: Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) frequently resort to natural products, or request doctors to prescribe them, to relieve their symptoms, due to the poor efficacy and tolerability of several traditional drugs. Products containing fibre are among the most used and their clinical efficacy is discussed here based on the most recent scientific evidence.
: A literature search was carried out to identify the most significant publications in order to deal with the topics of the general characteristics of fibres and the scientific evidence underlying their therapeutic use, the properties of ispaghula husk and the mechanisms by which this product carries out its therapeutic actions.
: The most recent clinical guidelines on the management of IBS consider ispaghula husk, a product containing soluble fibre, as a reasonable first line therapy for IBS patients with symptoms. In contrast, products containing insoluble fibres, particularly wheat bran, do not appear to be useful in treating IBS symptoms. The clinical data on the use of prebiotics in IBS are still inconclusive. However, low daily amounts of fructo-oligosaccharides or β-galacto-oligosaccharides (also known as trans-galacto-oligosaccharides) may be effective in improving IBS symptoms; further trials are needed to definitively establish their clinical usefulness.