Background: The use of herbal products to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disease that frequently affects the quality of life (QoL), is still under evaluation. This open pilot study assessed the efficacy of bio-optimized extracts of turmeric and essential fennel oil (Enterofytol®) in IBS patients.
Methods: A total of 211 patients (14% diarrhea-predominant, IBS-D; 24% constipation-predominant, IBS-C; 62% mixed, IBS-M) were enrolled by general practitioners and completed questionnaires measuring symptom severity and QoL before and after Enterofytol®, two capsules b.i.d. for one month, followed by two capsules q.d. for another month.
Results: IBS severity index and QoL were inversely related. A significant reduction in the severity index and an improvement in QoL were evident following treatment in all IBS subgroups. IBS-D patients showed the worst clinical picture at entry, with the highest IBS severity index and the lowest QoL score, compared with IBS-C and IBS-M subtypes. IBS-D patients, however, also showed the most pronounced response to therapy, considering both scores. The improvement in the IBS severity index was independent of age and sex.
Conclusions: Results from this "real-life" study show that the combination of turmeric and essential fennel oil over two months improves both symptoms and QoL in IBS patients, irrespectively of age, sex, initial severity of symptoms and IBS-subtypes, suggesting a potential role for the natural treatment of IBS.
Keywords: Abdominal pain; curcumin; fennel essential oil; irritable bowel syndrome; quality of life; turmeric.