A simple, elegant study entitled, "Review article: the physiological effects and safety of peppermint oil and its efficacy in irritable bowel syndrome and other functional disorders," appeared in the March 2018 edition of the medical journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Researchers decided to test the old-age belief that peppermint oil can help with gastrointestinal symptoms by focusing on how peppermint affects metabolism and gastrointestinal physiology, as well as its efficacy and safety. To achieve this, researchers procured a prodigious number of random, controlled scientific studies from the PubMed database, which specifically set out to discover those factors.
The organs and medical issues tested in the studies included the esophagus, stomach, gall bladder, small intestine, colon, dyspepsia, nausea, abdominal pain, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
"It appears that peppermint oil may have several mechanisms of action including smooth muscle relaxation (via calcium channel blockade or direct enteric nervous system effects); visceral sensitivity modulation (via transient receptor potential cation channels); anti-microbial effects; anti-inflammatory activity; modulation of psychosocial distress," reports the study's authors.
Placebo-controlled studies support its use as well, and few adverse effects have been seen in peppermint oil trials.
With this, the study concluded that peppermint oil safely and effectively treats the symptoms of IBS, functional dyspepsia, pediatric abdominal pain, and post-operative nausea. Additionally, researchers discovered that the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of peppermint also positively affected the process of digestion.
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Source: Chumpitazi BP, Kearns GL, and Shulman RJ. (2018). Review article: the physiological effects and safety of peppermint oil and its efficacy in irritable bowel syndrome and other functional disorders. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29372567
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.