Data published in in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine indicated that a 500 mg per day dose of EpiCor had an impact of the gut microbiota, with increases in members of the families Bacteroidaceae and Prevotellaceae observed for people with severe constipation. These two groups of bacteria have been previously reported to be deficient in constipated patients.
In addition, significant increases in potentially beneficial Akkermansia muciniphila were observed in people with moderate constipation, wrote researchers from ProDigest (Belgium), Embria Health Sciences (USA), the University of Ghent (Belgium) and the University of Maastricht (the Netherlands).
“The positive results with EpiCor in this study are very encouraging since an ingredient of this kind has never been evaluated for its role in gut microbiota shifts and effects on common constipation-associated symptoms,” said Massimo Marzorati, PhD, postdoc at Ghent University and co-founder of ProDigest. “It’s a remarkable finding to see compelling prebiotic effects in a human study at a dose of only 500 mg per day.”
EpiCor and Embria were born out of observations that the culture could have other uses following farmers' reports that their animals were not getting sick.
Moreover, in 2004 insurance adjusters noticed that employees at Diamond V, Embria's parent company, had far lower sick rates than other workplaces. The company thought the culture could be boosting the immune systems of workers who handled it.
In recent years the ingredient’s potential prebiotic activity has been reported.
“In addition to the seven published immune health papers on EpiCor, more recent published studies on its prebiotic effects and gut integrity benefits led us to conduct this human clinical gut health trial,” explained Larry Robinson, PhD, VP of scientific affairs at Embria and co-author on the new paper. “Science continues to prove the link between the immune and digestive systems and this new study helps to confirm that.”
Dr Marzorati and his co-workers recruited 80 health adults with moderate to severe constipation to participate in their six-week randomized, placebo-controlled study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 500 mg per day of EpiCor or maltodextrin placebo. A validated questionnaire was used to record constipation-associated symptoms and quality of life. Stool samples were also taken from the subjects demonstrated healthy shifts in gut microbiota.
Results showed that participants with moderate and severe constipation receiving EpiCor experienced statistically significant improvements in bloating/distension and stool consistency, while there was a trend towards improvements in stool frequency. When the researchers considered only those with moderate constipation, there was also a trend for improvements in quality of life.
“Despite its low daily dose (500 mg/day), this study suggests that EpiCor fermentate has a positive effect on [gastrointestinal] symptoms and stool parameters in individuals with symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort and reduced bowel movements,” wrote the researchers.
“Moreover, EpiCor fermentate led to changes in gut microbial composition that parallel observations done by others in constipated and [constipation-predominant IBS] patients. Naturally, conclusions based on a single study and with subgroup analysis are to be treated with caution, and it is formally recommended to obtain final proof in a second confirmatory trial in order to substantiate a health claim on ‘gastrointestinal discomfort’.”
Source: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
2017, 17:441, doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1948-0
“A yeast fermentate improves gastrointestinal discomfort and constipation by modulation of the gut microbiome: results from a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial”
Authors: I. Pinheiro, et al.