Health

5 Gut-Soothing Teas for People With Ulcerative Colitis

If a nice cup of tea sounds like just the thing to help ease your belly, try out one of these soothing options.

1. Turmeric and Ginger Tea

Turmeric, a relative of ginger, has been used in ayurvedic medicine for millennia to help treat inflammatory diseases. Curcumin, the main active component of turmeric, “may be a safe, effective therapy for maintaining remission in UC when administered with standard treatments,” according to a review published in July 2020 in Nutrients.

Fasulo notes that most research on curcumin in UC has looked at large, concentrated doses as found in certain supplements, rather than the smaller amounts of the substance found in turmeric-based teas. So while you may find a turmeric-based tea relaxing or soothing, there’s not much evidence that the amount of curcumin it contains will contribute to UC remission.

Try the soothing concoction submitted by nascarrunner71 at AllRecipes.com: Hot or cold, this tea combines ginger, turmeric, and honey or maple syrup for a rich and flavorful tea.

2. After-Dinner Belly-Soothing Tea

Fennel seed is used for a number of digestive problems, like constipation and gassiness, notes research, and contains active compounds that may help reduce spasms and cramping. Ginger, on the other hand, can potentially relieve symptoms of nausea, according to a systematic review published in Food Science and Nutrition.

Check out the recipe at Kitchn, which combines fennel seed with ginger, peppermint, and chamomile for a belly-calming blend that can be taken before or after a meal to help prevent or reduce painful bloating or cramping.

4. Slippery Elm Tea

The powdered inner bark of the slippery elm tree has been used for centuries in North America to treat conditions ranging from wounds and burns to digestive problems, according to Mount Sinai. Slippery elm contains antioxidants that may help relieve inflammation in UC and other inflammatory bowel conditions. It also stimulates increased mucus secretion in the digestive tract, which may help protect against damage related to excess acidity.

While there hasn’t been much scientific research on slippery elm, one study found that a blend of herbs and nutrients — containing slippery elm as well as curcumin and peppermint oil — helped relieve digestive symptoms such as indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and troublesome flatulence when taken for four weeks.

A word of caution: Kennedy says that slippery elm can, at least according to traditional wisdom, cause a miscarriage, and thus should be avoided by anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding. But it’s unclear whether this risk exists when taking slippery elm orally, rather than vaginally. Because slippery elm coats the digestive tract, it may slow the absorption of other herbs or drugs. With that in mind, you should take slippery elm two hours before or after any other herbs or medications you are taking.

Consider trying the recipe from the Happy Herb Company to see if it helps with your UC symptoms.

5. Green Ginger Mint Tea

Green tea has been used for medicinal purposes in China and Japan for thousands of years. The tea contains antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals in the body, and it contains anti-inflammatory components, known as polyphenols, that research suggest may help treat inflammatory bowel diseases like UC.

Kennedy notes that research studies typically involve giving rodents much higher amounts of the anti-inflammatory components in green tea than are found in a typical brewed cup. “It might be worth having a couple of cups, rather than just one,” she says, to get some of the benefits that studies have found.

It’s worth noting that the most widely studied polyphenols found in green tea — known as catechins — are also found in black and oolong tea, according to Fasulo. While all types of tea from the tea plant contain caffeine (except decaffeinated varieties), Fasulo notes that a cup of tea typically contains much less caffeine than a cup of coffee. “If someone’s UC is in remission, usually small doses of caffeine are okay,” she adds.

Make your next cup of green tea a little more exciting by adding ginger and mint. The mint may also help calm stomach upset and promote good digestion, according to the Mount Sinai. Or try one of the many green tea recipes from Canadian Living to see if they help with your symptoms.

Before you introduce any major changes to your diet, including upping your consumption of one of these remedies, Kennedy recommends talking to your doctor. “Also, don’t have one cup of green tea and expect to be cured,” she adds. “Track what you’re taking and make note of the effects to see what might be working for you.”

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