Irritable bowel syndrome: peppermint essential oil relieves pain, diarrhea and constipation

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disease of little known origin that affects the colon. This disease does not cause damage to the colon, nor inflammation, ulcers, tissue changes in the colon or an increased risk of developing colon cancer. It is characterized in particular by periods of diarrhea and constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome mainly affects people under the age of 45. Women are about twice as affected as men.

Common causes of irritable bowel syndrome

The exact causes of irritable bowel syndrome remain poorly known, particularly because this condition presents often opposing symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation. However, studies indicate that certain factors could trigger the disease. One of these factors would be of psycho-emotional origin. About 50% of patients with this disease report an emotional stress event just before the onset of symptoms.

Other studies indicate that acute infections can alter gut immunity and cause disease. Gastroenteritis is a possible risk factor for irritable bowel syndrome. Diet also appears to be a causative or contributing factor in triggering this syndrome.

Some patients have observed a worsening of symptoms by eating certain foods such as milk, chocolate or spices. It should be noted that the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can be easily confused with lactose intolerance. Another factor in irritable bowel syndrome would be the influence of hormones. Because women are more affected than men, it is assumed that female hormones play an important role in triggering symptoms.

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The benefits of peppermint essential oil

In addition to paying particular attention to diet, an essential oil can be of great help in reducing symptoms.

Peppermint acts as an antispasmodic and helps relieve pain. This plant is recognized for its effectiveness in treating or in any case reducing the symptoms of IBS. It is in fact mainly the essential oil of peppermint which acts during irritable bowel syndrome.

At the cellular and physiological level, peppermint essential oil acts as an antispasmodic by blocking calcium channels in particular at the cellular level, resulting in relaxation of smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal system.

In what form should peppermint essential oil be taken?

In herbal tea, essential oil and especially in capsule. It is recommended to consume 1 to 2 peppermint capsules (containing 0.2 ml of peppermint essential oil) per day. It is best to consume enteric coated softgels or capsules as this protection prevents diffusion into the stomach which can cause heartburn.

Cash BD: A Novel Delivery System of Peppermint Oil Is an Effective Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms. Dig Dis Sci. doi: 10.1007/s10620-015-3858-7.


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