Colpermin, a trademark of Tillots Pharma AG, is a time-release capsule filled with peppermint oil and other inert ingredients. It's widely used to treat irritable bowel syndrome in Europe, and is sold under the name Medacalm in Germany.
Menthol, the active ingredient in peppermint oil, is a very potent chemical that can cause severe side effects, but also has a powerful medicinal effect on the digestive tract.
Colpermin is specifically designed to dissolve in the small intestine, relaxing the bowel. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that patients taking Colpermin had fewer bowel movements, less bloating and gas, and less pain from irritable bowel syndrome.
Peppermint oil can also reduce gallbladder spasms and spasms from barium enemas after diagnostic tests. It has been found to inhibit the growth of salmonella and listeria, two bacteria that cause food poisoning.
The active ingredient in Colpermin can be very irritating, and will occasionally cause heartburn or anal burning. One person in the National Institute of Health study reported a rash from Colpermin, and rarely, a person with a menthol sensitivity will experience a rash, headache, shaking, and clumsiness.
Colpermin may make stomach ulcers worse and could irritate the oesophagus. If the capsules are broken, it can cause mouth pain and sores.
Medications for heartburn, GERD, or digestive upset can affect the special coating on Colpermin capsules, making them dissolve in the stomach, causing nausea and heartburn. Proton-pump inhibitors and antacids should not be taken with Colpermin for this reason.
An overdose of Colpermin can cause seizures, cough, and slowed heartbeat. Alcohol can also intensify the effects of peppermint and menthol, especially in sensitive individuals.
Colpermin can interact with cyclosporines, affecting how quickly the body can break them down and increasing side effects.
Colpermin capsules include several inactive ingredients, which may also cause side effects. Colpermin contains peanut oil (arachis oil), which could cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to the legume. Side effects of a peanut allergy include hives, itchiness, swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis, which is life threatening.
Other inactive ingredients found in Colpermin capsules include talc, titanium dioxide, and beeswax. These are approved for use in drugs by the FDA, and only rarely cause any side effects.
Do not take with food, and do not chew or crush the capsules, as this will damage the special enteric time-release coating. Children and women who are pregnant or nursing shouldn't take Colpermin. Don't take Colpermin if you have an ulcer or heartburn, or for a prolonged period of time. Do not take with cisapride (Propulsid).