Relieve Your IBS Symptoms With Peppermint Oil

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 25-45 million¹ people in the United States. It’s often debilitating and difficult to manage. Abdominal discomfort, pain, and chronic, irregular bowel movements are common IBS symptoms.

The disorder can be frustrating, as there are no definite causes or long-term cures. While a mindful diet and medicine prescribed by your doctor can help ease symptoms, peppermint oil can also help.

Here's all you need to know about how to take peppermint oil for IBS.

Have you considered clinical trials for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

What is peppermint essential oil?

Peppermint is a commonly grown herb related to the mint family, and essential oil is extracted from the stems and leaves. While pure peppermint essential oil is unsafe to digest because it’s too concentrated, you can buy diluted peppermint oil supplements.

How does peppermint oil help IBS?

Stress and anxiety can trigger IBS, a disorder associated with many symptoms, including nausea, indigestion, vomiting, and gas. Studies suggest that peppermint oil's soothing properties relax the gastrointestinal tract, relieving discomfort, cramping, spasms, and bloating.

Research also indicates it may work by releasing agents² that kill microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. 

How do you take peppermint oil?

You can find peppermint oil at your local drug store or health food store. We recommend USDA Organic products, as this certification ensures they meet federal quality requirements. 

Taking capsules is the more effective route as they’re typically diluted to safe doses, and their slow release ensures your body will absorb the oils. One to two capsules³ three times a day is the generally recommended dose, but this will depend on the product.

Always consult a health professional about peppermint oil to ensure it’s suitable for you, your health background and won’t interfere with your current medications.

Peppermint oil side effects

The FDA⁴ considers essential oils to be safe when used as intended. Common side effects are indigestion and heartburn. Do not give peppermint oil to children under 12 unless a pharmaceutical professional recommends it. Note any side effects and report them to your doctor.

Peppermint essential oil is toxic to cats and dogs⁵, so ensure they don’t ingest or breathe it.

Other uses for peppermint oil

Most of us are familiar with aromatherapy, where essential oil diffusers release fine mist into the air. Placing a few drops into a diffuser in the morning may give you an energy boost. Peppermint oil also contains menthol, which can affect mucus receptors⁶ in the nose, ultimately clearing up sinuses and fighting bacteria.

Combine lavender with peppermint oil in a diffuser, and their calming qualities may relieve anxiety and stress. If you apply essential oils topically, mix them with other lotions and oils rather than putting them directly onto the skin. Oils are heavily concentrated, and they can cause irritation.

Other things to try

Along with peppermint oil, you may want to try other lifestyle changes:

  • Exercise, which also benefits stress and anxiety.

  • Meditation and breathing exercises, which can aid in muscle relaxation.

  • Speak to a registered dietician for sustainable dietary changes, as certain foods can cause IBS flare-ups. Dieticians often recommend the low-FODMAP diet⁷ for IBS.

The lowdown

Alternative medicine has used essential oils as remedies for centuries. If you're looking to try something other than conventional medicine for mild illnesses, oils may relieve symptoms, but it’s always best to speak to your doctor.

Like any treatment, it can take time for your body to adapt, and not everyone will experience the same results.

Enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules are preferable as the barrier coating prevents the body from digesting the pill too early and allows it to flow through to the intestines.

IBS is a complex disorder, and it may take trial and error before you find the remedies that work for you. It’s best to deal with symptoms holistically and try lifestyle changes, too. Be cautious about taking over-the-counter laxatives; as with all medications, it's crucial to read labels and seek medical advice.

Peppermint oil can relieve symptoms, but it's also important to consider everything mentioned in this article, especially since IBS isn't entirely understood.

Have you considered clinical trials for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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