Diverticulitis occurs when pouches that have formed in the large intestine -- a condition known as diverticulosis -- become inflamed due to infection. The recommended treatment for diveticulitis is usually antibiotics, but drinking certain teas may help relieve some of the symptoms or prevent inflammation from occurring. Consult a qualified health practitioner before taking any type of tea for diverticular disease, particularly if you are taking other medication.
Inflammation related to diverticulitis typically occurs around the affected pouch, but it can spread to other areas of the large intestine. Teas that have anti-inflammatory effects -- such as slippery elm, marshmallow, cat's claw and chamomile -- may help. Slippery elm tea and marshmallow tea coat and soothe the large intestine, easing inflammation and promoting healing, while cat's claw and chamomile reduce inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns not to take cat's claw if you are pregnant, have an autoimmune disease or have leukemia, and suggests avoiding marshmallow tea if you have diabetes. Avoid chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed or similar plants, or if you are pregnant, taking birth control pills or have a history of cancer related to hormonal issues.
Teas that can kill bacteria may help you prevent diverticulosis from turning into diverticulitis. Both goldenseal tea and pau d'arco tea have antibacterial properties, although research has not proven conclusively that they are effective for killing bacteria in humans. Goldenseal is often combined with echinacea for antibacterial purposes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use goldenseal or pau d'arco. Consult a doctor if you have high blood pressure, liver disease or heart disease before taking either herb. Echinacea may cause an allergic reaction if you have allergies to other plants. Do not use teas with antibacterial properties as a substitute for antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, keeping your bowels moving is one key way to help prevent diverticulitis because it decreases the likelihood of fecal matter getting stuck in a pouch and causing infection. A tea made with flaxseed contains fiber that helps soften your stool while at the same time bulking it up and helping it move more quickly and easily through your intestinal tract. Licorice tea helps reduce spasms in the intestinal walls, which can help stool move more easily through your bowels. Flaxseed tea is fairly safe, but avoid taking licorice tea if you have high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney disease or hypokalemia. Do not take licorice tea for long periods of time.
A buildup of gas is a common symptom of diverticulitis and can easily cause bloating and cramping. Ginger, peppermint and fennel are common herbs used in teas to help relieve either intestinal gas or the cramping and nausea associated with it. Ginger may help with nausea, while peppermint helps get rid of gas and pain. Fennel has similar effects as peppermint. Ginger is relatively safe, but you should avoid taking more than 4 grams of ginger per day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Avoid peppermint tea if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, a hiatal hernia or gallstones.
Is This an Emergency?
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Diverticular Disease
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Diverticular Disease
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Pau D'arco
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Goldenseal
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Echinacea
- MedlinePlus: Licorice
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ginger
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Peppermint
- Purdue University Horticulture: Fennel