Peppermint Oil for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

At Digestive Disease Week meetings researchers discussed the success of slow release peppermint oil (IBgard) in reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The study was reviewed in the online journal of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, MedPage Today.

According to Brooks Cash, MD, of the University of South Alabama in Mobile and associates, the number of severe and unbearable symptoms were significantly reduced using their delayed release peppermint oil tablet. Peppermint has been used for generations to reduce intestinal problems. I remember as a first year medical student, diagnosed with “ spastic colon” being prescribed peppermint flavored “ Tincture of Rhubarb and Soda” by the Chief of Gastroenterology at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Taken before meals, it produced a warm soothing feeling on the way down followed by a gentle burp. The tincture was mixed in traditional pharmacies which were all “compounding pharmacies” in those days. It is virtually unobtainable today. Peppermint oil is available over the counter today in the form of gel caps and tablets with an unpredictable delivery system. When the peppermint oil is released early in the stomach it can cause heartburn and dyspepsia. When it is released later it can produce rectal irritation and burning and lower gastrointestinal discomfort.

The new product, IBgard, has a delivery system that allows it to leave the stomach before its product is released in the small intestine where the environment is right for a positive effect. The product is produced by IM HealthScience in Boca Raton, Florida and is expected to be on the shelves in June. Patients are advised to take two tablets 30- 90 minutes before a meal, three times a day. A package of 48 tablets should sell for about $30.

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