Tired of enriching Big Pharma, trying one medication after another for your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with disappointing results? IBS is one of those conditions that’s hard to diagnose. Its symptoms mimic those of a number of other conditions, some serious. In addition, the symptoms and triggers can vary considerably.
The condition is as tricky to treat as to diagnose. A recent study indicated that some of the traditional approaches to the condition — increased fiber, antispasmodics and peppermint oil — are at least as effective, if not more so, than drugs and don’t cause dangerous or uncomfortable side effects.
Peppermint oil (Mentha x piperita) seemed to have proven helpful to everyone. It’s a natural antispasmodic that relaxes smooth muscles in the intestines. Information on the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines (NCCAM) recommends peppermint oil in small doses. Use of enteric-coated capsules will reduce the possibility of heartburn. It’s best not to take these tablets with medications such as antacids, as the enteric coating will break down too quickly.
Herbs will interact with other substances we put in our bodies. If you’re self-treating with herbal teas or tablets, or over-the-counter medications, be certain to tell your doctor about it.