People have been drinking teas to improve their digestion for centuries. They include herbal infusions made with herbs such as peppermint, ginger, or chamomile and teas produced from Camellia sinensis the tea plant.
These teas are still around today and can provide some of the best natural remedies for digestive issues. Read this guide and find out more about the beneficial compounds that they contain and how to use them for treating various gastrointestinal complaints.
Here is a summary of the best teas for improving digestion:
- Peppermint Tea: Enhances digestion and can be used to treat IBS, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Ginger Tea: Stimulates bile and saliva production and is good for treating nausea, indigestion, and acid reflux.
- Chamomile Tea: Has a calming effect that helps with diarrhea, acid reflux, and IBS.
- Fennel Tea: Stimulates the production of digestive enzymes and helps with flatulence, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Dandelion Tea: Contains anti-inflammatory compounds and may help with ulcerative colitis and lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Licorice Tea: Great natural remedy for heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion.
- Lemon Balm Tea: Contains polyphenols that can be used to treat indigestion and relieve nausea.
- Green, Pu-erh, Oolong, and Black Tea: Can protect our digestive system and improve gut microbe.
I have personally suffered from many types stomach problems including acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The reason I put together this guide is to help you find safe and natural options for improving your digestion and treating any issues.
The information in this guide is based on both scientific research and years of personal experience struggling with gastrointestinal issues and using natural remedies to treat them.
In addition to introducing teas for improving your digestion, at the end of the article I will also share my 6 best tips for recovering and getting better.
How Does Our Digestion Work?
The major parts of the digestive system are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, colon, and rectum.
The food conversion process takes place in the gastrointestinal tract (gut), a tubular structure that begins at the mouth and ends at the rectum. After food is broken down in the mouth and other parts of the GI tract, the nutrients are extracted and the rest is excreted as waste (urine and feces).
In addition to the organs mentioned above, there are 2 things that are very important for a healthy digestion:
- Enzymes help with breaking down food into molecules that can be absorbed and utilized by our bodies.
- Gut bacteria consists of trillions of microorganisms that are essential for digestion, immune system, and brain health.
Why Healthy Digestive System Is Important?
A healthy digestive system is needed to properly break down foods and drinks into nutrients the body needs for good health. Foods and liquids are broken down into carbohydrates, protein, fats, and vitamins. The body then uses these micro and macronutrients for energy, growth, and cell repair.
In addition, the food we consume and the condition of our gastrointestinal tract have a great effect on our cognitive function and emotions. Digestive issues are often connected to mental problems such as anxiety and depression.
7 Best Herbal Teas for Digestion
The following seven herbal teas may provide a good non-drug remedy for digestive disorder symptoms.
Their natural therapeutic effects on the digestive system are linked to the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, antispasmodic, and other compounds they contain. I’ll also point you to scientific evidence that backs up the claims.
1. Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea brewed from the aromatic leaves of the peppermint plant (Menta x Piperita L.) has long been used as a natural remedy for irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, bloating, and gas. The antibacterial properties of peppermint may play an active role in relieving certain gastrointestinal disorder symptoms caused by bacteria overgrowth.
A study from 2016 looked at peppermint oil activity on the digestive system. The researchers found the plant contains compounds that improve abdominal symptoms and the quality of life of patients with IBS.
Grow your own peppermint in the garden or check out this buyer’s guide with the best mint tea brands.
2. Ginger Tea
What’s more soothing than a cup of ginger tea for an upset stomach?
The rhizome of ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antispasmodic properties. The popular root spice has been used as a traditional remedy for gastrointestinal complaints including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and indigestion. It is also one of the best herbal teas for heartburn and acid reflux.
One study concluded that ginger may be an effective natural way to relieve nausea related to gastrointestinal disorders.
Ginger works by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes and reduces the time food takes to pass through the GI tract. Ginger’s antispasmodic abilities cause it to relax the intestinal muscles and relieve symptoms such as abdominal cramping or pain.
3. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is a popular herbal tisane cherished for its calming effects on the nervous system. But did you know chamomile (Matricaria recutita) can also help treat digestive issues such as acid reflux, diarrhea, colic, and IBS?
Not only does the herb have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial capabilities, but it can also lower acidity in your gastrointestinal tract as effectively as commercial antacids. Further, an in vitro study on chamomile extract’s antidiarrheal activity confirmed its use in traditional medicine for diarrhea linked to digestive system disorders.
4. Fennel Tea
Fennel tea doesn’t only have a sweet herbal flavor, it may promote digestion. Traditional systems of medicine believe in fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and fennel seeds as alternative remedies for flatulence, constipation, upset stomach, and diarrhea.
Maybe it’s because the herb contains beneficial compounds that stimulate the production of digestive enzymes in the pancreas and small intestine. A 30-day study on patients with irritable bowel syndrome concluded that fennel essential oil and curcumin significantly improved abdominal pain and other IBS symptoms.
5. Dandelion Tea
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) leaves, roots, and flowers are traditionally used as an herbal medicine for enhancing digestion, liver and gallbladder health, and liver detox. Dandelion tea has a bitter taste you may need to acquire in order to take advantage of it for ulcerative colitis (UC) and other GI disorders.
The root has anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce oxidative stress in the colon and lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Additionally, evidence suggests the herb may increase emptying of the stomach and relieve constipation through the activity of the dietary fiber inulin.
6. Licorice Tea
Licorice tea has a sweet delightful flavor with a hint of mint and anise. Traditional medicine systems used licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) tea and herbal decoctions for upset stomach, heartburn, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, and reducing inflammation.
