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Can You Use Peppermint Oil for Irritable Bowel?

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as abdominal pain and bloating, are a daily problem for millions of Americans. The condition may strike as many as one in five adults, and it is difficult to treat.

However, the peppermint plant has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy. It is believed to relieve gastrointestinal problems by reducing muscle contractions. One study found that only 26 percent of patients treated with peppermint oil continued to show symptoms of IBS, compared with 65 percent of those who were given a placebo.

According to the New York Times:

"... [P]eppermint oil is ... considered safe when used in small doses, with common side effects generally limited to nausea and allergic reactions. But excessive doses of peppermint oil may cause kidney problems."

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