Gut Healing Tea

Gut-Healing Tea

“There’s a tea for that!” – Me.  😀

Speaking as a clinical herbalist and functional dietitian-nutritionist who has gone on a personal gut-healing journey, tea holds a special place in my heart for so many different reasons, on many levels. I hope you will enjoy this gut-healing tea recipe as much as I do!

(This post contains affiliate links; please see Privacy Policy for details. This post was most recently edited and updated on March 12, 2022.)

Table of Contents

Healing the gut: there’s no such thing as a “quick fix”

There are infinite ways to heal and repair the gut!  However, no matter which avenue you choose, healing and repairing a damaged or “leaky” gut naturally (even with gut healing tea) takes time, effort, consistency, commitment, lifestyle change, medical nutrition therapy, and a holistic multi-dimensional approach.

In my 1:1 functional nutrition coaching programs and also in my Complete Gut Repair Roadmap group program & online course, I teach a step-by-step framework which includes 6 pillars of healing a leaky gut.

  • This gut healing tea is one of the recipes I provide in the “regenerate and repair” pillar of my framework!

Believe it or not, most people actually miss this “regenerate and repair” pillar (and most of the other pillars) of gut healing completely – they think they can just follow a restrictive diet to heal.

Cutting foods or food groups out of your indefinitely is definitely not the way to go if you’re serious about healing your gut!

A quick word on dietary restrictions

Don’t get me wrong – of course finding out which foods work and don’t work for your body is an important part of healing your gut!

  • People who just pop a bunch of herbal/nutritional supplements without changing their diet can also find themselves hitting a glass ceiling pretty early on into their healing journey. Especially if they’re eating foods that are causing inflammation in their body everyday.

But it’s best to take away the guesswork and get clarity with all the right lab tests, so we know exactly what we’re working with from a clinical standpoint (versus just following a fad diet or cutting out a bunch of foods you read about on the internet).

Either way, following a restrictive diet without the right clinical supervision (and without doing anything else to heal strategically) is basically the equivalent of symptom management, treading water… or taking one step forward and one step back.

Restrictive diets can also send people spiraling into disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food, which is another reason it’s important to work alongside a trained nutrition professional!

Enter gut healing tea…

Just like there are many ways to heal the gut, there are also infinite ways to craft a gut-healing tea blend!  (A great thing about herbal medicine-making is that it’s almost like cooking; there are infinite ways to get it “right”.)

The recipe and guidelines provided here are generalized.  On your journey, you can get more customized and creative with your own gut healing tea combinations depending on which herbs work best with YOUR body! (We call those your “herbal allies”.)

You might be wondering, where to do I start? Especially if you checked out my 9 favorite herbal teas for digestion, you have probably realized there are LOTS of options!  Below are a few tips and tactics so that you get the most of your gut-healing tea.

Sourcing and crafting your tea: a few things to consider

Loose-leaf or tea bags?

When it comes to choosing or crafting a medicinal tea, it’s not that pre-packaged tea bags don’t “work”.  I’ve witnessed many times over people having success using instant tea bags to make their gut-healing tea!  It’s just that in my experience, loose-leaf alternatives work sooo much better (and taste fresher too!).

I know it’s less convenient, but the return on investment will make choosing loose-leaf tea worth the extra steps (and extra investment).

Does organic matter?

Disclaimer: This is not meant to feed into diet culture/”clean eating” or create any kind of fear-mongering.  The information shared is intended to help people make informed decisions. 

Once in a while won’t make a difference, honestly.  For example, I go out and drink tea with friends all the time at different types of cafe’s!  (Most tea served in cafe’s isn’t organic and it’s not something to ever think twice about.)

If you plan on making this gut-healing tea a regular staple in your life (which I encourage, if you intend on repairing your gut)… it matters more!

  • Opting for organic tea is an example of “invisible” prevention in that the difference isn’t necessarily tangible.  You probably won’t notice a difference in how you feel in many cases because it’s subtle.

But due to conventional tea’s high pesticide counts which can add up over time and create impact in our bodies (1), I recommend to opt for organic tea when making it for yourself at home.

