Bowel Syndrome Chinese Herb Study Warning

Bowel Syndrome Chinese Herb Study Warning
I began to write (and rewrite) an up and coming post focused on the many different things I’ve been reading about IBS and diarrhea that readers have asked me some questions about and as I crafted one particular post, some of the digging-deeper investigative work to double-check reported facts in a popular magazine article, led me to go off on a tangent.  My findings are included below, standing on their own.  I opted for the sake of fluidity and staying on the topic to put those findings here by themselves, rather than as an indented quote or editor sidebar in the original post.

One of the articles I have recently read about alternatives for IBS and diarrhea, gas and bloating was via a normally trusted and reliable source: Natural Health Magazine.  But, I came across an herb suggested, based on a Chinese herbal formula, sold as IBS-F based on a study monitored by the “Journal of the American Medical Association”, or JAMA, a peer-reviewed general medicine journal whose stories and studies get picked up by popular, known media outlets: USA Today, major (U.S.) prime television and cable networks.

What was published about the study, in my opinion, is not conclusive enough to endorse it here?  Those details include: Researchers administered IBS patients one of three formulas for their Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a 5-capsule dose per day of a Chinese herbal formula with ginger, licorice and “18 other ingredients” three times a day, OR a placebo (sugar pill) or a “similar mix” targeting specific symptoms.  According to Natural Health Magazine: 64-76 percent saw their symptoms improve in four months time, versus only 33 percent of those taking just the placebo.  The Chinese formula used in the study was IBS-F, manufactured by Brion Herbs (

I’m including a screenshot of the only similar clinical study relating to determining the use of Chinese herbs in relation to treating IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, via the JAMA website.  It is possible, that what was reported published in Natural Health Magazine, and what I found is not the same.  But, when I went fact checking to dig deeper before I share opinions and conclusions with my readers, some parts just didn’t add up, in my book. IBS Clinical Study via JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association)

Note that the study I found dated back to a trial from 1996-1997, and the Natural Health Magazine article was published in 2010.

Note that improvement was marked by a “degree with the interference of life caused by IBS symptoms”, which could also be interpreted as not actually improving IBS, in actuality.  To me, it sounds like science was not the desired result here.

Note that the clinical study only had 116 people in it.  That’s very few in my opinion.

Note that their conclusion, based on the above criteria was: “Chinese herbal formulations appear to offer improvement in symptoms for some patients with IBS.“

Well, one could also conclude that if you have IBS and suffering from the conditions and symptoms which include: gas, bloating, constipation and or diarrhea that if you take five placebos (plain sugar in a capsule) three times a day over a four-month stretch and have IBS, you’ll see a 33 percent improvement in your symptoms!

Mentioning such a story, in a semi-recent magazine, without digging deeper, in my opinion, is misleading to the general public.  There are many out there who are legitimately sick, but I really don’t believe that what needs to be fixed requires such complications – — unfortunately, the media is only fueled by what the public demands: quick, painless options that require little or no work or dietary or lifestyle change from individuals suffering from poor diet and lifestyle habits that have resulted in their current, unhealthy predicament.

I didn’t feel right implying an endorsement to that Chinese herbal formula, in particular, decided to do a little more legwork, dig deeper and went to their (BrionHerbs) website, located in California, and frankly did not like what I saw.  I lot of ways to buy and formulas being sold, but little explanation, a red flag in my opinion.  Which led to further digging.  – Sandy!

P.S.  I will be posting the original, additional posts about other alternatives to fix and heal IBS and diarrhea in the next few days, so watch for those related posts.