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Teas That Help With Constipation

You are backed up. You just want to poop on a regular schedule. This is uncomfortable and frustrating. You are looking for an easy and natural way to get things moving.

You are in the right place. What could be easier than a cup of tea? In this article we’ll explore some of the best teas that help with constipation, to get you back on track.

So put the kettle on, and let’s get started.

How does tea help constipation?

We all know that drinking enough water is important to relieve constipation. Tea helps you to stay hydrated. But even more important are the botanical properties of the tea itself.

Some plants contain phytonutrients that can stimulate movement in your gut and soften your stool, all of which helps put you on the road to regularity. 

Disclaimer: This article is not a personal recommendation for you to try these teas. Some of them might be harmful if you are pregnant, or have a medical condition. Make sure to check with your doctor before trying any of these teas.

Senna Tea

The herb senna has a long history of laxative use, both in traditional and modern medicine. Senna’s laxative properties come from substances called anthraquinones. These actually irritate your colon, causing your body to speed up peristalsis, which is the movement in your gut (1).

Because of the way it works, senna can be harsh and irritating for some people. Use it with caution, especially if you already have an irritated or inflamed gut. Others report senna tea is a gentle laxative. Everyone will react differently to this tea.

Senna is more of a short term solution, not something to use on a regular basis. Long term use of senna is associated with liver toxicity. You might also become dependent on senna tea, and not be able to poop without it (1).

Traditional Medicinals Smooth Move is one of several brands out there that contain senna. You can also buy pure senna leaf. 

Your product will recommend the amount of senna to use. Usually you need to steep the tea for about 10 minutes to get the full effect. In most people it takes about 8 hours for senna to work, but this could be different depending on your own gut.

Rhubarb Tea

Rhubarb contains anthraquinones, such as sennoside A, with laxative properties. Just like with senna, these compounds work by irritating the muscles of the colon and making them contract. 

Rhubarb may also help with constipation in other ways. It prevents water from being absorbed out of your gut and into your body (2). More water in your gut means a softer stool.

Constipation is linked to dysbiosis. This is when bad bacteria take over your gut. Rhubarb actually feeds your good gut bacteria. These bacteria produce lots of short chain fatty acids, which are extremely important for your digestive health (2).

A randomized, controlled trial gave rhubarb extract to middle-aged women with constipation. After 30 days, those taking the rhubarb extract noticed significant improvement in stool frequency and consistency (3).   

Research generally uses extracts of rhubarb or powdered rhubarb, which may have a stronger effect than drinking rhubarb tea. However, sometimes a gentler approach is better.

The action of rhubarb depends partly on how it is metabolized by your gut bacteria. People with different microbes living in their gut might see different results from rhubarb.

You can make rhubarb tea by simply boiling rhubarb stalks for about 10 minutes. Rhubarb iced tea seems to be a popular thing, and you can find lots of recipes online. 

You can also buy dried rhubarb root, which will probably make a more potent tea. There are anthraquinones in rhubarb stalks, but Chinese medicine and a lot of the research seems to use rhubarb root.

Dandelion Tea

There is not a lot of research on dandelion tea and constipation. However, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and folklore that dandelion root can have a gentle laxative effect. Dandelion is a bitter herb that stimulates bile production, and generally increases movement in the digestive tract.

Make sure you are using dandelion root tea, and not the leaves. Dandelion leaves are a diuretic, which means they draw water out of your body. If you are already dehydrated, a diuretic can make your constipation worse.

It may be tempting to harvest the abundant dandelion plants growing all over yards and roadsides. However, use caution. There is a good chance they are treated with herbicides and other chemicals. 

Traditional Medicinals sells a nice, organic dandelion root tea with the convenience of a tea bag.

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is one of the most popular teas in the world. Would you believe that a million cups are consumed every day (4)?  

Chamomile relaxes the muscles in the digestive system, which may help with constipation for some people. This tea can also be useful for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other forms of indigestion (4).

Chamomile, especially German chamomile, is one of those bitter herbs. It can stimulate bile flow and help to keep the movement in your digestive tract regulated (5).  

Ginger Tea

Ginger tea is a go-to for improving your gut motility. Motility means movement. Ginger especially helps with moving food out of the stomach and through the small intestine. This can help to prevent nausea, gas and bloating (6).

But what about the other end? Well, when you get things moving further up in your gut, there is a ripple effect of muscle movements that works to clear food out lower down. Your body needs to make room. This is why you often feel the urge to poop soon after you eat.

So even if ginger tea doesn’t directly affect your large intestine, it sets up the conditions that get things moving all along your digestive tract.

Psyllium-Flax “Tea”

This concoction isn’t technically tea, but it is a warm beverage. You just need psyllium seed husk and ground flax seeds. Take ½ teaspoon of each and stir them into 12 ounces of warm water. Then drink the mixture down all at once, preferably right before bedtime.

Just a word of caution – if you leave the mixture sitting in your glass, it will start to thicken, and may become less appetizing to drink.

This drink works best when you take it on an empty stomach and then allow it to work overnight. Psyllium + flax is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy, but it also has some modern day science to back it up (7).   

These seeds contain soluble fiber that draws water into your digestive tract. They also feed your gut bacteria, which can help to change the environment in your gut for the better.

Once you are used to the ½ teaspoon amount, you can increase the amount up to a teaspoon of each. Keep your ground flax seeds in your fridge or freezer to prevent the oils from degrading.

Slippery Elm and Marshmallow Root Tea

Slippery Elm comes from a variety of elm tree growing in North America. The inner bark of the tree has mucilaginous qualities that make it slippery. Mucilaginous plants coat the inside of your digestive tract. This can soothe an inflamed digestive system and help speed the healing process.

Marshmallow is another mucilaginous herb. Tea made from marshmallow root has calming and soothing properties for your gut. But can these herbs help with constipation? There is a theory that the slippery texture actually makes the poop slide right out of you.

In spite of all the anecdotal evidence, there aren’t many studies backing this up. However, slippery elm was included in a formula that improved constipation symptoms for adults with irritable bowel syndrome (8).  

If you want to try it for yourself, you can purchase both of these herbs from companies like Mountain Rose Herbs. Make a hot tea with slippery elm, by pouring hot water over 1 or 2 teaspoons of the dried bark.

It is best to decoct marshmallow root as a cold tea. Pour a cup (8 ounces) of water over a tablespoon of marshmallow root. Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Caution: Herbs that coat the intestinal tract can interfere with absorption of nutrients and medications. Make sure to drink this tea several hours away from medications and supplements.

The Last Sip

There are many natural ways to relieve constipation, and one of the simplest is a cup of herbal tea. 

Some teas act directly on your gut, and give you results in a few hours. Others have a more gentle approach. Everyone is different, so you may need to experiment to find the right tea for you.

Are you looking for more? Find out how to speed up your digestion, naturally.

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