Enteric-coated peppermint oil supplements are frequently used to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which often present as diarrhea, bloating, indigestion and gas. Choosing the best enteric-coated peppermint oil supplement for oneself should include physician consultation, reading the relevant research on these supplements and investigating individual products. One important fact to consider is that not all of these products contain only oil of peppermint; many have a combination of several plant-based oils, which may trigger an allergic reaction in susceptible people. Another variable is the actual amount of peppermint oil contained in each capsule, which may vary from one manufacturer to another.
The common peppermint plant, Mentha peperita, contains an oil that has been shown in clinical studies to relieve many kinds of digestive tract problems, most notably IBS. Experts believe this herbal supplement works by calming the intestinal spasms that cause the pain and discomfort of irritable bowel disease. Peppermint oil works best when it comes into direct contact with the intestinal wall, so an enteric-coated peppermint oil supplement is favored over ordinary peppermint oil supplement because the enteric coating helps preserve the integrity of the capsule until it gets to the bowel. It is recommended that patients take one capsule, between meals, three times each day.
Although peppermint oil is considered a fairly safe herbal supplement, patients should consult with their doctor before starting this treatment regimen. This is particularly true if patients have not previously been diagnosed with IBS or have serious health issues such as rectal bleeding, severe diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, fever, or have recently lost a significant amount of weight. Information regarding the safety of enteric-coated peppermint oil supplements during pregnancy and lactation is scanty, so experts usually warn against using them while pregnant or nursing. There is a possibility of interaction with other supplements and drugs, as well, which is another good reason for patients to inform their doctor of their intention to use an enteric-coated peppermint oil supplement.
Any enteric-coated peppermint oil supplement may cause side effects, such as heartburn or rectal burning, as well as allergic reactions to its main component, menthol. Those with soy or peanut allergies should note the type of carrier oil used in the capsules, and consumers should be aware of any other oils used in combination with the peppermint oil that could cause food allergies. Experts recommend that other digestive aids not be taken with peppermint oil supplements, because one or both may be rendered less effective. Studies suggest an adult dose of 0.2 ml to 0.4 ml capsules three times a day, and most doctors advise against giving these supplements to children younger than 15 years old.