Candytuft, also known as clown’s mustard, is a white flowering plant found originally in Spain. It’s a member of the Brassicaceae family, making it a relative of cabbage and broccoli. Traditionally, it was used in the treatment of arthritis, gout, enlarged heart, and asthma. The seeds, stems, roots, and leaves have all been used medicinally.
Candytuft is widely used in Germany for treatment of dyspepsia. This term indicates chronic digestive distress that occurs in the absence of any identifiable cause, such as an ulcer. Symptoms include stomach discomfort, gas, bloating, belching, appetite loss, and nausea.
Several studies, enrolling a total of over 600 participants, have found benefits for dyspepsia with use of a proprietary herbal combination therapy containing candytuft as the primary ingredient.1-4,8
The product tested in these studies has undergone change over time. The original version included, along with candytuft, matricaria flower (chamomile), peppermint leaves, caraway, licorice root, and lemon balm. Subsequently, an augmented preparation was tested that utilized, in addition to the above, a mixture of angelica root, celandine, and milk thistle. This second preparation later became the one used by the manufacturer in lieu of the original. In the subsequent text, we shall refer to the first mixture as the “original” candytuft combination and the augmented one as the "newer" product.
Besides dyspepsia, candytuft combinations have shown potential for decreasing the gastrointestinal side effects caused by a variety of medications 5 and for reducing lower digestive tract symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.6
An 8-week, double-blind study of 315 people with functional dyspepsia tested the newer candytuft product and found it significantly more effective than placebo.8 This was a high quality study with adequate design and reporting, and its results provide a strong indication that the treatment actually works.
An earlier double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 120 people with dyspepsia evaluated the original candytuft combination.2 The design of this study was excessively complicated, but in essence it found that 4 weeks treatment with the product was more effective than placebo in reducing dyspepsia symptoms.
In another double-blind study, this one enrolling 60 people with dyspepsia, use of either the original or the newer candytuft herbal combination proved more effective than placebo.1
Benefits with the original mixture were also seen in 2 other double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, enrolling a total of about 200 people.4 In addition, a double-blind, comparative study found that both candytuft combinations were equally effective as the standard drug cisapride.7
A typical dosage of the tested candytuft preparation is 20 drops 3 times daily.
In controlled clinical trials, use of the tested candytuft preparation has not resulted in any significant side effects.3 Note that the studied preparation is manufactured in Germany under conditions that are more closely regulated than herbal manufacturing in the US. Formulations made outside of Germany might present unrecognized safety risks. Even with the tested product, comprehensive safety studies have not been performed. Safety for pregnant or nursing women, young children, or individuals with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
1. Madisch A, Melderis H, Mayr G, et al. A plant extract and its modified preparation in functional dyspepsia. Results of a double-blind placebo controlled comparative study. Z Gastroenterol. 2001;39:511-517.
2. Madisch A, Holtmann G, Mayr G, et al. Treatment of functional dyspepsia with a herbal preparation. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Digestion. 2004 [Epub ahead of print].
3. Melzer J, Iten F, Reichling J, et al. Iberis amara L. and Iberogast®—results of a systematic review concerning functional dyspepsia. J Herb Pharmacother. 2005;4:51-59.
4. Gundermann KJ, Godehardt E, Ulbrich M. Efficacy of a herbal preparation in patients with functional dyspepsia: a meta-analysis of double-blind, randomized, clinical trials. Adv Ther. 2003;20:43-49.
5. MacLean N, Hubner-Steiner U. Treatment of drug related gastrointestinal disorders. Fortschritte der Medizin. 1987;12:239-242.
6. Nickolay K. Double blind trial of metoclopramide and Iberogast® in functional gastroenterology. Gastro EnteroHepatologie. 1984;2:4.
7. Rosch W, Vinson B, Sassin I. A randomized clinical trial comparing the efficacy of a herbal preparation STW 5 with the prokinetic drug cisapride in patients with dysmotility type of functional dyspepesia. Z Gastroenterol. 2002;40:401-408.
8. von Arnim U, Peitz U, Vinson B, et al. STW 5, a phytopharmacon for patients with functional dyspepsia: results of a multicenter, placebo-controlled double-blind study. Am J Gastroenterol. 2007;102:1268-1275.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board Last Updated: 12/15/2015