IBS Medications

Many IBS MEDICATIONS are used to treat or relieve diarrhea, constipation and pain symptoms.  Some of are available over the counter and are a great option when used in combination with diet, lifestyle and other remedies. 

So lets explore these Irritable bowel syndrome drugs further this further...

Select A Topic:

About Medications - this section provides background in to the major drug therapies available.

Antispasmodic Therapy - pain relieving medicines when your spasms/cramps are bad. This section outlines the options available for you.

Antidiarrheal Drugs - for your diarrhea symptoms

Miscellaneous Options - a group of medications that cannot be specifically classified in one of the previous sections

List of Over The Counter Treatments

About IBS Medications

IBS Medications
IBS Medications

These can be used to help relieve symptoms such as pain, diarrhea and constipation. 

IBS medications are not a cure, but they are a good way of allowing you to TAKE CONTROL of your bowel movements and pain issues, something that I believe is very important to anyone with the condition.

The choice of drug depends on the type of IBS you have.They can be broadly divided into the anti-spasm drugs or antispasmodics, laxatives, antidiarrheals, bulking agents and miscellaneous options.

I would advise using them when your symptoms are severe, or when more conservative measures such as diet and lifestyle are ineffective.

Before finding out more about this, enter the treatments you have already tried below. You will then have the opportunity to compare this with other visitors......

Quick Survey - Have Your Tried These IBS Medications?

Buscopan or Hyoscine
Mebeverine or Colofac
Fybogel or Ispaghula
Sterculia or Normocol
Peppermint Oil Capsules
Loperamide or Immodium
Co-Phenotrope or Lomotil
Codeine Phosphate

Antispasmodic Drugs

ANTISPASMODIC DRUGS are used for pain relief and are particularly good when you have cramps.

They have relatively widespread use as IBS medications and some of them may already be familiar to you.

They work by reducing the spasm symptoms that can be experienced in all forms of Irritable Bowel.

The most common ones (which are available over the counter) include:

Hyoscine butylbromide or Buscopan - another anti-spasm drug - can be taken up to four times a day. This is an ANTICHOLINERGIC, relieving symptoms by exerting an effect on your gut muscles at a cell level, thus reducing bowel spasm and pain.

Because of the so called ANTIMUSCARINIC or anticholinergic side effects you might experience dry mouth, blurring of vision and urine retention with both hyoscine butylbromide. Thankfully, these side effects are generally well tolerated, but shouldn't be ignored if you experience them.

Mebeverine - trade name is COLOFAC - is is commonly prescribed by doctors and can be taken three times a day. It's has no anticholinergic effects so is well tolerated.

Peppermint Oil Capsules - trade name of MINTEC or COLPERMIN - can be taken three times a day. They work on anti-pain channels to reduce your discomfort and are a good, natural product. They come in capsule form to allow easy passage of the medication in to your bowel without, without causing any irritation in your mouth.

They have VERY FEW SIDE EFFECTS, which is great news, although they may increase acid reflux symptoms if you are susceptible because they relax the "sphincter mechanism" between your esophagus and stomach (this normally prevents reflux occurring).

Antidiarrheal Drugs

ANTIDIARRHOEALS are used relieve symptoms in diarrhoea predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

These drugs reduce your guts contractility, but should be used with caution, as they can paradoxically increase spasm symptoms.

The common ones used are:

Loperamide - trade name of Imodium - is a common antidiarrheal medication which can be prescribed or purchased in your local pharmacy.

Co-Phenotrope or Lomotil - is an IBS treatment prescribed to reduce the number of bowel movements you have.

Codeine phosphate - is an ideal option as it can help relieve both diarrhea and bowel spasms. It can become addictive so it should be used sparingly when symptoms are bad.

They're in the same family of drugs as the opiates, morphine and diamorphine (heroin), but much weaker.

They work by stimulating opiate receptors in your bowel wall which in turn reduces your guts contraction and bowel movements.

Antidiarrheal IBS medications do have side effects and these include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Bloating

Some IBS-D sufferers don’t like antidiarrheal medications because of the constipating effect - this has always seemed a bit of a paradox to me!

The other group are the BULKING AGENTS which work by 'bulking up' your bowel motion, making it easier for your bowel to  handle the passage of stool through your gut.

Its action is achieved by the physical bulk as well as drawing fluid in to the fiber and stool.

The commonly used bulking agents are 

  • Ispaghula Husk - trade name Fybogel. Comes in sachets that you mix in water to drink.
  • Sterculia - these are granules that you can swallow with plenty of water to help aid the passage through to your bowel.
The Key To IBS Freedom
The Key To IBS Freedom

Miscellaneous IBS drugs


  • Antidepressants - these include the tricyclic antidepressants as well as the newer SSRI's
  • 5-HT4 antagonists - Tegaserod. This has been withdrawn from the market, but newer ones are being developed

I won’t go in to detail with these drugs as the latter two are rarely used now, but if you click on their links you can find out more detail including indications, doses and common side effects.

There's also new medication for IBS-C constipation, particularly in refractory or resistant symptoms. These include:

So, in summary, Irritable Bowel Syndrome medication can help some sufferers, but should be thought of as an adjunct rather than a cure in the management of your IBS.

List of Over The Counter IBS Preparations (OTC's)

Some IBS medications can be purchased over the counter known as OTC's. This depends on where you are living in the world. Here a some examples:

For Diarrhea 

  • Loperamide (imodium)
  • Codeine (Co-codamol - combined with Paracetamol, Paracod, Panadeine, Tylenol with codeine)
  • Pepto-Bismol

For Constipation

Docusate Sodium - Dulcolax, Colace

  • Senna/Senokot 
  • Dicyclomine - Bentyl
  • Psyllium - Konsyl, Metamucil, Reguloid, Hydrocil, Laxmar
  • Magnesium Hydroxide - Milk of Magnesia

For Gut Spasms

  • Alverine Citrate - Spasmanol, Audmonal, Gielsm
  • Hyoscine Butylbromide (Buscopan IBS Relief)
  • Merbeverine (Colofac, Duspamen, Duspatalin)
  • Colpermin Capsules

For wind and bloating

  • Simethicone -  Gas-X, Mylicon, Phazyme, Gas Relief Extra, Boot’s Wind Relief (combination treatment), Wind Eze

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