After an independent review of several well-designed clinical trials, it is clear that peppermint oil (PO) is an excellent choice for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients with non-serious constipation or diarrhea. For these patients, PO can alleviate general symptoms and improve quality of life.

Researchers at the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, University of Missouri-Columbia, gave 42 children with IBS PO or a placebo in a randomized, double-blind controlled trial. They found that after two weeks, 75% of children receiving PO had reduced severity of pain associated with IBS.

At the Department of Internal Medicine at Taichung Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study using 101 adult patients with IBS found PO to be effective and well tolerated. Patients took one capsule of PO three to four times daily, 15–30 minutes before meals, for one month. In the treatment group, 79% of patients taking PO experienced reduced pain; 83% had less abdominal distension, 83% had reduced stool frequency, 73% had fewer stomach growls and 79% had less flatulence. In the placebo group, the results were drastically less positive.

Sources: Phytomedicine. 2005 Aug;12(8):601-6; J Pediatr. 2001 Jan;138(1):125-8; J Gastroenterol. 1997 Dec;32(6):765-8

Consumer Tip:

For best results, look for enteric-coated capsules. They prevent the release of the oil until it’s within the small and large intestines, where it’s most effective.