The Best Herbal Teas for IBS Symptoms

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Best Herbal Teas for IBS Symptoms

woman sipping tea
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Sipping a warm cup of herbal tea is a nice soothing option for dealing with the discomforts of IBS. Although research support for the effects of herbal teas on IBS is limited, certain herbs have traditionally been used for the purpose of soothing digestive symptoms. Remember that although herbal teas are generally considered safe, you should always consult your physician before regular use of any IBS remedy.

Pre-packaged varieties of the following herbal teas for IBS can be found easily. A more economical option is to buy the herb in bulk and then brew your own tea as needed.

For best taste results, follow the brewing instructions that accompany your purchased tea. A general rule of thumb is to place one teaspoon of your chosen herb into a cup of boiling water, brew for 10 minutes, strain out the herb, and enjoy your tea. For those of you so inclined, it is fairly easy to grow your own herbs.

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Peppermint Tea

cup of peppermint tea
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Peppermint tea has long been associated with having a soothing effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Like its counterpart peppermint oil, peppermint tea is thought to reduce intestinal spasms, relieve abdominal pain, and relieve symptoms of intestinal gas. Most grocery stores will have a peppermint variety in the tea section. Peppermint is also a good option for pairing with other herbal teas if you don't like how they taste (chamomile is fairly bland, for instance). 

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Anise Tea

cup of anise tea
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Anise tea has long been thought to provide the benefits of soothing stomach aches and relieving the symptoms of gas and bloating. Anise, which has a flavor similar to licorice, is also considered to have antispasmodic effects, which helps to relieve IBS pain. Anise tea may act as a laxative, making it a good choice for anyone who has constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C) but may not be good for anyone with diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D).

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Fennel Tea

fennel tea and seeds
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Fennel tea is made from the seeds of the fennel plant. With a licorice flavor, fennel is thought to have pain-relieving antispasmodic qualities, to increase intestinal motility, and to have mild laxative effects, so it's a good choice for those with IBS-C.

Although it's warming and soothing, use fennel tea sparingly if you have IBS-D. And if you're following the low-FODMAP diet for IBS, you may want to avoid fennel since it's a fructan. But as with most food items and IBS, individual symptoms and reactions will vary. If fennel brings you relief, go for it. 

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Chamomile Tea

cup of chamomile tea
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Chamomile tea is brewed from the flowers of the chamomile plant. Research has indicated that chamomile has a plethora of beneficial effects. It's believed to reduce inflammation, abdominal spasms, and cramping and has the added benefit of reducing anxiety (which is why it's sometimes marketed as an herbal sleep aid).

People who suffer allergic reactions to plants in the daisy family, or who have ragweed or similar seasonal allergies, may have similar allergic reactions to chamomile.This is another tea to keep an eye on if you're on the low-FODMAP diet. Chamomile isn't on the list of "safe" low-FODMAP foods, but like fennel brings relief for a lot of people with stomach problems.

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Low-FODMAP Teas

cup of brewing tea
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The following teas may not necessarily help your IBS symptoms, but because they are low in FODMAPs are not likely to make your symptoms worse:

  • Black tea
  • Chai tea (weakly brewed)
  • Dandelion tea (weakly brewed)
  • Green tea
  • Peppermint tea 
  • White tea


Keep in mind, however, that caffeine has long been associated with exacerbating IBS symptoms, so carefully read the labels of boxed teas. Caffeinated teas, like coffee, should be used in moderation to avoid sleep disruption and potential interactions with medications you may be taking.

Sources:

Prchalova, J., Kovarík, F. and Rajchl, A. "Evaluation of the quality and efficacy of herbal teas by direct analysis in real time." ​Journal of Mass Spectrometry, Feb. 2017

Alam M., Roy P., Miah A., et al. "Efficacy of Peppermint oil in diarrhea-predominant IBS." Mymensingh Medical Journal 2013.

Monash University Low FODMAP Diet  

Picon, P., et.al. "Randomized clinical trial of a phytotherapic compound containing Pimpinella anisum, Foeniculum vulgare, Sambucus nigra, and Cassia augustifolia for chronic constipation" BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010 10:17.

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