Peppermint Oil for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Peppermint Oil for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
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Peppermint essential oil should be considered the first-line treatment for IBS.

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Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic, episodic intestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits affecting 1 in 7 Americans, though most go undiagnosed. It can have a substantial impact on well-being and health. Doctors underestimate the impact the disease can have, particularly the pain and discomfort. Using some measures, the health-related quality of life of irritable bowel sufferers can rival that of sufferers of much more serious disorders, such as diabetes, kidney failure, and inflammatory bowel disease. So, the first step toward successful treatment is for doctors to acknowledge the condition, and not dismiss the patient as just hysterical or something.

Another reason sufferers often don’t seek medical care may be the lack of effectiveness of the available treatments. There is a huge unmet therapeutic need.

Since there is no cure for IBS, treatment is targeted to alleviate the symptoms. The typical antispasmodic drugs can cause side effects, such as dry mouth, dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, and fall risk, but there are new drugs on the market now, like Lubiprostone, which can cost $2,000 a year, and cause—as side effects—many of the symptoms you’re trying to treat. Linaclotide is one of the newest, $3,000 a year, and again can cause the very problems it’s designed to help.

Antidepressants are commonly given, but may take four to six weeks to help for Prozac or Celexa; up to 12 weeks for Paxil, and have their own array of side effects–including sexual dysfunction caused by these three drugs in over 70% of the people who take them. There’s got to be a better way.

Acupuncture works, but no better than placebo. What’s placebo acupuncture? It’s where you poke people with a fake needle away from any known acupuncture points, yet, that worked just as well as real acupuncture, showing the power of the placebo effect. I’ve talked about the ethics of so many doctors effectively passing off sugar pills as effective drugs, who argue the ends justify the means. There’s actually a way to harness the placebo effect without lying to patients, though. You tell them it’s a sugar pill. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome were randomized to either get nothing—or a prescription medicine bottle of placebo pills with a label clearly marked “Placebo pills,” “Take 2 pills twice daily.” I kid you not.

And lo and behold, it worked. That’s how powerful the placebo effect can be for irritable bowel. They conclude that for some disorders, it may be appropriate for clinicians to recommend that patients try an inexpensive and safe placebo. Indeed, sugar pills probably won’t cost $3,000 a year, but is there a safe alternative that actually works?

Nine randomized placebo-controlled studies have found peppermint oil to be a safe and effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. A few adverse events were reported, but were mild and transient in nature, such as a peppermint taste, peppermint smell, and a cooling sensation around one’s bottom; whereas in some of the head-to-head peppermint versus drug studies, some of the drug side effects were so unbearable they had to drop out of the study. This suggests that it might be a reasonable approach for clinicians to treat IBS patients with peppermint oil as a first-line therapy, before trying anything else.

The longest trial lasted only 12 weeks, so we don’t know about long-term efficacy, though the benefits may last at least a month after stopping, thought perhaps to be due to lasting changes in our gut flora.

The studies used peppermint oil capsules, so they could match them with placebo pills. What about peppermint tea? It’s never been tested, but one might assume it wouldn’t be concentrated enough, but a quarter cup of fresh peppermint leaves has as much peppermint oil as some of the capsule doses used in the studies, which one could easily blend into a smoothie, or with frozen berries to make something like my pink juice recipe. You can grow mint right on your window sill.

We doctors need effective treatments that are cheap, safe, and available. This is particularly relevant now as newer and more expensive drugs have either failed to work or been withdrawn from the market owing to concerns about serious adverse events.

Just like it may be a good idea to eat only foods with ingredients you can pronounce, it may be better to try some mint before novel pharmacological approaches, such the new dual mu-opioid agonist delta-antagonist drug with a name like JNJ27018966.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic, episodic intestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits affecting 1 in 7 Americans, though most go undiagnosed. It can have a substantial impact on well-being and health. Doctors underestimate the impact the disease can have, particularly the pain and discomfort. Using some measures, the health-related quality of life of irritable bowel sufferers can rival that of sufferers of much more serious disorders, such as diabetes, kidney failure, and inflammatory bowel disease. So, the first step toward successful treatment is for doctors to acknowledge the condition, and not dismiss the patient as just hysterical or something.

Another reason sufferers often don’t seek medical care may be the lack of effectiveness of the available treatments. There is a huge unmet therapeutic need.

