Peppermint, artichoke leaf and ginger reduced symptoms in the stomach and abdomen in five new studies.
In a study on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), researchers recruited 57 participants with IBS who were not lactose intolerant and did not have celiac disease. They took two enteric coated capsules of peppermint oil or a placebo twice per day for four weeks. At the end of four weeks, the peppermint oil group reported 50% fewer IBS symptoms compared to 38% for placebo. Doctors checked symptoms again at eight weeks, four weeks after treatment had stopped and found that compared to the beginning of the study, those who had taken peppermint oil continued to report 27% fewer symptoms. The placebo group reported no further improvement.
In a second IBS study, researchers reviewed 12 placebo-controlled trials and found that overall, 58% of those who had taken peppermint improved compared to 29% for placebo. In a third IBS study, 75% of 42 children aged 8 to 17 reported less severe IBS symptoms after taking enteric coated peppermint oil capsules for two weeks.
In a study of difficult digestion (dyspepsia), 247 participants took a placebo or two 320 mg capsules of artichoke leaf extract three times per day. After six weeks, the artichoke group reported a 15% greater improvement in their quality of life, measuring all symptoms together, compared to placebo. In a study of pregnant women, researchers analyzed data from four placebo-controlled trials involving 429 participants and found that ginger relieved nausea and vomiting as effectively as vitamin B6—a traditional treatment—without side effects.
Doctors note that pregnant women, infants and small children should avoid peppermint oil.