GERD and Peppermint Oil Don’t Mix

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GERD, otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, does not mix with peppermint oil. Because peppermint is known to have a soothing, numbing effect on an upset stomach, and to aid in digestion, many people think it will do the same for GERD. It will not.

Peppermint Oil and GERD are Enemies

GERD is a muscular problem. A ring of muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not function properly in a patient with GERD. Instead of opening to allow food into the stomach and then closing tightly to keep the food and stomach juice where it belongs, the LES relaxes too much. This allows stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.

Peppermint oil, with its relaxing, numbing effect, can relax the LES even more. It may actually worsen the symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD. It is, therefore, an enemy when it comes to GERD.

Peppermint oil in GERD patients may seem to give relief while the tea is being swallowed. Most of us have, from childhood, associated peppermint with healing, soothing results. Psychologically, peppermint oil may produce the expected results initially. As the LES relaxes further, however, a backlash can be expected.

Peppermint Oil for GERD Recommended in Capsule Form

Peppermint oil can help GERD when it is taken in enteric-coated capsules. Preparations of this nature have been shown to be effective in GERD. When the volatile oils from peppermint are mixed with oregano and caraway seed oil, the mixture placed in an enteric-coated capsule, it does not break down in the stomach. Instead, it is delivered to the intestines. One or two capsules of such a peppermint oil complex, taken twenty minutes before each meal, calms without over-relaxing the LES.

Alternatives to Peppermint Oil for GERD

Alternative natural preparations can be taken for relief of GERD. You may want to try one of these.

1. Ginger: Any form of ginger is said to be good for the problems surrounding GERD, acid reflux, or heartburn. Sprinkle ginger powder on GERD recipes. Slice raw ginger root into stir fry dishes. Serve pickled ginger root as a relish at any meal.

2. Fennel: This sweet vegetable is a good choice to serve at the end of an Italian meal. Fennel, which tastes like anise candy, has a creamy white bulbous stalk with feathery green leaves. Chew fennel as a sweet dessert after a meal. Ward off GERD by chopping the feathery leaves into soups.

3. Caraway Seed: A study has shown that this spice, ground into oil and combined with peppermint, can reduce heartburn symptoms. Do not take it as is, but try using it in your cooking. Capsules of caraway seed and peppermint may also be helpful. Look those with enteric coating.

4. Pineapple: The enzymes in fresh pineapple are said to aid digestion and relieve GERD symptoms. Canned pineapple does not have the same properties, so be sure you use the fresh fruit. Eat a slice or two at the end of a meal as a dessert.

Relaxation for GERD

More than one study has shown that GERD and heartburn involve psychological factors. If you eat when you are rushed, that psychological “rush” can prompt GERD. If you allow yourself to think about negative matters while you eat, your negative psychological attitude can trigger GERD. If you are angry or resentful toward someone at meal time, you may increase stomach acid, initiating GERD.

Psychological factors such as these cause your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to malfunction.

One study taught participants to relax their bodies and minds before eating. Those who did this had significantly lower GERD symptom ratings than who received a placebo. Researchers concluded that relaxation can be part of an effective treatment for GERD relief.

How can you relax? Find a relaxation tape or CD. Form a habit of listening to it before you eat. During your meal, limit all conversation to pleasant, positive topics. After your meal, listen to your tape or CD again.

The author is not a medical professional and presents the above information for educational purposes only. Please seek the advice of a physician if heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD persist.