The top new remedies for irritable bowel

Pills may not be your only option. Try these cutting-edge solutions

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the bathroom, the popular irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) drug Zelnorm — blamed for boosting the risk of heart attack and stroke — gets pulled off the market. That's a tough break if you're among the estimated 30 million American women with IBS. When untreated, the disorder keeps many women stuck at home (or in the ladies room) with constipation, diarrhea, and pain. The good news? Alternative remedies (and even a promising new drug) may be able to control your symptoms. Here's what experts suggest.

ID your triggers. What you eat, and how much, can stress out your gut and aggravate IBS. "There can be certain triggers," says Douglas Drossman, MD, codirector of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders. "High-fat foods can stimulate the bowel. Just filling the stomach quickly stresses it. Large meats can do it. One recommendation is to slow down when you eat and have frequent small meals." Keeping track of what you eat and your symptoms can help; for an online diary, go to Health .com/links. (Which foods cause the most trouble? See "What Not to Eat," below.)

Ask about Amitiza. This constipation medicine debuted last year and is now being used as a Zelnorm replacement. Early findings are promising (but so were the early reports on Zelnorm).

Get more fiber. Try eating more apples, oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and air-popped popcorn. Vegetables can help, too, but build up gradually-too much too soon may make the problem worse.

Try probiotics. Research shows the "good" bacteria may help ease symptoms. Drossman recommends using a product that's patented, such as Activia yogurt or the Align pill (www.aligngi.com).

Do herbs. Peppermint and chamomile can relax the muscles in your intestines; try either in tea form.

Get hypnotized. Studies show hypnosis may help 70 percent of those with IBS, and, if successful, the improvement may last up to five years. Go to www.ibshypnosis.com to locate a therapist.

What not to eat… to avoid IBS
Anything with caffeine
Dairy products other than yogurt (if you are lactose-intolerant)
Fatty foods (like bacon, butter, and anything that's fried)
Artificial sweeteners (like those in diet sodas)
Alcohol
Gas-causing foods (like beans and cabbage)
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By Allison Avery

Edited By Adam Martin

Fresh fix for canker sores
A flavored patch may heal them fast

Canker sores can be especially painful for women, though no one's sure why. It could be a hormone thing — women are most susceptible to the sores the week before their periods. But, fortunately, there's a new patch that may help cut the cure time for the sores from a couple of weeks to a few days.

CankerMelts (shown below), which eventually dissolve in your mouth. contain collagen to help them stick to the sore and are flavored with black licorice, long used as a natural anti-inflammatory. Whether or not licorice is a canker cure-all, doctors seem to agree that simply covering a sore with the patch may reduce pain, says John R. Kalmar, DMD, PhD, a professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology at The Ohio State University.

Don't like licorice? No problem. Just try this pain-relieving trick three or four times a day: Clean the canker sore with one part hydrogen peroxide and one part water, using a cotton swab to dab it directly on the sore. Follow with a small amount of soothing milk of magnesia or Maalox. — AA

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