13 Best Teas for Constipation

13 Types of Tea for Constipation Relief – and a Constipation Tea Recipe

When you’re feeling constipated, and fiber and fluids aren’t cutting it, it’s time to level up.  Enter: tea for constipation! 

But wait – not so fast.  There are a few things to consider BEFORE diving face-first into a cup of constipation tea.

In this article I’ll share my 13 of the most potent types of tea to potentially help with constipation, what to consider FIRST, my favorite go-to store-bought tea for constipation, and how to make your own constipation tea blend (for occasional support).

I’ll also share some surprising info about which teas don’t really help with constipation – despite the bold claims and popular narratives floating around out there.

Let’s dive in!

Disclaimer:  This article was written for educational purposes, and should not replace medical advice or nutrition advice from your treatment team. 

Affiliate disclosure:  This article contains affiliate links* which are marked with the * symbol. As an Amazon associate and a proud affiliate for Mountain Rose Herbs*, I may make a small commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

Key takeaways

  • Tea should not be the first line of intervention for constipation. 
    • First, address your diet and lifestyle, and work with your treatment team to figure out what else could be causing your constipation.
  • Stress-reducing nervine teas like ashwagandha, chamomile, and lemon balm tea may, in theory, help improve anxiety-induced constipation indirectly. But there’s no direct research available on nervine herbs for constipation. 
  • Demulcent herbal teas made with aloe vera leaf, licorice root, marshmallow root, and/or slippery elm bark may help alleviate constipation in some cases by moistening, hydrating and lubricating the tissues of your gut, due to their slimy, “mucilaginous” constituents.
  • Teas containing prokinetic herbs like ginger and/or artichoke could help in some cases, by directly stimulating gut motility.
  • Laxative teas like senna leaf, buckthorn root, cascara sagrada root, and turkey rhubarb root are generally very effective for constipation.  However, they aren’t as safe, holistic, or sustainable long-term.
  • Blended combinations of herbs (such as in Traditional Medicials Smooth Move tea* or a DIY recipe) seem to be more effective for constipation compared to single-herb brews.

What is constipation?

To be “constipated” means you aren’t pooping enough, relative to the amount of food and fluids you’re eating and drinking, respectively.  It indicates a slow, stagnant digestive transit time.

  • If you aren’t sure of your gut transit time, the “beet test” is a fun and accurate way to measure it!

Visually, constipation resembles a Type 1 or Type 2 on the Bristol Stool Chart.

The Bristol Stool Chart - by Jenna Volpe of Whole-istic Living

Aside from just being uncomfortable, constipation also means that your body isn’t detoxifying and eliminating waste efficiently.  

And it’s never happening for no reason!  There’s always something deeper going on when you’re constipated. 

It’s important to know WHY you’re constipated, in order to determine which types of tea will be safe and effective for you.

Causes of constipation: Factors to consider

Some reasons for constipation (like fiber and fluid intake) are more simple, while others are less obvious, and more clinical/complex. 

Your root cause(s) of constipation matter, because they will determine the interventions (including the type of tea – if any) that will be safest and most helpful.

Here’s a list of the most common underlying culprits of constipation that I see in my private nutrition practice as well as in inpatient hospital settings:

  1. Diet
  2. Lifestyle (sleep, stress, and exercise patterns)
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Medication side effects
  5. Medical conditions
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Eating disorders
    • Methane-dominant small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
    • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
      • Celiac disease
      • Crohn’s
      • Ulcerative colitis
    • Mechanical blockage

(Curious, and want to learn more?  Feel free to deep-dive into the top 9 reasons and root causes of constipation here!)

Nutrition and lifestyle tips for constipation 

Before resorting to tea for constipation, I actually recommend first making sure you’re following the nutrition and lifestyle tips below.

While it may seem simple and obvious, these foundational elements can drastically improve mild constipation in most cases – medical conditions aside.

  • Get enough fiber from a balanced diet
  • Drink enough water
  • Move your body
  • Prioritize sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Maintain a healthy relationship with food

When you aren’t responding to fundamental diet/lifestyle interventions, it’s important to work with a gastrointestinal (GI) doctor and a gut health dietitian nutritionist to pinpoint and rule out any other possible underlying root-causes – alongside trying out tea and herbs as needed.