The main active ingredients in licorice are glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetinic acid. Studies find these compounds may help alleviate dyspepsia symptoms such as belching, bloating, abdominal fullness, nausea, and vomiting.
A human study concluded that a low dose of glycyrrhetinic acid (combined with peppermint oil and slippery elm) helped improve GERD.
7. Lemon Balm Tea
The brisk, citrus flavor of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) isn’t just good for improving mood and cognitive functions. It may have a positive effect on your digestive system.
There is evidence the plant can treat indigestion and relieve nausea. The digestion-enhancing activities are largely due to high levels of polyphenol compounds (antioxidants) found in the herb. One in vitro study suggests that lemon balm can even protect against gastric ulcers.
Tea Plant: Best Teas for Digestion
In addition to herbal infusions, I’ll introduce you to 4 types of teas made with the actual tea plant (Camellia sinensis) that are believed to be good for digestion.
1. Green Tea
Drinking unfractionated green tea may be the most simple way to prevent gastrointestinal disorders. Thank the polyphenols, catechins, and antioxidants found in green tea leaves and their positive effects on the gastrointestinal system.
2. Pu-erh Tea
Pu-erh tea leaves processing includes fermentation that generates healthy bacteria that can reduce inflammation if you drink the tea on a regular basis. As such, it may decrease stomach pain and bacteria-related digestive issues by replenishing gut flora.
3. Oolong Tea
This tea is produced by partially oxidizing tea leaves and it can help with restoring gut microbe necessary for proper digestion. It may also create a more alkaline environment in the digestive tract. This can help reduce stomach acid backwash in people with acid reflux or heartburn (GERD).
4. Black Tea
Like green tea, black tea is widely consumed for its ability to boost energy and enhance mood. But it also contains thearubigins, theaflavins, and prebiotic compounds that can increase healthy gut bacteria, promote digestion, and protect against stomach ulcers.
In addition, black tea extract may help fight common gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea and gastroenteritis.
Tips for Improving Your Digestion
It makes sense to take a holistic approach to your health instead of just focusing on one aspect or problem. This means you should consider sleep, nutrition, exercise, and mental balance to feel better and have your body work as a healthy interconnected system.
However, it is also good to know what are the most common digestive issues and understand the underlying reasons so that you can treat them better.
Most Common Digestive Issues
Constipation: Constipation is less frequent bowel movements and difficulty moving your bowels at least two to three times a week. A common cause is a lack of fiber in your diet. Signs or symptoms of constipation include straining to pass stool, rectal pain, and blood-stained stools.
Diarrhea: Diarrhea is having three or more loose bowel movements a day. Common causes include bacteria or viruses in the digestive tract, lactose intolerance, certain medications, and digestive diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Typical symptoms include loose watery stools, bloating, and abdominal pain or cramps.
Bloating and Gas: Acute abdominal bloating and gas may be related to foods you eat, constipation, or bacteria overgrowth in the small intestine. In other cases, these symptoms are caused by chronic intestinal conditions such as ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, and diverticulitis.
Gastritis: This digestive disorder is caused by inflammation of the lining of your stomach by the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers. Gastritis can be acute or chronic with symptoms such as indigestion, upset stomach, belching, vomiting, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD) is a painful sore or ulcer in the lining of the stomach or upper part of your small intestine. A bacterial infection called H. pylori is the most common cause. PUD symptoms include nausea and stomach pain.
Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), or acid reflux, refers to a backflow of stomach acid into your esophagus. This causes a burning sensation called heartburn and a sour taste in the mouth.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine. Scientists are not sure of the actual cause but believe it has to do with bacterial overgrowth in the intestine. Patients with IBS experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, cramping, diarrhea, and constipation.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) refers to chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most common types of IBD. Symptoms include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, bloody stools, and weight loss.
Next, it is time to share my best tips for improving digestion and treating any problems that you may be experiencing.
The great thing is that these actions have not only helped my stomach to feel better but also to enjoy life more. As I mentioned earlier, everything in our bodies is connected. If your stomach is working well, it is likely that you can also sleep better and will have better mood and more energy for your daily activities.
6 Tips for Treating Digestive Problems
- Analyze and Eliminate: Try thinking about what could cause the problem. For example, if you often have stomach pain after eating greasy processed foods, start eating more vegetables and low-fat dishes.
- Have a Regular Eating Rhythm: Eat 2 to 3 proper meals at approximately the same times every day. Avoid snacking and eating too much before going to bed.
- Sleep, Exercise, and Relax: Try getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night and having a regular sleeping rhythm. Exercise regularly and try things like walking in nature and meditation that can help you relax.
- Change from Coffee to Tea: Drinking too much coffee is a common cause of various digestive issues. Try quitting (or reducing) coffee consumption for a while and instead drink some of the teas introduced in this article.
- No Alcohol: Quit or lessen alcohol consumption as it often causes irritation of the digestive tract.
- Quit smoking cigarettes especially if you suffer from heartburn or peptic ulcers.
I’m sure you’re tempted to brew yourself a cup of herbal tea for digestion. These teas are assigned to the FDA Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list. However, they may not be suitable for you as a dietary supplement or if you’re taking certain medications. Talk to your doctor if you have an herb allergy, caffeine sensitivity, are pregnant, nursing, or have a medical condition before consuming these teas.
Want to start trying out some herbal teas but don’t know where to begin? Here is a ginger tea recipe that I can warmly recommend.
I hope that this article will help you feel better and solve any digestive problems that you may have.
Enjoy your healthy tea!