Peppermint Oil, Digestion & How to Make Gas Smell Better
Peppermint oil is derived from the Mentha Piperita plant. Its leaves are collected, lightly dried and steam distilled to extract the essential oil.
Potent and great smelling, peppermint oil is a very useful substance for aiding digestion, relieving stomach gas and bloating, reducing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), preventing nausea, letting go of stress, helping with respiratory problems and stopping bad breath.
Particularly for the beneficial influence it can have on your digestive processes and several other reasons, it is also an effective flatulence remedy.
However, when you take peppermint oil, even if you do fart it will usually smell better. This is because a small amount of the oil passes all the way through your digestive tract.
Even at tiny levels, peppermint oil can overpower, or at very least diminish, the compounds that cause flatulence to smell like rotten eggs (primarily hydrogen sulphide). If you are having problems with bad smelling gas then taking an enteric-coated peppermint oil capsule like this can really help.
Peppermint Oil and Digestion
Being a relaxant and antispasmodic for the digestive tract, peppermint oil can help stomach gas to pass through your system more easily and may help to reduce painful cramps and bloating.
The volatile oil menthol in the distilled oil can also increase the flow of bile and other digestive juices to help improve digestion. And whenever digestion is improved the amount of flatulence experienced is often reduced.
While it can be useful in the treatment of indigestion and IBS, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should avoid peppermint oil and other forms of the herb as its relaxant effect may increase their symptoms.
Pregnant women, very young children and people with heart disease or ulcers are also advised to avoid peppermint oil. Consult a knowledgeable healthcare professional if you are unsure of whether you should take peppermint for digestion or flatulence.
Peppermint and Stress
In an area related to flatulence, peppermint oil seems to help to reduce stress. Scientists don’t fully understand exactly why, but you can try it and feel it for yourself. Alongside the capsules, there is also refreshing peppermint tea and undiluted peppermint essential oil to add to a bath or to use in aromatherapy.
Peppermint oil is refreshing and imparts a sense of mental clarity and energy while releasing tension and fatigue. Try a couple of drops of the essential oil in an oil burner and see if you are able to remain stressed after breathing it in for a while.
Intestinal Bacteria and Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil has a strong antimicrobial activity that can help swing the balance of intestinal flora back in favor of the ‘good’ bacteria. These good bacteria are generally less gas producing, so taking steps to make your intestinal environment more favorable to them can help reduce excessive flatulence over time.
As a bonus, even if you do get some gas, taking peppermint oil capsules is likely to make farts smell better anyway. Peppermint smelling flatulence! That’s got to be better than gas that smells like rotten eggs.
If you are using peppermint oil specifically for abdominal bloating, intestinal gas and preventing flatulence, the enteric-coated capsules are the best ones to buy. These capsules have a special coating to help them bypass the acidic environment of the stomach. Instead, the oil gets released lower in the gastrointestinal tract where it can do the most good in helping to prevent digestive problems.
Some studies have shown that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules can reduce abdominal pain and cramps, bloating and flatulence in up to 80% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The best enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules I’ve found are Heather’s Tummy Tamers. With especially strong methanol content, these capsules are designed specifically for relieving digestive problems.
How to Take Peppermint Oil Capsules
You don’t have to have IBS to benefit from taking peppermint oil capsules. While some people take the capsules with a meal or just after one, I find they work best when taken around half an hour before a meal with a large glass of water.
Particularly if they’re enteric-coated, this lets them get down to where they need to be much more quickly, without digesting food in the way. It may also stimulate digestion for the coming meal.
Additionally, while taking them with liquid helps them bypass the stomach, it’s best not to drink heavily during a meal. This is another reason why the timing of half an hour before seems right to me. That said, always trust what your body is telling you with regards to supplement timing.
Best Dosage and Side Effects
Suggested dosage for treating flatulence and other digestion problems with peppermint oil is one capsule half an hour before a main meal, no more than three times a day.
Start slowly with just one, say before dinner for the first few days to see how well you tolerated them. For many people, just the one, half an hour before the evening meal, is enough for beneficial effects on their digestion.
There has been some research, primarily with rats, that suggests too much peppermint may affect levels of hormones like testosterone. Looking into this, it seems the amounts you’d need to take would be quite large. Regularly drinking say a dozen cups of peppermint tea a day for example.
That said, peppermint does have a definite physiological effect. You don’t need a lot of it to feel it. Given this, there is no need to take large amounts. It seems best to err on the side of caution by starting off slowly and only using the capsules when they’re needed, with regular breaks of at least a week off when using them.
Peppermint oil is a simple supplement to take that can improve digestion problems, reduce excessive flatulence and even make farts smell better, right from the first day you take them. Another more enjoyable way to include peppermint in your diet is the subject of the next page – drinking peppermint tea.
Photo 1: Murugananth C / Photo 2: kali-ma