In the double blind trial, published in Gastroenterology, 127 patients with chronic pancreatitis were assigned to placebo or anti-oxidant groups.
After six months, the reduction in the number of painful days/month was significantly higher in the anti-oxidant group than in the placebo group. The reduction in the number of analgesic tablets/month was also higher in the anti-oxidant group. Also, almost twice as many patients -- 32 percent in the anti-oxidant group versus 13 percent in the placebo group -- became pain free. The beneficial effect of anti-oxidants on pain relief was noted early at three months.
"Abdominal pain, the predominant symptom in patients with chronic pancreatitis, is difficult to treat. The main reason for a largely ineffective medical treatment is that the mechanism of pain in chronic pancreatitis is not well understood," study lead author Dr. Pramod Kumar Garg, of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, says in a statement.
"We are encouraged by our findings, as significant improvement was noted with anti-oxidants in respect to all the parameters of pain in this study. In addition, reduction in pain resulted in fewer man-days lost, thus providing functional employment gain to the patients. The findings should spur further research in this exciting area."