New research from Tehran University of Medical Sciences shows that essential oil of cumin can significantly reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also referred to as inflammatory bowel disease.
Up to 20% of Americans are typically diagnosed with IBS at any given point in time - a condition that is becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide, with no known treatment in sight.
The Tehran University study followed 50 IBS patients who reported having watery and irregular stools, painful elimination, abdominal pain, nausea and other symptoms. More than half the patients in the study had diarrhea-dominant IBS, while the rest had constipation-dominant IBS. The average duration of IBS was three years.
First, the doctors in the study ruled out other disorders and also excluded patients who had known food allergies.
Next, the patients were followed for four weeks with cumin treatment and reported their symptoms every two weeks. Cumin treatment consisted of consuming 10 drops of a 2% essential oil of cumin twice a day. Patients were then followed for an additional four weeks after the treatment ended.
Encouragingly, all of the patients reported an improvement in their IBS symptoms during the four weeks of treatment.
Before treatment, 28% of patients had severe abdominal pain and 44% had moderate abdominal pain. Following treatment, none of the patients reported severe abdominal pain, while 22% still reported moderate abdominal pain.
This pain relief continued through to four weeks after but then returned, although reduction of pain continued for four weeks after treatment ended.
In the constipation group, patients went from between two and six bowel movements per week to between six and 12 bowel movements per week after four weeks of treatment.
In the diarrhea group, the patients went from between 14 and 50 bowel movements per week to between six and 23 bowel movements a week.
So both groups had improved bowel movement frequency. This improvement persisted through four weeks after stopping the treatment, though in both groups there was a trend back to their original scores after stopping the treatment.
The researchers also found that 76% of the patients had mucus in their stool before treatment. This went down to zero at the end of four weeks of treatment.
Among diarrhea-dominant patients, all of the patients had watery or loose stools. This went down to 11% of the patients after four weeks, and 88% had normal stools.
Before the treatment, 42% of the patients had mild or moderate nausea. After the treatment, 90% had no nausea and 10% had mild nausea.
Before treatment 87% in the constipation group had painful bowel movements. This went down to 25% after four weeks of treatment.
In summary - four weeks of treatment with essential oil of cumin offered relief from symptoms of IBS on multiple levels.