There has been some recent news on the drug Rifaximin(brand name XIFAXAN) showing some promising results for treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Rifaximin is an anti-biotic that is poorly absorbed by the body. What this means is that most of it stays in the gut where it attacks bacteria. The idea here is that harmful bacteria create toxins in the body causing neurocognitive and neuromuscular dysfunction. By using Rifaximin you can kill off these bacteria and hopefully restore the gut to it’s regular functions.
Rifaximin is being studied for use in people with diarrhea predominate Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it is not for those experiencing constipation. According to one study, of the people who took Rifaximin orally 3 times at day at a 550mg dosage, Rifaximin worked 11% better than a placebo, which really isn’t that great. Another concern I’d have about it, is that it is an antibiotic & antibiotics do not usually discriminate on what they destroy. While the study did follow people 10 weeks after treatment, I am wondering if this is truly a long time solution or if people will need to do follow-up treatments farther down the road. Keep in mind that those who did benefit did not see total resolution of their symptoms, but merely that their symptoms improved.
One interesting thing this does bring up is the link between chronic viral or bacterial infection & Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Since so many people get Irritable Bowel Syndrome after dealing with a bacterial or viral attack, it gets the gears turning in my mind that perhaps there is some sort of prolonged low-level infection that causes these problems.