Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the gastrointestinal tract— at least one in five North Americans suffers from it. IBS may be brought on by food intolerance, excessive stress or a sensitive colon, and may result in frequent bouts of constipation, diarrhea, gas and/or bloating. IBS can be managed through changes to diet and lifestyle. According to studies, one option for those with IBS is peppermint oil.
Peppermint strengthens the GI system by stimulating the liver and adrenal glands. Numerous studies have shown peppermint helps the symptoms of IBS. Peppermint’s volatile oils are known to affect the smooth muscle of the digestive tract and reduce spasm.
At the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Department of Health, 42 children with IBS were given peppermint oil capsules or a placebo for a two-week double-blind controlled trial. When completed, 75 per cent of the children receiving peppermint oil capsules reported reduced pain. In a second study at Taichung Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, 110 patients with IBS were given peppermint capsules for one month. Here, 79 per cent of these patients taking peppermint experienced significant pain relief. In addition, 83 per cent reported less bloating, 83 per cent reported reduced diarrhea, and 79 per cent reported less flatulence.
Sources: J Pediatr 2001 Jan;138(1);125-8; J Gastroenterol 1997 Dec;32(6):765-8; Encyc Nat Healing by Alive Research Group. Alive:1997