Irritable bowel syndrome and functional constipation management with integrative medicine: A systematic review

Liang Dai, Linda LD Zhong, Guang Ji*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)



Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional constipation (FC) are two commonly encountered functional gastrointestinal disorders in clinical practice and are usually managed with Western medicines in cooperation with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) interventions. Although clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been developed to assist clinicians with their decisions, there are still gaps in management with regard to integrative medicine (IM) recommendations. 


To comprehensively review the currently available CPGs and to provide a reference for addressing the gaps in IBS and FC management. 


We searched mainstream English and Chinese databases and collected data from January 1990 to January 2019. The search was additionally enriched by manual searches and the use of publicly available resources. Based on the development method, the guidelines were classified into evidence-based (EB) guidelines, consensus-based (CB) guidelines, and consensus-based guidelines with no comprehensive consideration of the EB (CB-EB) guidelines. With regard to the recommendations, the strength of the interventions was uniformly converted to a 4-point grading scale. 


Thirty CPGs met the inclusion criteria and were captured as data extraction sources. Most Western medicine (WM) CPGs were developed as EB guidelines. All TCM CPGs and most IM CPGs were identified as CB guidelines. Only the 2011 IBS and IM CPG was a CB-EB set of guidelines. Antispasmodics and peppermint oil for pain, loperamide for diarrhea, and linaclotide for constipation were relatively common in the treatment of IBS. Psyllium bulking agents, polyethylene glycol and lactulose as osmotic laxatives, bisacodyl and sodium picosulfate as stimulant laxatives, lubiprostone and linaclotide as prosecretory agents, and prucalopride were strongly recommended or recommended in FC. TCM interventions were suggested based on pattern differentiation, while the recommendation level was considered to be weak or insufficient. 


WM CPGs generally provide a comprehensive management algorithm, although there are still some gaps that could be addressed with TCM. Specific high-quality trials are needed to enrich the evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3486-3504
Number of pages19
JournalWorld Journal of Clinical Cases
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Medicine(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Clinical practice guideline
  • Functional constipation
  • Integrative medicine
  • Irritable bowel disease
  • Systematic review


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