Intended for healthcare professionals

Clinical Review State of the Art Review

Irritable bowel syndrome: new and emerging treatments

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 18 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1622
  1. Magnus Halland, assistant professor of medicine,
  2. Yuri A Saito, consultant, associate professor of medicine
  1. 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Y A Saito saito.yuri{at}


Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in developed nations. It is characterized by abdominal pain, altered bowel habits, and bloating. Several non-pharmacological and pharmacological agents, which target the peripheral gastrointestinal system and central nervous system, are used to treat the syndrome. The individual and societal impact of investigating and managing the syndrome is substantial, and despite newer treatments, many patients have unmet needs. Intense research at many international sites has improved the understanding of pathophysiology of the syndrome, but developing treatments that are effective, safe, and that have tolerable side effects remains a challenge. This review briefly summarizes the currently available treatments for irritable bowel syndrome then focuses on newer non-pharmacological and pharmacological therapies and recent evidence for older treatments. Recent guidelines on the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome are also discussed.


  • Contributors: Both authors were involved in the literature review, drafting, and critical review of the manuscript and approved the final version. YAS is guarantor.

  • Competing interests: We have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: YAS’s institution has received fees for her participation on an advisory board for Salix Pharmaceuticals and receives research funding from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals for investigator initiated clinical studies in which she is principal investigator. YAS was a member of the American College of Gastroenterology Institute for Clinical Research and Education task force on the management of functional bowel disorders.

  • Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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