Many people have lost their joy in eating and that’s because they have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS.
I question that diagnosis because often times it is curable with a change in your diet or with the elimination of the food trigger, which is different for everyone. Today’s article is about peppermint oil and how it might help some of you.
An actual diagnosis of IBS is based upon your duration of symptoms which must be six months or more. You might have read that there is no “cure” for this condition, but I strongly disagree with that statement. I know many, many people who had IBS for years, and are now totally alleviated of their symptoms and have been for many years. I think it’s just a canned diagnosis that you get pinned with when the root cause of your symptoms or the food allergen can’t be determined and/or eliminated properly.
Signs & Symptoms of IBS
Cramps and pain in your abdomen, especially after eating
Diarrhea, if diarrhea-predominant IBS is what you have
Constipation is another symptom of IBS
Alternating Constipation and Diarrhea
Various nutrient deficiencies from excessive diarrhea
Suppressed immunity from poor probiotic status
Of course, like many other health experts, I feel that your first step in dealing with IBS is modifications to your diet and elimination of potential triggers (usually dairy or its protein called casein). Lactose doesn’t matter if you want my opinion. It’s just sugar! It usually doesn’t trigger anything, but dairy’s protein will, and it’s called casein. Too bad there aren’t any pills for casein-intolerance, you just have to avoid the dairy and see how you do. This reminds me of one night when Sam had some stomach cramps and I gave him an herb called Cramp Bark. It’s another option for some of you, and if you’d like to read about that, CLICK HERE to read my article called, Cramp Bark Eases Vexing Stomach Aches and Monthly Cramps.
As for IBS, there are sometimes food triggers involved. Soy, eggs, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, HFCS, large meals, carbonated fizzy drinks, and excessive fiber are other common triggers that irritate one’s bowel. There are many others including gum which contains sorbitol, a little-known but powerful laxative. You might not have thought of that one! Eating well is underestimated. People think putting lettuce on a sandwich gives them their daily allowance of greens. Uh… no! Eating poorly can lead to blindness due to B vitamin deficiency. If you would like to read more about this, I wrote an article entitled, Blindness Caused by Junk Food.
The next step in dealing with it is a lifestyle and stress management. Stressing over things will sometimes trigger diarrhea. You could have that once a week, or 5 times a day. There are a handful of you reading this (not all of you of course!) but for some of you, the stress of your life may be hidden in your unconscious mind and you may not realize it, or admit it. Do you find there are times when you go on vacation, or go away from your ‘problems’ and your belly feels better???
If this resonates with you, then you probably grew tolerant of all the difficulties of your current reality… However, the gastrointestinal tract is reacting, and revealing the secret that things are out of control perhaps. I knew one woman who was desperately unfulfilled in her 10-year marriage and when she divorced, her IBS was cured within 3 weeks without any other changes to her diet or lifestyle. And I knew a man who was trapped in an office job he hated for 8 years, and when he left to train to become an electrician (his real passion), he was cured. Again, no other changes.
I had a neighbor back in Florida who was living with her boyfriend of 3 years and always stressed out about his drinking and subsequent obnoxious behavior. She got away and moved to California and emailed me a year later telling me she was totally 100% cured. No other changes! It could be argued that these 3 people did NOT even have IBS to begin with… or it could be argued that stress is a very real trigger of diarrhea and stomach pain. We already know (without question) that stress is a trigger for migraines, ulcers and heart attacks. So why not bowel problems?
One more story, because again, IBS can be cured for some people in my humble opinion. I knew a young woman in her fourth year of college, dealing with tests and finals and time-pressured reports. She hated school, in
These people all had strong symptoms of IBS. I don’t have every detail on each person, but I know they all had gas, bloating, diarrhea 3 to 8 times a day, stomach pain after eating a lot of different foods (with no rhyme or reason), cramps and gas. And like I said, all were cured! Can the stress of your situation be causing your GI problems? Or migraines? Or sadness? It’s possible.
Despite sharing those stories to give you hope and
When diet and lifestyle/stress methods become insufficient to control your symptoms, then peppermint might be an option. Of course, talk to your gastroenterologist before initiating any kind of self-care, especially when combining supplements with your medications or antacids.
Peppermint oil comes from a fast-growing beautiful plant that has been medicinally treasured for centuries and grows wild at times, like a weed. Known botanically as Mentha piperita, peppermint is really a hybrid! Most people don’t know that. Peppermint is the hybrid baby of its parents’ watermint and spearmint.
Most people know that applying peppermint essential oil to your temples can help with a headache, and that peppermint gum and candies freshen your breath. Mint leaves can be infused into a pitcher of ice water for instant freshness, not to mention antibacterial and anti-fungal effects. I think that’s where mint excels for people, it has been proven to help with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and IBS. In fact, some of the evidence proves it is far more useful than a placebo!
