What peppermint is:
Peppermint is actually a cultivated plant which was derived from water mint and spearmint (perhaps by accident) in the mid-1700s. It was first grown in England and its medicinal properties were recognized not long after. Peppermint is cultivated today in Europe and Northern Africa.
Use of peppermint in treating irritable bowel syndrome:
Historically, peppermint was taken as a tea to treat general digestive problems. It is known to reduce the production of gas in the intestine. Today peppermint is recognized as being most effective for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) when used in its oil form. One study showed that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules were effective in relieving pain, disension, and stool frequency in people with IBS. Peppermint oil has even been approved for use by IBS patients in Germany.
How peppermint is used:
Peppermint oil can be taken in either capsules or tea. As a tea, peppermint may be taken 3 to 4 times a day between meals. One to 2 enteric-coated capsules containing 0.2 ml of peppermint oil taken 2 to 3 times a day may be recommended. See your physician or licensed health care professional to determine the proper dosage in capsule form.*
Interactions with other drugs:
Use during pregnancy:
Peppermint is not recommended for use during pregnancy.
Peppermint oil should never be applied to the face or near mucus membranes.
Do not use this herb if:
You have chronic heartburn.
You have severe liver damage.
You have inflammation of the gallbladder.
You have obstruction of bile ducts.
You are pregnant.
Talk to your doctor if:
You have gallstones.
Peppermint oil may cause burning or stomach upset. Enteric-coated capsules may cause a burning sensation in the rectum.
Children and infants:
The strong menthol present in the tea may cause infants and small children to choke. Peppermint was historically used to treat colic in infants, but it is not recommended today. See chamomile for an alternative.
Peppermint tea is thought to be safe.