Where to buy herbs for tea

I get most of my herbs for tea from Mountain Rose Herbs* and Starwest Botanicals, because their products are organic.  

This means no harmful pesticide residues will be infused into your tea.

These online herb stores also practice ethical, sustainable harvesting as well as the right storage methods for optimal potency. 

(Did you know that light, heat, and time can degrade the potency and effectiveness of herbs?)

Quality aside, the type and amount of herbs you’re putting in your tea are also very important!

Mountain Rose Herbs - Rectangle Affiliate Banner

Types of herbal tea for constipation: round-up (with affiliate links for products)

Below are my affiliate links to organic versions of loose dried herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. 

(There’s no link for ginger, because you can use fresh ginger root! I usually just get fresh ginger from a local supermarket.)

Note: I don’t work with slippery elm bark, because it’s going extinct in the wild due to over-harvesting.  

  • Please be mindful of this and opt for other similar demulcent herbs (like marshmallow, aloe, and/or licorice) whenever possible!  I only included it on this list for informational purposes, since it’s well researched.
  1. Ashwagandha root* (Withania somnifera)
  2. Chamomile tea* (Matricaria chamomilla)
  3. Lemon balm* (Melissa officinalis)
  4. Aloe vera leaf* (Aloe vera)
  5. Licorice root* (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  6. Marshmallow root* (Althaea officinalis)
  7. Slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra)
  8. Artichoke leaf* (Cynara scolymus)
  9. Ginger root (Zingiber officinale)
  10. Buckthorn bark* (Frangula alnus)
  11. Senna leaf* (Senna alexandrina)
  12. Cascara sagrada bark* (Frangula purshiana)
  13. Turkey rhubarb* (Rheum sp.)

How can tea help constipation?

Laxative herbs aside, the research to date on tea for constipation is otherwise currently sparse and limited.  

So lots of information in this article is based on speculation and my own first-hand clinical observations and experience as a clinical herbalist, gut health dietitian, and former IBS sufferer.

But one thing most of us know to be true is that drinking any kind of hot/warm liquids (like tea) generally helps mild constipation! 

Otherwise, the type of tea that will be safest and most effective will otherwise depend on the root cause(s) of your constipation.

Below are summaries of how various categories of herbal tea (alongside other interventions as needed) may potentially help you find constipation relief, depending on what’s going on.

Best tea for stress-induced constipation 

In theory, nervine teas such as lemon balm*, chamomile tea*, and ashwagandha root* (which is also an adaptogen) may potentially help constipation indirectly by supporting a more relaxed nervous system.

But as a quick disclaimer, there isn’t much research investigating the direct benefits of any nervine herbs for constipation – so this is based mostly on clinical speculation and anecdotal experiences.  

(Generally when stress is reduced, bowel movements improve significantly in most people!)

Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera)

This is my favorite go-to herb for “taking the edge off” in cases of stress and anxiety!  I often drink ashwagandha chai tea in the evenings after dinner, during the fall and winter months.

Ashwagandha has been proven in multiple recent clinical studies to help reduce stress, improve sleep, and decrease anxiety. (1, 2, 3, 4)

How to make and drink ashwagandha tea:  I recommend drinking ashwagandha in this adaptogen chai tea recipe, verses on its own, since it doesn’t taste very pleasant. 😉

  • Drink 1 to 3 cups daily, as needed.


  • Ashwagandha is a nightshade, so avoid it if you don’t tolerate nightshades.  
  • Avoid ashwagandha during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Consult a doctor before taking ashwagandha if you’re on medication.
  • Don’t take ashwagandha if you have Grave’s disease (hyperthyroidism) since ashwagandha increases thyroid hormone production.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

Chamomile is a simple, well-known classic herb for helping to calm the nerves!  

Research is suggesting that chamomile is a safe and effective remedy for general anxiety disorder, due to its relaxing and soothing effects on the nervous system. (5)

It also seems to help quell a nervous stomach, especially in some of my past clients with IBS-C that was induced by an eating disorder.  

Chamomile is a great anecdotal ally for folks with “nervous constipation” because it’s very safe, even for children and adolescents – with very little to no side effects.

