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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


See more very helpful information under the general category of auto-immune diseases.

Digestive systemIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that affects the colon in over 50 million Americans. It is more prevalent among women than men. Symptoms include chronic constipation, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort or pain. The cause is not fully understood but some suggest that nerves that control the contractions of the bowels that move food through the intestinal tract send incorrect signals to the colon or rectum.  These contractions, that are normally regular, may then increase in frequency or become spasmodic leading to the symptoms often experienced.

IBS not a disease but rather a syndrome (a combinations of symptoms) and although the discomforts are real there is no evidence that any damage is done to the intestinal tract.


3 Problems with similar symptoms

IBS (irritated bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and celiac disease.  What is the difference?

All three conditions can have similar symptoms hence sometimes leading to confusion.  Further complicating this is the fact that IBS is very common, occurring in as many as twenty percent of Americans while IBD and Celiac are less frequent.  Therefore, since the symptoms may be similar, there is often a quick diagnostic conclusion of the more common IBS.  Here is a summary of differences:

IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome

    Technically this is a disorder rather than a disease because the bowels are not damaged.  Some believe that nerves that control the contractions of the bowels that move food through the intestinal tract send incorrect signals to the colon or rectum.  These contractions, that are normally regular, may then increase in frequency or become spasmodic leading to the symptoms often experienced.

     Symptoms may include chronic constipation, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort or pain.  It can be triggered by stress, insufficient fluids, inadequate nutrition, allergic reaction to certain foods, or just not eating properly (gulping a meal down, eating on the run, etc.).

IBD – Inflammatory bowel disease

    This term refers to a number of different diseases of the bowels.  They are typically chronic conditions with inflammation of different areas of the intestine and may cause eventual damage.  Often they are associated with or are themselves autoimmune in nature.  The two most common forms are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. 

    Symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, bloody stools, and/or a fullness and pain in the lower right abdomen.  Blood tests will show unique markers that are not present in IBD.

Celiac disease

    Celiac disease is genetic and an autoimmune disease wherein the body mistakenly attacks gluten and other proteins found in grains that are in the digestive tract.  As with IBD and unlike IBS, this is a disease causes damage to the intestinal system.  With celiac the damage is done to the lining of the small intestines but IBD can be anywhere in the intestinal tract.

    Some of the symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence with a bad odor, fatty stools (pale, large, bad odor, floating), weight loss and others.  Celiac has been reported to be triggered by trauma after surgery, childbirth, stress, and even viral infection.


Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends:  Digestive BlendC, Ginger, Frankincense, PeppermintC

Essential oils based products: GI Cleansing Formula, Probiotic Defense Formula, Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV)

Also consider: Clove, Fennel, GeraniumC, Oregano, Thyme

Suggested protocols:

Research studies show that fiber with Peppermint essential oil is more effective for IBS than modern pharmaceuticals. See the Science & Research tab above.

3 times per day before meals take a Peppermint capsules

·  3 - 5 drops Peppermint

·  (plus use fiber such as Metamucil)

The following protocol is reported to have helped others:

Cleanse (detoxify) and rebuild the gut using GI Cleansing Formula and Probiotic Defense Formula

Build nutritional strength with Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV)

Daily take a capsule with:

·  5 drops Digestive Blend

·  2 drops Ginger

·  4 drops Frankincense

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Karen - My husband has many digestive problems, very IBS like, and is finally ready to make a change in his life.  My plan is to put him on the GI Cleansing Formula first, followed by PB and LLW.  I'm sure he is very toxic and I have warned him about the detoxification process, so my plan was to start him out slow at 1 pill a day and work him up to three.  My question is this:  should he be taking the Lemon, Peppermint oils also or would that be too much for his system?  I also have the Digestive Blend.  Should he have that also? 

