Posted on Wed, 23 Nov 16
Although there is a long traditional use of figs in treating constipation there have been no clinical studies until now. And figs may rival over the counter laxatives in efficacy and safety.
Constipation affects 1 in 5 people making it an extremely common problem. Over the counter laxatives are a popular therapy but they do not always work and may result in dependence.
A research group have revived an ancient remedy, figs (the fruit of Ficus carica). In recent experimental animal studies, they found that figs could increase mucin production, improve peristaltic movement, and ultimately lead to shortened colonic transit time and increased fecal quantity. Based on these promising findings they tested figs in people.
In a human clinical study, they compared the effects of fig paste (equivalent to 3 figs) to a placebo (a paste flavoured, and coloured to look identical) over 8 weeks in people with functional constipation .
The fig treatment was associated with a significant reduction in colon transit time (bowel movements increased from 2.1 to 3.7 per week) and a significant improvement in stool type (Bristol stool scale improved from 1.9 to 3) and abdominal discomfort (reduced from a score of 3.8 to 2.6) compared with the placebo.
“From a mechanistic point of view, the beneficial effects of F. carica paste on constipation are most likely related to its composition,” commented the authors. “ F. carica contains high amounts of cellulose, phenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, which are reported to have laxative effects. These bioactive substances may stimulate chloride channel or serotonergic signaling, which in turn stimulate colonic secretion of water, electrolytes, and mucin.’
- Baek HI, Ha KC, Kim HM, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Ficus carica paste for the management of functional constipation. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2016;25(3):487-96.