Peppermint earns respect in mainstream medicine

Peppermint is now clinically proven to be an effective pain reliever for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Photo by Hajnalka Ardai, iStock Photos.

University of Adelaide researchers have shown for the first time how peppermint helps to relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which affects up to 20% of the population.

In a paper published this week in the international journal Pain, researchers from the University's Nerve-Gut Research Laboratory explain how activates an "anti-pain" channel in the colon, soothing in the .

Dr Stuart Brierley says while peppermint has been commonly prescribed by naturopaths for many years, there has been no clinical evidence until now to demonstrate why it is so effective in relieving pain.

"Our research shows that peppermint acts through a specific anti-pain channel called TRPM8 to reduce pain sensing fibres, particularly those activated by mustard and chilli. This is potentially the first step in determining a new type of mainstream clinical treatment for (IBS)," he says.

IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder, causing abdominal pain, bloating, and/or constipation. It affects about 20% of Australians and costs millions of dollars each year in lost productivity, work absenteeism and health care.

"This is a debilitating condition and affects many people on a daily basis, particularly women who are twice as likely to experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome," Dr Brierley says.

"Some people find their symptoms appear after consuming fatty and spicy foods, coffee and alcohol, but it is more complex than that. There appears to be a definite link between IBS and a former bout of gastroenteritis, which leaves nerve pain fibres in a heightened state, altering mechanisms in the gut wall and resulting in ongoing pain."

Dr Brierley says the recent floods in Queensland and Victoria could result in a spike of gastroenteritis cases in Australia due to the contamination of some water supplies in affected regions.

He said case studies in Europe and Canada showed that many people who contracted gastroenteritis from contaminated water supplies went on to experience IBS symptoms that persisted for at least eight years.

There is no cure for IBS and it often comes and goes over a person's lifetime.

Apart from gastroenteritis and food intolerance, IBS can be brought on by food poisoning, stress, a reaction to antibiotics, and in some cases is genetic.

More information: www.elsevier.com/wps/find/jour… cription#description

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Allergic disease linked to irritable bowel syndrome

Jan 30, 2008

Adults with allergy symptoms report a high incidence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), suggesting a link between atopic disorders and IBS according to a study published this month in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, ...

FDA OKs Amitiza for treatment of IBS-C

Apr 30, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced approval of Amitiza (lubiprostone) to treat constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

Recommended for you

Most US babies get their vaccines, CDC says

15 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The vast majority of American babies are getting the vaccines they need to protect them from serious illnesses, federal health officials said Thursday.

Expression of privilege in vaccine refusal

Aug 27, 2014

Not all students returning to school this month will be up to date on their vaccinations. A new study conducted by Jennifer Reich, a researcher at the University of Colorado Denver, shows that the reasons why children may ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

beeferer
not rated yet Apr 19, 2011
I've known this for years. I have IBS, and have had ulcerative colitis all my life up until I had the bloody thing removed in '07. Now I am wondering if I have Crohn's as I have ongoing symptoms. Junior Mints provide relief and help curb the diarrhea.