The properties of peppermint oil have been studied for its effects on people affected by irritable bowel syndrome. According to recent studies, such as one published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies , this is a safe and effective therapy that can relieve the pain and symptoms of this disease.
What more do we know about it? Are there other studies that support this claim? Today’s article will provide more information about it and delve into the benefits. It also gives you instructions on how to use it for this purpose.
Peppermint oil as a relief for irritable bowel syndrome
People have used this herb since ancient times for all kinds of medicinal purposes. We have used both the leaves and the essential oil in drinks, extracts and ointments that act as an aid to conditions such as colds, headaches or digestive problems.
However, researchers recently found that peppermint essential oil has therapeutic potential for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In particular , it helps to control symptoms such as pain, constipation, inflammation and bloating.
In fact, a review of studies published in the BMJ concluded that peppermint oil was more effective than placebo in the treatment of IBS. Furthermore, the effects appear to outweigh the effects of fiber and are compared to the effects of antispasmodics.
OK, but why is it effective? Well, researchers suggest that this ingredient has antispasmodic activity. That is, menthol, one of the active compounds in peppermint, soothes the smooth muscles of the intestine. Thus , it helps reduce bloating, pain, the feeling of incomplete bowel movements, constipation and diarrhea.
In a shared randomized controlled trial in Digestive and Liver Disease , a four-week treatment with peppermint oil was found to be helpful in relieving abdominal symptoms characteristic of IBS.
In addition, research in the medical journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics observed that this oil has other mechanisms of action against IBS, such as modulation of visceral sensitivity, its antimicrobial activity and its anti-inflammatory effect.
Is peppermint oil safe for treating irritable bowel syndrome?
Most studies found that peppermint oil is safe. There is more research that needs to be done, so do not take these results uncritically. Remember that this is not a first-class treatment, and you must consume it responsibly – preferably under medical supervision.
This is because mint and its derivatives have negative effects in large doses. For example, researchers observed that it interferes with the absorption of vitamins, minerals and medications. In addition, it can trigger heartburn, dry mouth and nausea when taken orally. It also causes allergic reactions in rare cases.
Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with peppermint oil
So far, studies on peppermint oil and irritable bowel syndrome have focused on the capsule form. There is no evidence that drinking peppermint prepared from the leaves has the same effects. However, this infusion is quite safe.
Coin capsules usually have an enteric coating that prevents stomach acids from breaking them down. This is so that they will not dissolve until they reach the intestine and thus avoid harmful side effects such as stomach acid as we mentioned above. In general, the doses are:
- Adults: from 0.2 ml to 0.4 ml peppermint oil, three times a day
- Children 8 years and older: 0.1 ml to 0.2 ml peppermint oil, three times a day
Be aware that you must not consume it at the same time as antacids as these will break the enteric coating. In addition, you must swallow the capsules whole, so do not use peppermint oil for themselves. You must follow the correct dose that is already carefully measured in each capsule.
Recommendations for patients with IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disease that requires an interdisciplinary approach. Therefore, you should consult a doctor before using supplements such as peppermint oil to relieve the symptoms.
Both doctors and nutritionists – and even psychologists – can guide you towards effective methods to reduce symptoms and avoid complications. You also need to change your diet and add healthy habits. Therefore, consider the following:
- Ensure an optimal intake of fiber
- Avoid gluten
- Use the “low-FODMAP” diet
- Be physically active
- Avoid stressful situations
- Add good sleep hygiene habits
- Drink enough water and other healthy drinks
- Follow any treatment suggested by your doctor
- Attend psychological therapy
Research on adjuvant treatments for irritable bowel syndrome continues to evolve. It is for this reason that it is now possible to use supplements, such as peppermint oil to manage your symptoms. Always consult your doctor beforehand.