Acarbose: a new option in the treatment of ulcerative colitis by increasing hydrogen production

Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2012 Oct 1;10(1):166-9. eCollection 2012.


Acarbose, which is clinically widely used to treat Type 2 Diabetes, is thought to act at the small intestine by competitively inhibiting enzymes that delay the release of glucose from complex carbohydrates, thereby specifically reducing post prandial glucose excursion. The major side-effect of treatment with acarbose, flatulence, occurs when undigested carbohydrates are fermented by colonic bacteria, resulting in considerable amount of hydrogen. We propose that enteric benefits of acarbose is partly attributable to be their ability to neutralise oxidative stress via increased production of H2 in the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, symptoms of ulcerative colitis in human beings can be ameliorated by acarbose.

Keywords: acarbose; hydrogen; ulcerative colitis.

MeSH terms

  • Acarbose / pharmacology*
  • Acarbose / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / metabolism*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects*
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*


  • Antioxidants
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Hydrogen
  • Acarbose