Since there is no cure for IBS, treatment is targeted to alleviate the symptoms. The typical antispasmodic drugs can cause side effects, such as dry mouth, dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, and fall risk, but there are new drugs on the market now, like Lubiprostone, which can cost $2,000 a year, and cause—as side effects—many of the symptoms you’re trying to treat. Linaclotide is one of the newest, $3,000 a year, and again can cause the very problems it’s designed to help.

Antidepressants are commonly given, but may take four to six weeks to help for Prozac or Celexa; up to 12 weeks for Paxil, and have their own array of side effects–including sexual dysfunction caused by these three drugs in over 70% of the people who take them. There’s got to be a better way.

Acupuncture works, but no better than placebo. What’s placebo acupuncture? It’s where you poke people with a fake needle away from any known acupuncture points, yet, that worked just as well as real acupuncture, showing the power of the placebo effect. I’ve talked about the ethics of so many doctors effectively passing off sugar pills as effective drugs, who argue the ends justify the means. There’s actually a way to harness the placebo effect without lying to patients, though. You tell them it’s a sugar pill. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome were randomized to either get nothing—or a prescription medicine bottle of placebo pills with a label clearly marked “Placebo pills,” “Take 2 pills twice daily.” I kid you not.

And lo and behold, it worked. That’s how powerful the placebo effect can be for irritable bowel. They conclude that for some disorders, it may be appropriate for clinicians to recommend that patients try an inexpensive and safe placebo. Indeed, sugar pills probably won’t cost $3,000 a year, but is there a safe alternative that actually works?

Nine randomized placebo-controlled studies have found peppermint oil to be a safe and effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. A few adverse events were reported, but were mild and transient in nature, such as a peppermint taste, peppermint smell, and a cooling sensation around one’s bottom; whereas in some of the head-to-head peppermint versus drug studies, some of the drug side effects were so unbearable they had to drop out of the study. This suggests that it might be a reasonable approach for clinicians to treat IBS patients with peppermint oil as a first-line therapy, before trying anything else.

The longest trial lasted only 12 weeks, so we don’t know about long-term efficacy, though the benefits may last at least a month after stopping, thought perhaps to be due to lasting changes in our gut flora.

The studies used peppermint oil capsules, so they could match them with placebo pills. What about peppermint tea? It’s never been tested, but one might assume it wouldn’t be concentrated enough, but a quarter cup of fresh peppermint leaves has as much peppermint oil as some of the capsule doses used in the studies, which one could easily blend into a smoothie, or with frozen berries to make something like my pink juice recipe. You can grow mint right on your window sill.

We doctors need effective treatments that are cheap, safe, and available. This is particularly relevant now as newer and more expensive drugs have either failed to work or been withdrawn from the market owing to concerns about serious adverse events.

Just like it may be a good idea to eat only foods with ingredients you can pronounce, it may be better to try some mint before novel pharmacological approaches, such the new dual mu-opioid agonist delta-antagonist drug with a name like JNJ27018966.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to The Clear Communication People via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

I have some other mint videos (Enhancing Athletic Performance With Peppermint and

Peppermint Aromatherapy for Nausea) and more coming up! Lemon balm is also in the mint family (Reducing Radiation Damage With Ginger & Lemon Balm).

You can also sprinkle dried mint on various dishes. See Antioxidants in a Pinch.
What else might work for IBS? See Kiwifruit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Cayenne Pepper for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Indigestion.

Irritable bowel symptoms can overlap with problems with gluten. Make sure your physician rules out celiac disease:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

98 responses to “Peppermint Oil for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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    1. Believing in the cure is so easy when the cures are tasty and clinically proven and don’t come with that hoard of side-effects. Whether it’s plants or fake pills. What works works and that’s the most important thing. Andrew Weil wrote quite a bit on placebo effect way back when. The mind is a powerful thing, USE IT!!! ;-D

  1. 3000 $ per year for a side effect loaded treatment is crazy! There’s gut to be a better way…..:-) Well for sure a WFPB diet eases problems with the gut – and only beneficial side effects.

    1. Speaking of expensive pills,

      WASHINGTON (AP) — The $1,000 pill for a liver-wasting viral infection that made headlines last year is no longer the favorite of patients and doctors.

      The new leading pill for hepatitis C is more expensive, and the number of patients seeking a cure has surged.

      Sovaldi, last year’s wonder drug, has been pushed aside by a successor called Harvoni, made by the same company. The sticker price for Harvoni is $1,350 a pill.

