Medication for IBS

Since IBS is laregly a cognitive condition, there are no medications that can treat the cause - only the symptoms.  In some cases, medication can even make these symptoms worse. In most cases, it is difficult to separate the benefits caused by the medication from a placebo effect. In general, whether the effects are medically-based or the result of a placebo effect, pharmaceutical solutions only work in the short-term.

Depending on your symptoms, there are some medications that may help you find relief. Here are a few:

All IBS Symptoms

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): these are usually prescribed as antidepressants, but they’ve been used as a treatment for IBS. However, several trials found that SSRIs are no better at relieving IBS symptoms than a placebo. In general, with SSRIs, any improvements can take between 4-8 weeks
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs): another group of antidepressants that can help contents through the digestive system. They can also help with abdominal pain and bloating, and improve mood. Side effects can include dry mouth and drowsiness.

Diarrhea Medication (IBS-D)

  • Lotronex®: Can help reduce diarrhea symptoms and abdominal pain in people with IBS-D. It works by slowing the movement of stool through the intestines. (only approved by FDA for use in women with severe IBS-D.)
  • Viberzi®: Helps slow the movement of stool through the digestive system. Constipation can be a side effect. A number of people have, supposedly, developed pancreatitis from this medication.
  • Xifaxin®: Is an antibiotic that can help reduce diarrhea symptoms, abdominal pain, and bloating in people with IBS-D.

Constipation Medication (IBS-C)

  • Amitiza®: Can help reduce constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating in people with IBS-C. It works by promoting fluid secretion into the intestines to aid in the passing of stool.
  • Linzess©: Can reduce constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating in people with IBS-C. It works by promoting fluid secretion into the intestines to aid in passing of stool. It also calms pain-sensing nerves in the GI system.

Abdominal Pain and Bloating Medication

  • Antispasmodics (Hyoscyamine, Dicyclomin): help relieve stomach cramps by relaxing the muscles around the abdomen. High doses can lead to constipation, fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness and blurred vision.
  • Peppermint Oil: an essential oil extracted from the peppermint plant. There is limited evidence that taken in capsule form, it may be effective in relieving abdominal pain and bloating.  It causes the intestines to relax so they are less likely to spasm and cramp.