If you have ulcerative colitis, drinking tea — in addition to taking your prescribed medication — may help manage your symptoms by helping reduce inflammation.

Biologic medications and other treatments can help you achieve and maintain remission from ulcerative colitis (UC).

Drinking a cup of herbal or green tea each day can be a complementary therapy for UC. Tea may naturally decrease inflammation, possibly helping with UC symptoms. Plus, it’s inexpensive, easy to make at home, and healthier than sugar-sweetened beverages.

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

Many people with IBD may turn to complementary therapies for symptom relief.

Certain types of tea may be more beneficial than others and may 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 compounds may also improve our health.

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

A 2022 study noted that polyphenols (which are found in green tea especially) can reduce inflammation in bowel diseases. Another 2022 study suggested people who drink tea may be at a lower risk of developing UC. Drinking a lot of soft drinks, on the other hand, may increase the risk of UC.

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. That’s why green tea may be useful for preventing or treating some diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

Certain types of herbal teas may help reduce inflammation from UC.

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 UC in a few ways, including for gastrointestinal issues. People often use chamomile to soothe the stomach, relieve gas, and relax intestinal muscles to ease cramps.

Researchers have investigated the daisy-like plant as a treatment for diarrhea, one of the main symptoms of UC. People have used it for thousands of years to treat stomach issues, cramps, and minor infections.

A cup of chamomile tea may also soothe your mind. Living with a chronic condition such as UC can be very stressful. Chamomile has a calming effect and may help relieve anxiety and depression.

Chamomile tea appears safe when consumed as a beverage.

Multiple studies have researched green tea’s impact on UC symptoms.

Green tea contains unfermented leaves. They are high in polyphenols that can lower levels of chemicals such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukins, which cause inflammation in the intestines. These are the same chemicals targeted by the biologic drugs that treat UC.

One 2021 study in mice found that EGCG decreased inflammation and reduced the severity of UC. But it’s not yet clear whether polyphenols work as well in humans with UC.

Drinking green tea is likely safe when consumed as a beverage. However, it does contain caffeine.

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

This spice comes from the stem, or rhizome, of the ginger plant. It’s rich in polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These include:

  • gingerol
  • shogaol
  • zingerone

Studies suggest that compounds found in ginger, such as 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol, can lower inflammation.

Researchers have conducted most of the studies on ginger on animals. But in one small study involving humans, people who took ginger supplements for 12 weeks had less severe symptoms of UC and a better quality of life. This doesn’t necessarily mean that ginger tea will be helpful for UC, but it’s a promising sign.

Researchers are looking at how to treat UC with nanoparticles (tiny particles) made from ginger. Research suggests they may work to reduce inflammation with few side effects.

Ginger tea is likely safe when consumed as a beverage. Researchers also use oral ginger supplements safely to study the effects of ginger.

Indigenous groups have long used the red bark of the slippery elm tree as a remedy for ailments such as sore throat and upset stomach.

Researchers are trying to learn whether this herb might soothe inflammation in the gastrointestinal tracts of people with IBD. In a 2019 case report, researchers described how one person was able to eliminate her UC symptoms by following a nutrition plan that involved several supplements, including slippery elm.

However, more research is needed.

Slippery elm is generally recognized as safe.

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 UC.

Licorice root can potentially affect potassium and blood pressure levels. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice may not have the same side effects.

What drinks should you avoid with ulcerative colitis?

If you have UC, you may want to avoid carbonated soft drinks and juice, as sweetened beverages may negatively affect the gut microbiome.

If you have lactose intolerance, consuming dairy products may cause digestive side effects like diarrhea.

Is black tea OK for IBD?

Caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea may have a protective effect on developing UC, based on one study. However, green tea contains more beneficial compounds like polyphenols compared to black tea.

What tea is good for the colon?

Teas that may support digestive health include green tea, ginger tea, and chamomile tea, among others.

Is green tea good for inflamed intestines?

Green tea may help reduce inflammation in bowel diseases.

Even though many of these herbs show promise for treating UC, several were tested in supplement form or not in humans. More research is necessary to confirm whether tea helps with UC and how much of it you would need to drink for it to make a difference.

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