Peppermint tea has been studied as a possible treatment for the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Does it work?
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, as it’s often called, can be annoying at best and sometimes downright debilitating. The abdominal cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and generalized discomfort can be difficult to deal with on a daily basis and can send you running to the bathroom at the most inconvenient times.
The treatment of IBS is often a hit or miss proposition with some people failing to respond to any treatment. Many people turn to natural remedies in an attempt to get relief of their daily symptoms. One natural treatment that has shown some promise is peppermint tea for irritable bowel syndrome. Is peppermint tea good for IBS?
In irritable bowel syndrome, the intestines move in an irregular pattern resulting in significant cramping and abdominal discomfort. It’s thought that the disorderly intestinal movements are responsible for many of the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint appears to alter the movement of the smooth muscle found in the intestinal wall so they contract in a more controlled manner, relieving some of the abdominal cramping and pain. It’s this anti-spasmodic effect that makes peppermint tea good for IBS symptoms. Peppermint tea is an inexpensive and easily available herbal tea that can be purchased at most grocery stores and health food markets. This makes it a particularly appealing alternative for treating the symptoms of IBS.
A previous study, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at the use of peppermint oil for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. They found that peppermint oil was more effective than placebo for treating the symptoms of IBS. Patients using peppermint oil reported less abdominal cramping, bloating, and diarrhea than those who received a placebo.
If peppermint oil is effective for relief of IBS symptoms, why use peppermint tea for IBS instead? It appears that some people are unable to tolerate the oil due to the strong taste. Use of peppermint tea for symptom control may be a more palatable way to get the effects of the peppermint without the overpowering taste of the oil.
When using peppermint tea for IBS, how often should it be drank? To relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, it’s probably most effective to drink a strong cup to get maximum benefits. When brewing your own peppermint tea, add two tea bags and allow it to steep a bit longer than unusual.
One precaution when using peppermint tea for IBS, if you suffer from GERD or acid reflux disease, peppermint can make the symptoms worse. In this case, using an enteric coated peppermint oil capsule would be best since it won’t break down until it reaches the intestines.
Peppermint tea for relief of irritable bowel symptoms appears to hold some promise. If you plan on using it to treat your own IBS symptoms, always consult with your doctor first, particularly if you have problems with acid reflux.