Enteric-coated peppermint oil (ECPO) has been shown in several studies to be quite helpful in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the large intestine characterized by abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea; hypersecretion of mucus in the colon; and symptoms of indigestion (flatulence, nausea and loss of appetite).
In double-blind studies, ECPO has been shown to be effective in relieving all symptoms of IBS in approximately 70 to 85 percent of people within a two to four week period.
How does it work?
One of the central effects of IBS is excessive contraction of intestinal smooth muscle. Peppermint oil inhibits this contraction, which also makes it useful in treating intestinal colic. In addition, peppermint oil can significantly reduce Candida albicans—a common yeast implicated in many cases of IBS—as well as inhibit gallbladder contraction and emptying.
The two most recent double-blind studies of ECPO in IBS showed impressive results. In one study, 75 percent of the patients in the ECPO group had greater than a 50 percent reduction of total irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, compared with a 38 percent reduction in the placebo group. In the other study of 90 outpatients with IBS, the severity of abdominal pain was reduced significantly in the ECPO group compared to the placebo group, and more than twice as many patients in the ECPO group showed complete symptom relief.
Cappello G, Spezzaferro M, Grossi L, Manzoli L, Marzio L. Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Dig Liver Dis. 2007 Jun;39(6):530-6.
Merat S, Khalili S, Mostajabi P, et al.nThe effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome. Dig Dis Sci. 2010 May;55(5):1385-90.