Sodium butyrate and short chain fatty acids in prevention of travellers' diarrhoea: a randomized prospective study

Travel Med Infect Dis. 2014 Mar-Apr;12(2):183-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2013.08.008. Epub 2013 Sep 6.


Introduction: Travellers' diarrhoea (TD) remains a considerable concern among international travellers. Known methods of prevention include dietary precautions, administration of vaccines and antibiotic agents.

Aim: To assess the efficacy of sodium butyrate (SB) and short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in prevention of TD.

Material and methods: 67 adult patients planning to travel to subtropical countries were originally enrolled in the study. After eliminating 7 patients for not fulfilling the inclusion criteria, 60 patients were randomized into a study group receiving SB with SCFA and a placebo group. Patients were requested to complete previously distributed questionnaire daily. After elimination of 18 patients who did not return questionnaires, 42 patients completed the study (22 study, 20 placebo).

Results: In comparison to the control arm, the study arm noted significantly reduced occurrence of TD (4.5% vs. 40%, p = 0.008), was associated with a significant decrease in number of stools per day in travellers (1.9 vs. 4.2, p = 0.04), as well as a decrease in gastrointestinal symptoms including pain, bloating and nausea with fevers (0.7 vs. 1.4, p = 0.01). We recorded a trend towards decrease in diarrhoea related utilization of medical care in subjects from the study arm. There were no adverse effects noted regarding the use of SB and SCFA.

Conclusions: Administration of SB with SCFA decreases occurrence of travellers' diarrhoea. It is safe and may constitute a new method of travellers' diarrhoea prevention.

Keywords: Short-chain fatty acids; Sodium butyrate; Travellers' diarrhoea.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Butyric Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Travel Medicine
  • Travel*


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Butyric Acid