London, Aug 28 (ANI): A new study by researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands has suggested that a soluble fibre supplement called psyllium should be the first line of attack in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In the study, researchers compared adding bran, psyllium and a dummy supplement to sufferers' diets.
They found psyllium was the most effective, warning that bran may even worsen the symptoms of the condition.
IBS is characterized by abdominal pain and an irregular bowel habit.
Its exact cause is unknown and recommendations for treatment include dietary advice, antidepressants and drug treatments.
Many relying on dietary adjustments still turn to bran in a bid to help improve the way the intestines work.
However, the new study of 275 patients questions the wisdom of this approach.
The researchers gave patients 10g of either psyllium, bran or rice flour twice a day for 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, those on psyllium, a naturally occurring vegetable fibre, reported symptom severity had been reduced by 90 points using a standard scale of rating problems.
For bran it was 58 points and for the placebo group, 49.
The study also showed that patients seemed less tolerant of bran, with more than half of the group dropping out during the trial, mostly because their symptoms worsened.
Soluble fibre can also be found in fruit such as apples and strawberries, as well as barley and oats.
"I think adding psyllium to the diet is the best treatment option to start with. In the study, people did this by adding it to things such as yoghurt and it had a real effect," the BBC quoted Dr Niek de Wit, one of the researchers, as saying.
The study has been described in the British Medical Journal. (ANI)