Published 24 July 2001

Researchers at Southern Cross University are seeking sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome to help test two naturally-based treatments for this relatively common problem. Participants in the study should live in the greater Lismore area and be able to visit the SCU campus.

According to the team leader, Associate Professor Stephen Myers of SCU's School of Natural and Complementary Medicine, the new formulations have been specifically tailored to the two main subgroups of sufferers - those with diarrhoea-predominant and alternating bowel habit IBS, and those experiencing constipation-predominant IBS.

Studies in Australia and the U.S. suggest that between 15%-20% of the population suffer from the condition and it is more common in women. Its occurrence in males tends to peak around the ages of 30 and then at 50, and in females, around the ages of 25-35.

"Patients with IBS often become frequent attenders in primary care, and sometimes get locked into long-term and often fruitless follow-up," Professor Myers said. "They may be subjected to various costly and unnecessary investigations and even operations. Quality of life is often significantly reduced by IBS, which has a range of adverse effects on general well being and on physical, vocational, social and sexual functioning.

"The management of IBS is considered far from satisfactory and new therapeutic agents are required with good clinical efficacy," Professor Myers said.

A preliminary study was conducted at SCU last year using local volunteers and it is anticipated that the expansion of the project will go even further towards providing effective natural relief to the problem.

The trials will run for a 5 week period, with 2 weeks of monitoring, followed by 3 weeks of treatment. The medications being studied consist of two drink mix powders. One dose of powder will be blended with apple juice and taken twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.

"The entry requirements for this study are less stringent than those used last year," said the Project Coordinator, Jason Hawrelak, who completed his Honours degree in Naturopathy last year.

"The most important requirements are that individuals are aged between 18 and 65, suffer from such symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as abdominal pain and bloating, bowel irregularities and excess flatulence, and have no other major illnesses."

Interested participants should contact Jason Hawrelak on 6620-3308 as soon as possible.