How to make and drink chamomile tea:  Steep 1 teaspoon of loose dried chamomile* or a chamomile tea bag in ~8-12 ounces of hot, filtered/spring water for ~15 minutes.  

  • Drink 1 to 4 cups daily, as needed, to help reduce stress and anxiety.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinales

While there aren’t any studies directly investigating the effects of lemon balm tea infusions for constipation specifically, lemon balm has been deemed effective at helping to pacify visceral hypersensitivity and to normalize bowel movements in patients with IBS, according to a 2018 study by the Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility. (6

Lemon balm is also vetted as a potent and effective herb for reducing stress and anxiety, which could be favorable and beneficial for more optimal gut motility. (7)

How to make and drink lemon balm tea:  Steep 1 teaspoon of dried lemon balm* in ~8-12 ounces of hot filtered/spring water for ~15-20 minutes.  

  • Drink 1 to 4 cups daily or as needed.
  • Combine with other herbs (such as senna – only 1x/day) and ginger root for more direct effect on constipation.

Safety concerns:  Lemon balm is generally safe, even for children and during pregnancy. 

  • However, lemon balm may slow down thyroid function in individuals with hypothyroidism so avoid it if you’re prone to slow thyroid function.

Tea for thyroid function

Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha tea may also help in cases of constipation caused by an underlying hypothyroid condition (such as Hashimoto’s).

This is because ashwagandha root (taken in regular daily therapeutic doses) has been shown to increase the production of thyroid hormones and support a more optimal thyroid function naturally. (8, 9)

Since the taste of ashwagandha on its own is very unpleasant, my favorite way to drink ashwagandha tea is in this adaptogen chai tea recipe

How much to drink:  For hypothyroid, you’d need a lot of ashwagandha tea – with a standard dose being about 4 cups per day for at least a few months, or a custom dose prescribed based on your bloodwork. 

  • Tip:  Therapeutic doses of ashwagandha for hypothyroid may be easier in capsule or tincture form! 

Demulcent teas

Demulcent herbs like aloe vera leaf*, licorice root*, marshmallow root*, and slippery elm bark are gentle, soothing, hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and lubricating to a dried-out gut.

Not to mention, they make great teas because they taste sweet and/or mild.

Demulcent herbs also often contain prebiotics, which can help feed and support the growth of beneficial microbes – aka “probiotics” – in the gut.  (Get a comprehensive list and PDF of prebiotic foods and herbs here!)

However, demulcent teas may or may not be the best option  in cases of small interstitial bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).  

  • This is because the slimy “mucilage” in demulcent herbs seems to ferment with the intestinal microbes – essentially feeding the problem and worsening symptoms of gas and bloating. 

Demulcent teas should also be at least an hour away from medication, if taken in high doses, since they may reduce medication absorption.

Consult your doctor before trying demulcent herbal tea if you’re pregnant.

Aloe vera (Aloe vera)

Aloe leaf has been used in China to treat functional constipation for hundreds of years, due to key “anti-constipation constituents”, as discussed in a 2023 study by the Journal of ethnopharmacology.  (10)

It could be a great ally for folks with IBS-C, alongside diet and lifestyle interventions.  It has also helped me with heartburn and mild gastritis in the past!

  • Related article:

How to make and drink aloe leaf tea:  Steep 1 teaspoon of dried aloe vera leaves* in 8-12 ounces of hot filtered/spring water for 15-20 minutes or longer.  

  • Drink 1 to 4 cups per day, between meals, as needed. Start with 1 cup before increasing.

Safety considerations:  Avoid during pregnancy and nursing. Consult your healthcare team before taking aloe internally if you have or suspect SIBO.  Discontinue if it is causing diarrhea.

Licorice root

Licorice root is a very sweet demulcent, prebiotic, prokinetic herb which has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years.  

There isn’t much literature available on the effects or benefits of licorice in tea form for constipation.  

But a 2010 study by the Journal of alternative and complementary medicine concluded that a supplement blend of licorice root, slippery elm bark, agrimony, and cinnamon quills was very effective at improving IBS-C symptoms. (11)  Still, more research is needed! 

