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Peppermint May Help Relieve Symptoms of IBS

Published on , Last Updated on June 10, 2013

Peppermint Helps IBS Symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common gastrointestinal diseases facing the population today. It is classified by mild to severe abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, and is usually triggered by stress and poor diet.

Women are particularly vulnerable to this condition (estimates show that almost twice as many women experience IBS than men), and research shows that it costs millions of dollars each year in doctor’s visits, lost productivity and absenteeism.

A study done at University of Adelaide, in Australia, confirms what ancient holistic health practitioners and today’s naturopaths have known for many years. The mint plant, and in the case of this study, peppermint, can help relieve the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome [1]. And in a country where an astounding 20% of the population suffer from this digestive imbalance, it is a crucial discovery.

The research, published in the journal Pain, went on to describe how peppermint works to reduce painful bowel symptoms of IBS [2]. The peppermint-infused herbal remedy enters into the gut and activates an “anti-pain” channel located in the bowel. The peppermint then works to soothe the commonly-experienced inflammation and pain associated with IBS and reduces the inflammatory triggering of nerve fibers along the lining of the gut.

This research represents one of the first scientific proofs, in the form of clinical evidence, that actually describes the ways in which peppermint relieves pain.

Dr. Stuart Brierley, researcher for this study:

“This is a debilitating condition and affects many people on a daily basis, particularly women who are twice as likely to experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome… Our research shows that peppermint acts through a specific anti-pain channel called TRPM8 to reduce pain sensing fibres, particularly those activated by mustard and chilli. This is potentially the first step in determining a new type of mainstream clinical treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).”

The research also suggests there are certain foods you should avoid if you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Some of these would include fatty and spicy foods, as well as other acid-boosting foods typically associated with gastric upset. However, even if you avoid these IBS trigger foods, it may not be enough to reduce the symptoms you’re experiencing.

This disorder is complicated, and often exacerbated by stress. While there are many causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, studies have shown a clear link between IBS and a previous bout of gastroenteritis. The more we have intestinal upset, the more the nervous fibers along the gastrointestinal wall are on high-alert, creating a mechanism whereby the nerve fibers in the gut wall are in an increased state of pain response.

Contaminated food and water can also cause increased cases of IBS and general gastroenteritis. Stress, overuse or allergic reactions to antibiotics or prescription drugs, as well as genetic factors may also add to one’s chances of developing IBS.

In fact, case studies done in both Europe and Canada have found that individuals suffering from water contamination and the resulting IBS that accompanies it, were likely to have symptoms that lasted for at least eight years. Sadly, most individuals believe that there is no known solution for IBS, although herbs like peppermint can offer great hope for mitigating its negative effects.

Another study from 2007 shows that taking an oxygen colon cleanser, such as Oxy-Powder, can also help ease the symptoms of IBS. Researchers noted the “Safety and Efficacy of Oxy-Powder® in treating IBS with constipation was significantly high, thus indicating Oxy-Powder was both safe and efficacious in patients suffering from IBS with constipation.”

Taking probiotics is another effective remedy for reducing the symptoms of IBS. Just be wary of which probiotic you buy, because not all of them are the same. The two best probiotic supplements are Latero-Flora and Primal Defense Ultra.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM


  1. University of Adelaide. How peppermint helps to relieve irritable bowel syndrome. ScienceDaily. 2011 April 20.
  2. Andrea M. Harrington, Patrick A. Hughes, Christopher M. Martin, Jing Yang, Joel Castro, Nicole J. Isaacs, L. Ashley Blackshaw, Stuart M. Brierly. A novel role for TRPM8 in visceral afferent function. Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain. 2010 July 15.

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Posted In: Clinical Studies,Colon Health Blog,Irritable Bowel Syndrome
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