Herbs for Health: Herbal Treatment for Dyspepsia

| October/November 1997

Indigestion, also called dyspepsia, is not a disease but a catchall term encompassing such symptoms of abdominal discomfort as nausea, heartburn, bloating and gas. This common condition usually occurs after eating and is sometimes a symptom of serious disease.

Recently, German researchers studied the effect of capsules containing 90 mg of peppermint oil and 50 mg of caraway oil in the treatment of indigestion not associated with ulcers or other underlying disease. In the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, thirty-nine volunteers who had experienced abdominal pain of medium intensity and two associated symptoms, such as heartburn or abdominal distention, for at least two weeks received either one capsule of the preparation or a placebo three times a day for four weeks.

Subjects subjectively assessed pain intensity and gastrointestinal symptoms. At the end of the study, seventeen of the nineteen participants in the treatment group (more than 85 percent) reported a significant reduction of pain, and eighteen patients (94.5 percent) had diminished gastrointestinal symptoms. In contrast, only nine of twenty subjects in the placebo group (45 percent) reported reduced pain, and eleven (55 percent) reported an improvement in other symptoms. No side effects were noted.

Steven Foster is an author, photographer and consultant, specializing in medicinal plants.


May, B., et al. “Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Clinical Trial of a Combination of Peppermint Oil and Caraway Oil in Patients with Non-ulcer Dyspepsia”. Abstract from Second International Congress on Phytomedicine, Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology, Munich, Germany, September 11–14, 1996.

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