When taken orally it can help with bloating and indigestion. Do not take it if you have an ulcer, or suspect a gastric perforation because it will make that problem worse. But if you’re intact down there, you can expect relief within minutes for bloating, burping and general digestive pain.
Peppermint is available at any health food store (softgels and liquid extracts) and supermarket (usually as a tea). The supplements of peppermint oil (enteric-coated) are considered a relatively safe, effective traditional holistic remedy. I’m not referring to essential oil, I’m referring to a dietary supplement of peppermint oil which acts as a smooth muscle relaxant inside your intestines, as well as an antispasmodic herb. It is also known to help with gas, bloating, and minor cramping.
How Does It Work?
Peppermint oil (enteric-coated) is considered a relatively safe, effective traditional holistic remedy. It’s helpful in relaxing smooth muscles inside your intestines, just like traditional antispasmodics. It is known to help with gas, bloating, and minor cramping.
The latest STUDY published in the August 27, 2019 issue of Gastroenterology was conducted in part, to evaluate the safety and efficacy for peppermint in people with IBS. They used two different formulations that would go to certain parts of the intestine. They got about 190 people to agree to participate, across several hospitals in the Netherlands. This trial ran from 2016 to 2018.
The enteric-coated (small intestine release) preparation of peppermint did, in fact, prove to help reduce abdominal pain, discomfort, and general IBS severity. Peppermint oil is an option for some of you, and according to some solid evidence, I think it is more beneficial than a placebo.
And while this is totally off-topic, I’ve been looking at peppermint studies for a few hours now and I found an interesting one that proves it is helpful if you like to exercise or do athletics. The results of a STUDY from 2014 were quite fascinating to me. The effect of peppermint was virtually instant in terms of its ability to improve exercise performance!🤸♀️
Anyway, the researchers gave male university students some peppermint by mouth, and checked their “grip force” and their ability to do vertical and long jumps as well as blood pressure, heart rate and other parameters. They checked them out right before administration, five minutes after administration and one hour later. They did not use enteric-coated supplements for this because they were not treating IBS, they were using essential oil products that were edible. Anyway, the results were instant. The performance improved at the 5-minute mark! Such a cool way to improve your stats at the gym.
That whole story makes me want to eat a beadle of peppermint which I have somewhere in my cabinet (It’s a doTERRA supplement of edible peppermint that is tiny and with one chew, it pops in your mouth!). Don’t take that if you have an ulcer though.
Anyway, the researchers of this study specifically put it this way, “An improvement in the spirometric measurements (FVC1, PEF, and PIF) might be due to the peppermint effects on the bronchial smooth muscle tonicity with or without affecting the lung surfactant.”
Dosage of Peppermint for IBS🌿
The enteric-coated form of peppermint is what is most studied for IBS, not the tea or extracts. Taking 1 or 2 enteric-coated capsules containing anywhere from 150 to 250 mg of peppermint oil can be helpful. The exact dose differs with everyone. Some people get by on one softgel per day, others need to take it two or three times daily. What is beneficial for one person, will not work for another. This requires experimentation.
Caution & Warnings⚠️
The enteric-coated form is ideal because peppermint oil can be a little irritating to the stomach. The enteric coating protects the peppermint oil in a soft gel so that it can get down lower to your intestines (rather than breaking down in your stomach). This is why peppermint tea might aggravate some of you, whereas you do fabulously on the enteric-coated softgels. The coating is to prevent stomach distress. If you have gum pain, burning mouth syndrome or canker sores, again, the enteric-coating will be better for you. Mint gives us menthol, which can be too cooling and irritating to oral wounds. If you have esophagitis you might also want to avoid mint.
What if you have GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)? Avoid peppermint. GERD is a disorder of the lower part of your esophagus. My rationale for avoiding peppermint-based supplements entirely with GERD is because the peppermint relaxes your esophageal sphincter and will allow acid to reflux upwards. That’s what you are trying to avoid!
This goes without saying but antacids (or acid blockers) and peppermint oil do not mix! They will interact because the acid-blocking medication will alter your gut pH causing the enteric-coating on the peppermint to unravel too quickly (in the stomach) and then it will hurt.
Lactating moms might notice a reduction in milk production, as well as baby rejecting your mint-tainted food supply. 😉
One last caution, because I want you to be safe. Peppermint supplementation (high doses) can worsen a problem of gallstones if you have it. Eating a little through food or candy isn’t a problem though.
In closing, I want to reiterate the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle, however that picture looks for you. I totally get that some of you have limitations, so self-care and going at your own speed are important to
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Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.