Peppermint Oil’s Ability to Treat IBS Proven in Research

peppermint oil treats irritable bowel syndrome

Photo by Till Westermayer

By Case Adams, Naturopath

For many years, traditional healers have recommended using peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome. This of course was spurned by conventional medicine. New clinical research now proves it.

In the most recent clinical study, researchers from the Mymensingh Medical College Hospital in Bangladesh conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 74 patients (65 completed the study) who had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with significant diarrhea. This is seen as an advanced stage of IBS (diarrhea-predominant IBS).

The researchers gave the patients either a placebo or a capsule of peppermint oil three times a day for six weeks. The researchers assessed the pain and symptom scores at three weeks, at the end of the trial and two weeks after the end of the trial. The peppermint oil group had significantly less pain scores at the end of the trial compared to the placebo group.

This study is supported by previous research showing similar results. Researchers at Italy’s G d’Annunzio University Medical College gave a placebo or two enteric-coated peppermint capsules twice a day for four weeks to 57 irritable bowel patients in another double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study.

In this study, 75% of the patients taking the peppermint oil had more than a 50% reduction in total IBS symptoms. The peppermint oil group also had a significant reduction in symptoms four weeks after the study was completed.

The researchers concluded that:

“A 4 weeks treatment with peppermint oil improves abdominal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.”

Learn more natural solutions for irritable bowel syndrome, and its link with leaky gut.

Another study – from researchers at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences – tested 90 patients who had irritable bowel syndrome. In this placebo-controlled, double-blind and randomized study, the patients were given either a placebo or one enteric-coated peppermint oil capsule three times a day for eight weeks.

By the end of the eight weeks, the peppermint oil group had 14 people who were completely free of pain symptoms – more than double the rate of the placebo group. The peppermint oil group also had significantly better pain scores on average across both groups.

The researchers concluded that enteric-coated peppermint oil, “is effective and safe as a therapeutic agent in patients with IBS suffering from abdominal pain or discomfort.”

The enteric-coating on the peppermint oil capsule is critical because this allows the peppermint oil to be delivered to the intestines with a minimal amount of digestive enzyme breakdown from the stomach. While peppermint tea and fresh peppermint has also been used by traditional healers for centuries for digestive issues including IBS, the enteric-coated capsule increases the speed and effectiveness of this natural remedy.

Peppermint and peppermint oil is often used by traditional healers in conjunction with other natural remedies, such as probiotics.

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Alam MS, Roy PK, Miah AR, Mollick SH, Khan MR, Mahmud MC, Khatun S. Efficacy of Peppermint oil in diarrhea predominant IBS – a double blind randomized placebo controlled study. Mymensingh Med J. 2013 Jan;22(1):27-30.

Cappello G, Spezzaferro M, Grossi L, Manzoli L, Marzio L. Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Dig Liver Dis. 2007 Jun;39(6):530-6.

Merat S, Khalili S, Mostajabi P, Ghorbani A, Ansari R, Malekzadeh R. The effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome. Dig Dis Sci. 2010 May;55(5):1385-90.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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