Background & Aims: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) patients still require effective treatment. The anti-inflammatory property of curcumin and the antispasmodic and carminative effect of fennel suggests that combination of these nutraceutical compounds would be useful in functional bowel disorders including IBS. We assessed the efficacy and tolerability of a combination of curcumin and fennel essential oil (CU-FEO) in IBS symptoms relief.

Methods: 121 patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms of IBS defined by an Irritable Bowel Syndrome- symptom severity score (IBS-SSS) 100-300 and abdominal pain score 30-70 on a 100 mm Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), were randomly assigned to CU-FEO or placebo (2 capsules b.d. for 30 days). Primary endpoint was the mean decrease of IBS-SSS at the end of the treatment corrected for the mean baseline score (relative decrease). The impact of the treatment on quality of life was assessed through IBS-QoL questionnaire.

Results: CU-FEO was safe, well-tolerated and induced symptom relief in patients with IBS; a significant decrease in the mean relative IBS-SSS was observed after 30 days of treatment (50.05 ± 28.85% vs 26.12 ± 30.62%, P<0.001). This result matched the reduction of abdominal pain and all the other symptoms of IBS-SSS. The percentage of symptom-free patients was significantly higher in the CU-FEO than in the placebo group (25.9% vs. 6.8%, P = 0.005). All domains of IBS-QoL improved consistently.

Conclusion: CU-FEO significantly improved symptoms and quality of life in IBS patients over 30 days.

Abbreviations: AEs: adverse events; CU-FEO: Curcumin-Fennel Essential Oil; GI: gastrointestinal; IBS: irritable bowel syndrome; IBS-D: irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhea; IBS-C: irritable bowel syndrome-constipation; IBS-SSS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome – symptom severity score; NF-kB: nuclear factor-κB; QoL: quality of life; UC: ulcerative colitis; VAS, Visual Analogue Scale.


abdominal pain, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, randomized placebo, controlled study