Herbs and Spices in the Treatment of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Review of Clinical Trials

Nutrients. 2018 Nov 9;10(11):1715. doi: 10.3390/nu10111715.


More than fifty percent of all new patient visits to pediatric gastroenterology clinics consult for functional abdominal pain disorders (FAPDs). In 2005, a technical report of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the North American Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition society (NASPGHAN) found limited or inconclusive evidence for most therapeutic interventions for this group of disorders. The report did not include studies on herbs and spices. Since then, there has been an increasing interest in the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for the treatment of chronic pain disorders in children. About 40% of parents of pediatric gastroenterology patients have utilized CAM. This review evaluated the published literature on the effectiveness of CAM, specifically the use of herbs and spices, for the treatment of FAPDs. We found little evidence for most of the commonly used herbs and spices. Despite its common use, research on the efficacy, safety, and optimal dosage remains limited. There is evidence to suggest the benefit of peppermint oil and STW 5 for the treatment of FAPDs in children. The paucity of data on most therapies underscores the need for large clinical trials to assess their efficacy.

Keywords: STW 5; abdominal pain; aloe vera; cannabis; ginger; herbs; irritable bowel syndrome; peppermint; review; spices; turmeric.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / drug therapy*
  • Dyspepsia / drug therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Magnoliopsida*
  • Mentha piperita
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Spices*


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts