Gut Reaction #25: STW5 (Iberogast)
This month’s blog will focus on STW5 (or Iberogast), a herbal product used for many years to treat functional dyspepsia (a chronic disorder of sensation and movement in the upper digestive tract – read more here).
What is it?
Iberogast is a liquid formulation of nine herbs, developed in Germany in 1961 and named after the genus (Iberis) of one of its ingredients. It consists of a mixture of extracts from bitter candytuft, angelica root, milk thistle fruit, celandine herb, caraway fruit, liquorice root, peppermint herb, balm leaf and chamomile flower. It contains no sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, dairy products, artificial colouring, artificial flavouring, or preservatives but does contain a small amount of alcohol.
Is it safe?
Used throughout Europe and other parts of the world for more than forty years, Iberogast has been used by over 20,000,000 patients with only 18 reported adverse events over the years. It appears therefore safe to use.
How does it work?
It is thought to affect various different functional processes in a complimentary, synergistic way. Thus it has been shown to affect the movement and tone of the stomach; alter the mucus lining the stomach; help reduce gas formation; decrease sensitivity to pain and possibly alter the gut microbiome.
Does it work?
A recent study found that patients with functional dyspepsia taking Iberogast had significantly reduced gastrointestinal symptoms compared to the control group who were taking placebo. Of patients taking Iberogast, 86% reported a therapeutic effect after four weeks of treatment. Results from a meta-analysis in 2013, which combined data from multiple, varied, small trials performed over the past decade, reinforced these findings of significantly more effectiveness than placebo in providing symptomatic relief to patients with functional dyspepsia. The researchers compiling the data agreed that although the cumulative total of patients in this meta-analysis was relatively limited, it was still large enough to demonstrate efficacy, even though they did suggest more research.
How it is taken?
Each Iberogast bottle has a built-in drop dispenser – shake the bottle before use, hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle and shake the required number of drops into a small glass of water (or liquid of your choice e.g. juice or warm tea) and drink, 3 times a day.
The recommended dose of Iberogast is 20 drops (1 mL), 3 times a day.
Where can I get some?
Iberogast can be bought over the counter at your local Health Food shop or online.