If you’re plagued by digestive issues like upset stomach or constipation, you may resort to over-the-counter medications laxatives for relief. Have you ever considered a soothing cup of tea to help improve digestion? For centuries, people across cultures have relied on different teas to improve gut health and aid digestion. In fact, multiple research studies report that various teas can aid with regular bowel movements, immune function, and soothing an upset stomach.
How Do Teas Support Digestion?
First and foremost, drinking tea helps to hydrate the body, and a well-hydrated body reduces the likelihood of constipation. The water from tea passes through the body and bulks up your stool, while also keeping it soft for easy elimination. Secondly, specific teas offer nutrients like antioxidants, polyphenols, and other herbal compounds that optimize digestive enzymes. The polyphenols in different teas act like prebiotics, which feed healthy bacteria that live inside your gut. Increasing the amount of healthy bacteria in the body can not only support digestion, but also aid with weight management. Continue reading to learn which teas you should drink to help support digestion.
Chamomile tea is an excellent pre-bedtime tea because it helps to relax the mind and body. Containing probiotics, chamomile tea may help feed gut bacteria and reduce constipation. Historically, this tea has been used to relieve indigestion, nausea, motion sickness, vomiting, sluggish digestion, and stomach pain. Chamomile is a natural relaxant, which is why researchers state that it can help calm tense muscles in the digestive tract.
Coming from the Gentianaceae family of flowering plants, gentian root grows around the world. For centuries, many cultures have used different varieties of gentian root to help treat stomach ailments. Gentian root contains bitter compounds, iridoids, which help increase the production of digestive enzymes and acids. One study of 38 healthy adults found that drinking water mixed with gentian root increased blood flow to the digestive system. Improving blood flow to the digestive system can help improve digestive function.
Dandelions are the unwelcome weeds that grow through cement cracks and ruin the appearance of your lawn. They have yellow flowers and grow around the world, and even though they are weeds, they contain several beneficial compounds. According to several animal studies, dandelion extract may stimulate muscle contractions, which enhances blood flow from the stomach to the small intestine. A study in rats found that dandelion extract helped protect against ulcers by decreasing stomach acid production and inflammation.
The polysaccharides from marshmallow root, like mucilage, work to enhance the production of mucus-producing cells that line the digestive tract. Additionally, marshmallow root exhibits antioxidant properties that decrease levels of histamine, a compound that the body releases during inflammation. This is why marshmallow root may help protect against stomach ulcers. An animal study found that marshmallow root was very effective at preventing stomach ulcers, more so than non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). More human research is necessary to determine if the tea has the same effect on human digestive tracts.
Ginger is a flowering plant native to Asia, but the rhizome (underground part of the stem) is popular in culinary applications. Compounds in ginger, including shogaols and gingerols, may help stimulate stomach contractions and emptying. As a result, ginger may help alleviate nausea, cramping, gas, bloating, and indigestion. A small study involved 11 participants with indigestion that took 1.2 grams of ginger. The researchers noted that taking this amount shortened stomach emptying time by nearly four minutes, compared to a placebo. A large review found that taking 1.5 grams of ginger every day reduced vomiting caused by pregnancy, motion sickness, and chemotherapy.
Known for its refreshing flavor and ability to soothe an upset stomach, peppermint tea helps to improve digestive issues. A four-week study in 57 people with IBS found that 75% of those who took peppermint oil capsules twice daily reported improved symptoms. Those in the placebo group only experienced a 38% improvement in IBS symptoms. Peppermint tea may provide the same benefits as peppermint oil, but the tea’s effects on human digestion haven’t been studied extensively. As for now, the research on peppermint oil states that it may improve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disorders, which can cause bloating, stomach pain, gas, and other unpleasant symptoms.