A slow-release form of peppermint oil may help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These findings were reported at the 2015 Digestive Disease Week (May 17–19, Washington, DC) annual meeting and published in the journal Gastroenterology.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that affects the large intestine, or colon. Its symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS is common, affecting up to 20 percent—one in five—of adults in the United States. More women suffer from IBS than men. There is currently no known cause of IBS, but, according to research, it’s probably the result of sensitivity of the large intestine to certain foods and stress.
Many people have used peppermint—in tea, candy, and oil—to settle their stomachs and help digestion after a meal. Research has also considered peppermint as treatment for severe symptoms of IBS, including abdominal pain or discomfort, abdominal bloating, constipation, and passage of gas or mucus. The slow-release peppermint oil product used in this study, IBGard™, will likely be available in pharmacies in June 2015.
For the study, patients with IBS were given IBGard slow-release peppermint oil (35 patients) or a placebo (37 patients). As early as 24 hours into the study, patients using peppermint oil started to experience an improvement in IBS symptoms: 30% of patients taking peppermint oil felt better compared with 21% of those taking placebo.
Improvements in symptom relief continued to rise as the study continued. After 28 days, patients who received the peppermint oil had their severe symptoms reduced by 66%, compared with a reduction of 42% in the placebo group. After a total of four weeks of treatment, about twice as many patients receiving peppermint oil reported symptom relief compared with those receiving placebo (79% versus 40%).
According to the researchers, peppermint oil therapy was highly tolerable. None of the patients in the study had to stop treatment due to side effects, and some even chose to continue using peppermint oil after the study was completed.
It’s not entirely understood how peppermint oil works to relieve symptoms of IBS, but it appears to help relax the stomach and help the digestive process. In this study, slow-release peppermint oil appeared to effectively relieve severe symptoms of IBS while being safe and tolerable for patients.
Reference: Cash BD, Epstein MS, Shah SM. Mo1290 Ibgard®, a Novel Targeted Delivery System of Peppermint Oil, Results in Significant Improvement in the Total IBS Symptom Score and Individual IBS Symptoms. Results From the US Based, 4-Week, Randomized, Placebo Controlled, Multi-Centered Ibsrest™ Trial. Gastroenterology. April 2015 Volume 148, Issue 4, Supplement 1, Pages S-662–S-663.