Researchers from the Korea University in Seoul discovered that: “Treatment with the low concentration of Cheonnyuncho (CE) significantly increased fecal levels of acetic, propionic, butyric, and valeric acids, as well as the total short-chain fatty acid concentration.
“Histological analyses revealed that the thickness of the distal colon also increased in the CE-treated groups in a dose-dependent manner,” they wrote in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal.
The study said the Korean cactus is rich in pectin, phenols, flavonoids, and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. Koreans drink Cheonnyuncho juice prepared by grinding the plant with water
“It is well known for its functional properties and antioxidant effects, but its effect on constipation has not been sufficiently studied,” researchers said.
The amounts of soluble dietary fibre (SDF), insoluble dietary fibre (IDF), and total dietary fibre (TDF) found in the prepared extracts used in the study were also determined.
“The SDF, IDF, and TDF contents of CE were 18.92, 39.15, and 58.07 g/100 g, respectively. After the extract preparation, the SDF, IDF, and TDF contents of CE were 4.71, 14.74, and 19.45 g/100 g, respectively.”
For the experiment, loperamide (2mg) was injected to induce constipation in rats. The animals were then divided into four groups: a normal group (NOR), constipation control group (CON), and two constipation groups receiving the CE at low and high doses - namely three percent (L-CE group) and six percent (H-CE group), for 25 days.
With the loperamide supplementation, the intestinal transit ratio of the CON group decreased by 32.15%. However, the constipated rats that received CE showed significant improvements.
“The oral intake of CE (L-CE and H-CE groups) was shown to significantly improve the intestinal transit ratio in the rats with loperamide-induced constipation (p < 0.05),” the researchers reported.
“There was no difference between the two groups with the different intake concentrations of CE. This result indicates that the constipation induced by loperamide treatment was alleviated by the intake of CE.”
The high fibre content of the Korean cactus extract also improved the rats’ gut microbiota.
“Our results showed that the contents of acetic, propionic, butyric, and valeric acids increased in the fecal samples. This factor influences the composition and metabolic activity of colonic microbiota,” researchers wrote.
“The availability of a particular dietary fibre is important for the formation of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), with different types of dietary fibre giving rise to different SCFA amounts and profiles during colonic fermentation.”
Thus, the study concluded that “treatment with CE improves constipation through changes to the intestinal environment, including the intactness of the intestinal epithelium and therapy of a disturbed mucosal barrier.”
Source: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal
“Cactus (Opuntia humifusa) water extract ameliorates loperamide-induced constipation in rats”
Authors: Sung Hee Han, Kyungmi