Peppermint can be a cool solution for IBS
Many people have lost their joy in eating because they have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a condition that includes many symptoms including bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, sleep problems and suppressed immunity.
One hallmark symptom is a combination of diarrhea and constipation, or alternating between the two.
An actual diagnosis of IBS is based upon your duration of symptoms (must be six months or more). If you’re tired of the problem, maybe peppermint is something you should try.
Many reasons for popularity
Peppermint is a beautiful plant that has been medicinally treasured for centuries. Known botanically as Mentha piperita, peppermint is actually a hybrid of watermint and spearmint.
Many people know that applying peppermint essential oil to your temples can help with a headache, and that peppermint gum and candies freshen your breath.
Mint leaves can also be infused into a pitcher of ice water for instant freshness, not to mention antibacterial and anti-fungal effects. I think the latter is where mint excels: It has been proven to help with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and IBS.
Peppermint is available at any health food store (as soft gels and liquid extracts) and supermarket (usually as a tea). You can also buy it in the produce section of some supermarkets as fresh whole leaf.
Supplements of enteric coated peppermint oil are considered a relatively safe, effective traditional holistic remedy. I’m not referring to essential oil. I’m referring to a dietary supplement of peppermint oil, which acts as a smooth muscle relaxant inside your intestines, as well as an antispasmodic herb. It is also known to help with gas, bloating and minor cramping.
Study finds IBS benefit
The latest study, published in the August 27, 2019 issue of Gastroenterology, was conducted in part to evaluate the safety and efficacy for peppermint in people with IBS. They used two different formulations designed to reach certain parts of the intestine.
They got about 190 patients to participate from several hospitals in the Netherlands. The study ran from 2016 to 2018.
The enteric coated (small intestine release) preparation of peppermint proved to help reduce abdominal pain, discomfort and general IBS severity.
A few words of caution:
The enteric coated form is ideal because plain peppermint oil can irritate the stomach lining and make heartburn and ulcers worse. The enteric coating keeps the peppermint oil from breaking down in your stomach, enabling it to pass safely through to your intestines.
Avoid peppermint if you have reflux (GERD), a disorder of the lower part of your esophagus. That’s because peppermint relaxes your esophageal sphincter and will allow acid to back up into your esophagus — something you’re trying to avoid!
So, antacids and peppermint supplements should not be combined. There are other warnings to be aware of, so please ask your doctor if this type of herbal remedy is good for you.
This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To contact her, visit SuzyCohen.com.