  2. Can kefir (vegan) be harmful to ingest? What does the science say about vegan based kefir, kefir supplements, etc.?

    I see coconut water kefir (vegan) around and people swear by it but I’ve also heard of others having very adverse reactions to it. Is it safe and something that our bodies actually want, or is it just another over the counter, “natural” cure that gets marketed to us by companies?

    1. One of our star NF volunteers made a comment about Kefir grains. I think you can buy the grains and use them in basically any liquid to make “kefir”. There are a ton of studies on this stuff, just like there are regarding probiotics, as it is basically a probiotic. More research articles on kefir can be found here. There is not much on kefir grains and safety or tolerance other than a few animal studies I found. There is much more information on the safety of probiotics, however, I am not one to promote either, as food can supply all the pre and probiotics we need. Butyrate – an anti-inflammatory and potential cancer fighting short-chain fatty acid, accumulates after fiber-filed meals. We may not need special probiotics like kefir, and some like kombucha have safety concerns. What do others think? I do know folks who buy those kefir drinks and enjoy them. Some are dairy-based and others not (as you mention coconut water). I do think it is overly hyped but that doesn’t mean it’s harmful. I wish we had more definitive research.

  3. another great video! thank you
    from another nutrition facts video i remember that peppermint may lower the libido (and with not to much just 2 tea cups ) is that related with the lower testosterone levels in women and men? or this effect is just for men http://nutritionfacts.org/video/enhancing-athletic-performance-with-peppermint/
    my girlfriend have this pains and some gas in the bowel, and probably it is irritable bowel..(not diagnostic yet) i wonder if peppermint shakes may help her for the bowel but not may be not very good for the other…

    1. I think both men and women. From the link you gave and Dr. Greger’s transcripts: “Now heavy mint consumption may lower libido. There are reports of men drinking 4 cups of day of spearmint or peppermint tea losing their sex drive, though that may improve athletic performance even more—helping to keep their heads in the game. Because of the antiandrogenic, researchers decided to try it out on hairy women, and in a matter of just 5 days were able to drop their free testosterone levels by about 30% with two cups of tea a day. There’s actually a syndrome called PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can result in abnormally high testosterone levels in women, which can successfully be brought down with mint tea.”

      1. Thank you! We are talking about a powerful stuff . With advantage and side effects . 4 tea cups of pepermint tea is not to much compare with what is contain in a pepermint oil capsule or half a cup of tea leaves . This lower in tetotestorone can decline libido in men , but have the same effect in women? Or are other mechanism involve? Is so interesting the topic . I’m not focus on the libido I think one have to understand the whole thing to don’t do the same mistakes as before with pils and antibiotic . No simple solutions for a complex body

    2. Sorry, but that is akin as if you were asking:

      “My house is on fire, it is spreading fast, a lot of it is already falling down… But I wonder, should I use this anti fire foam?, because I hear a rumour that it might blemish the furniture’s varnish”

      I hope you get your priorities right.

      Don’t trivialise anyone’s health — Someone in pain and having tummy problems wont be interested in sex anyway… “The health-related quality of life of irritable bowel sufferers can rival that of sufferers of much more serious disorders, such as diabetes, kidney failure and inflammatory bowel diseases.”

      1. Hehe I’m not focus on sexual drive but as we have learn here libido it is an importan signal for other problems ( case of high cholesterol etc) run a take tons of pepermint without now the implication of it may not be the best way . We have to be curios to discover the interaction involve in taking this powerful natural drugs .

      2. By the way she don have serius symptoms ibs . She have just lightly some times . Also no problems in the other sens but the good thing about t site is the curiosity that make posible to learn the whole thing

    3. Going WFPB boosted my testosterone (without increasing cancer risks) such that I’m not worried ONE BIT about any amount of mint causing me to lose enough libido to be an issue. Mint also enhances athletic performance and that is a “contrary” result if one only looks at sex hormone levels. But that’s just me, and you are you. I’d certainly try it (for IBS if afflicted) and alter my only course if “problems” arose.

    1. Hi Sandy. I am not sure. It looks like “a quarter cup of fresh peppermint leaves has as much peppermint oil as some of the capsule doses used in the studies.” This is the study that mentions the peppermint oil capsules. All references can be found in the sources cited section and may discuss dosages used in the studies.

