IBS Research

Once bitten

Learning to be suspicious of claims, becomes de rigeur for many IBS sufferers.  This is often the result of frequently being let down by a variety of sources claiming to offer relief from IBS, which they fail to deliver.  Like IBS itself this can arise from the excessively broad nature of definition of the condition.  Few IBS products/books/websites receive universal plaudits, because the diversity of symptoms covered by IBS means that no such products exist.  They should be specific about what symptoms they alleviate, rather than being sold as cures/treatments/relief for IBS.

For those who have yet to be tarnished by the IBS experience, we urge you take caution before throwing your trust behind anything IBS related.  Trust and hope are precious commodities and some of the negative experiences you may have will challenge both.

*  Sample claims:

‘In addition, the manufacturer of probiotic drink ********* today claimed a daily ** dose could provide relief for IBS sufferers. Health drink manufacturers claim probiotic bacteria play an important role in digestive health and the immune system - although this has yet to be proved.

A study involving 186 people, aged 18 to 65, who had been diagnosed with moderate to severe IBS, found that two-thirds of patients given the drink reported a reduction in the severity of their symptoms at the end of a 12-week trial.

According the Daily ****, more than one in five receiving the probiotic drink saw their symptoms fall from the severe category to mild.  Previous studies that have explored the role bacteria plays in the disease, have used breath tests to detect methane - a byproduct of bacterial fermentation in the gut. However, this study was the first to make the link using bacterial cultures.

** Customer Testimony - From Amazon

‘Did not work for me. I took it for six weeks with no improvement. Too costly to continue without any results. Tastes horrible too.’

‘Tastes quite revolting, and unfortunately did not work for me, perhaps another flavour would be more palatable,but it did not repopulate my gut flora, a very expensive mistake.’

Not all comments were negative:

‘the product was very helpful to my partner after taking the symprove for about a week he said he noticed the difference and didn't feel as blotted as he suffers from diabetes’

It received 14 Reviews

5 star:  (4)

4 star:  (1)

3 star:  (1)

2 star:  (8)

1 star:  .

It is fair to say that while the comments were not entirely negative they do not replicate the claims made.  It is not even a bad product, as it has helped many, however the further you look into the consumer reaction you find it very hard to reconcile the claims with the reality.

Dubious Results

Last year we chanced upon a series of articles which suggested that major breakthroughs had been made in the field of IBS and in particular bacteriology.

We have kept both articles and video clips which demonstrate these claims.  At the time they seemed to be perfectly acceptable claims and cause for optimism. *

One of the articles had appeared in a national newspaper and it looked as though the research was plausible.  All good so far, as an IBS sufferer, the idea that some new or improved treatment is on its way can often lift the spirits.

The articles were backed up by both scientists and medical professionals, who spoke convincingly of the benefits of these breakthroughs.  Who are we to challenge highly trained professionals, speaking with such conviction ?

Who can you trust ?


While looking at the highest rated products on Amazon recently, it was very noticeable that one product in particular faired poorly After reading the reviews it became quite clear that the product had been unable to deliver upon its promises.  It scored an average of three stars out of five and had some negative comments about it.

Closer inspection revealed a familiar name.  This name had appeared in all of the positive research which had been published in national newspapers, and had received endorsements from Doctors and scientists.  A plethora of sources that you would like to think were trustworthy had readily attached their names to a product and more importantly research which appears  flawed.

We are not fools, we understand that research is regularly produced to provide the desired results for a given product, however it remains saddening that so many sources of information that we should be able to trust let us down so badly.  A slightly scary book by a UK Doctor Ben Goldacre ‘Bad Science’ reveals the extent to which we should take any research cautiously.  One of the key messages which we have taken from the book, is that you should learn how to evaluate the research methodology before throwing your support behind it.

What is IBS ?