Home Herbal Teas Tea and Ulcerative Colitis: Does It Help?

Tea and Ulcerative Colitis: Does It Help?

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If you have ulcerative colitis, it means that your immune system overreacts, causing the lining of your colon to become inflamed and sores (ulcers) to form. This inflammation leads to symptoms like diarrhea, bloody stools, and stomach cramps.

Biologic medications and other treatments, such as drinking tea, can help manage symptoms.

Drinking a cup of herbal or green tea each day is considered a complementary therapy for ulcerative colitis. Tea can naturally lower inflammation and possibly help with ulcerative colitis symptoms. Plus, it’s inexpensive, easy to make at home, and healthier than other beverages like soda.

A 2017 study looked at the way the polyphenols (which are found in green tea especially) reduce inflammation in bowel diseases. Another study determined that people who drink tea may be at a lower risk for ulcerative colitis. Drinking a lot of soft drinks, on the other hand, may increase the risk of ulcerative colitis.

Though tea isn’t a substitute for medication, it can be a helpful add-on while you’re going through treatment.

Biologics often have unpleasant side effects, such as headaches and nausea. This is likely why up to 60 percent of people with IBD also turn to complementary therapies to find symptom relief.

Certain types of tea may be more beneficial than others and may also help manage some side effects of biologics.

The herbs and plants used to make tea contain natural compounds called polyphenols that help them survive. Those same compounds improve our health, too.

Polyphenols are packed with antioxidants. These substances protect against the harmful effects of free radicals, oxygen-containing molecules that damage our cells and cause disease.

Green, black, and herbal teas have anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea in particular contains a potent polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

Animal and human studies have shown EGCG to be effective at reducing inflammation. It’s why green tea may be useful for preventing or treating a number of different diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

Certain types of herbal teas may help reduce inflammation from ulcerative colitis.

People have used chamomile as a treatment for thousands of years. This medicinal herb is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other healing properties.

Chamomile might help with ulcerative colitis in a few ways. For one thing, it works against GI issues. Chamomile is known to soothe the stomach, relieve gas, and relax intestinal muscles to ease cramps for most people.

The daisy-like plant has also been investigated as a treatment for diarrhea, which is one of the main symptoms in ulcerative colitis. In studies, children who took chamomile and a combination of other herbs got over diarrhea faster than those who didn’t.

A cup of chamomile tea might also soothe your mind. Living with a chronic illness like ulcerative colitis can be very stressful. Chamomile has a calming effect, and it may help to relieve anxiety and depression.

How green tea impacts ulcerative colitis symptoms has been the subject of multiple studies.

The tea made from unfermented leaves has polyphenols that can lower levels of chemicals like tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukins that cause inflammation in the intestines. These are the same chemicals targeted by the biologic drugs taken to treat ulcerative colitis.

In one study of mice, green tea polyphenols brought down inflammation and reduced the severity of ulcerative colitis as effectively as the drug sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), but with fewer side effects. It’s not yet clear whether polyphenols work as well in humans with ulcerative colitis.

Ginger has been a staple of Chinese food and medicine for more than 2,500 years.

This spice comes from the stem, called the rhizome, of the ginger plant. It’s rich in polyphenols like gingerol, shogaol, and zingeron, all of which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In one 2016 study of people with osteoarthritis, ginger lowered levels of the inflammatory chemicals TNF-alpha and interleukin-1.

Most of the studies on ginger for ulcerative colitis have been done in animals. But in one study with humans, people who took ginger supplements for 12 weeks had less severe symptoms and a better quality of life. This doesn’t necessarily mean that ginger tea will be helpful for ulcerative colitis, but it’s a promising sign.

Researchers are looking at how to treat ulcerative colitis with nanoparticles — tiny particles made from ginger. These nanoparticles would be delivered directly to the intestine lining. Research suggests that they would work to reduce inflammation with few side effects.

Indigenous groups have long used the red bark of the slippery elm tree as a remedy for ailments like cough and diarrhea.

Researchers are trying to learn whether this herb might soothe inflammation in the GI tract of people with IBD. So far, the evidence is promising but not conclusive.

Licorice, an herb with a medicinal root, lends a naturally sweet and salty flavor to tea. Licorice root also has anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful for treating ulcerative colitis.

Even though many of these herbs have shown promise for treating ulcerative colitis, several were tested in supplement form or not in humans. More research needs to be done to confirm whether tea helps ulcerative colitis and how much of it you’d need to drink for it to make a difference.

Herbal teas are pretty safe, but they can sometimes cause side effects. It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before trying any new treatment, even a natural one like herbal tea.



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