ColonoscopyPeppermint Oil

Peppermint oil as an antispasmodic in the small intestine

This is a bit technical, but I think it’s important because it documents the ability of peppermint to act as an antispasmodic agent in the small intestine.

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure where an endoscope is used to examine the gallbladder and close-by tissues. It’s important to inhibit intestinal motility during the procedure, and hyoscine-N-butylbromide (Buscopan) or glucagon is usually used.

A study published in the September issue of the Journal of Gastrointestinal Hepatology suggests that peppermint oil might also be used to inhibit intestinal motility during ERCP.

In 40 patients, peppermint oil administered through the endoscope calmed the small intestine. Movement was none or mild in 69% of patients, and the ERCP was performed successfully with peppermint alone in 91% of patients.

The researchers noted that the inhibitory effect of peppermint appeared to be identical to that of glucagon and “is useful as an antispasmodic agent for ERCP.”

Postscript. Administration of peppermint oil via an endoscope (intraluminal) has been a safe and useful antispasmodic for gastroscopy, colonoscopy, and double-contrast barium enema. In one study, taking peppermint oil by mouth was successful for double-contrast barium meal examination without other antispasmodics.

Photo: Healin’ Hollers

8/30/06 21:54 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.