Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) have no identifiable structural or biochemical abnormality, and are distinguished by symptoms such as motility disturbance, impaired mucosal and immune function, and altered gut microbiota.
They are also linked to a lower quality of life due to compromised social, mental, occupational and physical function, with an estimated 30% of adults in primary care thought to be depressed, and 30% to 50% suffering from comorbid anxiety disorder.
Chronic constipation is particularly prevalent, with approximately 27% of the world's population — especially women and those above 65 — affected.
Additionally, FGID sufferers are more likely to be diagnosed with non-gastrointestinal conditions than non-sufferers.
Botanicals for the bowels
Herbagut, developed by Indian manufacturer Arjuna, is an ayurveda-based blend of 14 botanical ingredients, including curcumin, ginger, and pepper, designed to treat gastrointestinal symptoms.
Researchers at Australia's Murdoch University and Southern Cross University, and India's Samvedna Hospital conducted an RCT to determine Herbagut's efficacy on gastrointestinal issues.
They recruited 50 adults with self-reported unsatisfactory bowel habits, primarily characterised by chronic constipation, and randomly assigned them to take either Herbagut or a matching placebo for 28 days.
Their gastrointestinal changes were measured via a daily patient diary evaluating changes in stool type (Bristol Stool Form Scale), ease of bowel movements, and feeling of complete evacuation. The Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS) was also used to assess the results.
At the end of the trial, no adverse events were reported. Compared to the placebo group, weekly bowel movements in the Herbagut group had increased over time, along with self-reported normal bowel motions.
The treatment group also reported a reduced incidence of incomplete evacuation compared to the placebo group, and their GSRS domain ratings for constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, indigestion and reflux had also decreased markedly.
The researchers added: "Quality of life significantly improved in the Herbagut group compared to placebo, as indicated by significantly greater improvement in WHOQOL-BREF (World Health Organization Quality of Life) domain ratings for overall quality of life, social relations, environmental health, psychological health, and physical health."
This was also evident thanks to the PAC-QOL (Patient Assessment of Constipation-Quality of Life) domain ratings for physical discomfort, psychosocial discomfort, worries and concerns, and life satisfaction.
"The changes were considered clinically meaningful as evidenced by their large effect sizes."
The researchers wrote that the study’s findings provided preliminary support for Herbagut's digestion-boosting effects in adults with self-reported unsatisfactory bowel habits, composed mainly of chronic composition.
They concluded: "Herbagut ingestion over a 28-day period resulted in improvements in several gastrointestinal symptoms and overall quality of life.
"Further investigation into this promising poly-herbal blend utilising larger sample sizes and diverse clinical and cultural populations will help us to better understand its health-enhancing efficacy."
Source: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
"A poly-herbal blend (Herbagut®) on adults presenting with gastrointestinal complaints: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study"
Authors: Adrian L. Lopresti, et al.