The other night, after a stressful day at the office, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to pick up some pre-made cookie dough from the store and eat it both in the raw and cooked form (new CDC warnings be damned). I don't typically eat a lot of refined sugars and carbs because I know they make me bloated, and well, this decision ended up making me incredibly bloated. And a little nauseous, TBH.
I've been trying to turn to more natural cures for such ailments, so my trusty post-carb Gas-X was out. As it turns out, though, certain teas can be great for alleviating that too-full, definitely-overindulged bloated feeling. Plus, there's something very relaxing about sipping on a cup of tea (bonus points if you lie down in bed and read or rewatch Parks and Recreation while you wait for the tea to work its de-puffing magic). I talked to expert dietitian-nutritionists Amy Shapiro and Isabel Smith on exactly what plants and herbs can help when we're feeling extra fluffy. Keep scrolling for the best teas to help reduce bloating.
Meet the Expert
- Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and director of Real Nutrition NYC in New York City. She is a member of the American Dietetic Association and the Greater New York Dietetic Association, and the Weight Management, Women’s Health, Nutrition Entrepreneurs, and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Groups.
- Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, is the CEO and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition in New York City. She is a member of the Greater New York Dietetic Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and is a certified Level 2 Reiki practitioner.
Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Also, it contains a compound called gingerol, which has been found to help relieve bloating. Bonus: It also helps with nausea. "Ginger tea is a strong digestive aid that helps relieve gas, bloating, stomach pains, and bowel movements. It's known to calm inflammation and soothe the GI tract," says Smith.
Whenever I had a stomach ache as a kid, my grandmother would tell me to suck on a peppermint. I'm not sure how much the sugar helped my gastro issues, but there's something to be said for peppermint and its usefulness in helping with stomach woes. "Peppermint oil has been shown to be effective in reducing stomach pain, bloating, gas, and some research has shown that peppermint tea contains adequate amounts to improve symptoms," says Shapiro.
Fennel has been studied for its myriad health-boosting benefits, but since you're here to de-bloat, we'll focus on its gastro-taming prowess. Fennel helps dissipate gas out of the intestines and also helps your body produce more bile. More bile means your body is better able to break down fats—especially dairy products, which are one of the biggest culprits behind a bloated stomach. Can't find fennel tea on the shelves? Just crush up some seeds and steep them in water, suggests Shapiro.
You may best recognize this tea for its snooze-inducing properties, but it can also help soothe a bloated stomach. Inflammation in the intestinal wall can cause bloating, along with other gut health issues. "There is some preliminary research that presents chamomile extract has the potential to protect against diarrhea and stomach ulcers due to its anti-inflammatory properties," says Smith.
"This tea is a natural diuretic, so will it help with reducing any water weight/retention by increasing urination," says Shapiro. While nobody likes the hourly sprint to the bathroom, this extra water output can help relieve bloating. This ingredient has also been used for a long time to soothe inflammation, anxiety, and more.
The root of the Gentiana lutea plant, which is quite thick like ginger, is another additive you will see in teas like green tea or chamomile. The plant's bitter flavonoids help aid the digestive process, sending any lingering bloat or built-up gas on its way.
Not only will gentian root help relieve bloating symptoms, but it could also help prevent them in the first place. "[Gentian root] is often used just before or just after a meal to help activate the digestive system and to support the body in absorbing nutrients," says Smith.
Lemon is to tea as Windex is to the dad in My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding: any tea to address bloating? Put some lemon in it. "Lemons also contain large amounts of citric acid, which can increase urine output and help release any additional water bloat that may be happening," says Smith. Lemon will often be paired with other ingredients in this list to give the tea an extra kick.
If the idea of a bitter tea sounds worse than not being able to button your jeans, try some hibiscus tea. The flowers produce a sweeter, cranberry-like flavor when boiled; the flavonoids in hibiscus can help regulate a hormone called aldosterone, says Smith. It controls electrolyte levels and affects water intake—both key to beating the bloat.
Matcha or Green tea
Natural energy, help with weight loss, skincare wonder—we get it green tea, you're good at everything. Add anti-bloating properties to the already-long list of benefits; green tea's catechins help soothe the GI tract and help your stomach digest food more efficiently. It's a total bloat-blocker.
This bitter green herb is one of the most popular digestion-promoting tea ingredients in Europe, and yes, we know what you're thinking: it is the same ingredient as in absinthe—the specific compound is called thujone. You would need to drink up to 20 cups a day to chase the green fairy with tea, so it's a good thing it will help release juices to aid digestion in much smaller amounts.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor about which herbal remedies may be safe for you. Only ginger has been studied reliably with pregnant women; some compounds, like thujone in wormwood, can induce contractions.
Caraway seeds and their oil can be used to treat a whole range of digestive symptoms, including IBS, heartburn, bloating, and GI spasms. "Caraway seeds are incredibly powerful!" says Smith. "They have some antimicrobial properties that may support the development of beneficial intestinal bacteria in the gut, acting like a probiotic."