The idea that herbs are nature's medicines deserves great credence when it comes to IBS. According to the American Botanical Council, whose mission continues the historical tradition of disseminating scientific information that promotes the safe and effective use of medicinal plants, several herbs are particularly effective digestive aids for IBS:
All of these herbs are safe for daily use and have no risk of short- or long-term side effects.
The leaves, flowers, stems, berries, and roots of plants have long been used to prevent, relieve, and treat illness. The history of herbal medicine is in fact inextricably intertwined with that of modern science, as many manufactured drugs used today were originally derived from plants.
The first treatise on herbal medicine was written in 2735 B.C., by the Chinese emperor Shen Nung, and this work is still in use today. The records of King Hammurabi of Babylon, circa 1800 B.C., offer instructions for using medicinal plants, including mint for digestive disorders. The entire Middle East has a rich history of herbal medicine, with surviving texts from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India that describe and illustrate the use of many medicinal plant products. Egyptian hieroglyphs show physicians of the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. using caraway and peppermint to relieve digestive upset.
Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, home-grown herbs were the only medicines readily available, and by the 17th century the knowledge of herbal medicine was wide-spread. In 1649 in England, Nicholas Culpeper wrote A Physical Directory, and a few years later followed with The English Physician, an herbal manual that is still widely referred to today. The first American treatise on herbal medicine was a Pharmacopeia published in 1820, which included a comprehensive listing of herbs along with their properties, uses, dosages, and tests of purity. It was periodically revised and updated and in 1906 became the legal standard for medical compounds. Today's modern equivalent is the Physician's Desk Reference, an extensive listing of chemically manufactured drugs.
Since discovering herbs for IBS several years ago (I sure wish I'd known about them sooner), I've become positively addicted. Overall, I've found herbs to be one of the easiest, fastest, safest, and downright enjoyable remedies for preventing and halting the whole spectrum of IBS symptoms, and I would urge you to give at least one of them a try.