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Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2013 May;64(3):333-45. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2012.738648. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

The laxative effects of Maesil (Prunus mume Siebold & Zucc.) on constipation induced by a low-fibre diet in a rat model.

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Jeollanamdo Institute of Natural Resources Research, Jeollanamdo, South Korea.


Maesil (the fruit of Prunus mume Siebold & Zucc.) has long been used as an alternative medicine and functional food in Korea and Japan for preventive and therapeutic purposes. We examined the laxative effect of unripe Maesil (UM) and ripe Maesil (RM) in a rat model on constipation induced by a low-fibre diet and the possible mechanisms of Maesil in the rat colon. In vivo studies were conducted on the low-fibre diet-induced constipation rat model, and isolated rat colon was used in in vitro experiments to measure the changes in spontaneous colon contraction generated by Maesil and organic acids as standard and effectual ingredients, respectively. The aqueous extract of both UM and RM applied orally (100 and 300 mg/kg) produced significant increase of faeces frequency (p < 0.05) and moisture (p < 0.001). Moreover, the number faecal pellets number was reduced (p < 0.05) in the distal colons of the Maesil-treated rats. Gastrointestinal (GI) motility, measured by charcoal meal, was activated more fully by UM than in the low-fibre diet group. Both UM and RM and its organic acids produced a dose-dependent stimulation of the spontaneous contractile amplitude (p < 0.001) and frequency (p < 0.01) of the isolated rat colon. Although both UM and RM were an effective laxative, the RM was significantly more effective than the UM in the in vivo and in vitro constipation experiments because of the changes in the composition of organic acids during the ripening of the fruit. Our results demonstrated that Maesil was effective in promoting the frequency of defaecation and contraction of the rat colon, which provided scientific basis to support the use of Maesil as potential therapeutics in treating constipation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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