  4. A real help, and even possible cure to IBS and similar bowel disorders, is to re-establish intestinal integrity of the bowel, which sugar, sugary foods, sodas, starchy carbohydrates (pasta, bread, pastries, etc.) and lots of high-fructose FRUITs and even many prescription drugs e.g., antibiotics, birth control pills, chemotherapy and prednisone, disrupt thereby causing an overgrowth of candida in the gut. There are very effective probiotics that repopulate the gut, which IBS suffers ought to try, I suggest. There are 20 billion and 50 billion CFUs products available in health food stores, refrigerated. For very serious IBS problems, the 50 billion should do wonders after about a week or less of recolonizing AND restructuring the dietary to a plant-based, low starch, complex carb diet. See this website for some input about them.

    1. I never had good luck with probiotic supplements (caps, powder, etc.) but started making my own fermented foods and that made all the difference! It makes sense if you consider that the food can act as a prebiotic as it is ingested with the appropriate probiotic organisms. Despite a few questionable videos here, in my own experience, fermented foods have been transformative to my gut, eliminated severe IBS, and especially enhanced my emotional state…not something I expected!

        1. That has happened to me since I became Vegan 16 months ago! Sometimes I feel concerned that I am not getting enough sleep but my energy levels are usually pretty high. This has been going on for months now–living on 3-5 hours per night, for over a year! Once in a while I’ll get 6-8 hours but never 2 days in a row and not very often. I seem to have a lot of energy, for example I hiked 15 miles in sand & varied elevations after only 3 hours sleep last Saturday, I workout long hours 5-6 days a week. I guess the clear conscious of eating a compassionate diet gives me enormous emotional/psychological boost as well. I would love to come across research on this type of exceptional energy resulting from a WFPBD.

      1. I have found similar: homemade fermented foods far exceed any probiotic supplements I’ve purchased in alleviating my GI distress.

        1. Gee, a favorite? Hmm, tough one! The most eaten is my almost daily miso oats. I just make a bowl of oatmeal with flax and a few nuts or seeds before bed, and when it cools I mix in a TBS of white miso, and let it sit out overnight to ferment. By morning it is an awesome creamy yummy breakfast. (I usually eat it at room temp, but in the cooler months I warm it lightly so as not to kill the microbes). Or else maybe my “magic” cactus salsa? LOL, I live in FL on real tight income, so I grow a lot of my own food and forage and we have huge nopale cactus (Opuntia) that grows everywhere, and the pads and fruit are awesome! Anyway, I dice the pads up and add it to chopped tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, jalapenos, onions, garlic, (and whatever else might be available…sprouts, grated eggplant, cooked beans, etc…) lots of cilantro, turmeric and cumin seeds, pack it tightly into clean quart jars, add enough brine to cover, screw on the lids and let it do it’s magic for about 3 days, depending on the temp! (With some baked corn tortillas I can make a meal out of it!) Another favorite is grated red cabbage, beets and apples…I add caraway, dill and celery seeds, same procedure, but I usually ferment it a bit longer…I just taste it as it ferments to see where I want to stop it. I almost always have a batch of something, or things plural, bubbling happily! Oh, and rejuvelac (a probiotic drink made with sprouted grains) is a constant because I often use it to add to the brine to speed things up a little, and often to ferment plant cheeze made from pureed nuts, seeds or soy, often using miso too as a fermenting and flavor agent. I also use the rejuvelac as a liquid and second ferment it with ginger, citrus, hibiscus (or whatever is handy) and a little honey or sugar to make a healthy fizzy drink like soda, only good for you! It’s so easy and a lot of fun, I am always experimenting in the “kitchen lab”. It took a while to get over the fear we’re taught about leaving food sitting on the counter, but it is nature’s awesome preservative, flavor and nutrient enhancer, so unbelievably cool! I’m happily addicted! LOL!

      2. Which foods are you fermenting specifically and with what. I am very interested. Thanks. Please email me privately if you can.

  5. As a long time sufferer of IBS, including an extremely embarrassing (but greatly illustrative) incident at my doctor’s office, I am happy to report that IBS has become far less bothersome since I moved to a vegan diet. Being dairy-free has clearly helped, but giving up all other animal products as well has freed me from always needing to know where the closest bathroom is.

    Anyone who hasn’t lived with IBS cannot imagine how crippling it can be to a sufferer’s life once we exit our front doors. Simple walks around the block require a quick personal inventory to answer the question, “Am I likely to get into trouble over the next 20 minutes?” Even if all seems ok, the route is designed so that bathroom access is never more than five minutes away.

