Sydney scientists trial new IBS treatment: Volunteers needed


Date: 24/06/2009

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a frustrating, uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing condition that can cause chronic constipation. Now in a ground-breaking study, Sydney scientists are seeking volunteers for the trial of a new treatment based on Chinese herbal medicine.

The new formula contains a number of herbal ingredients believed to address different aspects of IBS and is tailored to patients who mainly suffer from constipation.

Patients who are 18-65 years old and have been assessed by a GP or gastroenterologist are invited to participate.

Lead researcher, Professor Alan Bensoussan from the University of Western Sydney's Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, is a champion of scientific research into the untapped potential of complementary medicine.

"Our aim is to help people with chronic conditions such as IBS, that lack safe and effective treatments," he says.

"Traditional Chinese Medicine has been treating symptoms associated with IBS for centuries and there is a great deal of public interest in herbal remedies.

"We need trials such as this to confirm its effectiveness if more people are to benefit," he says.

Study partner and Associate Professor of Medicine at The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, Dr John Kellow agrees there is currently no ideal treatment for IBS.

"IBS effects over 10 percent of Australians and around 40 percent of these have constipation-predominant IBS," says Dr Kellow.

"Patients live with multiple symptoms which are unpredictable and distressing including abdominal pain and bloating.

"Current treatment involves an assortment of medicines for the different symptoms with limited benefits and some side-effects," says Dr Kellow.

"It is a difficult syndrome to live with," says Dr Kellow. "It affects so many aspects of a person's life".

Referring gastroenterologist, Dr Jamshid Kalantar, says people often visit their physician with fears that their symptoms may indicate cancer or another serious bowel disorder.

"A simple blood test, or bowel endoscopy if you are over 45, can rule these out leaving people with a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome," says Dr Kalantar.

"Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not life-threatening and does not lead to cancer in the future.

"What people find difficult is the chronic nature of IBS. It comes and goes but never disappears altogether," he says.

The study has funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council and is a joint project between the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western Sydney and Gastrointestinal Investigation Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital.

There are ten trial sites across Greater Sydney.

For more information on becoming a participant call: 02 4620 3283 or visit: http://www.uws.edu.au/complemed

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Paul Grocott
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