We look at the research on different herbal teas and look at the research on whether or not a detox tea for bloating relief and weight loss is healthy or total BS.
Tea is a super drink in the weight loss/alternative medicine community, and much of that is due to the claims that it helps with bloating, abdominal cramps and other digestive problems. While some people claim that tea helps them feel “lighter” and less bloated in the morning, I wanted to test out those testimonials and find out what the research says about alleged detox tea for bloating relief, and whether a cup of herbal tea can actually help treat indigestion and even lead to measurable weight loss.
Is Drinking Tea for Bloating Relief Legit?
Let’s take a look at some common herbal teas that are often associated with treating digestive problems or “detoxing”, and see what the research says on reducing bloating.
For centuries, peppermint has been used in traditional medicine. Peppermint oil is often used to treat digestive problems, headaches, the common cold, nausea and so much more. One of the most common ways most people consume peppermint is in tea. Peppermint is found in a variety of herbal teas and tisanes because it’s not caffeinated. With its massive popularity, I wanted to know whether it actually works as a “teatox” or bloating aid.
Can Peppermint Tea impact my bloat?
Peppermint tea is often touted as a de-bloating tool, because of the research that it may treat symptoms in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In a 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis, people with IBS treated with peppermint oil for two weeks experienced significantly better symptom relief compared to the placebo group. In a smaller 2016 study, peppermint oil capsules reduced IBS symptoms after four weeks compared to the placebo group. While these results are promising, let’s remember two things. First, these studies used peppermint oil, not brewed peppermint tea. Peppermint oils are a much more concentrated version of peppermint compared to peppermint leaves. Second, these studies were only conducted in people with IBS, not healthy individuals without IBS.
Aside from IBS, there has been some test tube and animal studies that suggest the flavonoids found in peppermint may relax the gut and relieve intestinal spasms and treat bloating and abdominal pain. As a reminder these were only in vitro and animal studies using peppermint oil, not tea.
So far, there have been no studies on peppermint tea for bloating in healthy people.
Bottom Line: Research to date has not found that peppermint tea reduces bloating, but peppermint oil may have some promising effects in relieving symptoms in people with IBS. It is, however, inexpensive and tasty, so if it is soothing to you, go for it!
Lemon Balm tea
Lemon balm comes from the mint family and is used in a variety of settings. From culinary to medical purposes. Lemon balm is often used today as a sleeping and digestive aid and can be found in tea, as a supplement, as an essential oil or applied to the skin as a lotion. So does lemon balm live up to its claims?
Lemon Balm Tea Reduce Bloating?
The “teatoxing” research is real spotty on lemon balm tea. The only suitable study I can include here that involves humans is this 2006 pilot study. The study included 32 people with IBS and they were given Carmint (which contains the extracts of Melissa officinalis, also known as lemon balm). The group given Carmint for eight weeks experienced lower severity and frequency of abdominal pain/discomfort compared to the placebo group. Other human studies evaluating lemon balm have only been studied in people with IBS, but they found that it may be effective in reducing abdominal pain and constipation. This is a starting point for IBS research, but definitely does not tell us much about lemon balm’s role in healthy people looking for general bloating symptoms.
Bottom Line: No research to date has found that lemon balm tea is effective at reducing bloating, but it may help to reduce constipating and abdominal pain in people with IBS.
Wormwood is an herb typically used in oils to treat digestive problems. It gets its unique name from traditionally being used to treat worm infestations and parasites, however there’s no evidence to support this use. In teas, wormwood is described as bitter tasting, which is why many claim it can enhance digestion.
Wormwood Tea for Bloating relief?
According to this human study, wormwood provided a bit of relief from indigestion by stimulating digestive activity, however bloating wasn’t looked at in this study. In some test tube studies, wormwood may carry some antiviral properties and is often used in combination with other therapies to treat drug-resistant malaria.
Bottom Line: While wormwood may be effective in some areas of health, there doesn’t seem to be any research to support its use in reducing bloating.
Ginger is often one of the go-to ingredients for treating indigestion, nausea and even muscle pain. A recent 2019 study found that a daily dosage of 1500 mg of ginger is beneficial for nausea relief. Ginger comes in a variety of forms, like candies, dried, supplements and tea. If it’s so popular, it must work right? Let’s find out.
