Nucleotides and Intestinal Health

IBS is a collection of symptoms for which there is, of yet, no medical explanation. The core symptoms are abdominal pain with a change in bowel habits (from diarrhoea to constipation, constipation, or an alternation of both).  A feeling of urgency when needing a bowel movement, a feeling of incomplete evacuation after a bowel movement, bloating and flatulence are all common features of IBS. Research shows that people find it hard to deal with bowel symptoms, due to embarrassment and feelings of shame (16% of people with IBS have had the occasional “accident”, i.e. bowel incontinence).  Although diagnosis is still one of exclusion (where more serious disorders are ruled out) there are a set of criteria which can be used by health professionals to diagnose IBS. An international team of IBS experts met in Rome in 1988 to develop guidelines and criteria for IBS - these criteria are known as the Rome Criteria, and were revised in 1998 (Rome II) and in 2006 (Rome III). A recent study found only 12% of GPs had heard of the Rome Criteria, (1). 

Although we know more about IBS than ever before, there is still no consensus as to the cause or causes of IBS, and no treatment which is lastingly effective for the majority of people who suffer from it. Just as there are several factors which can precipitate migraine, or several causes for obesity, there could be different causal factors in IBS.

Treatment by dietary nucleotides has been shown to be beneficial for people with IBS. Thirty-seven people with diagnosed IBS (diarrhoea predominant) completed a double-blind placebo clinical trial testing the benefits of a neutroceutical product, IntestAidIB. (2).

Results were consistent across 6 of the 7 core symptoms measured, in favour of the product.  The benefits of IntestAidIB were strongest (and statistically significant) for abdominal pain, urgency, and a feeling of incomplete evacuation.  Severity of diarrhoea was also improved. See table I below. It can be seen that for every symptom (except constipation), improvement was greatest for IntestAidIB. The improvements were modest, as would be expected in a community sample (i.e. not drawn from a clinical population)  but no adverse side effects of the product were reported for these 37 patients. At the moment the exact mechanism by which IntestAidIB exerts its beneficial effects in IBS is unclear, however it’s believed that enhanced intestinal cell regeneration may result in the improvement in symptoms.

1. Gladman, L.M. and Gorard, D.A. General practitioner and hospital specialist attitudes to functional gastrointestinal disorders. Alimentary Pharmacology & therapeutics 17(5): 651-654, March 1, 2003
2. Dancey, C. P., Attree, E. A., and Brown, K. F. Nucleotide supplementation: a randomised double blind placebo controlled trial of IntestAid IB in people with irritable bowel syndrome. Nutrition journal 2006, 5:16.