Best pre-packaged teas for gut health

If you go with packaged tea (the ones that come in tea bags), keep in mind it can still “work”, but you may not get the same kind of clinical results compared to loose-leaf. (Loose-leaf tea is less processed, so it tends has more potency and more of the medicinal constituents “intact.”)

Some pros of going this route:

  • Saves time
  • Easier prep

Cons of going with pre-packaged tea:

  • Less customized
  • Less potency
    • Potentially diluted clinical outcomes

Here are a few of my favorite brands of pre-made gut health tea options which you can find in most natural grocery aisles, health food stores, or online:

Either way, I encourage you to still make your own gut-healing tea at least once!

Best loose-leaf herb/tea sources

I source all of my herbs organically, either local or online.  My favorite online apothecaries for loose tea and bulk herbs:

Anatomy of a gut-healing tea: essential components

(Disclaimer:  This post is meant to be educational and informative… NOT to replace medical advice! Please always consult a doctor, functional dietitian, and clinical herbalist if you have a medical condition and would like custom herbal medicine recommendations.)

  1. Aromatic

Aromatic herbs tend to help with reducing symptoms of gas/bloating, and they can also be antiseptic/antifungal/anti-microbial which is helpful in cases of dysbiosis (an imbalance of the “good” and “bad” microbes that live in the gut! Dysbiosis is an underlying root cause of leaky gut and is a lot more common than you may realize, especially in our modern-day culture.)

In this gut-healing tea recipe I’m using fennel seeds and lemon balm, but lots of herbs in the mint family (such as peppermint or spearmint to name a few) or some fresh peeled ginger root would also work well, as long as you aren’t dealing with any kind of ulcers or heartburn!

  • Since lemon balm is also a “nervine” in that it helps to soothe and calm an over-active nervous system, I also use lemon balm alongside other herbs and protocols for supporting people with depression and anxiety. Don’t you love it when doing ONE thing happens to also support so many other aspects in our health?!
  1. Vulnerary

“Vulnerary” is a fancy term clinical herbalists use to classify herbs that have a wound-healing action on our cells.  Vulnerary herbs can be used internally or topically (on the skin) alongside anything the right medical and nutrition protocols to promote wound-healing and gut-healing as needed.  (As within, so without! Our gut is essentially like an internal skin that also needs the right nourishment and support in order to stay healthy.)

In leaky gut, digestive health AND in the custom gut-healing herbal products that I make for my clients, I often use calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis) and/or plantain leaf (Plantago).

  • A few other examples of vulnerary herbs include aloe and comfrey, although I would not advise using comfrey internally without medical supervision since it can work TOO fast and cause other problems if things like infections are not first addressed!
  1. Astringent (omit or limit if constipated)

Astringent herbs are wonderful for tightening tissues in the body (whether in the gut or something else) that have a tendency towards being to “leaky” or weak.  These are helpful in many (but not all) cases of “leaky gut”!

Adding astringent herbs into your routine can also be helpful in improve symptoms of diarrhea/too-frequent bowel movements.

On the flipside, I’ve found in my clinical practice that using astringent herbs in gut-healing formulas can sometimes worsen constipation in many people, so tread lightly on these if you’re dealing with that!

A few examples of astringent herbs would be cinnamon and rose petals; also, conveniently, calendula and plantain happen to be somewhat astringent!

  1. Bitter + Anti-spasmodic

Chamomile is a gentle digestion-enhancing bitter, and potent anti-spasmodic herb (among many other virtues!).  Chamomile can help to reduce esophageal spasms, intestinal spasms, and/or cramping in a person with an upset stomach, whether acute or chronic.

(Reminder:  We also want to make sure to address the underlying root cause of any digestive condition, although chamomile can definitely help take the edge off and reduce symptoms during the healing process!)

Digestion aside, chamomile is also wonderful as an ally to help reduce stress/anxiety and support better sleep.

Just don’t take any chamomile in the middle of your work day if you know what I mean! ????

  1. Demucelent or “Mucilagenous”

Last but certainly not least!  Mucilagenous herbs such as marshmallow root and slippery elm are wonderful for helping to support the mucous membranes of the body when there is any kind of damage, especially when we’re dealing with a hot/dry/inflamed tissue state.

