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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Role of Peppermint in Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Author(s): Acuña, Walter P.
  • et al.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders. The efficacy of peppermint as an alternative medicine for the relief of IBS has been explored, both in vitro and in clinical settings, as it has the potential to provide inexpensive relief, along with lessened associated side effects of other drugs being used. Although in vitro studies show that peppermint has antispasmodic properties, most likely due to its ability to block smooth muscle calcium channels, clinical studies give mixed results. Some clinical studies have shown patients ingesting enteric-coated (Colpermin) peppermint capsules had a considerable reduction in associated IBS symptoms, while other studies have demonstrated that differences were not statistically significant. Metaanalysis of five clinical studies show that patient IBS relief was significant (p<0.001); however, flaws were found in individual studies (e.g., studies not being crossed over, not using the Rome (Manning) Criteria to determine if the person is diagnosed with IBS, etc.), making it difficult to recommend peppermint exclusively for the relief of IBS. Although the treatment of IBS with peppermint appears to be promising, additional, carefully planned studies need to be conducted to ensure that findings are significant.

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