Peppermint oil capsules - (Apercap, Colpermin, Mintec)

Peppermint oil capsules help to relieve abdominal pain and bloating associated with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

They can be purchased from a pharmacy and other retail outlets.

Take one or two capsules three times a day, about an hour before meals.

If you develop any new symptoms, or if your symptoms worsen, you should see a doctor for further advice.

Type of medicineAntispasmodic
Used forRelief of abdominal pain and bloating in adults, particularly in irritable bowel syndrome
Also calledApercap®; Colpermin®; Mintec®; 
Available asCapsules

Food moves through your intestines because some of the muscles in your bowel contract and then relax in a regular way. These muscle contractions move the food along. In conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, the muscle contractions can occur too often or become painful. This causes symptoms such as pain and bloating. Smooth muscle relaxants like peppermint oil work on the muscles in the bowel to cause them to relax. This helps to relieve the pain and discomfort.

You can buy peppermint oil capsules without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, it is important that you speak with a doctor or pharmacist before you start taking peppermint oil capsules if:

  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • You have severe constipation.
  • You have passed any blood from your bowels, or if you have had any abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  • You feel sick or have lost your appetite, or if you have recently lost weight.
  • You feel or look unwell.
  • You have recently travelled abroad.
  • You have difficulty or pain when you pass urine.
  • You are 40 years of age or over and it is some time since your last attack, or if your symptoms have changed since your last attack.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you are allergic to menthol, peanuts or soya.
  • Before taking the capsules, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about peppermint oil and a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take the capsules exactly as directed on the label, or as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. The usual dose is one or two capsules taken three times each day. If possible, take the capsules about an hour or so before meals - you should not take them straight after food.
  • Swallow each capsule whole with a drink of water. Do not open or chew the capsules.
  • If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take the next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • It is generally recommended that you take peppermint oil capsules only when necessary. So, start taking the capsules when your symptoms flare up, and continue to take them until you feel better. Stop taking the capsules when your symptoms settle down again (this is usually within a week or two).
  • Do not take indigestion remedies during the two hours before you take peppermint oil, or during the two hours after you have taken it. This is because indigestion remedies interfere with the capsules and stop them from working as intended.
  • If you develop any new symptoms, or if your symptoms get worse, make an appointment to see your doctor for advice (even if you have previously been diagnosed by your doctor).
  • Drinking alcohol while you are taking peppermint oil capsules may increase the chance that you experience side-effects. If this happens, you are advised not to drink alcohol.
  • Not everybody with irritable bowel syndrome find that antispasmodics like peppermint oil capsules work well for them. Some people respond better to other types of antispasmodic medicines. If your symptoms do not improve, it is worth trying a different kind of antispasmodic. Ask your pharmacist for advice about what would be suitable for you.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the ones associated with peppermint oil capsules. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Peppermint oil side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Heartburn, indigestionSpeak with your doctor or pharmacist if this becomes troublesome. An alternative medicine may be preferable for you
Itching around your back passageSpeak with your doctor or pharmacist if this becomes troublesome

Very occasionally people can have an allergic reaction to peppermint oil. Signs of an allergic reaction are rash, headache, feeling shaky or unsteady, and a slow heartbeat. If you experience these, or any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

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Further reading & references

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Helen Allen
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
1188 (v27)
Last Checked:
19 November 2013
Next Review:
18 November 2016
The Information Standard - certified member

The information on this page is written and peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.