Bran: may irritate irritable bowel


Lewis MJ, Whorwell PJ






The irritable gut is known to be hypersensitive, and it is reasonable to suspect that patients with the disorder might be hyperreactive to agents that stimulate or irritate it. This appears to be a possible explanation for the adverse effects of bran on hospital patients with this disorder, but we do not yet know how this product affects community IBS sufferers. We cannot ignore the fact that fiber and bran have major beneficial effects in other areas, not least in the reduction of colonic carcinoma. In conclusion, it is probably best to recommend that patients with IBS be left to judge for themselves whether bran helps or exacerbates their symptoms, but there is enough evidence to suggest that the current dogma of routinely treating all IBS sufferers with bran should be challenged. Proprietary sources of fiber, such as ispaghula, may be more appropriate for those IBS subjects (for example, constipated) for whom fiber supplementation is believed justified.