When stomach pain stops you in your tracks, it could be tea to the rescue. To help settle your next stomachache, the answer could be in your tea leaves, as certain types may help you get relief. Here are the teas for upset stomach worth a steep — and the science behind them.
First, Classify the Stomachache
"Stomachaches are a broad term that may encompass many conditions that affect the gut," according to Elena Ivanina, DO, gastroenterologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City.
"Some of the most common are food intolerances such as lactose intolerances or food allergies," she says. "But symptoms could also be due to an underlying condition," Dr. Ivanina says, such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
According to the National Health Service (NHS), you should see your doctor if you are concerned, but most of the time your stomachache is nothing to worry about and will go away.
"Naturally," Dr. Ivanina says, "many techniques have been studied — from peppermint oil capsules, rikkunshito, acupuncture and hypnosis." (Rikkunshito, by the way, is a Japanese herbal medicine, according to a small, April 2012 study in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility.) "There are pharmaceutical options as well, from an acid blocker, such as Pepcid to Maalox; Mylanta; or even antispasmodics, such as hyoscyamine," Dr. Ivanina says.
“Mint” to Be
If your stomachaches happen without any serious underlying causes, tea could be worth a try.
"Depending on the root cause of the stomachache, tea may likely help," Dr. Ivanina says. "For example, mint has been found to help people with IBS, as it calms spasms in the small intestine, which can contribute to symptoms in IBS."
Mount Sinai notes that peppermint (Mentha piperita) has a calming and numbing nature, as its two central ingredients, menthol and methyl salicylate, have antispasmodic effects. Thus, notes Mount Sinai, myriad forms of peppermint — including tea — help with aiding digestion and soothing such stomachache symptoms as:
- Menstrual cramps.
- Flatulence and bloating.
And because of its antispasmodic nature, many studies have found peppermint as a useful treatment for indigestion and IBS, Mount Sinai says.
Read more: What Are the Health Benefits of Mint Tea?
Another tea worth a brew for your belly is chamomile. Harvard Health Publishing suggests a cup of this particular tea variety as an herbal remedy to soothe the digestive tract (unless you have a ragweed allergy, then put down the cup of chamomile).
And, adds the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), research findings to date have shown that combinations of herbs that include German chamomile (one of two types; the other being Roman) could potentially relieve upset stomach and diarrhea.
Go for Ginger
In addition to peppermint and chamomile teas, ginger and fennel teas are both good choices to help ease bloating and gas, Dr. Ivanina says.
Per the NCCIH, ginger has been used for a host of ailments, including:
Today, NCCIH says ginger is also used for post-op nausea, as well as nausea associated with:
- Motion sickness.
For its own part, fennel too can be good for your belly in helping aid digestion and stopping heartburn, though, Harvard Health notes, less evidence exists to confirm its effectiveness.
Tips for Indigestion
If you suffer from regular acid reflux, the Cleveland Clinic recommends:
- Avoiding foods and drinks that might lead to indigestion.
- Reducing consumption of alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks.
- Laying off fatty, spicy or acidic foods.
But take note: a cup of mint tea may be something to avoid. Mint can trigger or exacerbate acid reflux, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Ultimately, "there are both natural and medical therapies that can help stomachaches," Dr. Ivanina says. The key is finding what works best — and is safest — for you.
Read more: 6 Teas to Stock Up On and Their Health Benefits
Is This an Emergency?
- Elena Ivanina, DO, triple board-certified gastroenterologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, New York
- National Health Service: “Stomach Ache”
- Mount Sinai: “Peppermint”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Herbal Remedies for Heartburn”
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Chamomile”
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Ginger”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Indigestion (Dyspepsia)”
- Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility: "Effects of Rikkunshito (TJ-43) on Esophageal Motor Function and Gastroesophageal Reflux"
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for GER & GERD"