Peppermint oil is one of my favorite remedies for IBS symptoms, because it is a natural option compared to many medications, and shows promise in research to actually work. If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve seen me recommend it at least a few times, but may still be wondering why. Here’s your answer!
Peppermint oil has been used for decades for IBS symptoms and shows promise for its role in IBS management. Peppermint oil is a naturally-occuring, gas-relieving herb that contains monoterpene compounds, including L-menthol, that target the source of IBS symptoms. L-menthol blocks calcium channels in the smooth muscle of the small intestine to produce an antispasmodic (relaxes the muscle) effect on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Because of this effect, peppermint oil shows a lot of promise for those with IBS-D. There are actually studies that show peppermint oil to be more effective than anti-spasmotics, tricyclic antidepressants, and fiber.
Peppermint oil also has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulating, and anesthetic properties, which means it may be able to contribute to a stronger gut and immune system.
What does research say?
A current review of available studies shows that peppermint oil significantly improves abdominal pain and global symptoms of IBS. Most studies are done using enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules, and some some studies were unspecified as to how they used peppermint oil as a treatment. Peppermint tea has also been studied, but results are limited.
Every person with IBS is different, so everyone may respond to peppermint oil differently. However, based on the evidence, this treatment is worth trying (after consulting with your doctor, of course!). Side effects are mostly mild and rare, but peppermint can cause heartburn and anal or perianal burning or discomfort. If you experience a negative side effect, stop using and talk with your doctor.
What should you use?
IBgard peppermint oil capsules have the most research to back up their claims for improving IBS symptoms. In 2016, a study showed that their capsules significantly reduced symptoms in 72 patients with IBS-M or IBS-D. They are designed to be released in the small intestine, and can be released over 3-4 hours for continued relief. Studies show most efficacy when capsules are taken 30-90 minutes before meals, twice a day. IBgard also contains fiber, which is beneficial for healthy gut bacteria. However, the added fiber could cause discomfort, so discuss with your doctor to make sure this is appropriate for you.
My favorite option is Young Living Peppermint Vitality oil. While there’s not as much research to back it up, I enjoy adding one drop of this oil, which is shown to be safe for human consumption, to a cup of hot water to ease bloating and help improve digestion. This would be similar to the effect of strong peppermint tea. I also like this oil because I can rub it on my abdomen when I’m experienced bloating to ease the pain. While this works for me, it may not work as well for you. Talk with your doctor and dietitian, then try out a few different options to find what works best for your body and your symptoms.
Find IBgard here!
If you’d like to try Young Living Peppermint Vitality oil, email me and you can order through me!