Friday, April 11, 2014

Why is Peppermint Good for IBS?

Since being diagnosed with IBS I have heard over and over again to drink Peppermint Tea. At first I was a bit skeptical, however I have drank at least one cup of Peppermint Tea a day and I have now been made a believer! I have a very inquisitive mind and wanted to know how and why it worked.  I started my search on reputable sites such as: University of Maryland Medical Center, Harvard Heath Publications, and Web MD. I was amazed at how beneficial peppermint was.

(Out of all the peppermint teas I have tried, Yogi Purely Peppermint is my favorite)

Here are the benefits that I found:
“Peppermint (Mentha piperita), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, is also used to soothe an upset stomach or to aid digestion. Because it has a calming and numbing effect, it has been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and flatulence. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs, used to treat symptoms of the common cold. In test tubes, peppermint kills some types of bacteria, fungus, and viruses, suggesting it may have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Several studies support the use of peppermint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.” (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2013)

“Benefits of Peppermint Oil: According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, several studies suggest that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules -- which allow the oil to pass through the stomach so it can dissolve in the intestines -- may help relieve common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as abdominal pain ,bloating, and gas. Non-enteric coated forms of peppermint oil, however, actually may cause or worsen heartburn and nausea. Preliminary studies also suggest that dietary supplements containing a combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil may help relieve indigestion. According to  the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, which rates effectiveness of natural remedies based on scientific evidence, peppermint oil is possibly effective for: Heartburn, Irritable bowel syndrome, Tension headaches, Relaxing the colon during barium enemas or radiologic procedures” (WebMD, LLC., 2014)

“One explanation for how peppermint oil might help IBS sufferers is that the oil — and perhaps especially the menthol — blocks calcium channels, which has the effect of relaxing the “smooth” muscles in the walls of the intestine. Peppermint oil also relaxes the sphincter that keeps the contents of the stomach from backing up into your esophagus. That’s why people troubled by heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux) are advised to avoid peppermint. It’s also the reason peppermint oil is often sold these days in enteric-coated capsules designed to bypass the stomach and dissolve in the small intestine.” (Robb-Nicholson, 2007)

Now you have to remember that to everything there are possible side effects that can occur, especially for IBS sufferers. Here is what I found on the possible negative effects of peppermint:

“Do not take peppermint or drink peppermint tea if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD -- a condition where stomach acids back up into the esophagus) or hiatal hernia. Peppermint can relax the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, allowing stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus. (The sphincter is the muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach.) By relaxing the sphincter, peppermint may actually make the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion worse.
Peppermint, in amounts normally found in food, is likely to be safe during pregnancy, but not enough is known about the effects of larger supplemental amounts. Speak with your health care provider.
Never apply peppermint oil to the face of an infant or small child, as it may cause spasms that inhibit breathing. Peppermint may make gallstones worse. Large doses of peppermint oil can be toxic. Pure menthol is poisonous and should never be taken internally. It is important not to confuse oil and tincture preparations. Menthol or peppermint oil applied to the skin can cause a rash. (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2013)

“Side Effects of Peppermint Oil
In most adults, the small doses of peppermint oil contained in dietary supplements and skin preparations appear to be safe. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, however, should avoid such products because little is known about their safety during pregnancy and lactation.
Possible side effects of peppermint oil include:
Allergic reactions such as flushing, headache, and mouth sores
Anal burning during bouts of diarrhea
Although enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules may reduce the risk of heartburn, their protective coating can break down more quickly and increase the risk of heartburn when taken at the same time as prescription and over-the-counter medications that decrease stomach acid and which are often used for heartburn oracid reflux. It's best to take such drugs at least two hours after taking enteric-coated peppermint oil products. A stomach condition called achlorhydria, in which the stomach doesn't produce hydrochloric acid, also may hasten the coating's breakdown. So people with the condition are advised against using peppermint oil.” (WebMD, LLC., 2014)

And of course always make sure with your Doctor knows about anything you are taking or drinking as they may not mix well with your current medications or physical ailment.

Hope this has helped at least some people!
God bless,
Jacque Heaton

Works Cited:
Robb-Nicholson, D. C. (2007, July). HEALTHbeat Peppermint. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publications:
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2013, 05 7). Peppermint. Retrieved from University of Maryland Medical Center:
WebMD, LLC. (2014). Peppermint Oil. Retrieved from WebMD, LLC.: