Peppermint for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Peppermint is actually a cultivated plant which was derived from water mint and spearmint (perhaps by accident) in the mid-1700s. It was first grown in England and its medicinal properties were recognized not long after. Peppermint is cultivated today in Europe and Northern Africa. While a lot of people drink peppermint tea or take supplements to help digestion, peppermint is not approved by the FDA to treat any condition.

Peppermint leaves on a white counter and in a white bowl
Achim Sass / Westend61 / Getty Images

How Peppermint Is Used In IBS

Historically, peppermint was taken as a tea to treat general digestive problems. It is known to reduce the production of gas in the intestine. Today peppermint is recognized by researchers as being effective for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) when used in its oil form. Peppermint oil has even been approved for use by IBS patients in Germany.

How Peppermint Is Used

Peppermint oil can be taken in either capsules or tea. See your physician or licensed healthcare professional to determine the proper dosage in capsule form.

Drug Interactions

If you take lansoprazole to reduce stomach acid, it may compromise the enteric coating of some commercially available peppermint oil capsules. This can happen using H2-receptor antagonists, proton pump inhibitors, and antacids as well.

Other possible interactions include:

  • Amitriptyline
  • Cyclosporine
  • Haloperidol

Peppermint extract may increase serum levels of these drugs.

Discuss possible drug interactions with your healthcare provider before starting supplements if you are currently on any of these medications.

Use During Pregnancy

Peppermint is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It is not known if peppermint could affect a developing fetus. It's also not known if peppermint could affect a nursing baby, so it's not recommended for use in people who are nursing.


It's not common, but there are people who are allergic to peppermint. Peppermint oil should never be applied to the face or near mucous membranes. Using more than one form of peppermint at a time, such as tea and oil, is not recommended because it could lead to side effects.

One of the biggest problems with supplements like peppermint, and others, is that because it is not regulated by the FDA, the contents can be variable. It has happened that supplements contain harmful ingredients, or even don't contain the amount of active ingredient that's listed on the label. It may not be possible to know exactly what is in any purchased supplement, which is why it is important to seek reputable brands and to tell your healthcare team what you are taking.

Peppermint has the potential to worsen certain conditions. Do not use this herb if:

  • You have chronic heartburn
  • You have severe liver damage
  • You have inflammation of the gallbladder
  • You have obstruction of bile ducts
  • You are pregnant

Talk to your healthcare provider if:

  • You have gallstones

Possible Side Effects

Peppermint oil may cause burning or stomach upset in some people. Enteric-coated capsules may cause a burning sensation in the rectum. If you experience these side effects you may want to stop taking peppermint.

Children and Infants

The strong menthol present in the tea may cause infants and small children to choke. Peppermint was historically used to treat colic in infants, but it is not recommended today. See chamomile for a possible alternative.


Peppermint tea is thought to be safe. However, peppermint should be used with caution by people who have serious digestive concerns or who are pregnant. As with any supplement, its use should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is peppermint tea good for IBS?

    Possibly. Research suggests peppermint oil is helpful for relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint tea is made from peppermint leaves and is not as concentrated as the oil. As such, tea may not deliver the same potency as peppermint oil and may not be as effective.

  • How can I take peppermint oil as a tea?

    Peppermint essential oil can be added to hot water and sipped as tea. However, the menthol in peppermint oil can be released in the steam and irritate your eyes. To avoid this, drink peppermint oil tea from a travel mug with a lid.

    In addition, you should not make peppermint essential oil tea in plastic, styrofoam, or paper cups as the oil can degrade the materials. Instead, use a ceramic, glass, or metal mug.

  • When should I take peppermint for IBS?

    Peppermint oil is an antispasmodic agent, meaning it relieves stomach cramps, bloating, and gas, and helps to relax the muscles in the intestines. It can be used to prevent symptoms and treat symptoms when they flare up. You can take peppermint oil an hour before eating foods that are known to cause IBS symptoms to prevent symptoms or once symptoms occur.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Warning letter: Young Living.

  2. Alammar N, Wang L, Saberi B, et al. The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019;19(1):21. doi:10.1186/s12906-018-2409-0

  3. Agbabiaka TB, Spencer NH, Khanom S, Goodman C. Prevalence of drug–herb and drug–supplement interactions in older adults: a cross-sectional survey. Br J Gen Pract. 2018 Oct 1;68(675):e711-7. doi:10.3399/bjgp18X699101

  4. Kligler B, Chaudhary S. Peppermint oilAFP. 2007;75(7):1027-1030.

  5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Peppermint oil.

  6. Cash BD, Epstein MS, Shah SM. A novel delivery system of peppermint oil Is an effective therapy for irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Dig Dis Sci. 2016;61(2):560-571. doi:10.1007/s10620-015-3858-7

  7. UK National Health Service. Peppermint oil.

Additional Reading

By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.