Therapeutic Effects of Prebiotics on Constipation: A Schematic Review

Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2020;15(3):207-215. doi: 10.2174/1574884715666200212125035.


Constipation is a highly prevalent functional gastrointestinal disorder that may significantly affect the quality of life and health care costs. Treatment for constipation has been broadly reviewed by cognitive therapies, medications, and surgical interventions. Gut microbiota such as Bifidobacterium, Clostridium, Bacteroidetes, and Lactobacilli have been demonstrated in functional gastrointestinal disorders and prebiotics to play a role in augmenting their presence. Prebiotics are ingredients in foods that remain undigested, stimulating the bacteria. There are a variety of prebiotics; however, there exists only a handful of studies that describe their efficacy for chronic constipation. The purpose of this study is to review the available literature on the utility of different commercially available prebiotics in patients with functional and chronic idiopathic constipation. To fulfil the objectives of the study, published articles in the English language on databases such as Pubmed, Ovid Medline, and EMBASE were searched. The terms prebiotics, constipation, chronic constipation, functional constipation were used. We reviewed and included 21 randomized controlled trials exploring the role of prebiotics in constipated adults. Prebiotics are effective treatments for chronic idiopathic constipation and showed improvement in the stool consistency, number of bowel moments and bloating. Although which prebiotic formulary would promote improved symptoms of constipation is still not clear.

Keywords: Prebiotic; dysbiosis; fructan; galactan; gastrointestinal microbiome; idiopathic constipation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Constipation / microbiology
  • Constipation / physiopathology
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Prebiotics