The Double-Edged Sword of Constipation

Constipation is uncomfortable-physically and even just talking about it. Let’s just say it’s not high on the list of topics people want to discuss. It is, however, a problem that 63 million Americans will encounter.

The problem is exacerbated for seniors, who often experience higher rates of constipation. Continue reading

What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health

Story at-a-glance

  • What’s normal and what’s not when you look into the toilet after using it? You can learn a great deal about your overall health by taking a look at your stool and noting its color, size, shape, consistency, odor and other features
  • Your toileting habits, such as your frequency of elimination and the ease with which you move your bowels, can provide additional clues to your health status
  • If you know what to look for, you may be able to detect health problems early enough to stop them in their tracks, including serious diseases like celiac disease, Continue reading

If You Have IBS, You MUST Avoid These Foods

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is probably the most common digestive disorder seen by doctors. Basically, this condition results when the normal contractions of your digestive tract become irregular and uncoordinated. Material starts to accumulate in the digestive tract and causes stomach problems, bloating, pain, and constipation.

Not surprisingly, many people learn to fear eating, which seems to trigger all the painful digestive symptoms that go along with IBS. Malnutrition can then become a real problem. Continue reading

Nine Top Remedies for Shedding the Pounds

These days there is a wide range of natural remedies to combat obesity. Which should you trust? Here are nine supplements that have the most proof behind them, or are generally the most popular options. Let’s take a look. Continue reading

Antidepressant Found to be Just as Effective as Placebo in Child Pain Relief

Antidepressant Found to be Just as Effective as Placebo in Child Pain Relief

WASHINGTON – A new study has shown that the antidepressant amitriptyline is just as effective as placebo in treating pain-predominant gastrointestinal disorders in children.

“Many pharmaceutical products are prescribed for off-label use in children due to the lack of clinical trials testing the efficacy of the drugs in children and adolescents. Therefore, the pediatric gastroenterologist frequently has to make treatment decisions without the evidence of how drugs work in children,” said Dr. Miguel Saps, of Children’s Memorial Hospital and lead author of the study.

“The high placebo effect we identified in this study suggests that further studies of the use of certain antidepressants in children with functional bowel disorders are needed. While several trials have demonstrated a beneficial effect of antidepressants, including amitriptyline, for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in adults, more research is needed to determine how effective this drug is, if at all, in children,” Dr. Saps added.

According to background information in an article on the study, published in the journal Gastroenterology, amitriptyline is used to treat symptoms of depression, but it is some times prescribed to children for pain relief from pain-predominant functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs).

Pain-predominant FGIDs are among the most common causes for medical consultation in children. Such disorders include three common conditions: IBS, functional dyspepsia and functional abdominal pain.

For their study, the researchers designed a large prospective, multi-centre, randomised placebo-controlled trial in which children, ages eight to 17, with IBS, functional abdominal pain or functional dyspepsia were randomised to four weeks of placebo or amitriptyline.

Of the 83 children who completed the study, 63 percent of those who took amitriptyline reported feeling better, while 5 percent reported feeling worse.

Among those given a placebo, 57.5 percent felt better, while 2.5 percent felt worse.

Pain relief was excellent (7 percent), good (38 percent) in children on placebo and excellent (15 percent), good (35 percent) in children on amitriptyline.

The researchers observed that both amitriptyline and placebo were associated with excellent therapeutic response, although patients with mild to moderate intensity of pain responded better to treatment.

According to them, there was no significant difference between amitriptyline and placebo after four weeks of treatment.

In children, the use of drugs to treat pain-predominant FGIDs is mostly empirical and based on adult data.

There have been only a few small, randomized clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of drugs for the treatment of pain-predominant FGIDs in children.  

Soluble Fiber Effective in Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Soluble Fiber Effective in Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome

UTRECHT – A new study by researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands has suggested that a soluble fiber supplement called psyllium should be the first line of attack in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In the study, researchers compared adding bran, psyllium and a dummy supplement to sufferers’ diets.

They found psyllium was the most effective, warning that bran may even worsen the symptoms of the condition.

IBS is characterized by abdominal pain and an irregular bowel habit.

Its exact cause is unknown and recommendations for treatment include dietary advice, antidepressants and drug treatments.

Many relying on dietary adjustments still turn to bran in a bid to help improve the way the intestines work.

However, the new study of 275 patients questions the wisdom of this approach.

The researchers gave patients 10g of either psyllium, bran or rice flour twice a day for 12 weeks.

At the end of the study, those on psyllium, a naturally occurring vegetable fibre, reported symptom severity had been reduced by 90 points using a standard scale of rating problems.

For bran it was 58 points and for the placebo group, 49.

The study also showed that patients seemed less tolerant of bran, with more than half of the group dropping out during the trial, mostly because their symptoms worsened.

Soluble fiber can also be found in fruit such as apples and strawberries, as well as barley and oats.

“I think adding psyllium to the diet is the best treatment option to start with. In the study, people did this by adding it to things such as yoghurt and it had a real effect,” the BBC quoted Dr Niek de Wit, one of the researchers, as saying.

The study has been described in the British Medical Journal.