Good digestion is the key to happiness. Well, not really, but nobody has ever been happy with indigestion. Usually, the digestive system can do its job pretty well. Other times, you may struggle with constipation, diarrhea, or feeling generally unwell with an upset stomach.
People have been drinking teas for digestion for hundreds of years. And it’s not for nothing. Plants can truly help with gut health and help you find relief even when your diet is less than ideal.
Some of them support regular bowel movements. Others can help you when you’ve eaten a very heavy meal, and others may ease heartburn. But how can tea truly support digestion, and which ones are the best? Here’s everything you need to know.
Understanding digestion and gut health
Your gastrointestinal (GI) system contains the stomach, the small and large intestines, the liver, the pancreas, and the gallbladder. Each plays its own role in your digestion. When one doesn’t work as it should, the entire GI system struggles. Your gut health is essential for the well-functioning of the entire body.
The first signs your GI tract is struggling are constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, or vomiting. But there are other symptoms we’re rarely quick to attribute to our gut. Brain fog and difficulty concentrating, low immunity, and gaining or losing weight without changing your lifestyle can all be signs your gut health is less than optimal.
When that happens, your body struggles to absorb all the nutrients, leading to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Probiotics and prebiotics can help rebalance your gut microbiome. But herbal teas can also come to the rescue. They hydrate you, but they can also help relieve many symptoms and get your digestive system back on its feet.
(Note: Some conditions require immediate medical help. If you’re experiencing a sudden onset of symptoms like vomiting, severe diarrhea, and fever, please contact a medical professional.)
6 Best teas for digestion
Can herbal teas really support digestion?
Yes, they can. First of all, they keep you hydrated. Dehydration is one of the causes of constipation, so staying hydrated is essential for regular bowel movements.
Then, each tea will help you in its own way. Some can relieve nausea. Others help combat issues like diarrhea or bloating.
They do that through the various polyphenols, antioxidants, and herbal compounds they contain. All these work together and help the digestive enzymes in your gut work harder and smarter.
Polyphenols, for instance, act as prebiotics. They feed the good bacteria in your GI tract, which improves digestion and increases your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from foods. Here are some of the best teas for digestion.
One quick look at herbs that help digestion, and peppermint will be on the list. You know it for its refreshing flavor, but there’s more to it than that. Menthol, a compound found in peppermint, can soothe digestion and reduce symptoms like bloating, gas, or diarrhea.
Scientists have been studying the benefits of peppermint oil for years. For instance, a 2007 4-week study looked at IBS patients and found that 75% of those who used peppermint oil saw a significant reduction of symptoms.
The tea appears to have many of the same benefits. For chronic or recurring conditions, you’ll need to consume it regularly to feel its effects. But if you’re struggling with an occasional digestive upset, one cup as needed will also be helpful.
Ginger is a common spice used in many dishes. But its powers go well beyond that. Ginger can alleviate nausea, bloating, or gas. One study found that 1.5 grams of ginger a day helped relieve nausea and vomiting caused by either chemotherapy, motion sickness, or pregnancy.
Making ginger tea is easy. All you need to do is boil a 1-inch piece of sliced ginger in 500 ml (2 cups) of water. You can also add lemon for a nicer flavor. Tea bags containing ginger are also great, but using the root often makes for a stronger, more effective tea.
People have used chamomile tea to treat indigestion for centuries. Studies also show it can be great at treating acid reflux as well. Combined with other herbs, it can reduce stomach acidity, surpassing the effects of regular antacid medication.
There isn’t enough research to say if chamomile can have such a strong effect on its own, but these results are promising.
Be mindful that chamomile also has a calming effect, so you may want to avoid drinking it in the morning or even after lunch if a nap is not in your plans for the day.
Fennel is an herb you can eat, either raw or cooked. It is full of antioxidants, which may be why it is great at preventing stomach ulcers.
It can also act as a laxative, helping relieve constipation. We don’t know exactly what compounds in fennel help with that, but there are studies confirming this benefit.
A 2006 study on elderly adults showed that those who drank fennel tea had more regular bowel movements than those who drank the placebo. It’s important to note that the improvement was not instant, as people drank the fennel tea daily for 28 days.
Dandelions are more than cute, little yellow flowers.
Studies on animals show dandelion extract can promote digestion by stimulating stomach muscle contractions. It may also reduce stomach acid and protect against inflammation and stomach ulcers.
Sadly, we have no studies on humans at this point. The good news is that dandelion tea has little to no known side effects. Instead, it tastes good and is easy to make. You only need 2 cups of dandelion flowers and 4 cups of water. Boil everything, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and enjoy your tea.
6. Green tea
Green tea is perfect if you need a little energy boost without a large dose of caffeine. It is good for heart and brain health and may even lower the risk of certain cancers. It is also full of antioxidants, which can decrease starch absorption, reduce appetite, and improve digestion.
A word on tea blends
If you look up “teas for digestion”, you’ll see many stores carry and recommend tea blends. These contain several herbs, all helpful for digestion in one way or another. Are these better than choosing a single herb?
Yes and no. The quantities of each herb are chosen to help maximize the tea’s effect. But there are also risks. The blend might be wrong for your body. A blend simply marketed as “improving digestion” could have a laxative effect. If you’re struggling with diarrhea, that blend will not help; quite the opposite.
Some also find that blends can often be less potent than standalone teas. That can happen when only a small quantity of each plant is used. You’re getting only a fraction of the benefits of each. Put together, all the herbs might do wonders for some. But they could also be completely ineffective for others who would instead benefit from a standalone herbal tea.
When to drink teas for digestion?
You know what the best teas for digestion are, but how do you incorporate them into your routine? There’s no black-and-white answer here, as it depends on various factors. Are you struggling with a chronic condition like IBS? In this case, you’ll probably need to drink your tea daily, possibly 2-3 times daily.
Is your discomfort something that comes and goes, or is it connected to the foods you eat? Then, you might benefit from consuming the tea occasionally whenever problems arise.
The answer also depends on the tea itself. Most herbal teas are safe to drink each day, at any time. Others come with some precautions. Green tea, for instance, can have an energizing effect, so you may want to keep it for the morning or early afternoon. Chamomile tea is calming, so drinking it in the evening will be the best.
People have used teas for digestion for centuries. And for good reason. They have few to no side effects as long as you use them correctly, help you stay hydrated, are easy to use, and taste good.
Make sure to choose the correct one for you. Whether you use a blend or a standalone tea, remember each herb has its own uses. While some can be good for you regardless of the issues you’re struggling with, others should only be used for specific purposes.
And if you need something stronger than tea, take a peek at our shop. You can choose a good probiotic to support your microbiome, some digestive enzymes for your GI tract, or a colon cleanser to combat issues like constipation or bloating.
This blog post does not provide health or medical advice. This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health or medical advice. Before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate medical and healthcare professionals. We do not provide any kind of health or medical advice. The use or reliance of any information contained on this blog is solely at your own risk.