM Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH, DHHS. NCCAM Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on CAM, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCAM-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training CAM researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCAM Web site at nccam.nih.gov. NCCAM is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

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Content is in the public domain and may be reprinted, except if marked as copyrighted (©). Please credit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.

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