Does Ginger Tea Help relieve Bloating?
A 2015 study evaluated the use of Prodigest, which is a standardized combination of ginger extracts and artichoke extracts, on patients with functional dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is basically another word for indigestion. Symptoms include nausea, fullness, upper abdominal pain and bloating. The study found that patients with dyspepsia who took Prodigest for four weeks improved their symptoms compared to the placebo.
Bottom Line: Ginger could help with bloating relief in people with dyspepsia, and has been effective in reducing nausea, however in the general population it’s not clear that it can actually reduce bloating, and we don’t know much about how ginger tea would improve bloating symptoms.
Fennel is a perennial herb that is a part of the carrot family and tastes a lot like licorice. Fennel tea is touted as a digestive aid, from treating bloating and gas to cramps. Fennel tea is made from the seeds of a fennel.
Can Fennel Tea relieve indigestion and bloating?
Fennel is often associated with digestion because it can act as a diuretic, which means it can make you pee a lot and flush out water salts, metabolites and other “toxins” from the body. Fennel is often a common ingredient in weight loss supplements and detox teas (tea-toxes) for this specific reason. In animal studies, fennel seeds showed a significant diuretic effect, and may also be effective in treating constipation, which may causing bloating.
Bottom Line: Fennel has been actively used in treating constipation which may appear to be one of the major causes of the apparent bloating. There are still not enough studies, however, to recommend the use of fennel tea for bloating relief.
Gentian Root tea
Gentian is an herb that belongs to a family of flowering plants. The root of gentian is used in medicine. Just like wormwood, gentian root is a bitter tasting plant which is often used in the treatment of digestive problems.
Is Gentian Root Tea good for reducing Bloating?
According to several European Medical Agency Assessment Reports, gentian may increase the secretion of gastric juice and bile to aid in digestion. However, researchers in this 2015 review suggest that this has not been proven, and bitters like gentian are understudied because we don’t have the tools to assess the levels of digestive secretions. For now, bitters like Gentian root seem to only be effective in people with impaired digestion and to date, it’s unclear gentian’s role in improving digestion and bloating in healthy people.
Bottom Line: Gentian root has not been scientifically investigated and the science community seems divided on its role in digestion, let alone bloating relief. So we’ll have to wait on more studies.
Chamomile is an herb that comes from daisy-like flowers. To make chamomile tea, the flowers are dried and infused into hot water. Traditionally, chamomile is used to treat digestive disorders like gas, ulcers or colic.
Can Chamomile Tea reduce gas and bloating?
Chamomile has been found to potentially prevent the development of gastric ulcers, however this was found when chamomile was combined with a bunch of other herb substances in the liquid supplement Iberogast. Some of these substances included lemon balm leaf, peppermint leaf and liquorice root. It’s difficult to really assess chamomile’s effectiveness in digestion when it’s used in combination with other substances. While it’s unclear whether chamomile tea improves bloating, research has found that chamomile tea may improve sleep quality and alleviate depression in postpartum women. Obviously this was only conducted in postpartum women, but it still may be worth having a cup of chamomile tea before bed if you’ve been having trouble sleeping. I know I do!
Bottom Line: The most evidence to support the use of chamomile tea for digestion is that it may prevent the development of gastric ulcers. These results were found when chamomile was combined with other herbs, so still unclear how effective chamomile tea is on its own. Having said that, it’s generally healthy and uncaffeinated, and may have other benefits for sleep, so it’s not a bad way to sneak in some extra fluids.
Angelica Root tea
Angelica root is also known as wild celery and is described as bitter tasting. Like I mentioned in the chamomile section, Angelica root is often used in the liquid supplement Iberogast and STW 5 to promote healthy digestion. Let’s see what the research says.
Will Angelica Root Tea cure my digestive issues?
In a 2015 study, the herbal preparation STW 5 stimulated digestive juices to promote digestion and may be effective in treating constipation in the IBS population. Just like with chamomile, it is impossible to know the true effect of Angelica root on digestion, because it was in combination with other plant extracts like lemon balm leaves, peppermint leaves, caraway fruit, liquorice root, chamomile flower and milk thistle fruit.
