Peppermint Oil Capsules: A Treatment Modality for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the Pediatric Population

Lauren E. Galea


Pediatr Nurs. 2019;45(5):231-234. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder associated with altered bowel habits. IBS significantly impacts the quality of life of affected children and adolescents. Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasingly common among the gastrointestinal pediatric population. Peppermint oil, classified as an herbal remedy and one type of CAM, has demonstrated potential efficacy in treating abdominal pain associated with IBS. Despite limited pediatric studies establishing the effectiveness of peppermint oil capsules in the pediatric IBS population, the use of CAM and herbal remedies like peppermint oil are prevalent. It is essential for nurses and healthcare providers to be educated and aware of its impact in the pediatric IBS population to effectively guide care of these patients.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder that has an impact on the pediatric population. A combination of physical and mental health factors contributes to the development of IBS. These health factors include differences in the signals between the brain and intestinal nerves, increased or decreased gastrointestinal motility, gastrointestinal spasms, recent history of bacterial gastroenteritis, hypersensitivity to abdominal pain, mental health disorders (such as anxiety or depression), and genetics (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [NIDDK], 2014).

IBS is diagnosed when a child who is growing as expected has abdominal pain or discomfort associated with bowel movements once per week for at least 2 months and is not explained by other disease or injury (NIDDK, 2014; Sandhu & Paul, 2014). Symptoms of IBS have a clear effect on the psychological development of children associated with reduced quality of life, higher levels of school absenteeism, and an increased risk of social isolation, depression, and/or anxiety (Anheyer et al., 2017; Varni et al., 2015; Youssef, Murphy, Langseder, & Rosh, 2006). This functional gastrointestinal disorder becomes a major stressor for children that affects their lifestyle.

IBS consists of a series of symptoms that do not have one direct physiologic-aimed treatment, which makes management difficult. Current IBS treatment includes diet interventions, fiber supplementation, antispasmodic agents, and anti-depressants (Thompson et al., 2013). It is important for the healthcare provider to fully understand all potential treatment modalities that may optimize the quality of life for the pediatric IBS patient population.