    IBS means never going on bus field trips with your kids, but instead trailing the bus in your own car, just in case you need an unscheduled stop.
    It means oftentimes answering the question, “Did you make it?” with a rueful, “Almost…”
    It means never sharing a hotel room with friends because almost nobody outside your family knows that when you’re rapping on the bathroom door, they need to immediately wrap up their business.

    I greatly hope that peppermint oil helps people who suffer with this – and I repeat that an animal, fish and dairy-free diet has worked wonders for me.

    1. Thanks for sharing, JCarol! Sounds like IBS can really alter travel plans (well I suppose all plans for that matter). Kudos for finding solutions for such a frustrating syndrome! I too hope peppermint provides some relief for those suffering. Thanks again for sharing your story.

      1. Thank you. My point was that even non life-threatening physical conditions can seriously interrupt and complicate people’s lives. A lot of people have no idea how IBS plays out because most sufferers find it so embarrassing that they don’t discuss it.

    1. Dr. Greger points out the differences between saturated fat from coconut and animal fat in this video. From the transcript: “Unlike saturated animal fats, coconut oil doesn’t cause that spike inflammation immediately after consumption of animal foods, which makes sense because as you’ll remember it may be the dead bacterial endotoxins in animal products ferried into the body by saturated fat that are to blame.”

      Two recent reports on coconut oil that may also help:

      CSPI report on coconut oil

      Forks Over Knives report

      Here is one great video that discusses leaky gut and inflammation. See if these help, Charzie? Thanks for your support and comments I enjoy reading them.

      1. Yum, cod liver oil cake? Gross, lol! I don’t use any oil besides a dash of mustard or toasted sesame oil for flavor occasionally, or rarely a little coconut milk in a recipe, but it helps to be able to make informed decisions in any event. (No wonder so many people turn off to dietary info when it seems there are so many diametrically opposed opinions on so many issues!) It’s good to have a source for reliable info here…as much as possible! If I were healthy and young I’m sure I’d be less concerned about these specifics, but keeping health issues in check that once plagued you keeps you a bit more vigilant! Sad but true! Thank you for the info and all your comments too, I always look forward to my “visits” here!

      1. I think the primary benefit of wheat bran is the insoluble crude fiber, in my case increasing stool size by about 3 times.

        1. Remarkably, measurements of bacterial matter in stool range from 44 to 55 % of the total solids. So while it may seem like its water absorption by inert fiber that’s responsible for increased volume, in many cases its a flourishing petri dish.

          1. Whatever the mechanism I am lucky I had a 7th Day Adventist Doctor when I was 13 years old that prescribed what was then called Miller’s Bran instead of any drugs for my frequent severe debilitating gas pains.

        1. I’ve read speculation that modern FODMAP intolerance is due to the catastrophic loss of gut microbial diversity in the antibiotics era, compounded by processed diets which eliminate traditional sources of prebiotics (past definitions only included varieties of FODMAPs, more recent definitions include resistant starch & polyphenols). Hence dysbiosis sufferers have fewer beneficial strains, more pathobionts, and broken microbial networks that would otherwise metabolize high-FODMAP intake without bloating and other distress. This argues that any reintroduction of the probiotic FODMAPS should be incremental, permitting time for the microbiota to adjust.

          1. I’m going to agree totally Darrlyl, and there are probably a lot more issues than this that can be helped by getting your microbiome healthy! Adding fermented food regularly to my diet has had innumerable benefits, mind and body, I would have never believed it could have so many effects!

  6. Just keep a patch of peppermint growing in the yard. My suggestion: containerize it in the yard. You’ll get fiber, and it tastes good!
    John S

  7. Are there any studies that compare diet high in veggies and fiber and probiotics that help cure or stop IBS. I know from personal experience that increasing my fiber intake and eating more veggie and raw sourcrout, and less meat that my stomach issues are all but a distant painful memory.

    1. Glad something works for you! We have a few videos on IBS. All of them can be found in Dr. Greger’s Doctor’s Note at the bottom of this video (and every video). That’s why i love NutritionFacts.org because the public can visit the site for free and learn about crucial nutrition topics! If you have not already, please consider keeping up with the new videos posted every weekday and subscribe to the daily video feed. Thanks, Chris.

