Effect of Chicory-derived Inulin on Abdominal Sensations and Bowel Motor Function

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2017 Aug;51(7):619-625. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000723.


Goal: To determine the effect of a prebiotic chicory-derived inulin-type fructan on the tolerance of intestinal gas.

Background: Subjects with gas-related complaints exhibit impaired handling of intestinal gas loads and we hypothesized that inulin would have a beneficial effect.

Study: Placebo-controlled, parallel, randomized, double-blind trial. Subjects with abdominal symptoms and reduced tolerance of intestinal gas (selected by a pretest) received either inulin (8 g/d, n=18) or maltodextrin as a placebo (8 g/d, n=18) for 4 weeks. A gas challenge test (4 h jejunal gas infusion at 12 mL/min while measuring abdominal symptoms and gas retention for 3 h) was performed before and at the end of the intervention phase. Gastrointestinal symptoms and bowel habits (using daily questionnaires for 1 wk) and fecal bifidobacteria counts were measured before and at the end of the intervention.

Results: Inulin decreased gas retention during the gas challenge test (by 22%; P=0.035 vs. baseline), while the placebo did not, but the intergroup difference was not statistically significant (P=0.343). Inulin and placebo reduced the perception of abdominal sensations in the gas challenge test to a similar extent (by 52% and 43%, respectively). Participants reported moderate gastrointestinal symptoms and normal bowel habits during baseline examination, and these findings remained unchanged in both groups during the intervention. Inulin led to a higher relative abundance of bifidobacteria counts (P=0.01 vs. placebo).

Conclusions: A daily dose of inulin that promotes bifidobacteria growth and may improve gut function, is well tolerated by subjects with gastrointestinal complaints.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diet therapy*
  • Abdominal Pain / microbiology
  • Abdominal Pain / physiopathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bifidobacterium / isolation & purification
  • Cichorium intybus*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Flatulence / diet therapy*
  • Flatulence / microbiology
  • Flatulence / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Gastrointestinal Transit
  • Humans
  • Inulin / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prebiotics*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Prebiotics
  • Inulin