IBS symptoms could be relieved by taking antihistamines, a new study has found
Between 10 to 15 per cent of the population suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the symptoms of which include painful abdominal cramps. A link between allergy medication and relief for IBS sufferers has long been suspected, but the findings from a new study appear to confirm the connection.
Researchers from Belgium’s KU Leuven found that the antihistamine ebastine, which is frequently used in hay fever medication, served to counteract the effects of histamine – which is released into the gut of IBS sufferers and causes hypersensitivity in the bowels.
Sufferers of the disease find they have increased perception of pain – which can be likened to the feeling of sunburned skin being exposed to hot water. Scientists had, to date, been unable to work out the cause of this hypersensitivity. But now the new study has found the link between histamine and the pain receptor known as TRPV1.
By using ebastine to block the receptor, researchers were able to block the sensitising effect of histamine and therefore reducing the pain perception of IBS sufferers.
The pilot clinical study used ebastine on patients for 12 weeks, with the results showing that those who had taken the drug had “significantly less” abdominal pain than those from a control group.
Scientists are now hoping to conduct another study to examine how ebastine affects 200 IBS patients.
The results of the study were published in the journal Gastroenterology.
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