Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a problem reported to affect 22% of the general population. It is characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habit, but has so far defied elucidation of its pathogenesis and proved difficult to treat. There is a growing body of evidence which indicates therapeutic properties for artichoke leaf extract (ALE). Dyspepsia is the condition for which the herb is specifically indicated, but the symptom overlap between dyspeptic syndrome and IBS has given rise to the notion that ALE may have potential for treating IBS as well. A sub-group of patients with IBS symptoms was therefore identified from a sample of individuals with dyspeptic syndrome who were being monitored in a post-marketing surveillance study of ALE for 6 weeks. Analysis of the data from the IBS sub-group revealed significant reductions in the severity of symptoms and favourable evaluations of overall effectiveness by both physicians and patients. Furthermore, 96% of patients rated ALE as better than or at least equal to previous therapies administered for their symptoms, and the tolerability of ALE was very good. These results provide support for the notion that ALE has potential value in relieving IBS symptoms and suggest that a controlled trial is justified.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.