Herbal tea has been part of society for thousands of years both as a remedy or simply because of its calming effects in the cold winter months. While individual responses to teas can vary, some herbal teas may have soothing properties that could potentially help alleviate symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It’s important to note that these teas may provide relief for some people but not for everyone. Consulting with a healthcare professional is always recommended, especially if you also take other prescribed medications. Here you’ll find a list of some herbal teas that may be worth a try for their potential benefits in managing IBS and we’ll take a closer look at why they may be beneficial.
What makes herbal teas beneficial?
Herbal teas are a good source of polyphenols. These are the chemicals that give them their unique flavor and aroma. They are also responsible for most of the health benefits, herbal teas offer.
What do polyphenols do?
Some of their main health-benefiting properties are:
- antioxidant effect – polyphenols help neutralise free radicals which are molecules that can damage your cells or your DNA if they are in excess
- anti-inflammatory effects – reduce inflammation which is often associated with abdominal pain
- act as prebiotic (food for gut bacteria) – this way they promote the growth of beneficial bacteria
1. Peppermint tea
Peppermint is a popular herb that can be found almost everywhere throughout Europe and North America. The tea made from peppermint may help prevent colon spasms, which are often associated with IBS. They are spontaneous contractions in the muscles of the colon that can lead to abdominal pain, gas, and bloating. This tea may also alleviate nausea, and heartburn, as well as inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria in some people.
2. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is known for its anti-inflammatory and calming properties. It contains an aromatic compound, chamazulene, which is traditionally used to treat skin problems. Studies have shown that this compound could also have gastroprotective effects. Since inflammation may be one of the culprits behind IBS pain, drinking chamomile tea might be a good way to diminish it.
3. Ginger tea
For centuries, ginger has been an important ingredient in traditional medicine all over the world. It is commonly used to treat digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach ache. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory and may prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. Ginger tea may just be the remedy you need to soothe your symptoms.
4. Green tea
Green tea contains several types of polyphenols from flavonoids to phenolic acids. This tea seems to have a positive effect on the gut microbiome. It can promote the growth of the ‘good’ bacteria and inhibit the growth of the harmful or ‘bad’ bacteria. This way it prevents the imbalance in the gut microbiome which is often associated with IBS. Green tea has also been found to have anti-inflammatory effects which can help manage gut-related pain.
5. Fennel tea
Fennel has been traditionally used to ease digestive issues. Anethole, a compound found in fennel, is chemically similar to the ‘pleasure hormone’ dopamine. It may help relax the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract and alleviate bloating and gas. Fennel tea may definitely be worth a try although be aware that some people may experience allergic reactions to fennel tea.
6. Turmeric tea
Turmeric has been long used in India and China as a herbal medicine for abdominal pain and bloating. This herb contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory effects. It works almost like a pain killer, reducing pain by calming down a key player in the body’s inflammatory response called NF-kB. When NF-kB is less active, it is easier to keep inflammation under control. Additionally, it could also help protect your body from cancer because of its antioxidant properties.
Herbal teas are known for their calming effects and they may help alleviate digestive symptoms for some people. Drinking 2-3 cups of tea a day may offer several benefits. It’s an easily accessible remedy that you can prepare at home. Be careful to not drink tea too hot so you don’t damage your esophagus and also be aware that in certain individuals, herbs may trigger allergic reactions, so only drink tea if you know it doesn’t cause you problems.
Haniadka, R., Saldanha, E., Sunita, V., Palatty, P. L., Fayad, R., & Baliga, M. S. (2013). A review of the gastroprotective effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Food & Function, 4(6), 845. https://doi.org/10.1039/c3fo30337c
McKay, D. L., & Blumberg, J. B. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy Research, 20(8), 619–633. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.1936
Chiu, H.-F., Venkatakrishnan, K., Golovinskaia, O., & Wang, C.-K. (2021). Gastroprotective Effects of Polyphenols against Various Gastro-Intestinal Disorders: A Mini-Review with Special Focus on Clinical Evidence. Molecules, 26(7), 2090. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26072090
Albrecht, U., Müller, V., Schneider, B., & Stange, R. (2014). Efficacy and safety of a herbal medicinal product containing myrrh, chamomile and coffee charcoal for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders: a non-interventional study. BMJ Open Gastroenterology, 1(1), e000015. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgast-2014-000015
Curcumin and fennel essential oil improve symptoms and quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. (2016). Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, 25(2). https://doi.org/10.15403/jgld.2014.1121.252.ccm