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Friday 21st October 2016

'Chewing gum' helps bowel to heal

19th August 2008

A UK report has found that "chewing gum" helps patients to heal after they have had bowel surgery.


The report, which appears in the Archives of Surgery, has reviewed information from five trials with 158 participants.

The studies showed that the act of chewing gum appeared to hasten the restoration of regular bowel movements by "stimulating nerves in the digestive system".

The researchers, who work at St Mary's Hospital in London, stated that trials should be carried out to find out if hospital stays following surgery could be reduced.

They said that if hospital stays were shortened, the NHS would benefit. Over 31,000 bowel operations are performed in England annually.

During every study, the participants - who had undergone bowel surgery - were given sugar-free gum to chew three times daily for five to 45 minutes. The results were then contrasted with patients who were not given gum to chew.

Bowel movements were restored sooner in the subjects who chewed gum. Patients in four of the trials were also able to leave hospital a day earlier than non-gum chewing patients.

An advisory nurse for Bowel Cancer UK said: "Chewing is a bit like eating and it starts peristalsis, which is the movement of the bowel."

"Ileus - when the bowel is slow to start working again - can occur after an operation...There is some evidence that chewing gum might help, but not enough that bowel surgery patients are routinely being advised to chew gum."


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