  8. How can a vegan with digestive issues and dysbiosis such as myself be sure that I am converting K1 into K2, since we rely on gut bacteria for this conversion? Natto is the only direct vegan source, but doesn’t that only have MK7 and not MK4 or however many other MKs there are? It’s also not sold in any grocery stores nearby.

  9. Tried peppermint oil years ago when I had 10 years of IBS (including chronic gas). All I remember it doing for me was making my farts smell like peppermint (lol). Going plant-based, low-fat cured my IBS.

    1. In my experience IBS is not a diagnosis with one cause but a group of conditions lumped together. The first “treatment” is to go on a WFPB diet. I like this video as giving an alternative to drugs. I encourage patients to stop looking for the “magic” food as a substitute for the “magic” pill. The goal is to cure the condition so you don’t need to treat. Coconut oil is primarily saturated fat with a high energy density, of concern for those trying to lose weight and/or avoid diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is primarily a fat problem with saturated fat being toxic to beta cells… see NutritionFacts videos on these topics. Gluten problems are the rage now. An interesting study by Capannolo et al. was published in Digestion May 2015 entitled, Non-celiac Gluten sensitivity among patients perceiving gluten related symptoms. The study involved patients reporting gluten problems. In evaluating patients for Celiac Disease, Wheat Allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity they found 86% of participants had no problem with gluten. Most of my patients symptoms were resolved given a WFPB diet and time. Sometimes patients have to ferret out sensitivities to specific plant foods. There can be many explanations for the success but quite frankly non of my patients with IBS cared to understand the mechanism only that they got better. You can view one moving testimonial on IBS from the last of five brief testimonials from EarthSave’s Meals for Health program in Sacramento…. http://www.earthsave.org/sacramento.htm.

    2. It doesn’t work for me either, wish it did :-( I have IBS/both types all my life, improved enormously on Vegan diet and learning to identify & eliminate foods that aggravate

  10. Tried peppermint oil years ago when I had 10 years of IBS (including chronic gas). All I remember it doing for me was making my farts smell like peppermint (lol). Going plant-based, low-fat cured my IBS.

    1. Hey, Wade. I think it’s because he had to re-record this one due to a small mistake. The transcript read fine, but someone pointed it out in a personal email, as well as others, in older comments from the video. That is how dedicated Dr. Greger is to his videos! He wants them to be accurate.

    1. It may vary. In the video Dr. Greger mentions “a quarter cup of fresh peppermint leaves has as much peppermint oil as some of the capsule doses used in the studies, which one could easily blend into a smoothie, or with frozen berries to make something like my pink juice recipe. You can grow mint right on your window sill.” Check out his pink juice video, too!

  11. This is great! I’ve had IBS for years and doctors always prescribe SSRIs, which don’t help at all. I have found that rubbing peppermint oil on my belly does wonders to relieve IBS symptoms, as does drinking peppermint tea. A low-carb diet was also recommended, but I haven’t found any diet that makes a difference – flares seem to happen out of the blue, regardless of what I eat or don’t eat.

      1. Ok, thanks. I grow peppermints in my garden for tea an such, wondering if any certain variety was best for extract ?
        There are 100’s. Plant’s potencies in extractable nutrients vary a lot with environment, but also type. re: oily or dry

  12. Hi I have tried everything to stop bloating and smelly gas but nothing works. Since becoming a vegan I have also become very offensive to other peoples sense of smell. I eat extremely healthy but it seems the more veggies I eat the worse I smell. What is going on with my gut. It actually feels like the gas burns sometimes it is that bad! If only peppermint oil worked for me!

  13. I would love to see a video on the FODMAPs diet and on SIBO. My doctor strongly recommended FODMAPs and I find it awfully restrictive with the plant based diet. Will I ever eat another apple or pear again? It would help to see a video on the research and success behind the diet. It restricts a lot of vegetables, fruits, grains and beans. I would also LOVE and really appreciate a video on SIBO. I have had SIBO for 3 years (hydrogen breath test 62 when normal = 0-5) and have not responded to traditional antibiotic treatments or to probiotics. I feel so sick every day and despite eating a strict plant based, no oil diet for over a year, the SIBO has gotten worse. My doctor wants me to reduce carbs including beans and I do not want to do it. Please, can you make a video on research and treatments for SIBO? Keep up the amazing work; I love the site!!

