Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects millions of Americans across the country. While this condition does not permanently damage the bowels or increase the risk of colon cancer in the way that Crohn’s disease can, it is still a difficult disease to live with. To begin with, this condition can be very painful and it can also interfere with someone’s ability to carry out the normal tasks of everyday life.
There are some over-the-counter and prescription remedies that can help people cope with IBS, but to date there is no cure and some of these treatments can carry with them side effects that some patients find unacceptable. That is why so many people with IBS are excited about new evidence that peppermint may be able to provide effective relief for their condition.
More About IBS
IBS is considered to be a chronic condition of the colon for which there is no cure. Symptoms associated with this disorder include abdominal pain and cramping, gas and bloating, and either constipation or diarrhea, with some patient alternating between the two. It is believed that the root cause of IBS lies in the fact that the muscles of colon are too sensitive and contract more strongly than is needed or do not contract strongly enough.
IBS attacks can be brought on by certain triggers. While these vary greatly from one person to another, it can include emotional stress, certain foods to which the individual is sensitive, hormonal fluctuations (such as women undergo during the course of their menstrual cycles) and other stomach or bowel conditions.
Again, there are many over-the-counter and prescription remedies on offer, but many studies show that lifestyle changes (like avoiding triggers whenever possible) and use of natural therapies like peppermint oil can offer effective relief from this condition.
Peppermint Oil Therapy
The good news is that for IBS sufferers, natural treatments are available. Peppermint oil appears to be foremost among them, especially when it comes in enteric-coated capsules. Several studies on this oil have proven that it is able to help reduce the painful inflammation of the intestinal lining and can also bring down abdominal swelling and bloating.
For instance, one study looked at 57 different patients with IBS and gave them either enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules or a placebo twice a day for a month. At the end of this month, it was found that 75% of those patients who received the peppermint oil capsules reported an improvement in their symptoms. This coincides with results from another more recent study in Taiwan which found that IBS patients on peppermint oil therapy experienced less abdominal pain, less gas and bloating and fewer bowel movements daily.
The takeaway here is that as long as peppermint oil is enteric-coated (meaning that it will dissolve in the small intestines and not in the stomach), it provides a viable natural treatment for IBS that reduces the more uncomfortable side effects of this disease and makes it, in general, an easier condition to live with.
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