The prebiotic potential of medicinal herbs

Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient practice in India that utilizes herbs for treating diseases like gastrointestinal problems. The health benefits of these herbal medicines have been extensively studied but there hasn’t been much consideration regarding their prebiotic potential. In a study, which was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a group of researchers evaluated the prebiotic potential of different Ayurvedic medicines and determined if these were associated with pharmacological applications of the herbs.

  • More than 60 million Americans experience digestive problems.
  • Digestive health can be improved by eating prebiotics, which are undigested carbohydrates commonly acquired from plants and botanical extracts.
  • Prebiotics improve health by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Additionally, the metabolism of prebiotics lead to reduced inflammation, improved gut barrier function, and facilitate signaling in the gut-brain axis.
  • Ayurvedic medicines that are commonly used for treating gastrointestinal problems include slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and Triphala, which is composed of Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), beleric myrobalan (Terminalia bellerica), and black myrobalan (Terminalia chebula).
  • In this study, the prebiotic potential of the three Ayurvedic medicines was determined using in vitro anaerobic fecal cultures. Fecal samples were obtained from men and women who followed a vegetarian or vegan diet for at least a year prior to collection.
  • Parameters considered for this study include bacterial populations, as well as propionate, butyrate, and glycosyl hydrolase production, which were used to determine the mechanisms of action of the different herbs.

Overall, the results of the study show that licorice, slippery elm, and Triphala have prebiotic potential. This could be attributed for their efficacy in treating gastrointestinal problems since as prebiotics they can modulate gut bacteria, improve colon function, reduce inflammation, and prevent infection.

Read the full text of the study at this link.

Learn more about the health benefits of Ayurvedic herbs by visiting today.

Journal Reference:

Peterson CT, Sharma V, Uchitel S, Denniston K, Chopra D, Mills PJ, Peterson SN. PREBIOTIC POTENTIAL OF HERBAL MEDICINES USED IN DIGESTIVE HEALTH AND DISEASE. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 1 July 2018;24(7). DOI:10.1089/acm.2017.0422

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