For centuries, people have used herbal teas to ease digestive issues. Certain teas can stimulate the digestive system and help to relieve constipation.
Constipation is when someone has fewer than three bowel movements in a week. However, some people may feel constipated if they do not have a bowel movement every day. The stool may be hard, dry, and difficult to pass.
In this article, we look at how different teas can help to get the bowels moving, and we discuss the causes and risk factors of using herbal teas.
Certain teas may help with constipation, either directly or indirectly.
Drinking warm liquids is a great way to get more water into the body, and staying hydrated is a powerful natural method for easing constipation.
Extra water in the stool makes it softer and helps it to pass more smoothly. In fact, being low on fluids is a common cause of constipation.
The warmth of tea may also stimulate the digestive system and help to relieve symptoms.
This may explain why so many people use herbal teas to relax and relieve anxiety. To relieve stress, try adding herbal teas into a self-care routine.
The following teas may have laxative or muscle-relaxing effects that help to relieve constipation and encourage bowel movements.
Senna is among the most well-known and frequently used laxative ingredients in teas. Senna tea is made from the dried leaves and pods of the Senna alexandrina shrub.
The senna plant contains compounds called glycosides that stimulate the digestive system. This can have laxative effects.
Many over-the-counter (OTC) laxative pills contain higher concentrations of senna than the teas. These pills can be highly effective in relieving constipation.
2. Peppermint tea
Peppermint tea is a popular natural remedy for digestive issues, and many OTC medicines for digestive issues contain peppermint extract.
The soothing effect of the menthol in peppermint may help to relax an upset stomach while moving stool through the intestines.
Drinking a cup of peppermint tea after each meal may benefit people who experience constipation and an upset stomach.
When constipation stems from poor digestion, ginger root may help. Many people use ginger tea to calm irritation in the digestive system and improve digestion.
Ginger tea can help with digestion after a heavy meal. Drinking 1 or 2 cups each day, after meals, may help the body to process food and produce bowel movements.
Dandelion tea may help with mild digestive symptoms, such as bloating or occasional constipation.
Dandelion can stimulate the liver to produce bile, which can indirectly help with constipation.
Dandelion tea can also act as a diuretic in the body, adding more water to the digestive system and the stools. This can help to relieve mild constipation.
To ease the digestive process, try drinking a cup of dandelion tea after meals.
5. Black tea, green tea, or coffee
Stimulating teas and coffee also have a laxative effect.
Black tea, green tea, and coffee naturally contain caffeine, a stimulant that speeds up bowel movements in many people.
People often drink these beverages in the morning to wake themselves up and encourage a bowel movement.
Caffeine can have negative side effects in people who are sensitive to it, however.
6. Licorice root
Tea made from licorice root is a popular tonic for digestive issues. Licorice root has an anti-inflammatory effect, and it may aid digestion.
After a meal has settled, drinking a cup of licorice root tea may soothe the digestive system and encourage a bowel movement.
7. Marshmallow root
Marshmallow root may have a similar soothing effect as licorice, and its laxative properties make it a common ingredient in medicinal teas.
It may be best to drink a cup of this tea toward the end of the day.
Chamomile is a familiar fragrant herb used in teas for its soothing effects on the body.
Drinking a cup of chamomile tea after meals or toward the end of the day may help to calm the muscles in the intestines and speed up the time between a meal and a bowel movement.
Parsley is a common herb that may help with digestive disorders.
A tea that includes the leaves or seeds of the plant may help to relieve mild constipation.
Though many people find herbal teas to be gentle and relaxing, there are some factors to consider.
Are herbal teas safe for children?
Only adults should consume laxative teas or herbs because they can cause different results in children.
Ask a doctor about the best ways to treat constipation in children. Some OTC laxative medications are available in doses for younger people.
Are herbal teas regulated?
In the United States, the country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate herbal products, such as laxative teas.
Because of this, the potency of ingredients may vary from product to product. Also, some teas include other untested ingredients.
Side effects of herbal teas
Some laxative ingredients in teas, such as senna, can cause side effects and increase the risk of additional issues, including diarrhea.
The active ingredients in teas can also interact with some medications.
Before taking a tea to relieve constipation, ask a doctor or pharmacist whether the ingredients will interact with any current medications.
Herbal teas can help with the occasional bout of constipation, but they are not a long-term solution.
If a person finds that they have come to rely on laxative teas, they should see a doctor to diagnose the cause of their chronic constipation. A doctor can recommend a treatment that is effective in the long term.
Chronic constipation can signal an underlying condition, so receiving a diagnosis is important.
Anyone who is uncertain about the risks or benefits of the teas or other herbal products should discuss them with a healthcare provider.
Many OTC laxatives are available, and most are very effective at treating the occasional bout of constipation.
The following strategies can prevent constipation from recurring:
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is essential for good bowel health and overall body functioning. People with recurring constipation should drink more than 8 glasses a day.
- Increase activity. Physical activity stimulates the digestive system and helps to keep bowel movements regular.
- Reduce stress. Techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises, or meditation can help people who experience stress-related constipation.
- Improve your diet. Eating plenty of high-fiber foods, including vegetables and fresh, whole fruits, often helps to regulate bowel movements.
Some herbal teas aid digestion and help the stools to pass, relieving occasional constipation.
However, severe or long-term constipation may have an underlying cause that requires medical treatment.
If constipation occurs frequently or lasts for more than a few days at a time, see a doctor.
For anyone interested in trying the teas listed above, there are a wide variety of brands and flavors to choose from. They are often stocked in health food stores and some supermarkets.
The teas are also available for purchase online: