By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD
People have been drinking tea to help treat digestive issues and other illnesses for thousands of years.
Several herbal teas have been shown to help with nausea, constipation, indigestion, and more. Fortunately, most of them are widely available and easy to make.
Here are 9 teas that can improve your digestion.
Peppermint, a green herb from the Mentha piperita plant, is well known for its refreshing flavor and ability to soothe an upset stomach.
Peppermint oil is sometimes used to improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an inflammatory condition that affects the large intestine and can cause stomach pain, bloating, gas, and other unpleasant symptoms (5Trusted Source).
A 4-week study in 57 people with IBS found that 75% of those who took peppermint oil capsules twice per day reported improvements in symptoms, compared with 38% of those in the placebo group (6Trusted Source).
To make peppermint tea, soak 7–10 fresh peppermint leaves or 1 peppermint tea bag in 1 cup (250 ml) of boiled water for 10 minutes before straining and drinking it.
Peppermint may help improve symptoms of IBS and other digestive issues, but studies on peppermint tea's effects on digestion are lacking.
Ginger, scientifically known as Zingiber officinale, is a flowering plant native to Asia. Its rhizome (underground part of the stem) is popularly used as a spice worldwide.
Compounds in ginger, known as gingerols and shogaols, can help stimulate stomach contractions and emptying. Thus, the spice may help with nausea, cramping, bloating, gas, or indigestion (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source. 9Trusted Source).
Another study in 11 patients with indigestion found that taking supplements containing 1.2 grams of ginger significantly shortened stomach emptying time by nearly 4 minutes, compared to a placebo (10Trusted Source).
Research comparing the effects of ginger tea and ginger supplements is limited, but the tea may provide similar benefits.
To make ginger tea, boil 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of sliced ginger root in 2 cups (500 ml) of water for 10–20 minutes before straining and drinking it. You can also steep a ginger tea bag in 1 cup (250 ml) of boiled water for a few minutes.
Ginger has been shown to improve nausea and vomiting and may help with other digestive issues. Ginger tea can be made from fresh ginger root or a dried tea bag.
3. Gentian Root
Gentian root comes from the Gentianaceae family of flowering plants, which grows worldwide.
What's more, one study in 38 healthy adults found that drinking water mixed with gentian root increased blood flow to the digestive system, which may help improve digestion (14Trusted Source).
Dried gentian root can be purchased from a natural food store or online. To make gentian root tea, steep 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) of dried gentian root in 1 cup (250 ml) of boiled water for 5 minutes before straining. Drink it before meals to aid digestion.
Gentian root contains bitter compounds that may stimulate digestion when consumed before meals.
Fennel is an herb that comes from a flowering plant scientifically known as Foeniculum vulgare. It has a licorice-like taste and can be eaten raw or cooked.
Animal studies have shown that fennel helps prevent stomach ulcers. This ability is likely due to the herb's antioxidant compounds, which can fight damage associated with ulcer development (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
It may also help relieve constipation and promote bowel movements. However, it's not understood exactly how and why fennel acts as a laxative (15Trusted Source).
One study in 86 elderly adults with constipation found that those who drank a fennel-containing tea every day for 28 days had significantly more daily bowel movements than those who received a placebo (17Trusted Source).
You can make fennel tea by pouring 1 cup (250 ml) of boiled water over 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of fennel seeds. Let it sit for 5–10 minutes before pouring through a sieve and drinking. You can also use freshly grated fennel root or fennel tea bags.
Fennel has been shown to help prevent stomach ulcers in animals. It may also help promote bowel movements and thus help improve chronic constipation.
5. Angelica Root
Angelica is a flowering plant that grows all over the world. It has an earthy, slightly celery-like taste.
While all parts of this plant have been used in traditional medicine, angelica root — in particular — may aid digestion.
Animal studies have shown that a polysaccharide in angelica root may protect against stomach damage by increasing the number of healthy cells and blood vessels in the digestive tract (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
For this reason, it may also help fight intestinal damage caused by oxidative stress in those with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory condition that causes sores in the colon (20Trusted Source).
These results suggest that drinking angelica root tea may promote a healthy digestive tract, but no human studies have confirmed this.
To make angelica root tea, add 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of fresh or dried angelica root to 1 cup (250 ml) of boiled water. Let it steep for 5–10 minutes before straining and drinking it.
Animal and test-tube studies have shown that angelica root protects against intestinal damage and stimulates the release of digestive acids.
Dandelions are weeds from the Taraxacum family. They have yellow flowers and grow worldwide, including in many people's lawns.
