Effect of acute peppermint oil administration on gastric sensorimotor function and nutrient tolerance in health

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013 Apr;25(4):e263-71. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12102. Epub 2013 Mar 12.


Background: Menthol reduces intestinal motility in animal studies, an effect that is probably mediated by transient receptor potential channels. Peppermint oil (PO), with menthol as a major constituent, is widely used as a spasmolytic agent in irritable bowel syndrome. In the current study, we investigated the effect of acute PO administration on intragastric pressure (IGP) profiles and gastric sensorimotor functions in health.

Methods: Healthy volunteers underwent IGP measurement before and during continuous intragastric infusion of a nutrient drink (n = 13), and gastric barostat studies (n = 13). A single capsule of PO (182 mg) or placebo was administered during the studies in a randomized controlled crossover design. Throughout the studies, healthy volunteers scored 11 epigastric symptoms on a visual analogue scale (VAS); satiation was scored on a 6-point Likert scale during intragastric infusion.

Key results: During fasting, IGP and motility index (MI) of the proximal stomach decreased significantly after PO administration compared with placebo (P < 0.0001 and <0.05, respectively). In contrast, during intragastric infusion of the nutrient drink, no significant differences were detected between PO and placebo in IGP profiles, MI, satiation scores, and epigastric symptoms. The maximum infused volume, gastric compliance or sensitivity to balloon distention did not differ between both treatment arms. However, reduced appetite scores were seen during fasting after PO treatment, as compared with placebo (P = 0.01). Postprandial VAS scores were similar between PO and placebo.

Conclusions & inferences: Peppermint oil reduces IGP, proximal phasic contractility, and appetite, with negligible effects on gastric sensitivity, tone, accommodation, and nutrient tolerance in health.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Gastric Emptying / drug effects
  • Gastric Emptying / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentha piperita
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / drug effects*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Plant Oils
  • peppermint oil