Background and aim: The importance of dietary fibres in treatment of irritable bowel syndrome increased during the last years. Yet the results of clinical studies on the different dietary fibres are not consistent. Therefore we decided to perform a controlled trial with a well defined group of patients to compare the effectiveness of wheat bran to psyllium seeds.
Patients and methods: Thirty patients each with irritable bowel syndrome group II to III were treated in an open, not controlled study design either with 3 times 3.25 g psyllium seeds or 3 times 7 g wheat bran daily. All patients entering the study had not been treated for at least 3 weeks before. The study comprised two treatment phases of two weeks each, separated by two weeks without any treatment, thus leading to a study duration of 6 weeks altogether. Parameters for evaluation were stool frequency and consistency and the symptoms pain and abdominal distention, measured by a score (1 to 4).
Results: In both treatments groups stool frequency and consistency improved apparently compared to the starting point or the two weeks treatment free time in between. The improvement of stool frequency was statistically significant (p < 0.0001) for both substances. Furthermore the effect of psyllium seeds exceeded that of wheat bran statistically significant in week 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 (p < 0.005). Other symptoms such as abdominal pain improved too by therapy, psyllium seeds again tending to show better results. A significant difference between both substances could be observed on the symptom abdominal distension. Whereas abdominal distension decreased under treatment with psyllium seeds it increased with wheat brain. This lead to discontinuation of the study in 5 cases, 3 of which could be changed successfully to psyllium seeds. The difference between psyllium seeds and wheat bran concerning the occurrence of abdominal distension was statistically significant (p < 0.01).
Conclusion: The results of this study demonstrate the effectiveness of psyllium seeds and wheat bran on stool frequency and consistency of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Psyllium seeds showed to be superior to wheat brain with respect to stool frequency and abdominal distension so that it should be preferred in treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and constipation.