We’ve all been there—that uncomfortable feeling when your jeans grow tight after eating a big meal and your stomach begins to slightly churn.
According to a national survey of 71,000 U.S. citizens, 61 percent of U.S. citizens reported gastrointestinal issues (heartburn/reflux, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation) in the course of week alone. Gastrointestinal issues also account for more than 100 million ambulatory treatments, 14 million hospital admissions, and 236,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
As a person living with IBS (also known as irritable bowel syndrome, which affects approximately one in twenty individuals), bloating is a part of my day-to-day life. I closely monitor what I put inside my body, knowing full well that festivities can quickly turn fretful when I don’t consider how each food will affect me.
Luckily, throughout this journey I’ve found ways to alleviate my stomach pain and allow myself to once again enjoy the foods that I love the most. Explore the natural teas and herbs below to discover how you, too, can soothe your sensitive stomach and live without fear of bloat and pain.
Note: If you’re struggling with frequent and consistent stomach pain, please consult a doctor as these teas are not a cure.
1. Peppermint Tea
Besides making your breath feel minty fresh, peppermint tea also contains digestive-relieving properties that makes it the perfect go-to beverage for stomach cramping and bloating.
According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, peppermint remains an effective tool as the menthol in peppermint relaxes the intestinal smooth muscles and temporarily makes the pain-sensing fibers within the gut less sensitive, therefore decreasing the level of pain experienced.
When testing the effects of peppermint on patients with IBS, a study published in the National Library of Medicine saw significant improvements when using peppermint oil to treat abdominal pain and IBS symptoms. As a safe-to-use natural remedy, peppermint is linked with decreased bloating, soothed stomach, and improved overall digestive health.
2. Ginger Tea
A long time natural home remedy, ginger is continually gaining credibility in the science world as an effective debloating tool and a powerful medicinal herb as well. Naturally anti-inflammatory and historically linked with treating colds, fever, sore threads, cramps, migraines, and more, a clinical trial tested the use of ginger on stomach pain over the course of four weeks, and saw significantly lowered gastrointestinal pain as a result.
The biggest benefit? Ginger is carmative, meaning it’s naturally flatulence-relieving and helps break up gas build-up in the digestive tract. This relieves pressure, cramping, and nausea for an at-ease stomach.
3. Licorice Root Tea
Different from the red twisted candies you get from the supermarket, authentic licorice root has a distinctly potent and bittersweet taste to it, similar to anise or a heavily spiced tea.
Highly concentrated with anti-inflammatory flavonoids, licorice root is a mild diuretic that helps reduce water retention and boasts antispasmodic effects which may alleviate gas and bloating. According to Healthline, licorice root can possible treat a wide-range of issues from heartburn and acid reflux to coughs and sore throat, with growing research to support its positive effects on indigestion as well.
4. Chamomile Tea
More than just a sleepytime tea, chamomile is also a powerful herb that helps with inflammation and gastrointestinal disorders. Thanks to the oils in chamomile, chamomile naturally breaks up gas within the digestive tract to reduce bloat and relieve gas.
Beyond that, chamomile is also linked with relaxing stomach cramps and easing tension within the stomach and intestinal tract.
5. Slippery Elm
Saving the best for last, slippery elms is the best-kept de-bloating secret with small yet growing research in support of its impressive digestive health benefits.
Made from the inner bark of a tree native to North America, slippery elm contains roots in Indigenous history and early medicine and, from my personal experience, offers incredibly effective results. Combined with a dash of water to create a sticky substance known as mucilage, this root powder is linked with alleviating IBS, GERD, bloating, and cramping. While current research is insufficient to prove the effects of slippery elm, a clinical study by The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed an improvement in bowel function and IBS symptoms as a result of a mixture containing slippery elm bark, lactulose, oat bran, and licorice root. Try for yourself to see the results!
While these teas and herbs are a good fix in a pinch, it’s important to note that bloating and gas can be indicative of larger intestinal issues. For more information on how to heal your gut, learn more about the benefits of prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics in the following article: Biotics Explained: The Wellness Benefits of Prebiotics, Probiotics, And Postbiotics
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Photo: Dana Drosdick