In a study presented at the annual meeting of The American College of Gastroenterology, Anthony Lembo, MD, of the Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center presented data that showed that the non-absorbable antibiotic Rifaximin helps control cramping and diarrhea related Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel cripples individuals by causing abdominal cramping and multiple loose or watery stools per day. These patients have been screened by colonoscopy and imaging studies for more serious diseases such as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis with testing ruling these entities out. They are left with severe symptoms but no objective findings on available tests.
Over 2,500 patients participated in this study and received either Rifaximin or placebo three times per week. The decision to try an antibiotic was based on the theory that some IBS patients have excessive bacteria in the gut causing the problem. The treatment was successful in a significant number of participants compared to placebo based on a reduction of pain and frequency and number of stools. The patients were then observed for four (4) weeks during which time some patients relapsed. If these patients were treated for another two (2) weeks they showed significant improvement.
Irritable bowel incapacitates millions of individuals. While this data is extremely preliminary, it gives us hope of another treatment regimen, becoming available soon, that is effective and safe.
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