Peppermint and IBS
Finding a sustainable solution for IBS symptoms often leads to feelings of frustration and defeat. There are an abundance of resources for low FODMAP shopping lists and food guides, and companies have now introduced a new space in the food industry with low FODMAP food options. If you're looking for another tool to add to your belt, peppermint oil may be your golden ticket.
What is peppermint oil?
Peppermint oil, Mentha x piperita, is an essential oil that has been studied for centuries as an herbal supplement, and as a natural remedy for IBS sufferers. It has the power to impact the bacteria in your GI tract, prolong orocecal transit time, and prevent smooth muscle contractions by blocking calcium channels.1,2,3 Peppermint oil can also help regulate immunity and reduce inflammation, particularly helpful for IBS-D.4 All of these can help reduce abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and frequency of stools.5
In a review in the British Medical Journal, four controlled trials were examined that tested the effects of peppermint oil vs. placebo on IBS symptoms in 392 patients. When the patients were randomized to the two conditions, the peppermint oil group showed a marked improvement in symptoms, 2.5 times less symptoms than those receiving the placebo.6
An even more recent review compiled 9 studies with a total of 726 subjects. Enteric-coated capsules were compared to placebo. The analysis showed that 69 percent of the patients who received the peppermint oil versus 31 percent of those who received the placebo, had improved symptoms.3
When comparing peppermint oil to other spasmodics, patients have fewer adverse events overall, and it is suggested that peppermint oil may be a better approach for first-line therapy.3
Using peppermint for IBS
When looking for a supplement, keep in mind that enteric-coated capsules work best. It's recommended to take the equivalent of 0.2-0.4mL, 3 times per day.4,5,7
- Make sure to get an enteric-coated capsule to help avoid heartburn, and stomach upset. This will also make sure that the peppermint is able to reach the portion of your gastrointestinal tract that will help reduce your symptoms the most!
- If you are consuming peppermint oil instead of capsule form, your dose will be slightly lower (approximately less than 0.2mL, 3 times a day). This is a very tiny drop as 1ml = .02 teaspoons. Read the label carefully to determine you're dosing the correct amount.
- Take the pill at least 30 minutes before meals and decrease your dose if you experience side effects like burning when you go to the bathroom.8
Mixing it into your daily menu
Peppermint oil can be used in food at a lower dose if you don't have pain as your primary symptom for IBS.9 In oil form, peppermint should be taken at lower doses because it is not coated. However, as of now, there isn't a recommended dosage amount.
How long do peppermint effects last?
Studies have shown that positive effects can last even 4 weeks after you stop supplementing with peppermint, most likely due to the change of bacterial composition in gut as well as its effect on smooth muscle.2
Peppermint oil risks
Peppermint oil can delay the body's ability to break down cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant drug. Taking peppermint oil with cyclosporine can increase the levels of this medication. Medications that are broken down by the liver are also impacted by peppermint oil since it may decrease how quickly the liver breaks them down. If you are taking enteric-coated peppermint pills, medications that decrease stomach acid might cause the peppermint oil capsules to dissolve too quickly. This can lead to heartburn or nausea. If you take any of these medications, speak with your physician to adjust your peppermint oil dose accordingly.
Peppermint oil recipes
You may have a recipe made with peppermint oil before, like peppermint candy bark. Here are a few recipes you can try if you're considering peppermint oil in your diet:
Which time of day is worse for your IBS symptoms?