Besides over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives, there are a few natural remedies for constipation you can consider the next time you can't "go." One of them is tea.
While there are many kinds of tea on the market, Smooth Move Tea from the company Traditional Medicinals is specifically made to help you poop. You can find the caffeine-free, organic herbal tea at most grocery stores and online.
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While the tea itself is not FDA-approved to treat constipation, there are certain ingredients in the tea that are.
Here, learn the ingredients in Smooth Move Tea, the benefits and risks of drinking it and how to make a steaming hot cup for yourself.
If you have constipation for more than a few days, stop drinking Smooth Move Tea and call your doctor. You may have an underlying health issue that needs to be treated.
Smooth Move Tea Ingredients
Smooth Move Tea is a caffeine-free, organic tea that comes in four flavors: citrus, chamomile, chocolate and peppermint. The main active ingredient is senna leaf — an FDA-approved, OTC laxative, per the National Library of Medicine.
Senna helps move your bowels to relieve constipation. Most stimulant laxatives work this way, by increasing muscle contractions in your intestine walls, which move stool out of the body, per the Mayo Clinic.
Some other ingredients you may find in this tea (depending on the flavor) include the following, per the brand's website:
The taste of this tea is described on the website as, "sweet and aromatic with spiced orange notes."
Serving Suggestions for Smooth Move Tea
According to the label, adults and children over 12 can drink 1 cup of tea before bedtime. If your child is under 12, ask their pediatrician if they can drink Smooth Move Tea (or if there are any other constipation remedies you can try instead).
How to Make a Cup of Smooth Move Tea
If you want to brew a steaming cup of tea to help relieve your constipation, here are some step-by-step instructions to make it, per the brand's website:
- Place one tea bag into a cup or mug
- Boil some water on the stove or in the microwave
- Pour 8 ounces of the hot water over the tea bag in the mug
- Let the tea sit for 10 to 15 minutes
- Remove the tea bag and squeeze the excess water back into the mug, to get as much extract as possible
If you want some extra flavor, try adding a lemon slice or spoonful of honey to your tea.
When's the Best Time to Drink Smooth Move Tea?
The label of Smooth Move Tea says it's best to drink it at bedtime. This is because many stimulant laxatives (like senna) take about six to 12 hours to work, per the National Health Service (NHS). Sometimes they can take up to 24 hours, per the Mayo Clinic.
By drinking this tea before bed, you're giving your bowels time to move. You're also more likely to have an empty stomach before bed, which can help the laxative work quickly, per the Mayo Clinic.
If you don't want to drink tea, there are also Smooth Move Capsules you can try, which work in the same amount of time.
Benefits of Smooth Move Tea
Because Smooth Move Tea is a laxative, its top benefit is relieving constipation. But it can also reduce the bloating and abdominal pain that comes with constipation, too. In fact, drinking any tea with stomach-soothing effects (i.e., ones with ginger or licorice) can help you feel better, per the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Drinking tea is also hydrating. And staying hydrated is one of the top ways to prevent constipation. (Plus, if you drink enough water, you reduce your risk of dehydration.)
And while there's not much evidence toward herbal tea helping you fall asleep faster, sipping on a hot (decaf) beverage before bed may help you relax.
Is Smooth Move Tea Safe?
Smooth Move Tea is safe if you drink the recommended amount no more than seven days at a time. Drinking too much can interfere with your body's normal pooping schedule.
Taking laxatives for longer than prescribed can also cause your bowels to rely on them (i.e., you won't be able to "go" without them), per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). If you need a laxative for more than a week, call your doctor. You may have an underlying issue that needs to be checked out.
Smooth Move Tea may not be safe for people with the following conditions, per the NHS:
- Crohn's disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Kidney or heart problems
- Pregnancy (and/or breast or chestfeeding)
You should also avoid drinking Smooth Move Tea (or any product with senna) if you take the following medications, per the NHS:
- Heart medication
- Other laxatives (unless approved by your doctor)
- Certain herbal remedies (unless approved by your doctor)
Talk to your doctor before taking laxatives if any of the above apply to you. They may suggest other treatments for your constipation.
Another Important Note
Smooth Move Tea is not a weight-loss supplement. Using laxatives of any kind to try to lose weight is unhealthy and can lead to dangerous side effects like electrolyte imbalance or dehydration. If you're taking laxatives to try to lose weight (or you're engaging in other unhealthy weight-loss behaviors), open up to your doctor or visit the National Eating Disorders Association's website for help.
Other Possible Side Effects of Smooth Move Tea
Drinking too much Smooth Move Tea (or abusing laxatives) can cause chronic diarrhea in some people, which can then throw off your electrolytes — i.e., your potassium, sodium and chloride levels. Severe electrolyte imbalance can lead to irregular heartbeat or even heart failure, which would need immediate medical attention, per Brown University.
While rare, some other possible side effects of senna (the main ingredient in Smooth Move Tea) include the following, per the NLM:
- Brown discoloration of urine
- Stomach discomfort
- Stomach cramps
Stop drinking Smooth Move Tea and reach out to your doctor if you have any of these side effects.
Smooth Move Tea is generally safe to drink to relieve mild constipation for a few days. It's a caffeine-free, organic drink with a sweet, spicy taste that's best to drink before bed.
If you find you need it longer than seven days, check in with your doctor about your symptoms.
- Mount Sinai: "Licorice Information"
- Houston Methodist: "Does Ginger Ale Really Help With a Stomachache?"
- Traditional Medicinals: "Smooth Move Tea"
- National Health Service: "Laxatives"
- National Library of Medicine: "Senna"
- Mayo Clinic: "Laxative (Oral Route)"
- NIDDK: "Treatment for Constipation"
- Brown University: "Laxative Abuse"
- NHS: "Who Can and Cannot Take Senna"
- NLM: "Senna"
- National Eating Disorders Association: "Homepage"
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Health Services: "Upset Stomach"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.