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Peppermint: The simple and soothing solution that helps your food go down better
Imagine sitting down at your favorite restaurant…
You’re with your family or friends and have ordered a delicious meal. You’re looking forward to enjoying your time together and of course, the food!
Then, you take a bite and your joy is cut short because suddenly it’s hard to even swallow, and then the chest pain hits.
If you’ve never gone through it before, you may think you’re having a heart attack and head straight for the emergency room — and that would be the safest course.
However, if you’ve been living with this for a while and your doctor has already ruled out your heart as the cause of these issues, could something be going on with your esophagus?
Acid reflux or something else?
Now, when most people think about esophageal disorders, the first thing that comes to mind is acid reflux — where stomach acid backs up into your esophagus resulting in heartburn.
However, there are other problems with the esophagus, including spastic disorders, that can completely disrupt life. And the problems they cause are exactly what I was describing in that restaurant scene.
In these disorders, your esophagus begins to spasm painfully, interfering with eating and causing pain in your chest, which can be severe. Unfortunately, because the spasms occur only from time to time, these disorders are difficult to both diagnose and treat.
Related: 5 little-known reasons acid reflux meds make you feel worse
And, the methods doctors use now are certainly not helpful with the current standard of care involving trying multiple drugs, including tricyclic antidepressants and calcium channel blockers — and hoping that one works.
But, thanks to a new study from researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, there is a new option to soothe those spasms and the pain that comes with them and help your meals go down smoothly and easily and it’s absolutely natural.
A simple soothing answer
Peppermint oil has been shown in past studies to relax smooth muscle and perform well in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome — which causes spasms of the colon. This led the South Carolina researchers to wonder how it would perform against the swallowing and chest pain caused by esophageal spasms and decided to test their theory.
Their gamble paid off…
Related: 7 ways peppermint oil can get you through summer
They had patients with chest pain take peppermint oil tablets as needed, while patients with difficulty swallowing took two tablets before each meal.
And, the team found that those who took peppermint oil tablets before eating felt better after meals than those who skipped the oil. Here were their results:
- For patients with non-cardiac chest pain and difficulty swallowing, 73 percent reported feeling better.
- For patients with non-cardiac chest pain only, 63 percent found relief with peppermint oil.
- Fifty-three percent of patients who only experienced difficulty swallowing felt got better with the use of the oil.
And, the results were even better for patients with spastic disorders of the esophagus, with 83 percent reported feeling better or slightly better.
As Mohamed Khalaf, M.D., an esophageal disorders research fellow at the MUSC Health Digestive Disease Center and first author on the article puts it, “Given the safety profile, low cost, and widespread availability, there are no risks from empirical use of peppermint oil.”
- A spoonful of peppermint helps the meal go down — EurekAlert!