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Is Peppermint Oil Beneficial in Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

According to a study, peppermint oil, like placebo, appears to considerably relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with no significant differences between groups.

Is Peppermint Oil Beneficial in Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Image: Peppermint Oil | InStyleHealth

At a single academic center in the United States, a team of researchers conducted a 6-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Patients with IBS (Rome IV criteria) who had moderate to severe symptoms on the IBS Severity Scoring System (IBS-SSS score of 175) were randomized in a 1:2 ratio to enteric-coated peppermint oil 180 mg three times day or placebo.

In a modified intent-to-treat analysis, both peppermint oil (90.8; standard deviation [SD], 75.3) and placebo showed significant mean improvements in IBS-SSS ratings from baseline to 6 weeks (100.3; SD, 99.6).

Although the peppermint oil group showed less improvement quantitatively than the placebo group, the impact magnitude was minor (d, –0.11). Furthermore, there was no statistically significant between-group difference (p=0.97). Secondary endpoints showed considerable gains in both groups, although there were no statistically significant differences between groups on any of the secondary measures.

Sensitivity tests employing multiple imputation to replace missing data yielded similar results. Furthermore, there were no significant changes in any outcome indicators between peppermint oil and placebo.

The researchers concluded that "more large, rigorous trials are needed to investigate the relevance of peppermint oil in the treatment of IBS."

Source: Am J Gastroenterol 2021;116:2279-2285

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