Peppermint and probiotics soothe the gut

A daily dose of peppermint oil and daily supplementation with probiotics reduced the severity and frequency of adolescents with functional gastrointestinal disorders.

A minty probiotic may be the key to soothing one of the most common, and least understood, chronic medical conditions—functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID). New research suggests that peppermint oil plus probiotics reduces the symptoms of adolescents with the condition.

FGIDs affects approximately two out of five people, according to the International Foundation of Gastrointestinal Disorders.  As the disorders often overlap with each other, many people are affected by more than one functional GI disorder simultaneously.

Researchers in Iran studied 120 subjects between the ages of four and 13, who suffered from FGID. For one month, one randomly selected group of subjects were given a daily dose of folic acid. Another group took 187 mg of peppermint oil per day, taken 30 minutes before meals. The last group took a probiotic containing 150 million spores of B. coagulans and gructooligosaccharides after meals.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the subjects who received the peppermint oil and the subjects who took the probiotic experienced significantly less gastrointestinal pain, less often than the people in the control group. The results were published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal.

Previous studies have found that peppermint oil can reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, notes an review of the research. Scientists believe the peppermint helps by reducing the smooth muscle contractions of the intestine. Last year, physicians in the American College of Gastroenterology included probiotics among their official list of recommended treatments for irritable bowel syndrome, a functional gastrointestinal disorder.


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