How to make and drink licorice root tea:  In my clinical practice, I generally find that licorice root is more effective when blended with other herbs in a tea for constipation.

Safety considerations:  

  • Avoid licorice root if you’re prone to high blood pressure or on birth control oral contraceptives, since licorice raises blood pressure in these cases as a side effect.
  • Don’t take licorice root if pregnant or nursing.

Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis)

Marshmallow is a classic demulcent herb which makes the tissues of the body more slippery and slimy.  So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that this herb is a constipation ally!

According to a 2020 study by Frontiers in pharmacology, marshmallow root is therapeutic for dry cough and for inflamed mucous membranes of the gut. (12)

There otherwise isn’t a lot of formal research in the PubMed or NIH database on marshmallow root tea for constipation… yet. 

But marshmallow root is very similar to slippery elm from a constitutional standpoint, and slippery elm is more well-researched for constipation. 

In my clinical practice, I often encourage people to try marshmallow root instead of slippery elm, since slippery elm bark is now at risk of being extinct due to overharvesting in the wild.  

  • Anecdotally, I’ve seen marshmallow root tea help improve cases of mild constipation. (Not as a stand-alone intervention, but alongside diet and lifestyle changes!)

How to make marshmallow root tea:  

  • Simmer or “decoct” 1 teaspoon of loose marshmallow root* in ~8-12 ounces of filtered/spring water for 15-20 minutes.  
  • You could also try passively steeping a marshmallow root cold infusion in the refrigerator, overnight.

Safety considerations:  This herb is generally very safe, as long as you’re buying it from a trusted source.  But consult your healthcare team first, if you’re pregnant or nursing.

Slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra)

The medicinal, mucilaginous constituents of slippery elm come from the inner bark of certain species of elm trees in eastern parts of North America.

While I don’t work with slippery elm a lot (since it’s now endangered in the wild due to overharvesting), I wanted to include it in this round-up because it’s very similar to marshmallow root but more researched – specifically for constipation.

For example, slippery elm bark (in combination with licorice root, oat bran, and lactulose) was shown to help significantly improve IBS-C, by improving stool frequency and stool consistency while reducing symptoms of straining and abdominal pain, in a small 2010. (13)

Slippery elm was also included in a “Gut Relief formula” alongside curcumin, Aloe vera, slippery elm, guar gum, pectin, peppermint oil, and glutamine in a 2020 study.  In this study, the gut relief formula appeared to help a group of participants overcome the majority of IBS symptoms (including constipation) in just 16 weeks. (14)

More research is needed on slippery elm as a stand-alone tea and supplement, but so far the research is promising! 

It’s also relevant because slippery elm could potentially be swapped for marshmallow root in many cases.

Prokinetic herbs

Herbs which happen to be natural prokinetics (like ginger and artichoke) can support constipation by stimulating gut motility.

Licorice root

Licorice root happens to be prokinetic as well as demulcent and prebiotic.  (15, 16

No wonder you find it in so many herbal tea blends for constipation!

Keep in mind, licorice is more effective in capsule form or when blended with other herbs as a constipation remedy.

Ginger root (Zingiber officinale)

Aside from helping with ancillary IBS-related symptoms like nausea and gas/bloating, ginger root acts as a prokinetic by directly stimulating gut motility. It can really help to get things moving in a slow digestive system. (17)

How to make and drink ginger tea:  I prefer fresh ginger root, which is more gentle than dried ginger.  

  • Incorporate it into your ashwagandha chai tea recipe or steep a peeled 1-inch slice of fresh ginger root in a mug of hot filtered/spring water for ~15 minutes.  Add some freshly squeezed lemon and honey if tolerated.
  • Drink after meals, a few times per day or as needed.

Artichoke leaf (Cynara scolymus)

As a bitter herb and prokinetic, artichoke helps to stimulate not just the upper gastrointestinal tract but also the colon. It’s especially effective when used in combination with ginger, such as in a formula called Prodigest. (18)

However, keep in mind artichoke leaf is very bitter – so I highly recommend blend artichoke leaf with other herbs, and/or add a you-friendly natural sweetener of your choice if you decide to try it!  

(You could also take artichoke as an herbal tincture for digestive bitters before meals, or in capsule form.)

