A double blind placebo controlled trial of ispaghula husk in 80 patients with irritable bowel syndrome is reported. Global assessment judged treatment to be satisfactory in 82% of patients receiving ispaghula and 53% of the placebo group (p less than 0.02). Bowel habit was unchanged in the placebo group, while constipation significantly improved in patients taking ispaghula (p = 0.026). Transit time decreased significantly in those taking ispaghula compared with placebo (p = 0.001), especially in patients with initially high transit times. Abdominal pain and bloating improved in both groups, with no significant differences between ispaghula and placebo. Four of the eight withdrawals on ispaghula and 10 of the 15 withdrawals on placebo were because of treatment failure. Ispaghula significantly improves overall well being in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, and in those with constipation favourably affects bowel habit and transit time.
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