Scientists at DuPont Nutrition & Health have documented the ability of lactitol to relieve adult constipation on a par with the recognized gold standard in the osmotic laxative market.
The study is the first meta-analysis to quantify the effect of lactitol supplementation, collating the findings of 11 clinical studies that involved 663 patients in total.
No significant difference was apparent when comparing the efficacy of lactitol with lactulose, one of the most commonly used osmotic laxatives. However, lactitol does show a tendency to increase stool frequency, the analysis concludes. The evidence, although limited, further suggests that lactitol is superior to stimulant laxatives.
"The study documents what has long been suspected—that lactitol relieves the symptoms of constipation. Importantly, it shows that lactitol is very well tolerated," says Arthur Ouwehand, research manager at DuPont Nutrition & Health and one of the scientists behind the study.
Published in the international journal Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology, the meta-analysis is of interest to manufacturers of pharmaceutical and over-the counter medicines targeting the many adults—up to 27 percent—who regularly suffer from constipation.
At DuPont, which manufactures its own brand of lactitol under the OsmoAid™ brand, it is hoped the findings will encourage further research into the use of lactitol as a constipation treatment.
“We know that current treatment options provide insufficient relief for around half of patients. While the efficacy of a daily dose of 10 to 20g lactitol has been proven, there is still a need for more research into the effects of long-term lactitol use,” says DuPont scientist Julia Tennilä, who also worked on the meta-analysis.
FAO and WHO approved
OsmoAid Lactitol is a disaccharide sugar alcohol approved by the FAO and WHO as an ingredient for use in food products and dietary supplements, that is also approved by several pharmaceutical authorities as an osmotic laxative. Its gentle action makes its suitable for all age groups. Additional studies suggest lactitol may also provide relief from adult constipation attributable to surgery or hospitalization.
The full title of the published meta-analysis report is “Efficacy and tolerance of lactitol supplementation for adult constipation: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”