The Health Benefits of Enteric-Coated Peppermint Oil

Use these oil capsules to calm digestive problems

A bottle of peppermint essential oil

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Made from the essential oil of the peppermint plant (Mentha x Piperita), enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules don't release their oil until they reach the small intestine. Other forms of peppermint and peppermint oil are used for a wide range of health, beauty, and culinary benefits. But proponents claim that enteric-coated peppermint oil supplements provide specific advantages related to digestive health, including relief from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion. 

Health Benefits

While there has been limited research conducted on peppermint leaf, peppermint oil has been widely studied. Most studies have investigated its effects on irritable bowel syndrome with a specific focus on enteric-coated capsules.

Enteric means "of or relating to the small intestine." Enteric coating allows the capsule to pass through the stomach to the small intestine where the oil is released.

Here's a look at some key study findings on enteric-coated peppermint oil.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Several studies indicate that enteric-coated peppermint oil may aid in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Enteric-coated peppermint oil is thought to reduce the abdominal pain and bloating of irritable bowel syndrome, possibly by blocking the movement of calcium into muscle cells in the intestines and easing excessive muscle contraction.

One study on enteric-coated peppermint oil and irritable bowel syndrome was published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences. In tests on 90 people with irritable bowel syndrome, researchers found that those treated with enteric-coated peppermint oil for eight weeks experienced a significantly greater improvement in abdominal pain and quality of life compared to study members given a placebo for the same period.

A more recent analysis of studies published in 2019 confirmed these findings. Researchers who reviewed 12 randomized trials with 835 patients concluded that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules are a safe and effective therapy for adults who experience pain and other symptoms of IBS.

Indigestion

Peppermint oil is considered a carminative agent, which means that it is used to eliminate excess gas in the intestines. For some people, the capsules may help relieve symptoms of gas and other gastrointestinal problems.

Several studies show that supplements containing a combination of enteric-coated peppermint oil and caraway oil may help reduce indigestion symptoms. This formula is thought to relax the stomach muscles, as well as help food pass through the stomach more quickly.

In a study published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 96 people prone to indigestion were assigned to 28 days of treatment with either a placebo or a supplement containing a combination of enteric-coated peppermint oil and caraway oil.

At the end of the treatment period, those given enteric-coated peppermint oil and caraway oil showed a significantly greater improvement in several symptoms of indigestion such as feelings of heaviness and fullness after eating.

Other recent research reviews have concluded that peppermint oil provides benefits for those suffering from dyspepsia (stomach problems).

Colonoscopy

Enteric-coated peppermint oil may benefit people undergoing colonoscopy (a type of medical test typically used to screen for colon cancer), according to a study published in the Belgian journal Acta Gastro-Enterologica Belgica in 2012. 

The study focused on enteric-coated peppermint oil's effectiveness in reducing colonic spasm—a problem that frequently interferes with the examination process during colonoscopy. 

For the study, 65 people took either enteric-coated peppermint oil or a placebo four hours before having a colonoscopy. Results showed that those given enteric-coated peppermint oil were less likely to experience colonic spasm and pain during the procedure. Treatment with enteric-coated peppermint oil was also associated with a shorter procedure time.

Possible Side Effects

Peppermint oil is generally safe when consumed orally in typical medicinal doses. Taking too much peppermint oil can cause side effects and can be toxic.

Some people experience a burning sensation in the stomach or rectum, heartburn, or allergic reactions when consuming peppermint oil, although capsules with enteric coating reduce the likelihood of heartburn. You should not take enteric-coated peppermint oil with antacids because the coating can break down too quickly.

Excessive doses of peppermint oil may result in kidney problems. Experts advise that you call your health practitioner if you experience headaches, flushing, skin rash, muscle tremors, or other unusual symptoms after consuming enteric-coated peppermint oil.

Peppermint oil should be used with caution by people with heartburn, hiatal hernia, severe liver damage, gallbladder inflammation, or bile duct obstruction.

Pregnant or nursing women and children should avoid this supplement. Also, people with gallstones and those having any procedure (e.g., a colonoscopy) should consult a physician before taking oral peppermint preparations. 

Dosage and Preparation

There is no single recommended dose of enteric-coated peppermint oil. The appropriate dose for you may depend on factors including your age and your health.

There have been different doses studied in research. In studies investigating the supplement's effects on IBS, a dose of one to two enteric-coated capsules each providing 0.2 mL or 180–225 mg of peppermint oil three times daily has been used.

In studies investigating dyspepsia, a product containing 90 mg of peppermint oil and 50 mg of caraway oil taken two or three times daily for up to four weeks has been used.

For studies investigating peppermint oil's effect on colonoscopy prep, enteric-coated capsules containing 187 mg of 0.2 mL of peppermint oil have been taken four hours before a colonoscopy.

What to Look For

Widely available for purchase online, enteric-coated peppermint oil is sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in supplements.

Dietary supplements are largely unregulated by the FDA. The product you choose may provide more or less of an active ingredient, and it may also include other ingredients not indicated on the label. For that reason, it's best to look for products that have been certified by ConsumerLabs, The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, or NSF International. These organizations don't guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but they do provide a certain level of testing for quality.

Lastly keep in mind that it is not legal to market a dietary supplement product as a treatment or cure for a specific disease, or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease, such as IBS.

Common Questions

When should I take enteric-coated peppermint oil?

Experts generally recommend consuming the capsules about one hour before (never after) a meal.

Can peppermint leaf provide the same benefits as enteric-coated peppermint oil?

The benefits of peppermint leaf have not been studied extensively, so it is unclear if the leaf alone or other products made from the leaf can provide benefits.

Do all peppermint-flavored products provide IBS-related health benefits?

Probably not, as peppermint flavored products are likely to contain very little (if any) peppermint oil.

A Word From Verywell

Although enteric-coated peppermint oil may offer benefits to some people, it's too soon to recommend it as a standard treatment for any condition. As with any supplement, if you're considering using enteric-coated peppermint oil, talk with your healthcare provider first to discuss whether it's appropriate for you. 

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