I prefer to add prokinetic herbs into a tea blend versus drinking them on their own. 

Laxative herbs

Natural laxative herbs such as senna leaf*, buckthorn bark*, cascara sagrada bark*, and turkey rhubarb bark work by inducing intestinal spasms and colon contractions (making you poop… a lot!). They do this because these laxative herbs all contain a group of constituents called anthraquinones, which are known clinically for their cathartic or “laxative” properties. (19, 20, 21. 22)

Senna leaf

Senna is probably the most well-known type of herbal laxative – it’s found in the famous Traditional Medicials Smooth Move tea* and it’s even used in some mainstream clinical settings.  

It is the least bitter-tasting of all the laxative herbs you’ll learn about in this article!

Senna is also among the most researched of laxative herbs.  In fact, it has been proven to be just as effective – if not more effective – than magnesium oxide as a cathartic and laxative.  (23)

Combining senna with gut-calming nervines, soothing demulcents, and prokinetics seems to be the most efficient and effective way to get things moving, while minimizing common side effects such as cramping and abdominal pain.

How to brew and take senna leaf tea:  Steep 1 teaspoon of senna leaves in ~8 ounces of hot filtered/spring water for 15-20 minutes.

  • Combine with other herbs as needed (see recipe below).  
  • Drink 4 to 8 ounces of senna (in combination with other herbs) 1x/day in morning or before bed (it can take up to 12 hours to kick in).

Buckthorn bark (Rhamnus frangula)

This bitter herb is a more simple, straight-forward and gentler option compared to senna.

While it doesn’t taste great as a tea, you don’t need much to get things moving! If you’re looking for a stand-alone tea, I actually prefer buckthorn over senna since it has less side effects and you only need a few ounces.

How to brew and drink buckthorn bark tea:  Simmer (“decoct”) 1 teaspoon of dried buckthorn bark* in ~8 ounces of filtered/spring water for ~15-20 minutes.  (The longer you simmer it, the more intense it will be.)  Optional:  add a piece of fresh ginger root and some honey to cut the bitter taste.

  • Drink ~2 to 8 ounces (1/4 cup to 1 cup) 1x/day in the morning or at night before bed.
  • Start small. (Less is more! You can always take another sip as needed.)
  • Give it ~12 hours to kick in.

Cascara sagrada bark (Rhamnus purshiana)

Cascara sagrada tastes very bitter, like buckthorn. It works more aggressively as a cathartic laxative, by increasing bile flow and stimulating colon contractions. 

(You may notice this herb is popular in various types of herbal colon cleanses on the market.)

How to make it and drink it:  The traditional method is to simmer or “decoct” 1 teaspoon of the dried bark in ~8 ounces of water for ~15 minutes. You’ll end up with~4 to 6 ounces of tea – and that’s more than enough!

  • Since cascara sagrada is more intense than buckthorn, you only need ~2 to 4 ounces max of this tea as a laxative for constipation. 
  • Start with 2 ounces (you can always take more!) in the morning or at night before bed. Give it ~12 hours to kick in.  
    • If you don’t like the taste of cascara sagrada tea, consider trying a dropperful (~20 drops) of cascara sagrada tincture before bed. 

Turkey rhubarb root (Rheum sp.)

This digestive bitter herb acts very similar to senna in the gut, and it tastes a lot like buckthorn and cascara sagrada. 

Like senna, it goes well when paired with nervine herbs (like chamomile) and ginger, to help counteract abdominal cramping and pain.

Much like its counterparts, a little bit goes a long way!

How to make it and drink it:  Add ½ teaspoon of dried turkey rhubarb root* to a constipation tea blend on an occasional, as-needed basis.

Safety considerations

  • Avoid laxatives if you’re pregnant or nursing.  
  • Consult a doctor before taking laxatives if you’re on medication of any kind.  
  • Avoid laxatives in cases of bowel obstruction.
  • Consult a doctor before trying these if you have or suspect inflammatory bowel disease.

Keep in mind, you can do a lot of damage to your body if you rely too heavily on laxatives – even the natural ones.

Laxative teas should be an occasional ally for mild constipation relief… or more of a last resort, not your go-to option!

