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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

Peppermint Oil Soothes Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Kids

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In contrast, less than one-fifth of the children who had been given the placebo had changes in the severity of their symptoms, and none of them said that they were "much better." A number of the children taking the placebo, in fact, said that their pain had gotten worse during the two-week study period.

However, the peppermint oil only seemed to help pain. Other common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as excess gas, belching, bloating, and heartburn, remained the same for both groups.

The peppermint oil was found to be very safe, and none of the children had any side effects from it.

The researchers feel that larger, more comprehensive studies are needed. In the meantime, they write that "peppermint oil should be considered for the treatment of moderate levels of pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome."

Miller, who provided WebMD with an objective opinion about the research, says that the study has made "a significant start in piloting alternate therapies that are well tolerated, safe, and effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome of childhood."

David Gremse, MD, director of the division of pediatric GI/nutrition at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, points out that even though no side effects were reported, peppermint oil has caused heartburn and allergic reactions in adults who have used it. The two-week study period, he feels, wasn't long enough to conclude that it won't cause any side effects in children.

Gremse, who also reviewed the study for WebMD, feels that the "results are intriguing" but says that further studies are needed to confirm both the safety and effectiveness of peppermint oil before it can be widely recommended to relieve symptoms in children with irritable bowel syndrome.

The research was supported in part by a grant from Tillotts Pharma AG.

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