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A Game-Changer In Ibs And Beyond

By Irish Pharmacist - 01st Nov 2022

ibs

A clinically-proven product is set to change the lives of IBS patients in Ireland. The owner and MD of Meaghers Pharmacy Group, Oonagh O’Hagan MPSI, speaks with IP about its benefits for IBS and other conditions.

Ms Oonagh O’Hagan MPSI

Treating the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been a clinical conundrum for many years, as the condition affects different individuals in a variety of ways. The explosion in research into gut microbiota in recent years has led to a number of innovations, and most recently, there has been a significant addition to the armament of pharmacists treating their patients for IBS. 

To coincide with World Microbiome Day in June, it was announced that Symprove Ireland, a brand new distribution company in Ireland, will offer a new lease of life to IBS sufferers in the form of Symprove, a product with unique efficacy and potential indications for other conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. Symprove has been scientifically demonstrated to improve the amount of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut microbiome to support it, effectively rebalancing the microbiome. This has led to an improvement in the symptoms of bowel conditions such as IBS, and a study published recently in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics also showed that Symprove altered the composition of the gut microbiome in Parkinson’s disease patients. Further studies are ongoing to elucidate the benefits of Symprove for these patients and explore the extent to which Symprove can help to improve the quality of life for patients with diseases other than IBS, with the results expected to be released later this year. 

Meaghers Pharmacy Group was the first stockist of Symprove in 2014 and now Meaghers owner and Managing Director, Ms Oonagh O’Hagan MPSI, has launched Symprove Ireland, a brand new distribution company that will make it available to Irish patients through their trusted pharmacist and health food stores. 

RISING DEMAND 

Speaking with Irish Pharmacist (IP), Ms O’Hagan explained that the product has been helping to change the lives of IBS patients in the UK for a number of years. Herself an IBS sufferer, Ms O’Hagan explained that the dramatic improvements she experienced with Symprove inspired her to set up the company. She also saw first-hand how the product was changing the lives of her IBS patients in Meaghers Pharmacies, with demand for the product rising exponentially. 

“It really has been a journey of discovery,” Ms O’Hagan told IP. “I suffered with the symptoms of IBS for years and it would flare-up if I was stressed, or if there was exam pressure, for example, with a lot of bloating, cramps and significant pains, as well as alternating constipation and diarrhoea, it was very debilitating and it got so bad that I had numerous surgeries to remove recurrent piles as a result of my symptoms but with little effect.” She explained that after discussing her condition with her gastroenterologist, she subsequently began to study evidence, emerging initially from the US, to show a strong link between IBS and the gut microbiome. “I tried every probiotic product that was on the market at the time, and none of them worked.” She also pointed out that restrictive elimination diets designed to alleviate the symptoms of IBS can leave the sufferer with a diet that is so bland and that does not provide sufficient nutrition. 

She eventually discovered and researched Symprove, which was developed in the UK, and a subsequent study by a team of gastroenterologists in University College London showed that Symprove was the only gut supplement out of seven other comparators to contain bacteria that survived the acidic environment of the stomach, allowing it to arrive and thrive in the gut. “Within six weeks, I was like a new woman — no symptoms whatsoever, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t need to take medication for cramps or laxatives to have a normal bowel motion,” she continued. 

SKIN CONDITIONS AND PARKINSON’S 

Ms O’Hagan then developed a partnership with the UK manufacturer to allow Meaghers pharmacies to stock Symprove, and “it has completely changed the lives of many of our patients with IBS,” she said. “As the product has grown and developed, what we find is that people who have IBS and may have other coexisting conditions, who are taking the product, have reported symptom improvement in those other conditions. A good example of this is with skin conditions,” she continued. “People with IBS may also have psoriasis or rosacea — they report symptom improvement and because the conditions are so visible, the improvements are so obvious.” 

There are currently three ongoing studies examining the effects of Symprove specifically on Parkinson’s patients, which are being conducted in King’s College London and Sheffield Hallam University. Symprove’s efficacy has peaked the interest of top neurologists for its potential to improve a range of other conditions. Results from the Parkinson’s trials are expected by year-end 2022, she explained, and it is a super-exciting area of research undertaken by some of the world’s leading neurologists. 

“We have set up a distribution company called Symprove Ireland to help get the message out there,” she concluded. “We are selecting committed partners who are passionate about gut health and can articulate this message with the clinical evidence. We will train our partners to the level of information that we have ourselves in Meaghers, because we have been involved with Symprove for nearly 10 years. We are also working to educate other healthcare professionals — many gastroenterologists are already aware of this product from discussions with their UK and Irish peers, and from the clinical trials. 

“We are committed to making a lasting difference on more people’s health and wellbeing through education on the importance of good gut health. I am a firm believer that good gut health supports your overall health.” 

To find out more about Symprove Ireland, please contact accounts@smyproveireland.ie 

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