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Clinical evidence that peppermint relieves IBS

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Irritable Bowel Syndrome relief

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects 20 percent of the population. Women suffer from twice the rates as do men. A study published this week in the journal Pain, conducted by University of Adelaide researchers, shows clinically how peppermint relieves IBS symptoms.

Peppermint reduces pain-sensing fibers in the GI tract

IBS can be debilitating and can occur intermittently throughout life. Now, researchers say they have proven the pain of Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be relieved with peppermint that deactivates pain-sensing fibers in the gastrointestinal tract.

Dr Stuart Brierley explains, “Peppermint acts through a specific anti-pain channel called TRPM8 to reduce pain sensing fibers, particularly those activated by mustard and chili.” He says the finding “is potentially the first step in determining a new type of mainstream clinical treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

IBS is a complex disease

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Brierley says IBS is more complex than just a reaction to consuming coffee, fat, spicy food or alcohol. He says there is a definite link between having experienced gastroenteritis, commonly known as stomach flu, and IBS. Inflammation that accompanies gastroenteritis leaves nerve fibers in a “heightened state” he says, resulting in persistent pain.

In some cases, IBS is genetic. Other possible causes include intolerance to food, stress, antibiotic reaction and food poisoning. Brierley cites case studies in Europe and Canada that resulted in IBS after people experienced gastroenteritis brought about by contaminated drinking water – In some instances, irritable bowel syndrome persisted for eight years.

The study is the first to show clinically how peppermint relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome that has been prescribed by naturopaths for years. The finding lends support to using peppermint to soothe the pain of IBS, found by the researchers to act through a specific pain channel called TRPM8 in the colon.

Pain: "A novel role for TRPM8 in visceral afferent function"
Andrea M. Harrington, Patrick A. Hughes, Christopher M. Martin,
Jing Yang, Joel Castro, Nicole J. Isaacs, L. Ashley Blackshaw, Stuart M. Brierley

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Angela at en.wikipedia