BACKGROUND: Exercise-induced gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are frequently reported by athletes during training and competitions. A standardized combination of artichoke leaves and ginger root extracts has shown beneficial effects in managing GI discomfort in otherwise healthy subjects.
METHODS: In this pilot study, we assessed the effectiveness of artichoke leaves and ginger root extracts combination associated with simethicone in reducing exercise-related GI symptoms in endurance athletes. The effects of the combination on upper/lower GI and systemic symptoms were assessed at baseline and after 4 weeks through a questionnaire.
RESULTS: 50 endurance athletes took the extracts' combination 320 mg + simethicone 40 mg chewable pills. The extracts combination and simethicone were effective in reducing the mean intensity of upper GI (86.6%) lower GI (85.9%) and systemic symptoms (81.9%), with superior results compared to placebo. The most remarkable effects were reported in the lower GI tract, with a significant decrease in flatulence, intestinal cramps, loose stools and diarrhea. Athletes also benefited from a reduction in belching and bloating and in dizziness, headache and muscle cramps, although the decrease in systemic symptoms was not significant.
CONCLUSIONS: The supplementation of standardized artichoke and ginger extracts, combined with simethicone, may be effective in decreasing digestive discomfort and alteration of gastric motility not only in healthy subjects but also in endurance athletes.