Mixed Spices at Culinary Doses Have Prebiotic Effects in Healthy Adults: A Pilot Study.

Nutrients. 2019;11(6)
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An increasing body of evidence suggests that the gut microbiota has a profound impact on human health. While the microbiome of a healthy individual is relatively stable, gut microbial dynamics can be influenced by host lifestyle and dietary choices. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of mixed spices (cinnamon, oregano, ginger, black pepper, and cayenne pepper) at culinary doses consumed over 2 weeks in a standardized 5g capsule on the production of gut microbiota and short-chain fatty acids The study is a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot study carried out with a total of 31 healthy women and men aged between 18 and 65. The subjects were randomly allocated to one of the two intervention groups. Results indicate that daily intake of 5g of mixed spices for 2 weeks in healthy subjects resulted in a significant reduction in the relative abundance of the phylum Firmicutes (bacteria), and a trend of increasing in phylum Bacteroidetes (bacteria) as compared with a matched control group. Authors conclude that a mixture of spices at culinary doses affects the composition of gut microbiota.


Spices were used as food preservatives prior to the advent of refrigeration, suggesting the possibility of effects on microbiota. Previous studies have shown prebiotic activities in animals and in vitro, but there has not been a demonstration of prebiotic or postbiotic effects at culinary doses in humans. In this randomized placebo-controlled study, we determined in twenty-nine healthy adults the effects on the gut microbiota of the consumption daily of capsules containing 5 g of mixed spices at culinary doses by comparison to a matched control group consuming a maltodextrin placebo capsule. The 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing data were used for microbial characterization. Spice consumption resulted in a significant reduction in Firmicutes abundance (p < 0.033) and a trend of enrichment in Bacteroidetes (p < 0.097) compared to placebo group. Twenty-six operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were different between the spice and placebo groups after intervention. Furthermore, there was a significant negative correlation between fecal short-chain fatty acid propionate concentration and Firmicutes abundance in spice intervention group (p < 0.04). The production of individual fecal short-chain fatty acid was not significantly changed by spice consumption in this study. Mixed spices consumption significantly modified gut microbiota, suggesting a prebiotic effect of spice consumption at culinary doses.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Digestive, absorptive and microbiological
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Spices
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients ; Microorganisms
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood ; Stool ; Urine
Bioactive Substances : Prebiotics ; Short-chain fatty acids

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 4
Allocation concealment : Yes