Peppermint oil has been found to be effective for symptom control in patients with IBS and other GI disorders (1, 2).
Peppermint oil is derived from the peppermint plant, Mentha × piperita, which grows mostly in North America and Europe. It has been found to affect upper- and lower gut functioning (1,3).
As it is a natural anti-spasmodic, it works by relaxing smooth muscle – which is typically related to causing pain and cramping in those with IBS. It may also directly affect the enteric nervous system (your second brain in the gut) as well as modifying visceral sensitivity and psychosocial distress (1,2,3)
A meta-analysis of 12 randomized clinical trials with a total of 835 patients revealed that peppermint oil is a safe and effective therapy for pain and global symptoms in IBS (3)
It is recommended to take a peppermint oil formulation designed for sustained release in the small intestine – the coating allows the peppmint oil to bypass being digested by stomach acid. And this formulation is reported to be a more safe and effective form for the relief of abdominal pain/discomfort and IBS severity, with very mild adverse effects (1,2,3)
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluated the efficacy and tolerability of this novel formulation and revealed that the sustained release capsules provided rapid relief of IBS symptoms in the small intestine, with symptom improvement of nearly 20% at 24 hours and a 40% after 4 weeks of treatment (4)
If you\’re curious if peppermint tea works as well as the capsules, the consensus is that it doesn\’t as it won\’t contain enough of the active ingredient. Although some of my clients do feel that peppermint tea helps sooth ther sytmpoms so there\’s no harm in drinking it!
These enteric coated peppermint oil capsules are available over the counter in most pharmacies. You should follow the packet instructions on how to take for optimal results.
It is recommended to stop taking peppermint oil capsules if you experience headache, palpitations, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, tightness of chest, bloating, or muscle cramps. And never chew the tablets!
1. Weerts Z, Masclee AAM, Witteman BJM, et al. Efficacy and safety of peppermint oil in a randomized, double-blind trial of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology. 2020;158:123-136.
2. Alammar N, Wang L, Saberi B, et al. The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019;19:21.
3. Alammar N, Wang L, Saberi B, et al. The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019;19:21.
4. Cash BD, Epstein MS, Shah SM. A novel delivery system of peppermint oil is an effective therapy for irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Dig Dis Sci. 2016;61:560-571.