Potential Benefits of Combining Berberine and Curcumin for Relieving IBS Symptoms

04 May 2024 1861
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Recent studies suggest a potential benefit in combining berberine and curcumin for the treatment of symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common digestive disorder. The findings were published in the journal, Nutrients.

Subjects suffering from IBS who consumed a daily supplement regimen of berberine and curcumin for two months reported a significant reduction in abdominal discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea. The research pointed out that conventional pharmacological treatments frequently fall short for IBS patients and the combination of berberine and curcumin could provide an alternative relief path.

However, Lexi Moriarty, RDN, a registered dietitian at Fueled + Balanced Nutrition, advised Health that more rigorous studies are required to determine the supplement's impact on IBS symptoms.

Berberine is a compound found in plants like barberry and the Chinese herb Coptis chinensis, while curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric. Long used in traditional medicine to treat various health conditions including gastrointestinal issues, these compounds have gained popularity in recent dietary supplements.

The authors of the study suggest that these compounds when taken individually, may help ameliorate IBS symptoms, possibly by regulating the gut microbiome, reducing intestinal inflammation, regulating digestion (berberine), and fostering health of the intestinal lining (curcumin).

The researchers underlined the emerging evidence in numerous animal studies pointing towards a potential therapeutic effect of berberine and curcumin in dealing with IBS. However, further human studies are required to ascertain the safety, efficacy, and impact of these supplements on IBS symptoms.

The team also wanted to assess the clinical impact of combining berberine and curcumin in treating IBS patients. 146 IBS patients in Belgium were split into two groups based on their clinical diagnosis. Half of the patients were administered standard IBS medications alone, while the rest were provided a supplement called Enterofytol PLUS (containing 200 mg of berberine and 49 mg of curcumin) twice daily for two months.

Upon evaluation at the end of the study period, those consuming the berberine/curcumin supplement reported almost 50% improvement in symptoms and stool normalization, and nearly two-thirds no longer required medication. About 7% of participants reported side effects such as nausea and abdominal pain.

According to Moriarty, a convincing study would require an expanded participant base and longer monitoring. The study should also include a randomized, blinded placebo group to eliminate the influence of placebo effect and other variables.

While berberine/curcumin supplements exhibit promise in addressing IBS symptoms, experts recommend consulting with healthcare providers before usage. They can assess if this treatment is suitable for individual cases, recommend precise dosages, and examine possible interaction risks with other medications.

Supplements are not the sole non-pharmaceutical remedies for IBS. Other natural measures include consumption of fiber-rich foods, regular physical activity, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and stress reduction.