Review Article: Current and future treatment approaches for IBS with diarrhoea (IBS-D) and IBS mixed pattern (IBS-M)

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2021 Dec;54 Suppl 1:S63-S74. doi: 10.1111/apt.16625.

Judy Nee 1, Anthony Lembo 1


Author information

1Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhoea (IBS-D) and IBS-mixed stool pattern (IBS-M) are disorders of gut-brain interaction characterised by abdominal pain associated with diarrhoea or both diarrhoea and constipation respectively. The pathophysiology of IBS-D/M is multifactorial and not completely understood; thus, treatment is aimed at multiple mechanisms such as altering gut microbiota, visceral hypersensitivity, intestinal permeability, gut-brain interaction and psychological strategies.

Aim: The goal of this article was to provide an up-to-date review of the current evidence for both non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatment options in IBS-D and IBS-M. Future treatments for IBS-D and IBS-M will also be discussed.

Methods: Medline and Embase database searches (through April 30 2021) to identify clinical studies in subjects with IBS-D in which dietary modification, alternative treatments (probiotics, acupuncture, exercise) as well as FDA-approved medications were used.

Results: Dietary modification is often the first line of therapy. Furthermore, lifestyle treatments include complementary alternative medications (CAM), probiotics and peppermint oil are useful adjuncts but have not specifically been described in IBS-D/M. Evidence strongly supports psychotherapy in the treatment of IBS. Beyond over-the counter anti-diarrhoeals, anti-spasmodics and anti-depressants, pharmacological treatment now includes treating for bile acid malabsorption and the FDA-approved medications rifaximin, eluxadoline and alosetron.

Conclusions: The treatment of IBS-D/M ideally involves a multidisciplinary approach of primary care, gastroenterologist and psychologist. Treatment often involves both non-pharmacological and pharmacological therapies. Future therapies may include faecal microbial transplant, Crofelemer and serotonin antagonists, but further studies are needed.

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