Non-pharmacological strategies to treat irritable bowel syndrome: 2022 updatev

Minerva Gastroenterol (Torino). 2022 Dec;68(4):475-481.doi: 10.23736/S2724-5985.22.03202-8.


Silvia Bonetto 1Valentina Boano 1Emiliano Valenzi 1Giorgio M Saracco 2 3Rinaldo Pellicano 4


Author information

1Unit of Gastroenterology and Endoscopy, Cardinal Massaia Hospital, Asti, Italy.

2Unit of Gastroenterology, Molinette Hospital, Turin, Italy.

3Department of Medical Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.

4Unit of Gastroenterology, Molinette Hospital, Turin, Italy - rinaldo_pellican@hotmail.com.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional disorder characterized by abdominal pain associated with changes in stool frequency or form, in absence of organic disease. The treatment of IBS is often challenging and should be individually adjusted according to the prevalent symptomatology. Pharmacological treatment for IBS with diarrhea includes peripheral opioid agonists, bile acid sequestrants and antibiotics, while IBS with constipation can be treated with soluble fibers, osmotic agents or prokinetics. In case of abdominal pain, the available pharmacological options are antispasmodics, peripheral opioid agonists or antidepressants. Along with pharmacotherapy, non-pharmacological interventions should be considered as they can play an important role in symptom control. The first-line approach includes lifestyle modifications and dietary advice. Microbiota manipulation through probiotics, prebiotics and symbiotics is a widely used strategy, although the evidence upon the most effective among these in specific IBS subtypes is still unclear. Fecal microbiota transplantation is still in experimental phase for IBS, but it is giving promising results. Psychological therapies may be effective in patients with IBS, despite their application can be limited by long duration, high costs and poor patient's acceptance. Alternative medicine approaches, such as acupuncture, body relaxation techniques, dietary supplements or Chinese herbs, have been proposed; however, the evidence upon their efficacy and safety is still controversial.



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