The Effect of Ursodeoxycholic Acid on Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Patients with Functional Dyspepsia: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Nutrients. 2020 May 14;12(5):1410. doi: 10.3390/nu12051410.


Functional dyspepsia (FD) is associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Several animal studies have reported that ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects in the intestine. We hypothesized that UDCA may be effective against dyspeptic symptoms and SIBO in patients with FD. We conducted this randomized controlled trial to investigate the effects of UDCA in FD patients with SIBO. Twenty-four patients diagnosed with FD and SIBO based on lactulose breath test (LBT) were randomly assigned to either a UDCA treatment group or an untreated group. The treatment group received 100 mg of UDCA three times per day for two months; the untreated group was monitored for two months without intervention. After two months in both groups, we reevaluated LBT and FD symptoms using the Nepean dyspepsia index-K. FD symptoms in the UDCA-treated group were significantly reduced after two months compared with baseline and FD symptom scores between the UDCA-treated and untreated groups showed statistically significant differences after two months. In addition, the total methane gas levels for 90 minutes in LBT were significantly decreased after two months compared with baseline in the UDCA-treated group. In this preliminary exploratory study, we found that two months of UDCA treatment resulted in FD symptom improvement and reduced methane values during 90 minutes on the LBT, suggesting that methane-producing SIBO were associated with symptoms of dyspepsia and that UDCA was helpful in these patients. These findings need to be validated via large-scale controlled and well-designed studies.

Keywords: Keywords; Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth; functional dyspepsia; ursodeoxycholic acid.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / complications
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Breath Tests
  • Dyspepsia / drug therapy*
  • Dyspepsia / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / microbiology
  • Lactulose / analysis
  • Male
  • Methane / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Lactulose
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid
  • Methane