  14. You yourself said going dairy free was a treatment for IBS and Crohn’s disease. A milk allergy is often the main component of schizophrenia. The dark circles under the eyes are evidence of a milk allergy. Steven Nash, the Nobel Prize winning economics featured in Beautiful Minds, had a milk allergy, you can see it in any picture of him. That might have been his whole problem. Dr. Hoffer suggested an Omega three deficiency and Niacin deficiency were also components. So, also, possibly is a Chlorine deficit. It is a macro nutrient.

  15. I was told about three months ago that I have Lymphocytic colitis. Now they are telling me I have IBS. It is getting so painful and so unpredictable. Have been oil free vegan for 2 1/2 years and had felt super until about 6 months ago when this hit me. I am totally against taking all the pills that they want to give me, it is like putting a bandage on the problem instead of taking care of the problem. They told me if I don’t take the pills that I will just have to learn to live with it. Can anyone give me some advice on what could help me. Thank You.

  16. What method is suggested for helping someone who has frequent bowel movements, but has had tests and no parasites or anything exist in the system?

  17. dr greger i’m in a fb group for sibo patients, with over 12000 other sibo patients. we all suffer from bloating and pain, and taking antibiotics we destroy our gut flora while the sibo comes back within weeks or months (this is even confirmed by studies). many patients do restrictive diets that can’t be kept forever because of the… restrictions. some say it’s impossible to be vegan if you have sibo. any wisdom / help would be highly appreciated.

    1. Yes, that should be safe. Mint leaves are put directly in many fruit and dessert dishes. Of course, as with many things, moderation is likely a good idea. I would think eating lots may actually upset the stomach, but you’ll figure out how you react. Enjoy!

  18. I am male and wondering if I take peppermint orally or topical(I was suffering for last one decade from male pattern baldness and when last month I found peppermint oil outperforms minoxdil i applied it topical, since then not a single hair is falling out , not a one. ) I just want to know does it have any estrogenic side effect ?

  19. What about diet for IBS sufferers? What can I recommend that my sister-in-law should eat to minimise the discomfort of her IBS? It seems so contradicting to me that all the foods recommended by her doctor are ones that will cause an unbalanced gut flora, microbial disharmony, auto-immune diseases and chronic disease later on in her life – including white bread (never wholegrain bread), crackers (plain), low carb foods, dairy, eggs and meats, while avoiding all whole grains, legumes, fibre-rich vegetables and fruits etc. I’ve tried to convince her to switch her chocolate filled wheat pillows with milk and OJ that she has for breakfast, to a bowl of wholesome porridge with ground flax seeds, bananas, nuts and berries, but to no avail.
    From my own research I understand that a strong microbiom would be a good starting point, so anything that would contribute to this would surely be a positive benefit, even something more dramatic such as a short duration dose of 50 billion probiotic tablets for a few weeks while adapting the diet accordingly to keep the new bacteria alive with good quality prebiotics, but she seems to think her daily pot of yoghurt does her more good and that there is no point changing any part of her diet since, according to her doctor’s list, she can only eat X and not Y. And since I have no actual knowledge of this disease (only what the most “trustworth” sites tell me), I can’t confidently tell her
    what to eat and not, even though to me, it would make the most sense to
    eat a whole food plant based diet rich in fibre to boost the good
    bacteria while also helping prevent any future diseases that
    may be building up.Any thoughts on this?

  20. Dear Docs: Please help. I have IBS that alternates between constipation and diarrhea. the constipation I can deal with, but the diarrhea is difficult because the more fruits and veges I eat, the worse it gets. It seems like my gut does not react to fiber the usual way. I find ginger, peppermint a little helpful. Cayenne–I like it so I eat it, but it’s not much of a help with cramping bloating gas etc. This diarrhea really interferes with my attempts to eat a plant based diet especially including the ground flax.

    1. Red Bam,

      One of the key factors when considering your IBS is to do a full evaluation of what specific foods are indeed causing some of your symptoms. Couple this will knowing your bowel contents and other inflammation sources and you should find additional relief. Also when your addressing the fiber remember that all fibers are not the same. We typically divide the fibers into both those that are soluble and those that are not. Often times I will find patients have very significant responses to non digestible fibers such as popcorn which can upset the bowel.

      May I suggest you have your physician do a thorough evaluation using the full screen of bowel testing, such as a CDSA2 test and couple that with an allergy evaluation. Just a note, on the allergy evaluation, not the ineffective scratch testing instead use ELISA or a similar methodology with both the IGG and IGE fractions. Your clinician should be aware of my suggestion, This should give you both the answers and means to implement better bowel function.