Bottom Line: Angelica root in combination with other plant extracts may be effective at promoting digestion and treating constipation in people with IBS, but unclear what its effects are on its own, how it would impact digestion as a tea, and if any of this would reduce bloating.
Do Weight Loss detox Teas (ie. teatox) Actually Work?
Let’s briefly discuss weight loss teas, also often known as a teatox or a detox tea. These teas are often touted as having de-bloating effects to promote healthy digestion with the ultimate goal of leading to weight loss.
Let’s take a look at some popular weight loss detox teas.
Skinny Mint tea
Skinny Mint describes their teas as part of a “tea detox program”. EYE ROLL. Their teas claim to reduce bloat and boost energy, curb cravings and drive fat loss. Some of the ingredients in this tea include Yerba mate, green tea, berries, ginger, peppermint, liquorice root, nettle leaves and dandelion. It’s important I single out the nettle leaves and dandelion because these are often used as diuretics. The idea here is that you pee out a lot of liquid, so it appears you’re losing weight, but in reality you’re just losing water weight, not fat mass. There’s quite a bit of caffeine in this tea (yerba mate and green tea), and while some research suggests caffeine may slightly increase your metabolism to promote fat burning, research suggests this effect would require high dosages of caffeine which can be dangerous. You can read more about fat burning foods here.
Teami has a wide range of detox teas but their most popular one seems to be their Colon tea. Their colon tea blend claims to “reset and cleanse your body”. Not suprisingly, the first and main ingredient in Teami Colon tea is Senna leaf which is one of the most common laxatives on the market. Just like with the diuretics present in Skinny Mint tea, the purpose of Senna leaf is to get rid of stool (and probably some associated fluids), so it looks like you’ve lost weight on the scale, but in reality you’ve just lost a lot of stool and water weight. To learn a bit more about Teami detox teas, I discuss it in greater detail in this video reviewing popular YouTuber Kalel.
E-Z Weight Loss Tea
You can get E-Z on Amazon and it claims to “purify the body, control your appetite, lose weight, reduce weight and get rid of excess water”. The only true statement with this tea is that you will get rid of excess water. And even that is a maybe. This tea contains a few ingredients that we’ve mentioned in this post like fennel, ginger and chamomile. There’s still not enough evidence that any of these teas actually help with digestion, and the presence of fennel in this tea is to act as a diuretic so that you lost water weight, not actual fat loss.
Bottom Line on Teas for Weight Loss: There are so many of these detox weight loss teas on the market, and at the end of the day they all contain at least one diuretic or laxative. They’re not detoxing you in any way other than helping you pee or poop more, and they’re definitely not helping you lose weight. Water and fibre rich foods would also fit the bill.
Do Teas Help With Bloating or Weight Loss?
We’ve looked at a bunch of common herbs and detox teas for bloating, and the bottom line seems to be that there needs to be way more human studies that specifically look at these teas and bloating in healthy people. A lot of these claims are cherry picked from IBS studies, or use concentrated forms of these herbs as oils rather than the tea. Even if we did have research on teas, we would need standardized steeping times and tea to water ratios to get a clinical “dose”.
Ultimately, we can’t really trust the results of most research specifically on detox teas or teas for bloating because the amounts of these herbs used would likely not be the amount in your mug of tea.
Is there a big risk in trying these teas to improve your digestion? Of course not. Most (with the exception of the specific teatox programs and expensive detox teas for weight loss), are pretty low risk in terms of side effects and safety, and are also usually inexpensive. So if you like peppermint tea, drink it! If you like chamomile, go for it! I do all of the time. I see tea is a calming, soothing beverage and a flavourful way to sneak in extra liquids, especially in the winter. I wouldn’t, however, count on it for de-bloating or curing digestive woes, and definitely not for weight loss.
Want to learn more about what may actually be causing your bloating, gas, and digestive problems and what to do about it? Read up on our comprehensive post about gas and bloating here.
Want to learn more about teatoxes and skinny teas? We have the 411 on all things teatox here.
What are your thoughts on this? Any experience with using tea for bloating?
Sofia Tsalamlal, RD, MHSc Nutrition Communication