Also, laxative teas (while natural) are not holistic.  The outcomes they can deliver are surface-level at best, and very temporary/fleeting.  

Laxatives in general can’t help you beyond the level of symptom management, and they should not be your first intervention.

Best constipation tea blends on the market

Traditional Medicials Smooth Move tea* is my favorite go-to premade constipation tea blend on the market. 

You’ll notice, this tea blend contains a combination of laxative, demulcent, nervine and carminative herbs to help soothe and stimulate the bowels effectively.  

There are other options out there, but I haven’t had the opportunity to vet them yet via clinical or first-hand experience.

DIY constipation tea recipe

The following basic DIY constipation tea recipe is meant for occasional use, on an as-needed basis – as long as you aren’t pregnant or nursing, and you’ve been medically cleared by a doctor. 

It contains a combination of nervines, demulcents, prokinetics, and laxative herbs.

Materials needed

  • Measuring utensils and measuring cup
  • Small stove top pot
  • Fine sieve or French press or teapot
  • Mug for serving



  • In a small pot, simmer the ginger, marshmallow root, licorice root, and cinnamon stick in hot water for ~15 minutes.  
  • Turn off the heat, and add the senna leaves and chamomile tea*. 
  • Steep passively for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Drain and pour into a mug.
  • Add honey or sweetener of choice.
  • Drink 1x/day in the morning or before bed, and give it ~12 hours to kick in.

Drink hot, or cool before storing in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Tea Recipe for Constipation

DIY Constipation Tea

Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT
A simple and classic, pleasant-tasting tea for occasional bouts of constipation.
Prep Time 35 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Tea
Servings 1


  • Measuring utensils and measuring cup
  • Small stove top pot
  • Fine sieve or French press or teapot
  • Mug for serving
  • Optional spoon for stirring


  • 1- inch slice fresh ginger peeled and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried marshmallow root
  • ½ teaspoon dried licorice root
  • 1 cinnamon stick optional - for flavor
  • ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon dried senna leaf
  • ½ teaspoon chamomile tea
  • 12 ounces filtered water or spring water
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey or sweetener of choice (OPTIONAL)


  • In a small pot, simmer the ginger, marshmallow root, licorice root, and cinnamon stick in hot water for ~15 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, and add the senna leaves and chamomile tea*.
  • Steep passively for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Drain and pour into a mug.
  • Add honey or sweetener of choice.
  • Drink 1x/day in the morning or before bed, and give it ~12 hours to kick in.


You'll be left with ~8 ounces of tea after the simmering.
Drink hot, or cool before storing in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Keyword constipation tea, tea for constipation
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently asked questions

What about caffeinated tea? Does caffeine help constipation?

While we know for a fact that COFFEE (a caffeinated beverage that isn’t tea) helps constipation, the jury is still out when it comes to caffeinated tea.

Caffeinated teas include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Black, green, oolong, and white tea (Camellia sinensis)
  • Yaupon holly tea (Ilex vomitoria)
  • Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis)

A 2022 study investigated and compared the effects of caffeinated coffee versus just caffeine, and found that both groups of patients (status post abdominal surgery) experienced improved bowel movements and decreased post-surgery hospital stays. (24)

On the other hand, there aren’t any direct studies investigating the potential benefits of caffeinated tea for constipation.

I’ve also never actually witnessed or experienced any type of caffeinated tea improve constipation with any of my clients, nor have I experienced this first-hand. (I’m a former IBS sufferer!)

Bottom line:  I chose not to include caffeinated teas on this list, because I don’t think they’re among the best teas for constipation relief. 😉

But that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!  Go ahead and give it a try (as long as you’re medically cleared to consume caffeine from a safety standpoint) and let me know if it helps. 

Can black tea cause constipation? 

I believe this to be very unlikely. I’ve never seen black tea cause constipation, ever!  And no research has ever suggested this.

However, black tea does have astringent (tissue-toning and tightening) properties, so it is technically possible.  

(Remember that due to bio-individuality, there are no set rules when it comes to how YOUR body will respond to an herb!)

A few studies have shown that black tea may help improve symptoms of diarrhea, so this may explain why black tea is said to cause constipation.  

Is black tea laxative?