Julie Ann - The Digestive Blend will possibly be a life saver along with the GI Cleansing Formula for him.  I tell everybody who has the GI Cleansing Formula and Probiotic Defense Formula that the Digestive Blend goes along with it.  Have him take the GX in the middle of his biggest meal of the day and just start with one if you are hesitant to overload him.... and keep the Digestive Blend handy for him.... put it on the stomach, or under the tongue, or in a small amount of water to take it with.   Invigorating Blend is what you want to use in water to drink also...it is delicious and will help gently purge the body of heavy metals.   Hope this helps.


Debbie - Would anyone have a good regiment for IBS and/or colitis?  (my ideas are Probiotic Defense Formula, Wellness trio, Thyme, Oregano, Peppermint, Clove).  I put 5-6 drops of Oregano in a capsule with a few drops of each of the other oils. Would love any other suggestions.

Pat - For the IBS and/or Colitis I would personally would get on the Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV) supplements, take the Probiotic Defense Formula, and use Digestive Blend in a capsule with these oils: 5 drops Digestive Blend, 2 drops Ginger, 4 drops Frankincense.

Your ideas are great also, each person is different.   I would try either of these protocols.

Protocols folks recommend for children



Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils


What Science & Research are saying

Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Treat IBS

Study Shows Older Treatments Work Well for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

By Salynn Boyles, WebMD Health News, Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 13, 2008 -- Largely overlooked, older remedies like Peppermint oil and fiber are effective treatments for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a review of the research shows.

The analysis shows that these remedies and some antispasmodic drugs that are no longer widely prescribed work well, researcher Alexander C. Ford, MD, tells WebMD.

Newer drugs that once held great promise for the treatment of the poorly understood bowel disorder have largely proven disappointing, either because serious side effects emerged or they were not very effective.

So there is currently no clear first-line treatment for patients with irritable bowel syndrome, Ford says.

"Most of the treatments we examined have fallen out of clinical favor," he says. "But they work, they are cheap, and they're far less toxic than some of the newer drugs."


Some IBS Drugs Pulled From the Market

Surveys suggest that anywhere from 5% to 20% of people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, a disorder with a wide range of symptoms that may include crampy abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation.

In February 2000, Lotronex became the first drug approved in the U.S. specifically to treat IBS, but it was withdrawn from the market later that year because of potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal side effects.

The drug was later reintroduced, but its use is now restricted to women with severe diarrhea-predominant IBS who have failed other treatments.

In March 2007, another IBS drug, Zelnorm, was also withdrawn from the market by its maker, Novartis, at the request of the FDA because of an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

"These new-generation drugs were going to be the magic bullets for IBS, but it didn't turn out that way," King's College London professor of general practice Roger Jones, DM, FRCP, tells WebMD. "I think this new paper is important because it shows patients and their physicians that these older treatments can be effective."


Peppermint Oil and Fiber

Ford and colleagues combined the results from 12 studies comparing fiber with placebo or no treatment, 22 studies comparing different antispasmodic drugs to placebo, and four studies examining treatment with Peppermint oil.

Although there were fewer Peppermint oil studies, the trials were well designed and all showed Peppermint oil to be effective.

Other highlights of the analysis include:

Based on the combined data, the researchers estimated that one in 2.5 patients would get significant relief of symptoms if treated with Peppermint oil, compared to one in five patients taking antispasmodics and one in 11 patients taking fiber. Peppermint oil is sold in capsules, and the study participants took about 200 milligrams two or three times a day.

Insoluble bran-based fibers were not very effective, but soluble psyllium-based fiber treatments like Metamucil were. When psyllium therapies were considered on their own, one in six treated patients had significant improvement in symptoms.

When the 22 antispasmodic studies were combined, the drug scopolamine was among the most effective. The researchers recommend scopolamine, which is extracted from the corkwood tree, as the first-line antispasmodic treatment for IBS.

Ford and colleagues concluded that psyllium-fiber therapy is a good first-line treatment for constipation-predominant IBS, while Peppermint oil and scopolamine are good choices for diarrhea-predominant IBS.

