Peppermint is often considered one of the most effective and powerful digestive herbs and has a long history of use in many cultures.  Recent evidence even suggests that peppermint may be effective in relieving some IBS symptoms and in treating non-ulcer dyspepsia.  In one study, 57 people with IBS symptoms (confirmed not to be lactose intolerance or haveceliac disease, which are the two conditions most often mistaken for IBS), were enrolled in a study.  Over four weeks, each person was given either placebo or peppermint oil.  At the end of the study period, 75% of patients in the peppermint oil group showed a marked reduction of symptoms (meaning symptoms were reduced by 50% or more) while only 38% of the placebo group showed improvement.

Another study of 39 people confirmed that an enteric-coated peppermint caraway oil combination taken three times a day for four weeks significantly reduced dyspepsia (similar to IBS, but involving the stomach instead of the intestines) pain when compared to a placebo group.  More than 63 percent of participants were pain free after four weeks compared to 25% of the placebo group.

In a study of the importance of prokinect effects (the ability to  stimulate contraction of stomach muscles) as well as salivary-stimulating effects of cisapride since both play important roles in acid clearance of the esophagus, peppermint lozenges were found to produce a significant decreases in the number of swallows need to achieve a certain pH level in the esophagus.

The scientific evidence is mounting to prove what many civilizations have known for thousands of years: peppermint is a powerful support in the quest for digestive health.

Best Practices

The best sort of digestive applications is fresh domestic peppermint.  Other mints, such as spearmint, have similar, though milder effects.  Peppermint can be obtained in tea bags or as loose tea, its oil can also be used.  Generally peppermint tea is more soothing, particularly to the digestive system, whereas peppermint oil is more stimulating.  Since the active constituents of peppermint are fragile, don’t boil the herb.  Instead, let it steep with a lid on the teapot.

To address symptoms such as gastric acidity, indigestion, or digestive related headache, use peppermint oil directly on the temples, applied between the eyebrows, on the forehead, back of the neck, or behind the ears.  You can also place drops on the abdomen over the liver, stomach and intestines; massage the oil in a clockwise motion.

Other Treatments

Intestinal Spasm – Use peppermint oil externally, and drink a warm cup of peppermint tea.

Acute Digestive Disorders, Tension, Anxiety – A peppermint bath is excellent for these conditions.  Make 2 quarts of triple strength tea (1 to 2 tablespoons per cup placed in a hot bath), or you may immerse 2 tea bags of peppermint tea in a bath tub, or simply add 1 teaspoon of peppermint oil into a hot bath.  Some persons with digestive disorders carry the oil or teabags with them wherever they go.


Be careful not to use peppermint tea that is blended with black tea, as black tea contains caffeine.

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