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Did you know that peppermint oil has been used in many centuries to treat irritable bowel syndrome? Yes, it is not a cure that has to be tested; it is a tried and tested method to treat spasms, diarrhoea, acid reflux, heart burns, stomach pain, bloating, gas and improper bowel movements.
Peppermint Oil acts as a carminative that controls flatulence and a natural cholagogue which pushes bile from the system. It has antibacterial properties that help fight microbes in the gut. Its secretolytic action increases mucous secretion in the respiratory tract and acid secretion as needed in the stomach.
In modern medicine, peppermint oil capsules are used as antispasmodic preparations during colonoscopy in order to reduce discomfort caused due to the procedure. Modern peppermint is a cross of spearmint and water mint and has stronger medicinal properties compared to either of them.
A 2015 study published by the US national institutes of health, it has been proven that peppermint oil capsules significantly reduce procedure time, colonic spasm and increased ease for endoscopist and reduced pain in the patient undergoing colonoscopy.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder which is mainly diagnosed through a host of symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea or constipation, blood in stool and weight loss. The actual causative factors for irritable bowel syndrome have not been zeroed in yet. However, studies indicate that celiac disease, infection in the gut, a stressful event, increased gut flora that are harmful to the gut or genetic factors could be responsible for causing or aggravating the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Chronic fatigue, headache, backache and even anxiety and depression are caused in many.
Studies indicate that up to twenty percent of all people could suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and out of this more than sixty percent have some kind of depression or anxiety disorders.
Researchers in the University of Adelaide’s nerve-gut research laboratory note that irritable bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition that affects women twice as much as men.
Peppermint contains menthol and methyl salicylate as active ingredients. These have antispasmodic and analgesic effects. As a result, these ingredients soothe and relax the muscles in the stomach and intestinal tract during a spasm and in irritable bowel syndrome.
The pain killing properties of peppermint become active because they activate kappa-opiod receptors which help block the signals transmitting pain sensation. Recent research shows that peppermint acts through the TRPM8 pathway to reduce pain sensing fibres, especially those that are activated by mustard and chillies.
Peppermint contains anti-bacterial properties and increases the secretion of gastric juices in the body. In the liver, it promotes bile secretion which helps ease fat metabolism and aids digestion after a heavy meal.
The anti-spasmodic effects are very useful for people with an irritable bowel since the active ingredients of peppermint line in the inner walls of the stomach and intestines, which improves muscle function. Furthermore, peppermint has mild anaesthetic properties also due to which it helps to calm and relax the muscles in these areas.
Peppermint is also used as a relaxant in aroma therapy. Hence, it also helps to fight stress and anxiety that are other trigger factors for irritable bowel syndrome.
Warm peppermint tea taken after a meal helps improve digestion and prevent digestive problems. The easiest way to prepare your own peppermint tea is to add about eight to ten peppermint leaves in a pot of boiled water and brew to get the essence. You can add a spoon of organic honey to the tea to sweeten it. A stronger tea can be used to treat more severe symptoms.
Enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules are medically prescribed to relieve pain caused due to irritable bowel syndrome. The special coating enables their dissolving in the intestines instead of the stomach.
Taking oat meal and fruits such as strawberries, apples and grapefruit which are rich in soluble fibre is good for irritable bowels. Taking yogurt and ginger along with peppermint helps to smooth intestinal muscles and improve digestion while reducing on the fibre intake could also help alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
If you are someone who has a sensitive gut or are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, you can pop in a peppermint candy after eating your meal.
Click here to learn more about peppermint.
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