Please note that this article is for general information only and not personalised medical advice. You should not take this or any other medication without checking with your own doctor first.
Buscopan is a common IBS medication which you may have been prescribed by your doctor. In this article, I will explain what Buscopan is and how it works.
Buscopan and IBS
Table of Contents
What is Buscopan?
Buscopan is an antispasmodic medication commonly used to provide irritable bowel syndrome relief. It specifically works for the management of abdominal cramps (1, 2).
All medications have two names: the brand name and then the name of the chemical compound which makes up the drug. ‘Buscopan’ is a brand name with the active ingredient hyoscine butylbromide (1).
Although you may have heard of Buscopan before, it is not the only antispasmodic medication available on the market. There are many different types which are widely available.
The UK NICE guidelines recommend that antispasmodic medications are considered on an ‘as required’ basis in IBS (3).
List of alternative antispasmodic medications (4);
- Pinaverium bromide
- Peppermint oil capsules
How does Buscopan work?
The gut muscles, like any muscles, need to be able to contract to function normally. To do this, a chemical called acetylcholine binds to receptors on the muscle, causing it to contract.
The problem in IBS is that this system is hyperactive which can lead to muscle spasms. Buscopan works by blocking some of the acetylcholine receptors and stopping these overactive contractions AKA IBS spasms.
Can Buscopan manage IBS symptoms?
Whilst Buscopan can help with stomach pains related to IBS, it is unlikely to manage all symptoms of IBS (4). This is because IBS is a multifactorial condition with a range of symptoms.
You should still expect to have to make dietary and lifestyle changes in order to get longer-term IBS symptom relief.
When should you take Buscopan for IBS?
Unlike other medications you needn’t take Buscopan regularly, instead you can take it as and when you need it for symptom relief (3). This is ideal for a condition like IBS which often comes in flare ups.
Is Buscopan safe?
As with any medication, there are always potential side effects or you may have another medical condition which means you should not take Buscopan for your IBS. Equally, you may be on other medications that could have a drug interaction with Buscopan.
You can get a full list of potential side effects here.
To prevent any harm to your health, it is always best to seek to advice of either your doctor or registered pharmacist prior to taking any medication.
Where can you buy Buscopan for IBS?
You can get a prescription for Buscopan but you can also buy it over the counter (1). This is also true of other antispasmodic medications.
Buscopan is a commonly used medication for IBS stomach pain and works by stopping muscles in the gut from going into spasm.
If you feel an antispasmodic medication like Buscopan may help your IBS please speak to your doctor before taking it to avoid potential side effects.
This post was written by Dietitian Kirsten Jackson and reviewed by Gastroenterologist Dr Hossam Al Hilou – May 2021
Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.
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