According to the findings of a study from the University of Gothenburg dietary interventions are a more effective treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) than medications. Dietary changes were able to produce improvement in approximately seventy percent of the study participants.   10.1016/S2468-1253(24)00045-1

This study was just published in Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology. It compared three different treatments for IBS. Two of the three used dietary intervention and the third, medication management. The study subjects were adult patients at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg who were classified as having moderate to severe symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

IBS is diagnosed in those who suffer from intermittent bouts of diarrhea or constipation, or both with varying degrees of severity. A diagnostic schema that has been in use divides IBS into four subtypes: IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), Mixed IBS (IBS-M), which alternates between constipation and diarrhea, & Unsubtyped IBS (IBS-U), which is for people who don’t fit into the above types. It should be appreciated however that these subtypes simply outline the primary symptoms and give little if any insight into what causes the condition. There is no simple test to diagnose IBS, and it is generally recognized that there has not been a clear underlying reason ever established for the development of the condition.

Reliance on such a classification schema, and treatment with medication for the primary symptom involved underlies why dietary management is likely more effective. When medications are used they target the primary symptom, whether to treat diarrhea or constipation or abdominal pain. And although medications can be temporarily effective to suppress the symptom the patient is experiencing, they do little or nothing for the underlying condition itself, and do not impact the continuance of the IBS Syndrome once the medication has been discontinued. What is eaten by sufferers of IBS and informed decisions as to the most appropriate dietary changes are key to making a more lasting impact.

Some general treatments have involved the dietary advice of eating smaller and more frequent meals. They also advise reducing possible triggers to symptoms such as alcohol, coffee and carbonated beverages. These general ideas are of some benefit to many, however they are not reliable and specific enough treatments that canbe broadly be used with any confidence as an effective medical treatment across the board for IBS sufferers.


The first group in this study were given the traditional IBS dietary advice, and additionally told to avoid fermentable carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs.


FODMAP is  an acronym which stands for fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are sugars that are not easily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Not being well absorbed in our intestines, they move slowly, taking up water and these high FODMAP sugars are fermented by gut bacteria, which then produces gas. The extra gas and water cause the intestinal wall to stretch and expand, causing abdominal bloating and pain. For more information on a  low FODMAP diet read here…

The second study group involved in this study ate a diet low in carbohydrates and relatively higher  in protein and fat.

The third group of study participants were given medications for relief of the person’s predominant IBS symptoms.

Each group consisted of approximately 100 participants. The study lasted four weeks. When the results were reviewed it was clear that dietary interventions produced better results than symptom suppression by medication alone.

In study group “ONE” who followed traditional IBS dietary advice and ate a low content of FODMAP foods,  76% had significantly reduced symptoms. The study group “TWO” , following a low carbohydrates and higher protein and fat diet, had 71%, who reported significnant improvement. In comparison in the medication group 58% had  a positive response, not much more than half.


Researcher  Sanna Nybacka at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg says,

“With this study, we can show that diet plays a central role in the treatment of IBS, but that there are several alternative treatments that are effective. We need more knowledge about how to best personalize the treatment of IBS in the future and we will further investigate whether there are certain factors that can predict whether individuals will respond better to different treatment options.”

Personalized Treatment is the goal


By finding out what your individual food sensitivities are you can greatly reduce the inflammatory response that occurs by ingesting them. Avoiding the offending foods allows your GI tract to rest, as the inflammatory response it has been making for so long diminishes. Learning what foods to avoid allows the lining of the GI tract, the inflamed “leaky gut”, to finally heal itself.

We utilize a simple blood test measuring immune reactions through the stimulation of white blood cells called leukocytes.

The Use of Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) 

Sublingual immunotherapy is a way to treat allergies without injections (allergy shots). A patient is provided with a dropper bottle containing very small doses of the allergens the patient has been found to be sensitive to. According to a 2009 World Allergy Organization review, SLIT is widely accepted throughout Europe, South America, Australia and in Asia.  There have been many clinical trials and surveys published over more than 20 years showing that SLIT is safe and effective for the treatment of a variety of allergies.In the United States sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) is currently considered “off label” as an alternative to allergy shots.

How Is This Treatment Administered?

First, allergy testing is done to confirm the patients’ individual food sensitivities. Then, an allergen extract is prepared in liquid form administered in a dropper bottle. Patients are advised to place drops under the tongue on a daily basis.
 We treat a wide range of food allergies with oral desensitization including:
dairy, egg, chicken, beef, wheat, milk/dairy, baker’s yeast, garlic, onion, rice, tomato, white potato, olive, coffee, soy, candida allergy and more.
Symptoms may be helped very quickly but the process needs to be continued for at least a number of months for a  more lasting effect.
A combination of adhering to avoiding offending foods on the sensitivity testing, along with following a low FDAMAP diet offers the best chance for success.
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