The analysis appears in the latest issue of BMJ Online first. In an accompanying editorial, Jones writes that the findings should reawaken interest in these treatments and spur research into their use for IBS.

"We really don't know which patients benefit most from which type of treatment," he tells WebMD.

SOURCES: Ford, A.C. BMJ Online first. Alexander C. Ford, MD, gastroenterology division, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada. Roger J. Jones, DM, FRCP, professor, department of general practice and primary care, King's College, London.

©2008 WebMD, LLC.


From PubMed February 2006 Feb

A combination of Peppermint oil and caraway oil attenuates the post-inflammatory visceral hyperalgesia in a rat model.

Adam B, Liebregts T, Best J, Bechmann L, Lackner C, Neumann J, Koehler S, Holtmann G.  Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and General Medicine, University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


OBJECTIVE: Visceral hyperalgesia plays a pivotal role in manifestation of symptoms in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders. In clinical studies combined treatment of Peppermint- and caraway oil significantly reduced symptoms. Thus, the aim of this study was to characterize the effects of Peppermint- and caraway oil, individually and in combination, on visceral nociception in a rat model of post-inflammatory visceral hyperalgesia.

CONCLUSIONS: These data show that combined treatment with Peppermint- and caraway oil modulates post-inflammatory visceral hyperalgesia synergistically. The exact mechanisms have to be further investigated.


Herbal remedies for dyspepsia: Peppermint seems effective.

Prescrire Int. 2008 Jun;17(95):121-3. [No authors listed]


(1) Functional dyspepsia is extremely common, yet few if any treatments have been shown to be effective. This review examines the potential benefits and risks of using herbal products in treating symptoms of dyspepsia. (2) About forty plants have been approved in France in the composition of products traditionally used for dyspepsia. (3) The clinical efficacy of most of these plants has not been assessed. Some essential oils can cause severe adverse effects, including seizures. Herbal teas appear to be safe when used appropriately. (4) A few randomised controlled clinical trials suggest that Peppermint essential oil is effective in reducing abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea in patients with "irritable bowel syndrome". Peppermint tea, containing essential oil, has no known adverse effects. (5) There is no sound reason to discourage patients from using herbal teas made from plants such as Lemon balm, German Chamomile or star anise.


Enteric-coated Peppermint-oil capsules in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective, randomized trial.

J Gastroenterol. 1997 Dec;32(6):765-8;   Liu JH, Chen GH, Yeh HZ, Huang CK, Poon SK.;   Department of Internal Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taiwan.


To determine the efficacy and tolerability of an enteric-coated Peppermint-oil formulation (Colpermin), we conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study in 110 outpatients (66 men/44 women; 18-70 years of age) with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Patients took one capsule (Colpermin or placebo) three to four times daily, 15-30 min before meals, for 1 month. Fifty-two patients on Colpermin and 49 on placebo completed the study. Forty-one patients on Colpermin (79%) experienced an alleviation of the severity of abdominal pain (29 were pain-free); 43 (83%) had less abdominal distension, 43 (83%) had reduced stool frequency, 38 (73%) had fewer borborygmi, and 41 (79%) less flatulence. Corresponding figures for the placebo group were: 21 patients (43%) with reduced pain (4 were pain-free), 14 (29%) with reduced distension, 16 (32%) with reduced stool frequency, 15 (31%) with fewer borborygmi, and 11 (22%) with less flatulence. Symptom improvements after Colpermin were significantly better than after placebo (P < 0.05; Mann-Whitney U-test). One patient on Colpermin experienced heartburn (because of chewing the capsules) and one developed a mild transient skin rash. There were no significant changes in liver function test results. Thus, in this trial, Colpermin was effective and well tolerated.

Editorial summary: 52 patients took a Peppermint capsule before meals for a month and 79% experienced lesspain.  49 patients took a placebo and 43% had less pain.



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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.