Stomach-Soothing Teas

Stomach-Soothing Teas

Tummy turbulence, digestive distress and sleepless nights…the hunt for stomach-soothing relief is familiar territory for us all.

Whether you suffer from chronic digestive discomfort in the form of IBS or more sporadically, know that there are humble pantry ingredients that have stood the test of time as digestive aids and may be worth keeping on hand during the holiday season, when symptoms tend to surge…

Here are four ingredients, their digestive benefits and recipes for creating your own belly-soothing brew at home.

 

Tummy soothers

Ginger

  • Since the products of ginger metabolism accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract,  it’s no wonder why much of its effects are targeted at digestion.
  • In fact, ginger has been used for thousands of years to alleviate GI symptoms, more specifically to treat nausea, motion sickness, vomiting, gas and abdominal pain. Of course, this is besides its reputation as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer agent and its preventive potential for other conditions.
  • So what’s responsible for ginger’s stomach-settling effects? The exact mechanism is unclear,  however the gingerols, compounds responsible for ginger’s pungency, have shown strong anti-inflammatory properties that may work in the stomach and GI tract, which would explain the tummy-taming.
  • Another explanation would be ginger’s ability to accelerate the rate of gastric emptying or how quickly food exits the stomach.
  • Should you go fresh or dry?  Dry ginger contains slightly reduced levels of gingerols  than fresh ginger, but only because these are converted to shogaols, other key phenolic compounds, which are more abundant in the dry form. Truth is, both have their perks and warrant a spot in your pantry.

 

Fennel

  • A very traditional ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, fennel has long been used as a digestive aid to soothe bloating, heartburn and upset stomach.
  • It works by relaxing and easing muscle spasms in the GI tract, which in turn calms symptoms like cramping and gas.
  • In fact, anethole, the volatile oil responsible for fennel’s licorice flavour, is used as a flavouring agent in many digestifs, drinks taken post-meal (think Sambuca or Ouzo). Although, I wouldn’t recommend a night cap for full-blown digestive  distress…
  • Instead, you can prepare a fennel seed tea, crunch on dried seeds or enjoy raw fennel bulb. Funny how as a kid and until even this day, my grandmother lays a plate of raw fennel chunks on the table at the end of the meal to “help digest”… she knows her stuff.

Peppermint

  • Peppermint is a well-established stomach soother. It acts by calming the stomach and relaxing intestinal muscle spasms, easing GI symptoms such as gas, bloating and abdominal cramping.
  • In fact, peppermint oil has been shown as an effective treatment agent for  those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, with patients reporting an improvement in symptoms and abdominal pain.
  • But be warned: Do not turn to peppermint gum or candies as a remedy. First, chewing gum causes you to swallow air which can aggravate any bloating or discomfort. Also, many chewing gums and peppermint candies contain the non-nutritive sweeteners sorbitol and xylitol, which are known digestive-disturbers and are poorly tolerated by those with IBS.
  • At home, you can prepare a minty infusion from dried or fresh peppermint steeped in hot water. If you’re looking to treat a chronic condition like IBS, then it is  pure peppermint oil that was shown most effective. Consider peppermint oil in coated-capsule form, to reduce heartburn.

 

Bay Leaf

  • Beyond its use in stocks and soups, the fragrant bay leaf has been used medicinally around the world to soothe the stomach and relieve gas and abdominal cramping.
  • Bay leaf, along with ginger, fennel and peppermint, are commonly referred to  as carminatives, which are herbs that help to break down and “expel” intestinal gas which helps relieve flatulence and discomfort.
  • Of all the herbal teas, bay leaf tea is the one that has long run in my family and that I got to know growing up as my favourite stomach-soother. It was such a staple that we didn’t even call it by its name. It was simply Aqua Bollita, which just means boiled water. I guess somewhere along the way, the bay leaf was implied and didn’t need to be named. You’ll find the recipe for this one along with other stomach-soothing teas below.

 

Stomach-Soothing Teas

Stomach-Teas

 

 

Bay leaf tea

  • 2 cups water
  • 6 small or 3 large dry bay leaves
  • 1-inch piece lemon peel (optional)
  • Raw honey (optional)
  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the bay leaves and lemon rind and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Sweeten to taste and serve.

 

Fennel seed tea

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons of dried fennel seeds, crushed
  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil.
  2. Add the crushed fennel seeds, remove from the heat and let steep for 5-10 minutes, covered.
  3. Strain, sweeten to taste and serve.

 

Orange peel spice tea

  • 2 cups water
  • Peel of half of an orange
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • Raw honey

 

  1. In a small saucepan, add water, orange peel, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cloves, cover with a lid and bring to a rolling boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, 5 minutes.
  3. Strain, sweeten to taste and serve.

 

Lemon-Ginger tea 

  • 2 cups water
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced thinly (or use 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • Two 1-inch pieces of lemon peel
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey (optional)

 

  1. Bring water to a oil. Add ginger, lemon peel and juice. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Sweeten to taste.

 

Peppermint tea

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons dried peppermint (or a big handful of fresh peppermint)
  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil.
  2. Add the peppermint, remove from the heat and let steep for 5-10 minutes, covered.
  3. Strain, sweeten to taste and serve.

 

What are your favourite belly-soothing brews? 

2 Responses to Stomach-Soothing Teas

  1. I grew up with my mom always making me aqua bollita whenever I had a stomach ache. She adds a couple of sprigs of parsley to it, too. I still make it and love it.

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