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St. John's Wort May Not Help Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In randomized, controlled trial, placebo was found to be more effective

THURSDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The herb St. John's wort is not effective in treating irritable bowl syndrome (IBS), according to a study in the January issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Yuri A. Saito, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues conducted a randomized, controlled trial of 70 patients, 86 percent of whom were women with a median age of 42 years, who had established IBS. Half of the participants were given St. John's wort, while the rest were given a placebo, and they scored their symptoms over the next 12 weeks.

Both groups reported improvements in symptoms, but the participants in the placebo group reported the greatest reduction in overall symptom scores, the researchers found. The same was true for the individual scores for diarrhea and adequate relief of IBS. The treatment was credited with reducing the life interference of IBS by 51 percent of the treatment group and 54 percent of the placebo group, the study showed.

"Despite the overwhelming number of individuals seeking complementary and alternative medications for their IBS, there are few high-quality studies assessing the clinical efficacy of herbal medicines," the authors write. "Our results do not support that St. John's wort is useful in IBS and even suggest that its use should be discouraged."

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