Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder. It is caused by irregular movements of the small and large intestines. Doctors also refer to it as spastic colon or mucous colitis.
It is amongst the most annoying and chronic stomach disorder that leads to abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation and wind pipe congestion. IBS affects about 25 to 45 million Americans and amongst these most of them are women. People can suffer from irritable bowel syndrome starting from late teens into the early 40s. Though it is not a life-threatening disease. However, it can last a lifetime and there’s no cure till date except that treatments and changes in lifestyle and food habits really help.
What are the signs & symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?
Usually, symptoms of IBS include diarrhea, constipation, lower abdomen pains and cramps, bloating and gas accumulation in the windpipe and the digestive tract. The stools get either harder or looser than normal. Constipation is usually followed by diarrhea. Bloating leads to a sticking out belly. The syndrome gets worse with stress and diet loaded with spices. Other related signs of irritable bowel syndrome include nausea, headache, depression, and fatigue.
Why does one suffer from irritable bowel syndrome?
The exact reason behind IBS is unknown. Studies suggest that colon might overreact and get hypersensitive even by the mildest form of stimulation. The regular, rhythmic muscle movements change and the bowel muscles spasm. This leads to diarrhea or constipation or both. It is believed that in IBS muscles do not squeeze normally and this affects the movement of stool.
Other studies link irritable bowel syndrome to muscles that don’t squeeze properly, or the production of serotonin and gastrin leads to lack of signal flow between the digestive tract and the brain. A few studies suggest that it could possibly be due to the presence of bad bacteria in the colon. As mentioned above, females are more often affected by IBS than men. Scientists are also researching for hormonal activities that could trigger IBS women.
How can you cure irritable bowel syndrome?
There are more than one alternatives available for IBS, however, not all treatments work for everyone. Based on your symptoms and triggers, your medical practitioner would advise the right medication for you. Along side, you would be required to monitor your triggers, including managing your stress levels and making some lifestyle changes like adding more fiber to the diet, avoiding caffeine and more to avoid IBS. These have been described in detail below.
It is important to follow your medical practitioner’s instructions while treating your IBS. Your body can get used to IBS medications and laxatives if you do not use them carefully.
Another super effective IBS treatment is peppermint essential oil. The oil of peppermint belongs to the top note of essential oils. It is known for its minty and strong aroma and for its effectiveness in treating headaches naturally.
For those, who have been trying medication and other lifestyle changes since quite some time, this therapy is a must.
How to use peppermint essential oil for IBS?
Peppermint oil capsules
One of the most popular and easiest ways to use peppermint for IBS is to have peppermint capsules. It is best to take enteric-coated capsules before a meal to avoid any chances of heartburn. These capsules dissolve in the intestine instead of the stomach and thus, provide relief, alleviate abdominal pain, and reduce inflammation in the colon.
Note: Always read the manufacturer’s label completely before consuming these capsules. You should take 2 pills thrice a day or as directed by your physician. The capsules should be consumed an hour or so before the meal. Taking them after a meal can lead to heartburn.
We advise that you do not consume these capsules often. Take them only when the symptoms of IBS flare up and stop their consumption when the body feels better.
Peppermint tea for IBS
Another way of consuming peppermint oil for IBS is to brew it with water and prepare a peppermint tea. To make a refreshing and effective peppermint tea, take a glass of hot water and pour in a few drops of ingestible peppermint essential oil in the mixture or add a few leaves of the peppermint herb. Do not, under any circumstances, boil the mixture. The would kill the volatile oils and reduce the effectiveness.
Alternatively, you could use tea bags. They are easily available in the market and can be used when you are traveling as well.
Note: Do not drink peppermint tea too often. Your body might adapt to it and the expected results will not be visible.
Other ways to treat irritable bowel syndrome:
Another common and popular way of treating irritable bowel syndrome naturally includes basic lifestyle changes and the inclusion of fiber rich diet. A few basic lifestyle changes that your doctor can recommend are:
- Do not consume caffeine in coffee, soda, tea, chocolates or more
- Add fiber rich food like vegetables, nuts, whole grains and fruits to your diet
- Drink at least 3 to 4 liters of water per day
- Avoid smoking, better off, quit smoking.
- Exercise often and try reducing stress in your life
- Monitor things like spices, milk, cheese or more that might be triggering your IBS
- Eat every two hours, however, do not overeat or undereat
- Do not stay hungry for longer durations, no matter what
Precautions to be taken while using peppermint oil for IBS:
Peppermint oil is not ideal for everyone. It is important you consult your doctor or pharmacist once before starting the treatment, especially if you plan to consume capsules. Also, one should take the below mentioned precautions if they plan to consume or use the peppermint essential oil:
- Breast feeding women and a pregnant lady are not allowed to consume or use peppermint — the herb, the capsules or the essential oil.
- If you suffer from severe constipation, opt for a laxative instead of the essential oil. It can only make things worse.
- If you have abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding and / or if you passed blood in your stool.
- Also, avoid using the oil or taking capsules if you have recently lost considerable amounts of weight.
- If you feel unwell.
- Do not use the oil if you are unable to pass urine or are facing difficulty in passing urine.
- Also, if you are allergic to menthol, soya or peanuts, peppermint oil or its capsules are not for you.
Rarely do people show signs of rash, headache, or slow heartbeat after consuming peppermint capsules. However, in case you think you are suffering from any of these due to the medication then it is advised you discuss it with your pharmacist or the doctor as soon as possible.
Now no more irritable bowel and no more dealing with its symptoms. Go buy peppermint oil today and starting treating your IBS with these quick and easy tips.