Study Finds Blueberries Could Reduce Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptoms

A study recently published in The FASEB Journal and led by Dr. Chiharu Nishiyama from Tokyo University of Science has demonstrated that a compound found in blueberries could serve as a therapeutic option for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).


IBD (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) causes inflammation within the digestive tract and can lead to ulcers, abdominal pain, and a whole host of symptoms. It is all caused by an elevation of the bodies immune response. Cytokines are overproduced, and T cells are activated as the body goes into defense mode. 

The Compound

What this research team found was a polyphenolic compound called pterostilbene (PSB). This compound has immunosuppressive properties, and therefore, the team is hopeful it could benefit not only IBD patients, but those with other chronic inflammatory conditions as well.

PSB is very similar to resveratrol (RSV), which has already  been shown to have beneficial immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects in colitis animal models.

The researchers used an in vitro culture to investigate the effect of PSB on T cell proliferation. It was found to have a strong inhibitory affect. Additionally, the PSB was able to decrease TH1 as well as TH17 and increase the population of Treg. TH1 and TH17 are derived from T cells and elevate an immune response in the body.

When PSB was administered orally, it alleviated symptoms of colitis and tumor necrosis in mice. Essentially, it ameliorated inflammation in the colon.

The PSB produced a stronger immunosuppressive response than any of the other plant-derived compounds they tried. This is because this compound also uniquely had an impact on the Treg cells, which inhibit inflammation.

Looking Forward

Researchers are hopeful about the potential impact of PSB in IBD patients. They are especially excited because PSB is easily absorbed by the body, and easy to supplement with.

This natural therapeutic option could improve the quality of life of those living with IBD, and potentially other chronic inflammatory conditions.

You can read more about this study here.

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