Relieve Irritable Bowel Pain
YORK (Reuters Health) - For children suffering with irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS), relief may come in the form of a common
herb--peppermint, researchers report.
In a study
of youngsters aged 8 to 17, peppermint oil capsules helped relieve
IBS, a collection of gastrointestinal symptoms including bloating,
severe abdominal pain, and cycles of constipation and diarrhea
that do not fit into known disease categories. While some believe
that the cause may be stress-related or due to psychological problems,
that theory is controversial.
oil should be considered for the treatment of moderate levels
of pain in children with IBS,'' Dr. Robert M. Kline, of the University
of Missouri-Columbia, and colleagues write in the January issue
of the Journal of Pediatrics.
In the 2-week
study, 42 children with IBS were treated with peppermint oil or
an inactive placebo pill.
On the first
day of the study, all of the children complained of abdominal
pain and many also complained of diarrhea, constipation and gas.
Following the 2-week treatment period, however, 71% of the youth
given peppermint oil said they felt ''better'' or ``much better,''
compared with 43% taking the placebo. While peppermint oil reduced
the severity of abdominal pain, it did not reduce other symptoms,
the report indicates.
showed that peppermint oil did not alter heartburn, gas, urgency
of stools, belching, stool pattern or stool consistency,'' the
is needed before the supplements can be recommended to children.
The study was conducted for only a short period of time and the
``safety of any treatment warrants persistent examination, especially
in children,'' the researchers note.
oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in children
``appears to be safe,'' Dr. Terry Hatch of the University of Illinois
College of Medicine told Reuters Health in an interview. However,
the findings are valid only for the particular age group studied,
he said, and the 2-week study period revealed only short-term
benefits. Hatch did not participate in the study.
was funded by a grant from Tillotts Pharma AG, a company based
in Ziefen, Switzerland that produces peppermint oil-containing
Journal of Pediatrics 2001;138:125-128.
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