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August 2013

Thiamine May Improve Fatigue in IBD

A recent study reports high-dose thiamine supplementation may resolve fatigue related to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

One of the first characterized vitamins, thiamine is a water-soluble B-vitamin and is also known as vitamin B1. Thiamine is involved in many physiologic functions including carbohydrate metabolism, digestion, and nerve and muscle function. Severe deficiency, known as beriberi, is extremely rare in the United States because many foods are now vitamin-fortified. Symptoms of mild deficiency are vague and include lack of appetite, muscle aches and depression.

The current study included 12 patients previously diagnosed with IBD and experiencing concurrent fatigue. Each participant was given thiamine at high doses to evaluate the effect on fatigue. Doses were determined by weight and ranged from 600-1500 milligrams daily. After 20 days fatigue scores and thiamine levels were reevaluated.

The researchers found that all participants experienced improvement on the chronic fatigue syndrome scale. Ten participants reported complete remission of fatigue. One incident of rapid heart rate was observed. This resolved after a reduction in thiamine dosage.

The authors concluded that administration of high-dose thiamine may improve fatigue in IBD. However, additional larger-scale studies are required to further evaluate these findings.

Many integrative therapies have been studied for potential benefits in fatigue. Treatments that have been studied include yoga, L-carnitine, ginseng, rhodiola and vitamin B12. Evidence for the effectiveness of these therapies remains unclear or conflicting. More research is necessary.

For more information about thiamine, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Costantini A, Pala MI. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Aug;19(8):704-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0840.
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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