      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

  21. What are the ingredients of that placebo pill? If glucose is a component, it may have indeed helped IBS sufferers (who sometimes have fructose malabsorption issues), as glucose assists with fructose absorption.

  22. I found one thing that got me over the line to be completely free of symptoms was a level teaspoon of tea leaves with my breakfast each morning. I am interested to know if anyone else has tried that so I can be more certain that it was not a coincidence.

    1. I do four drops of peppermint essential oil in my tea in the morning, it eases my stomach thru the day. I’ve found nothing that works 100%, I’m in my 60’s and have been dealing with this since I was 17, I suspect my stomach is just melting at this point : P

  23. Hi Tom,

    I’m sure that symptoms and the degree to which you have IBS plays a role in how much peppermint oil you should take. Without seeing you as a patient it would not be wise to suggest a dose.

    Thank you for your interest in NutritionFacts! Below are more articles on the benefits of peppermint if you care to explore more.

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-to-take-before-a-colonoscopy/
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/enhancing-athletic-performance-with-peppermint/
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/peppermint-aromatherapy-for-nausea/

  24. I am a healthy, athletic woman in my early 40s. I had been a vegetarian for years, before taking up a WFPB diet in August 2015. I had no health complaints, including no GI complaints, until 2.5 months ago when I, literally overnight, developed IBS. There were no lifestyle changes, no dietary changes involved – it just happened. As a fellow physician, I find it offensive and disappointing that Dr. Greger, someone whom I have met personally at a conference and followed very closely on my WFPB journey, would highlight research implying that IBS is “all in our heads”, and thus so easily managed on a psychological level via the placebo effect.
    Too often, within the community of WFPD proponents, I hear this diet being (radically) recommended as THE one-stop fix. We need to be very careful not to put out the over-simplified notion that all plant foods, including high fiber ones, are good for all guts, all the time. Reporting on IBS and failing to mention the enormous value many IBS sufferers have gained through research on FODMAP, and simultaneously highlighting the placebo effect, is both insulting and isolating to the millions of IBS sufferers. I must admit it leaves me wondering what other research has been left out of the discussion surrounding other diseases on this site.

  25. Hi Jih,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you for your concern.

    However, I am uncertain as to the criticisms you make. You say that Dr. Greger implies that IBS is “all in our heads”, but the video clearly states that “the first step toward successful treatment is for doctors to acknowledge the condition, and not dismiss the patient as just hysterical or something.” So what he is saying is that we SHOULD NOT dismiss patients as these pains and discomforts being all in their heads, quite the contrary from your claim.

    To your point about FODMAP, that would be a good video to do, and perhaps he has information brewing on such a diet.

    I hope this helps alleviate some of your concerns. Dr. Greger intends to help individuals in whatever way he can.

    1. Hello whollyplantfoods,

      Thank you very much for your reply. I did, in fact, take note of Dr. Greger stressing that IBS must be taken seriously by physicians. However, the more powerful point that stayed with me is the one highlighting the placebo effect, which is, of course, due to psychological effects. There are several different subtypes of IBS, and thanks to new biomarkers we are beginning to understand that each may have its own etiology. Clearly that was not the focus here, and certainly goes beyond the scope of a 5 minute video. However, I think many IBS sufferers would agree with me in that the last thing we need is a physician, friend, partner or well-meaning neighbor latching on to ideas such as “if a sugar pill can help alleviate the symptoms, how bad can it really be?” or “It must be all their heads if a placebo is that effective.” For that reason, I would find it helpful to NOT have highly regarded experts such as Dr. Greger contributing to that mindset, albeit unintentionally, by highlighting research that suggests the aforementioned misconceptions. Thank you for your time. Best wishes, JLH

  26. Dear Dr. Greger,
    Thank you very much for your well-researched contribution to human health and well-being. Your site and videos, revealing the hard facts and truth about meat and dairy,turned me vegan two months ago.

    Due to more then 10 years of IBS and heavy bloating, also still after 2 months into being vegan, I am considering a fecal transplantation.
    I’d be more than happy, if you had any research on the benefits or adverse effects of such a procedure, as I am a little concerned about the outcome.
    I’ve tried your daily recommendations and follow your daily dozen rule as good as possible, however, the IBS bloating symptoms are still omnipresent.

    I am looking forward to hearing from you, thank you very much!

    Kind regards,
    Thomas

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