Steep Your Way to Stellar Gut Health

Around 2,700 B.C.E., King Shen Nong of China made a mistake.

They say it’s just a legend, but if it’s true…

King Shen Nong changed the world forever with an oopsie.

He made tea.

And it only took the Chinese another 700 years to figure out that tea had healing properties and could be applied to herbal medicine. (A much shorter time than it took the rest of us.)

Now, this doesn’t mean that your standard continental-breakfast-at-a-chain-hotel-tea can cure your ills. Herbal teas are your ticket, and specific varietals for specific ailments.

More than 4,000 years later, human beings have extracted myriad medical uses from the cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, which is actually an evergreen shrub found in East Asia.

Not every claim is corroborated by clinical studies, but in the vast history of tea, here are some of ailments it’s been said to aid:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Headaches
  • High cholesterol
  • Mental fatigue
  • Clogged arteries
  • Inflammation

And more. 

You see, tea contains antioxidants, as well as flavonoids. 

Antioxidants: compounds that inhibit oxidation, which is a chemical reaction that produces free radicals which in turn may damage cells.

Flavonoids: a class of secondary metabolites which provide health benefits through cell signalling pathways. 

So your evening cuppa may be providing major benefits you weren’t even aware of.

Including bolstering the intestinal and digestive systems. Now, every tea is not created equally.

But these teas can have a positive and mobilizing effect on your gut health, and if you find yourself regularly afflicted, you may want to consider introducing them to your diet.

Pu-erh Tea

This tea is fermented and is often recommended as a digestif, or an after meal drink. 

We know fermentation is the golden ticket for spectacular gut health. The properties in the tea help to balance the bacteria in the microbiome, which helps the gut run optimally and digestion run smoothly. 

But Pu-erh is also linked to weight loss, lower cholesterol, clear skin, anti-inflammation, and better sleep.

Ginger Tea

The compounds in ginger, gingerols and shogaols, help to activate saliva, bile, and gastric juice production, allowing the intestinal tract to remain lubricated.

Those same compounds also bolster stomach contractions which keep matter moving along the bowels. 

It’s been proven to reduce nausea, cramping, gas, bloating, indigestion, and more. 

Peppermint Tea

From the Mentha piperita plant, peppermint contains menthol. This compound has been known to reduce inflammation, which in turn helps those afflicted with IBS.

The beauty of the healing properties in peppermint is you can take peppermint capsules or peppermint oil for a similar effect on the stomach.

Drink peppermint tea for a tummy ache, bloating, gas, and other intestinal aches.

Marshmallow Root Tea

The polysaccharides in marshmallow root perform a unique and necessary function – helping to promote the growth of mucus cells lining your intestinal tract.

This is ideal for those with perforated intestines or leaky gut, or those at risk of thinning their intestinal linings.

But marshmallow root doesn’t just coat the lining of your intestinal tract. It also increases mucus cell production in your throat and stomach, in addition to lowering histamine levels (which become higher during inflammatory periods.)

Senna Tea

Contained in senna tea, you’ll find chemicals called sennosides.

These chemicals dissolve in the colon which strengthens bowel contractions and keep the bowels functioning regularly. In other words? Senna tea can be a very effective laxative.

It’s best used when you’re experiencing constipation. Otherwise, your bowels will be more active than they need to be. 

Gentian Root Tea

Gentian root grows all over the world in the form of flowering plants. 

Which is lucky for those with trouble developing an appetite, because that’s exactly what gentian root can do for you. The iridoids, bitter compounds contained in gentian root, stimulate the production of digestive enzymes and acids.

Additionally, gentian root has been shown to divert the flow of blood to the digestive system, bolstering and aiding in its function.

Now, not all of these teas will be found in your local grocery store aisle.

The most important thing to remember is to source your teas carefully.

Go to natural food stores. Buy from reputable sources online. You could even try growing your own tea leaves, if you’ve got a green thumb and you’re so inclined.

Drink responsibly. And stay tuned for more reports on the healing powers of the natural world.

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.