No!  Black tea is not a laxative herb.  In fact, it may actually help diarrhea in some cases due to its astringent properties. (25)

And contrary to what some big mainstream media outlets are claiming, no research to date has actually suggested that black tea is effective as a constipation remedy, aside from a 2022 study which found that caffeine and coffee both improved post-op bowel surgery outcomes.  

If you find that black tea is giving you diarrhea, it’s possible that you could be reacting to the milk/milk sub and/or the sweetener you’re putting in your tea (if applicable)! 😉

Lastly, you could have a food sensitivity to black tea itself, which can sometimes show up as diarrhea.  Or you could also have a chemical sensitivity to caffeine.

  • Food and chemical sensitivity reactions can manifest as diarrhea, which is why some people might believe black tea is a laxative.
  • While it’s not common to have a sensitivity to black tea and/or caffeine, it’s possible and I’ve seen it happen in my clinic!  You can find out by running a food sensitivity test such as the Mediator Release Test or the ALCAT test.

Can green tea cause constipation?

Not that I know of!  Green tea and black tea come from the same plant (Camellia sinensis) and they’re both astringent herbs which may benefit the gut in certain ways. 

But no research has ever suggested that green tea causes constipation, and I’ve never seen this in my clinic.

Does green tea help with constipation?

Again, much like black tea, you’ve likely seen some mainstream media outlets claiming that green tea helps with constipation.

But I’ve never seen this to be true, and there are currently no research studies available to back up this claim. (Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!)

Can I drink fennel tea for constipation?

As a carminative, fennel helps to break up stagnation in the gut (according to clinical herbalists).  This may explain why fennel is shown to be beneficial for symptoms of gas and bloating, which often accompany constipation.

For this reason, fennel tea is often paired with laxative herbs in a blend, to help alleviate the cramping caused by laxatives.

However, no research has ever directly associated fennel tea with improving bowel regularity – and again, I’ve never seen this in my clinic. 

So drinking fennel tea will most likely NOT help your constipation, despite popular claims and narratives on the internet!

Is peppermint tea laxative?

No – peppermint tea is NOT a laxative!  However, peppermint oil has been shown in clinical studies to relax certain parts of the bowel – so it can be confusing.

And you will likely see peppermint tea added into laxative tea blends (such as Traditional Medicials Smooth Move tea*) since it helps alleviate the cramping induced by the laxative herbs.

Can I drink peppermint tea for constipation?

It won’t do any harm (unless you’re prone to heartburn/ulcers)  – but I still don’t recommend it! 

There is absolutely no research suggesting or supporting claims about peppermint tea improving constipation… regardless of what you may have been told by mainstream media outlets.

Peppermint oil has been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of gas, abdominal pain and bloating that accompany constipation and IBS-C… but the reality is that peppermint tea on its own will likely do very little for your constipation.

Much like fennel, peppermint is more of an aromatic, carminative herb which pairs well with laxatives to help reduce the cramping caused by laxative use.  

(This is why you’ll see peppermint leaf tea included in herbal blends such as Traditional Medicials Smooth Move tea*.)

More resources & related articles

Final thoughts

The best types of tea for constipation are made with nervines, demulcents, prokinetic herbs, and/or laxative herbs. Generally these herbs work best in combination blends versus as single-use herbs.

But to clarify, tea and herbs should NOT be your first line of intervention for constipation!  Drinking tea for constipation (as a stand-alone intervention without employing the right diet and lifestyle interventions) will be less effective, less sustainable, and not holistic. 

Tea and herbs are generally more effective for constipation when complementing (versus replacing) a healthy diet and lifestyle changes.

It’s also important to make sure you’re choosing the best tea for YOUR bio-individual needs, based on your root causes and safety concerns.

From a safety standpoint, most types of constipation tea are NOT safe or recommended during pregnancy or nursing.

No matter what you decide, make sure you’re navigating your consultation under the clinical supervision of a doctor, holistic/integrative/functional dietitian, and possibly a clinical herbalist!

Sharing is caring 🙂

Thanks for reading this article! I hope it helped you gain clarity and confidence on your gut health journey.

Please make sure to Pin/share this article with anyone you know who may benefit from the info.

XO – Jenna

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