Background: Diffuse esophageal spasm (DES) is an uncommon condition that results in simultaneous esophageal contractions. Current medical treatment of DES is frequently unsatisfactory. We hypothesized that, as a smooth muscle relaxant, peppermint oil may improve the manometric findings in DES.
Study: Eight consecutive patients with chest pain or dysphagia and who were found to have DES were enrolled during their diagnostic esophageal manometry. An eight-channel perfusion manometry system was used. Lower esophageal sphincter pressure and contractions of the esophageal body after 10 wet swallows were assessed before and 10 minutes after the ingestion of a solution containing five drops of peppermint oil in 10 mL of water. Each swallow was assessed for duration (seconds), amplitude (mm Hg), and proportion of simultaneous and multiphasic esophageal contractions.
Results: Lower esophageal sphincter pressures and contractile pressures and durations in both the upper and lower esophagus were no different before and after the peppermint oil. Peppermint oil completely eliminated simultaneous esophageal contractions in all patients (p < 0.01). The number of multiphasic, spontaneous, and missed contractions also improved. Because normal esophageal contractions are characteristically uniform in appearance, variability of esophageal contractions was compared before and after treatment. The variability of amplitude improved from 33.4 +/- 36.7 to 24.9 +/- 11.0 mm Hg (p < 0.05) after the peppermint oil. The variability for duration improved from 2.02 +/- 1.80 to 1.36 +/- 0.72 seconds (p < 0.01). Two of the eight patients had chest pain that resolved after the peppermint oil.
Conclusions: This data demonstrates that peppermint oil improves the manometric features of DES.