Peppermint oil may help irritable bowel syndrome

February 6, 2001 in Gastrointestinal Health, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Peppermint oil may help irritable bowel syndrome

In a study of children and teens aged 8 to 17, peppermint oil capsules helped relieve IBS, a collection of gastrointestinal symptoms including bloating, severe abdominal pain, and cycles of constipation and diarrhea. While some believe that the cause may be stress-related or due to psychological problems, that theory is controversial.

In the two-week study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri-Col, 42 children with IBS were treated with peppermint oil or an inactive placebo pill.

On the first day of the study, all of the children complained of abdominal pain and many also complained of diarrhea, constipation and gas. Following the 2-week treatment period, however, 71% of the youth given peppermint oil said they felt "better" or "much better," compared with 43% taking the placebo. While peppermint oil reduced the severity of abdominal pain, it did not reduce heartburn, gas, urgency of stools, belching, stool pattern or stool consistency. The study was conducted for only a short period of time and the safety of any treatment warrants longer-term study, especially in children.

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