Ancient wheat: A fix for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?


Numerous scientific studies have described and explored the role of wheat in various common digestive disorders. Now, Triticum turgidum subsp. turanicum, known as 'ancient' wheat, has been shown to be beneficial for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), improving the symptoms of this disease. Could this wheat variety be a potential fix for IBS patients?

Triticum turgidum subsp. turanicum wheat, also known as Khorasan, is an ancient type of grain. This ancient grain originates from the Fertile Crescent and derives its common name from the Persian province of Khorasan. Nowadays, it is sold in some health food stores under the name "kamut".

In a double-blinded randomized dietary intervention trial, researchers examined whether or not this ancient wheat might be less likely to cause digestive issues in IBS patients.  Twenty IBS patients were instructed to exclude all grain products, except either modern wheat (control group) or ancient Khorasan wheat, for six weeks, from their diet. The patients' symptoms were then scored via a questionnaire and by monitoring their inflammatory markers.

IBS patients eating the ancient wheat reported significantly less bloating, fatigue, and abdominal pain, but also better stool consistency. Furthermore, the study noted that the patients eating the ancient wheat had lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

In summary, this study showed significant improvements in both IBS symptoms and the inflammatory profile of patients suffering from this syndrome, after the ingestion of ancient wheat products.

Can the ingestion of ancient wheat therefore be seen as a potential fix for IBS?

Unfortunately, the number of patients in this study was not large enough to allow for such a conclusion to be drawn. A larger study would be required in order to solidify these interesting findings. Furthermore, it is a little premature to conclude that modern wheat is inflammatory. It may actually be that the ancient wheat has anti-inflammatory properties. While the present study demonstrates an improvement in the inflammatory profile, the specific role of cytokines in IBS is still not fully understood. It's also worth noting that different varieties of wheat show different prebiotic effects on the gut micro flora. Khorasan wheat seems to be one of the better prebiotic varieties, feeding potentially beneficial gut flora (Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture 2012). Therefore, it is likely that the beneficial effects of Khorashan wheat on IBS symptoms are attributable to synergistic effects.

Even though this study is small and has various shortcomings, it raises the interesting question whether a switch away from modern wheat towards ancient grain types could be beneficial for IBS patients. However, further studies with larger patient numbers would be necessary in order to confirm this dietary approach and its beneficial effects on people suffering from this syndrome.


Reference article:

Br J Nutr. 2014 Feb 13:1-8.

Image copyright: StudioM1, thinkstock

Article last time updated on 22.06.2014.

10 rating(s) (4.6 ø)
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Seems that no one read Dr. William Davis' book "Wheat Belly"
#5 at 22.06.2014 from Guest
this is a very good information, but how can we find this wheat variety ?.
#4 at 27.04.2014 from Dra Edite Rio (Physician)
Martin Voortman
It is absolutely not surprising that persons ingesting modern wheat have increased levels of cytokines and other bad symptoms. This has been already tested for years. A modern sort of wheat is grown since the 60s and since then humans are getting more and more chronical diseases (autoimmune) in spite of medical development. Growing older, but being significantly iller in the last life phase. More in this text, commenting the book "wheat belly" of Dr. Davis: Wheat is found to be a detractory food in many Voll-Electroaccupuncture tests made to patients presenting some health problem which scholarly medicine is not able to solve directly. In Germany we have the luck to get a huge scelt of cereals.
#3 at 22.04.2014 from Martin Voortman (Guest)
Thank you for reading my blog and for your input. You are certainly right that up until 2013 no genetically modified wheat products were approved. I have now edited that statement!
#2 at 22.04.2014 from Dr. rer. nat. Rozina Kardakaris (Biologist)
Care should be taken with this study since it is initiated and sponsored by an ancient wheat firm. The statement that "modern wheat (often even genetically modified)" is INCORRECT. There is NO genetically modified wheat in trade. The study needs replication by another independent research group. In fact ancient wheats Emmer and Kamut appear to have a higher content of gliadin protein incl indigestible toxic elements. See (free download)Review Does wheat make us fat and sick?-Journal of Cereal Science 58 (2013) 209e215 AND Health effects of wheat lectins: A review.
#1 at 22.04.2014 from Prof Dr fred brouns
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