Animal studies have shown that dandelion extracts contain compounds that may promote digestion by stimulating muscle contractions and promoting the flow of food from the stomach to the small intestine (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
A study in rats found that dandelion extract also helped protect against ulcers by fighting inflammation and decreasing the production of stomach acid (24Trusted Source).
Hence, drinking dandelion tea may promote healthy digestion. However, research in humans is limited.
To make dandelion tea, combine 2 cups of dandelion flowers and 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from heat and let it steep for 5–10 minutes. Strain it through a colander or sieve before drinking.
Dandelion extract has been shown to stimulate digestion and protect against ulcers in animal studies. Human studies are needed.
Senna is an herb that comes from flowering Cassia plants.
It contains chemicals called sennosides, which break down in the colon and act on smooth muscle, promoting contractions and bowel movements (25Trusted Source).
One study in 60 people with cancer, 80% of whom were taking opioids that can cause constipation, found that more than 60% of those who took sennosides for 5–12 days had a bowel movement on over half of those days (28Trusted Source).
Thus, senna tea may be an effective and easy way to find relief from constipation. However, it's best to only drink it on occasion so you don't experience diarrhea.
You can make senna tea by steeping 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of dried senna leaves in 1 cup (250 ml) of boiled water for 5–10 minutes before straining. Senna tea bags are also available at most health food stores and online.
Senna is commonly used as a laxative, as it contains sennosides that help promote contractions of the colon and regular bowel movements.
8. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root comes from the flowering Althaea officinalis plant.
In addition to increasing mucus production and coating your throat and stomach, marshmallow root may have antioxidant properties that help decrease levels of histamine, a compound released during inflammation. As a result, it may protect against ulcers.
In fact, one animal study found that marshmallow root extract was highly effective at preventing stomach ulcers caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) (32Trusted Source).
While these results on marshmallow root extract are interesting, more research is needed on the effects of marshmallow root tea.
To make marshmallow root tea, combine 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of dried marshmallow root with 1 cup (250 ml) of boiled water. Let it steep for 5–10 minutes before straining and drinking it.
Compounds in marshmallow root may stimulate mucus production and help coat your digestive tract, providing relief from stomach ulcers.
9. Black Tea
Black tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. It's often brewed with other plants in varieties like English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
This tea boasts several healthy compounds. These include thearubigins, which may improve indigestion, and theaflavins, which act as antioxidants and may protect against stomach ulcers (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
One study in mice with stomach ulcers found that 3 days of treatment with black tea and theaflavins healed 78–81% of ulcers by suppressing inflammatory compounds and pathways (36Trusted Source).
Another study in mice found that black tea extract improved delayed gastric emptying and resulting indigestion caused by a medication (34Trusted Source).
Therefore, drinking black tea may help improve digestion and protect against ulcers, but more research is needed.
To make black tea, steep a black tea bag in 1 cup (250 ml) of boiled water for 5–10 minutes before drinking it. You can also use loose black tea leaves and strain the tea after steeping.
Drinking black tea may help protect against stomach ulcers and indigestion due to compounds in the tea that act as antioxidants.
While herbal teas are generally considered safe for healthy people, you should be cautious when adding a new type of tea to your routine.
What's more, some herbs can interact with medications, and herbal teas may cause unpleasant side effects like diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting if consumed in excess (39Trusted Source).
If you want to try a new herbal tea to improve your digestion, start with a low dose and take note of how it makes you feel. Also, be sure to consult your doctor first if you are taking medications or have a health condition.
Although teas are generally considered safe for most people, some teas may not be appropriate for children, pregnant women, or those taking certain medications.
The Bottom Line
Herbal teas can provide a variety of digestive benefits, including relief from constipation, ulcers, and indigestion.
Peppermint, ginger, and marshmallow root are just some of the many types of teas that may help improve digestion.
If you want to start drinking a certain tea to aid your digestion, be sure to confirm the appropriate amount to brew and how often to drink it.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
Get CookingWhether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.
- 18 Cookbooks for Building a Diverse and Just Food System ... ›
- 19 Individuals and Groups Building Stronger Black Communities ... ›
- 8 Cookbooks We're Reading This Fall - EcoWatch ›
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded its list of potentially toxic hand sanitizers to avoid because they could be contaminated with methanol.
