tea for digestion

Stubborn Stomach Ache? An R.D. Swears by Tea for Digestion

Your grandma’s home remedies, backed by research.

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Going out for a steak dinner is all fun and games until that I’m-so-full-I-could-die bloat kicks in. If you’ve ever spent hours battling digestive symptoms like constipation, GERD, and heartburn, it can be tempting to run straight to the medicine cabinet. But before you reach for an extra-strength antacid or laxative, there’s something else in your pantry that could improve your digestion—herbal tea. 

“Teas are made of a variety of different herbs and ingredients that have been used for thousands of years to improve the digestive system and promote overall digestion,” Rebecca Russell, MS, RD, says. And for good reason: tea’s digestive benefits include “reduced constipation, nausea, heartburn, GERD, bloating, and general inflammation.”

Plus, drinking warm liquid may also help activate your digestive muscles, allowing stubborn food to pass through more easily (1). 

One important note: “Teas can be part of symptom management, but they will not solve any digestive issues,” Russell says. “In order to actually improve digestive issues, you have to first get to the bottom of what is causing them.”

About the Expert

Rebecca Russell, MS, RD, IFNCP, ATC is a registered dietitian, with a specialization in functional nutrition and gut health.

The Best Teas for Digestion

1. Dandelion Root Tea

Best for speeding up digestion

Most people reach for a digestion remedy after they start experiencing bloating, heartburn, or stomach pain. But Russell notes that sipping on a bitter tea—like dandelion—before a meal can give your stomach a head start by staving off discomfort. “Bitter teas increase the amount of gastric juices the stomach produces,” Russell explains. Gastric juices are a combination of enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and mucus that your stomach lining secretes to break down food (2). “This stimulation of gastric juices helps with the overall digestion of food.”

2. Ginger Tea

Best for nausea

Feeling overstuffed? Ginger tea can speed up digestion and reduce nausea, Russell says. Ginger contains a compound called gingerol, which acts as a potent anti-nausea agent. A 2019 study found that ginger effectively reduced nausea from chemotherapy, pregnancy, motion sickness, and may help manage symptoms of certain gastrointestinal disorders (3). And the digestive benefits of ginger tea don’t stop there. Research shows that ginger increases enzymes that speed up digestion and may have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce bloating and cramping (4).

3. Peppermint Tea

Best for gut relaxation

“Peppermint is my go-to to combat bloating and abdominal pain,” Russell says.The menthol—an organic compound—in peppermint has been shown to soothe and relax the muscles in your digestive tract, which can alleviate symptoms like indigestion, bloating, and gas (5). Additionally, peppermint tea encourages the flow of bile, boosting the digestion of fats (6). However, if you suffer from regular heartburn or acid reflux, Russel warns that peppermint tea has the potential to exacerbate both conditions.

4. Fennel Tea

Best for bloating

Fennel tea is one of the best herbal options to combat bloating, Russell notes. This tea is packed with compounds like anethole, which has been shown to reduce gas and bloating by relaxing digestive muscles (7). Fennel may also help with mild cases of constipation, which could contribute to bloating, according to Russell. “It has a light laxative effect which can help keep things moving.”

5. Cinnamon Tea

Best for inflammation

Gut inflammation can cause uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, and constipation. Sound like you? Cinnamon tea might soothe your discomfort (8).Cinnamon tea is a powerful anti-inflammatory, according to Russel, especially for your digestive tract. “I like using it to provide relief from stomach cramps and bloating,” she notes. Cinnamon also has natural antimicrobial properties that may support a healthy gut microbiome (9).

6. Senna Tea

Best for constipation

Things not moving how they should? Senna tea is Russell’s favorite for constipation relief. “Senna promotes contractions in the colon, helping the bowels move through,” Russell says. But don’t sip this tea if you have plans later. “It is a pretty effective laxative, so I only recommend it when necessary to relieve constipation.”While senna is generally well tolerated, it’s recommended to avoid taking senna for longer than one week at a time (10).

7. Marshmallow Root Tea

Best for protecting the stomach lining

No, marshmallow tea isn’t a covert synonym for hot chocolate. But its digestive benefits will make you want to swap the sweet classic for this gut-healthy brew.“I like marshmallow root tea for its protective benefits,” Russell says. “Marshmallow root helps the production of mucus, which is very important for the protective lining of the stomach and intestines.” This protective lining plays a role in preventing ulcers, breaking down and digesting food, and immune function (11).

8. Green Tea

Best for gut microbiome

Green tea is rich in polyphenols—antioxidant plant compounds—which aid digestion by supporting your microbiome, according to Russell. Your gut microbiome is made up of a slew of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms (12). This delicate balance of microorganisms helps you process fiber, break down carbs, and absorb essential vitamins and minerals from your food. If your microbiome falls out of balance, you may experience digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation (13).Polyphenols in green tea reduce oxidative stress in your digestive system, which creates a more favorable habitat for gut-supporting microorganisms (14).

9. Throat Coat®

Best for heartburn

Ever feel an uncomfortable, burning sensation in your chest after a meal? You could be dealing with heartburn caused by stomach acid flowing back into your esophagus.Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals is Russell’s all-time favorite to help with heartburn. This blend includes slippery elm, licorice, marshmallow root, and wild cherry bark, which can all be very soothing for heartburn, she notes. However, Russell notes that It’s best to avoid this tea if you have blood pressure concerns. “The licorice found in Throat Coat may have an effect on blood pressure so consuming too much if you have blood pressure issues can be a problem.”

10. Chamomile Tea

Best for stomach pain

There’s a good reason chamomile has long been touted as a sick day remedy. Anti-inflammatory compounds bisabolol and chamazulene can soothe the muscles in your digestive tract, relieving stomach pain by easing stomach contractions (15). Plus, Russell points to research that chamomile may help prevent H. Pylori—a common stomach bacteria—which can cause gastritis and other digestive problems (16).

  1. Baride, et al (2020) Benefits of Warm Water
  2. Martinsen, et al (2019) The Phylogeny and Biological Function of Gastric Juice—Microbiological Consequences of Removing Gastric Acid
  3. Bodagh, et al (2019) Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials
  4. Foshati, et al (2023) The effects of ginger supplementation on common gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial
  5. Chumpitazi, et al (2018) Review article: The physiologic effects and safety of Peppermint Oil and its efficacy in irritable bowel syndrome and other functional disorders
  6. Science DIrect (n.d.) Peppermint.
  7. Liu, et al (2021) Effects of dietary fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) seed powder supplementation on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, small intestinal morphology, and carcass traits of broilers
  8. Fakhoury, et al (2014) Inflammatory bowel disease: clinical aspects and treatments
  9. Vasconcelos, et al (2018) Antibacterial mechanisms of cinnamon and its constituents: A review
  10. Medline Plus (n.d.) Senna
  11. Nie, et al (2020) The Role of Gastric Mucosal Immunity in Gastric Diseases
  12. Science Direct (n.d.) Gut Microbiome
  13. Zhang, et al (2015) Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases
  14. Ma, et al (2022) Tea polyphenol – gut microbiota interactions: hints on improving the metabolic syndrome in a multi-element and multi-target manner
  15. Sharafzadeh, et al (2011) German and Roman Chamomile
  16. Srivastava, et al (2011) Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future