Carminatives are herbal remedies that are rich in volatile oils. These stimulate activity in the digestive system to work properly and with ease by coordinating and regulating gut contractions. The main action is to soothe and settle the gut wall, thereby easing gripping pains and helping in the removal of gas from the digestive tract.
The mode of action of carminative herbs is largely a result of the volatile oils they contain. These compounds help increase gastric emptying and are mildly irritating to the gastric mucosa so that peristalsis is increased, thereby relieving cramping and expelling gas. It should be noted that carminatives are NOT necessarily muscle relaxants, but are useful (and synonymous with) antispasmodics.