- Here's How to Clean Your Groceries During the COVID-19 Outbreak ... ›
- Why Hand-Washing Really Is as Important as Doctors Say - EcoWatch ›
- If You're Worried About the New Coronavirus, Here's How to Protect ... ›
- Vodka Won't Protect You From Coronavirus, and 4 Other Things to ... ›
By Tara Lohan
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
- 4 Exciting Dam-Removal Projects to Watch - EcoWatch ›
- Jump-Starting the Dam Removal Movement in the U.S. - EcoWatch ›
- Boom: Removing 81 Dams Is Transforming This California Watershed ›
- Sea Level Rise Is Speeding up Along Most of the U.S. Coast ... ›
- Protecting Mangroves Can Prevent Billions of Dollars in Global ... ›
- Flooding Risk for U.S. Homes: Millions More Are Vulnerable Than ... ›
- 300 Million People Worldwide Could Suffer Yearly Flooding by 2050 ... ›
- Sea Level Rise Could Put 2.4 Million U.S. Coastal Homes at Risk ... ›
By Katie Howell
A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Created by the Johns Hopkins' Alliance for a Healthier World, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Dashboard compiles food systems data from over 35 sources and offers it as a public good.
By Manuela Callari
It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.
Building an Ocean Seahorse Destination<p>Seahorses are found in tropical and temperate coastal water worldwide, but are most abundant around Australia, China and the Philippines. </p><p>Trade in the tiny creatures is strictly regulated because of their use in traditional medicine, aquariums and their sale as dried curios. But because they are poor swimmers and cannot easily move elsewhere, habitat loss is a particular threat for these curious animals. </p><p>Seahorses wrap their tails around seagrass and corals to avoid being carried away on currents. They use the habitat to spawn and hide from predators such as crabs, while also feeding on riches of plankton and small crustaceans living in the reef.</p><p><span></span>Where corals aren't available, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aqc.1217" target="_blank">scientists</a> found seahorses taking up residence in fishing nets and old crab traps abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. </p>
Mixing With the Locals<p>Baby seahorse mortality is high in the wild because they are easily caught, so those bred in the protected environment of the aquarium weren't ready to be released into the wild until early May.</p><p>The team released 90 new arrivals into Sydney Harbor, placing some directly into the purpose-built hotels, and others onto a net that wild seahorses had already settled on.</p><p>Before setting them free, the researchers marked each young seahorse with a fluorescent tag with unique IDs inserted just beneath the skin to track how they get on in the different environments. </p><p>"The most exciting part was being able to put these animals into the wild and then go back a month later and still see them surviving and growing," said McCracken. </p><p>The seahorses will be old enough to mate and reproduce around October or November 2020. And researchers hope that by then, they will be able to breed with the wild population. </p>
Building a Global Seahorse Hotel Chain<p>With seahorses everywhere facing the loss of their coral reef homes, similar projects have sprung up in places like Greece and South Africa, home to the world's most endangered seahorse, the Knysna seahorse. </p><p>"The endangered South African seahorse is benefiting from something quite similar, even though it wasn't intentional," said Peter Teske, professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg.</p><p>In the South African <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322649251_An_endangered_seahorse_selectively_chooses_an_artificial_structure" target="_blank">case</a>, seahorses have bedded down in "Reno mattresses" — wire cages filled with rocks — that were used to build a new marina. Researchers from NGO Knysna Basin Project found the structures acted as a refuge for the animals.<span></span></p><p><span></span>While Teske describes the seahorse hotels as "a positive news story" and a great way to create public awareness of conservation, he added that establishing artificial habitats in some areas will only prevent the extinction of local populations.</p><p>"For a complete recovery, it is necessary to give the natural habitat a chance to regenerate," said the seahorse expert. </p>
Underwater Mascot<p>In Australia, the researchers hope the project could provide an opportunity to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Sydney seahorses but the other animals with which it shares its ocean habitat.</p><p>The waters around Sydney and the east coast are rich in biodiversity and include several threatened species like the weedy seadragon — a relative of the seahorse — and the grey nurse shark. Like the seahorse, they're also under pressure from pollution, ocean traffic and habitat loss through storms and coastal construction. </p><p>"It's a good thing to get people's support and interest. The seahorses are a useful vehicle to get people concerned if the harbor is in trouble," said David Booth, professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney who is also working on the project. </p><p>The hotels have become an attraction for divers hoping to catch a glimpse of these small but near mythical creatures. </p><p>"Everyone loves seahorses," added Booth, "they are so popular." </p>
- 7 Amazing New Fish Species Discovered in 2017 - EcoWatch ›
- Millions of Seahorses Wind Up Dead on the Black Market for This ... ›
Presidential hopeful Joe Biden announced a $2 trillion plan Tuesday to boost American investment in clean energy and infrastructure.
- Green New Deal Champion AOC Will Serve on Biden Climate Panel ... ›
- Biden-Sanders Unity Task Forces Unveil Improved Climate Policy ... ›