Constipation is a condition characterized by a difficulty passing stools or the frequent passage of hard, dry stools. Over-the-counter laxatives as well as fiber supplements may bring you relief from constipation by softening your stools and allowing you to go to the bathroom regularly. Peppermint oil, when used as an alternative treatment may help relieve constipation.
Peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and water mint that is commonly used as a flavoring agent in gums and toothpastes. According to Herbs2000, peppermint is one of the oldest known herbs and has been used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments such as indigestion, IBS, flatulence, colic and liver conditions. In addition, peppermint oil may be used to treat arthritis, gout, constipation and heartburn.
The flowering tops, oil and the leaves of the peppermint are all used in various herbal preparations. Peppermint oil has anti-spasmodic properties that help in relaxing the smooth muscles in your stomach and your digestive tract. In addition, this herb also has analgesic properties that are beneficial in reducing pain caused by constipation and other digestive disorders.
Constipation is caused by your food moving slowly through your digestive tract. Insufficient dietary fiber may also be the culprit. Additional factors that can cause constipation include muscle disorders, poor diet, neurological disorders and advanced age as well as bowel disorders. Regular bowel movements are a necessary function for the removal of toxins from your body.
When using peppermint oil as an alternative treatment for constipation, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends steeping 1 tsp. of dried peppermint leaves in a cup of water for approximately 10 minutes. Then strain the leaves from the liquid and drink. You may drink this peppermint drink up to five times each day between meals. This herb is also available in the form of capsules. If you use the capsules, you may take one to two capsules up to three times per day.
Peppermint oil should not be given to small children. This herb should not be taken in conjunction with prescription medications or over-the-counter medications without a doctor's consent. Excess amounts of peppermint oil may be toxic and lead to side effects. Additionally, when applied directly to your skin, it may cause a skin rash.