This category of herbs is amazing alongside other herbs and medical nutrition interventions for people with ulcers, heartburn, etc!

  • FYI: I choose to work with marshmallow root and NOT slippery elm in my practice at this time, only because slippery elm has become over-harvested and is now at risk of extinction in the wild. (It’s important to stay conscious of these things as they’ll have an impact on future generations and the future of herbal medicine!)

Mucilagenous herbs are different than other types of herbs in that they seem to extract better in COLD water versus hot water.  But they will work either way!

In this recipe, I’ve incorporated marshmallow root at the end in part 2 (see below!).

You’re welcome to try it both ways as I’ve also had lots of success in making marshmallow tea in hot water decoctions when I’m short on time (or when it’s cold out!).

GUT-HEALING TEA RECIPE:

Ingredients:

Directions:

Part 1

  • Steep the lemon balm, chamomile, plantain leaves and fennel seeds in hot water in a covered pot for ~1 to 2 hours.

Part 2

  • Remove the cover, and pour the warm/room-temperature tea over the marshmallow root in a glass container such as a mason jar.  Seal and refrigerate overnight before straining the next day through a fine sieve, cheesecloth, dish towel or nut milk bag.

Makes 3 cups (24 oz.), or 3 servings.

Can store for up to 3 days if refrigerated in a sealed container.

Drink 1 to 4 cups daily or as needed.

 

Gut Healing Tea

Gut Healing Tea

Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT
This gut-healing tea recipe is a general framework for those who would like to support healthier digestion naturally.
Servings 3

Equipment

  • Measuring utensils (cups, teaspoons)
  • Hot water kettle optional
  • French press or large pot with cover
  • Fine sieve (if not using a French press)
  • Cheese cloth or clean dish towel or nut milk bag
  • Mason jar

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups filtered or spring water very hot, not boiling
  • 1 tablespoon dried cut sifted marshmallow root
  • 2 teaspoons dried plantain leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon balm
  • 1 teaspoon dried chamomile flowers
  • 1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
  • raw honey or stevia leaves optional

Instructions
 

Gut Healing Tea: Part 1

  • Steep the lemon balm, chamomile, plantain leaves and fennel seeds in hot water in a covered pot or French press for ~1 to 2 hours.

Gut Healing Tea: Part 2

  • Remove the cover, and pour the warm/room-temperature tea infusion over the marshmallow root in a glass container such as a mason jar. 
  • Seal and refrigerate overnight before straining the next day through a fine sieve, cheesecloth, dish towel or nut milk bag.
  • Enjoy before or between meals, Can store for up to 3 days if refrigerated in a sealed container (such as a mason jar). Drink 1 to 3 cups daily as needed.

Notes

If you'd like some added sweetness you can add a sprinkle of stevia leaves into the marshmallow root, or you can add a teaspoonful of raw honey into each cup of tea.
  • Note that honey is 100% fructose and thus a high FODMAP food, so proceed with caution if you’ve got a fructose intolerance, SIBO, and/or have been prescribed a low-FODMAP diet!
I recommend drinking this tea before or between meals for best results, as it will go right where it needs to go (versus getting mixed in with food which would dilute the effects).

Nutrition

Serving: 8oz.
Keyword gut healing tea, herbal tea for digestion, tea for digestion
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Gut healing tea: final thoughts

This gut-healing tea recipe can serve as a great ally for you on your holistic gut-healing journey.  However, it’s important to remember that healing is multi-dimensional and will require you to address your gut health from all angles.  This may include working with doctors, a functional dietitian, clinical herbalist and/or an energy healing practitioner.

If you’d like to learn how to understand and implement the 6 pillars of complete gut repair from a holistic standpoint, I invite you to enroll in my Complete Gut Repair Roadmap online course or join us in the next upcoming Complete Gut Repair Roadmap group program.

If you’d like to learn more about how to support your gut health via herbal medicine, make sure to check out 9 other variations of herbal tea for digestion here!

References:

  1. Mesnage, Robin et al. “Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles.” BioMed research international vol. 2014 (2014): 179691. doi:10.1155/2014/179691
  2. Noel Groves, Maria. Body Into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self Care. 1st, North Adams, Massachusetts, Storey Publishing, 2016.