A Natural Remedy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Peppermint Oil
Written by Dr. Harsh Patel
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a natural herb used in multiple food products such as chewing gums, breath mints, and a holiday favorite, peppermint bark. Not known to many, outside of its minty flavor profile, Peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint and has been utilized for years to alleviate many health conditions, such as morning sickness, hot flashes, nausea and vomiting, stress/anxiety, and breastfeeding discomfort.
Although the data of its effectiveness in the treatment of these various conditions is often lacking, there is a growing body of evidence, including multiple randomized control trials, that evaluate its use in the treatment of abdominal cramping and overall symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). L-menthol, which is found in peppermint oil, blocks calcium channels resulting in smooth muscle relaxation effectively functioning similar to many pharmaceutical anti-spasmodic agents in addition to its direct anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, reduction in pain sensitivity, and stress relief effects.
In January of 2021, the American College of Gastroenterology released clinical guidelines for providers with respect to the treatment of IBS, with recommendations supporting the use of Peppermint oil. Currently, there are commercially available supplements that are sold in capsule or liquid form. However, only a few have been rigorously tested for safety and efficacy. With potential side effects including worsening heartburn, the enteric-coated capsule has promise given its delayed release directly into the small bowel to provide relief where it is needed.
Make an appointment with Dr. Harsh Patel, Gastroenterologist at GCSA to learn more about the health benefits of peppermint oil.