(Natural News) Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that causes abdominal pain or discomfort as well as chronic or recurrent constipation or diarrhea. Between 25 and 45 million Americans suffer from IBS, the majority of which are women.
IBS affects the large intestine and is a condition that needs to be managed long term. However, only a small number of people with IBS experience severe symptoms, which include cramping, bloating, gas and altered bowel habits. Some of those afflicted with the condition are able to control their symptoms by making healthy lifestyle changes, managing their stress levels and eating high-fiber foods while avoiding foods that trigger their symptoms.
Today, conventional medications are available to help manage IBS; however, like other medicines, they are known to cause unwanted side effects. For instance, Buscopan, which is used to relieve stomach cramps, has been reported to cause dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision and fast heart rate. Serious side effects linked to Buscopan include a painful red eye accompanied by vision loss and difficulty urinating.
In Iran, a medicinal plant known as Shirazi thyme (Zataria multiflora) is traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal disorders like IBS. Shirazi thyme is said to contain numerous active components whose properties can effectively reduce IBS symptoms. To investigate this, an Iranian researcher conducted a review of published literature to evaluate the efficacy of Shirazi thyme essential oil in managing IBS. She also reviewed pharmacological studies of Shirazi thyme to identify the compounds responsible for its medicinal properties.
Her findings were published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.
Shirazi thyme essential oil can reduce IBS symptoms without any toxic effects
Shirazi thyme is a plant that belongs to the mint (Lamiaceae) family and grows wild in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Locally, Iranian Shirazi thyme is known as Avishan-e-Shirazi and is used as a condiment as well as a natural remedy for various ailments. In fact, this thyme-like plant is traditionally used as an antiseptic, carminative (relieves flatulence), stimulant, diaphoretic (induces perspiration), diuretic, anesthetic, anti-spasmodic and analgesic agent.
According to an older study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Shirazi thyme has many other beneficial properties, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities. The authors of the study also reported that Shirazi thyme essential oil is rich in oxygenated monoterpenes, particularly thymol and carvacrol, which are known for their antimicrobial activities.
In the present study, the author used all accessible references to evaluate the efficacy of Shirazi thyme essential oil as a natural treatment for IBS. This essential oil is widely used in Traditional Iranian Medicine to treat “Ghoolenj Rihi” and “Maghs Rihi,” which are the equivalents of IBS with constipation (IBS-C) and IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D).
The researcher reported that, similar to what other studies have reported, gas chromatography and mass spectrometry results show that the main active components of Shirazi thyme essential oil are carvacrol and thymol. Carvacrol is a compound often found in aromatic plants like oregano, thyme, pepperwort, black cumin and winter savory. Besides antimicrobial activities, carvacrol also exhibits antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
Like carvacrol, thymol can be found in various herbs, such as thyme, basil, oregano and bergamot. Some of the most widely reported properties of thymol include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and antitumor activities. (Related: Kurogane holly contains anti-cancer compounds for IBS patients.)
The researcher also reported that when taken orally and daily, 60 drops of Shirazi thyme essential oil (2 percent) can effectively relieve the symptoms of IBS without causing any adverse effects. Pharmacological studies also confirm that Shirazi thyme essential oil and its main components, thymol and carvacrol, exhibit analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anti-ulcer properties, which could explain why the oil is so effective against IBS.
Based on these findings, the researcher concluded that Shirazi thyme essential oil is a good natural medicine for the management of IBS.