Peppermint oil capsules help to relieve tummy (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, preferably about an hour before meals.
If you develop any new symptoms, or if your symptoms worsen, you should see a doctor for further advice.
About peppermint oil capsules
|Type of medicine||An antispasmodic medicine|
|Used for||Relief of tummy (abdominal) pain and bloating associated with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (in adults)|
|Also called||Apercap®; Colomint®; Colpermin®; Mintec®; PepperMinn®|
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 'over the counter' for the management of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. They can be bought without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets.
Before taking peppermint oil capsules
To make sure that 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 breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
- You have severe constipation.
- You have passed any blood from your bowels, or if you have had any abnormal vaginal bleeding.
- You feel sick (nausea) 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, as well 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.
How to take peppermint oil capsules
- Before taking the capsules, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about peppermint oil, and it will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could 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 the capsules 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 missed dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- 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).
- There are some lifestyle and dietary changes that could help your condition. The general advice is to increase the amount of physical activity you do, to eat regularly without missing meals or leaving long gaps between your meals, and to limit the amount of fresh fruit you eat to no more than three portions a day. You may also want to think about the dietary fibre you eat - some people find reducing the amount of bran eaten and increasing the amount of oats eaten each day can be beneficial. Try to drink several large glasses of water each day, and reduce your intake of caffeinated drinks, alcohol and fizzy drinks.
- If you develop any new symptoms, or if your symptoms become 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 can increase the chance that you experience side-effects. If this happens, you are advised not to drink alcohol.
- 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.
- Not everybody with irritable bowel syndrome finds 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 treatments would be suitable for you.
Can peppermint oil cause problems?
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. The best place to find a full list of the side-effects which can be associated with your medicine, is from the manufacturer's printed information leaflet supplied with the medicine. Alternatively, you can find an example of a manufacturer's information leaflet in the reference section below. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Peppermint oil side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Heartburn, indigestion||Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if this becomes troublesome. An alternative medicine may be preferable for you|
|Itching around your back passage||Speak 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 the capsules, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store peppermint oil capsules
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
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.
Further reading and references
Manufacturer's PIL, Colpermin® IBS Relief Capsules; McNeil Products Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2017.
Manufacturer's PIL, Mintec® 0.2 ml gastro-resistant capsules; Almirall Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated July 2014.
British National Formulary, 79th Edition (Mar 2020); British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.