You are enjoying a nice cup of green tea … and you are wondering: Is green tea a laxative? Should I start looking for a toilet now?
First, let’s see what laxatives are. Laxatives (also called purgatives) are foods, drugs or chemical compounds that help stimulate a bowel movement or loosen the stool. They are mainly used to treat constipation, before bowel examination or surgery and to help improve hemorrhoids symptoms.
When it comes to plants, you should know that these are used more successfully as a preventive measure rather than a treatment for constipation.
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Does Green Tea Have A Laxative Effect?
The short answer is no. Contrary to popular belief, green tea is not a natural laxative and is not recommended by doctors to treat constipation. Drunk in the recommended quantity, 2 -4 cups a day, green tea does not have a laxative effect and does not stimulate or help with bowel movements.
Moreover, drunk in moderate quantities, it has no adverse effects on healthy adults (the exception is pregnant women, who should limit consumption to a maximum of 2 cups per day).
Why the confusion? Because, like coffee, regular green tea does contain caffeine. One study showed that:
caffeinated coffee stimulates bowel movement. Its magnitude is similar to a meal, 60% stronger than water.
Many people know that and use coffee in their daily routine, usually in the morning, as a mild natural laxative.
If coffee contains 90-200mg of caffeine per 8oz (240ml), green tea contains only 25-40 mg.
It is a known fact that excess caffeine worsens diarrhea or symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and can cause you an upset stomach. If you suffer from these conditions, you should not drink more than a couple of cups a day especially on an empty stomach.
Warning: if you are a new drinker or you want to switch to green tea, limit your intake for the first week or so to 1-2 cups a day to let the body adjust and see how you tolerate it.
What about heavy tea drinkers?
However, if you are a heavy drinker (more than 5 cups per day) and you have these gastrointestinal conditions it is recommended that you lower the caffeine content in green tea.
How? Switch to decaf or boil the leaves more. The more you boil the leaves, the less caffeine you’ll get in a cup. For example, after 5 minutes of boiling, the caffeine content drops to 30%. The same thing happens if you put the leaves for the second time to boil in a fresh pot of water: another 30% drop.
Used as a part of a weight loss plan green tea can cause a laxative effect when consumed in large amounts. Go see your doctor if diarrhea persists more than a few days. Diarrhea can cause severe dehydration and can be a serious condition.
Take Home Message
In conclusion, if you don’t have a medical condition (IBS or diarrhea) and your daily intake is between 2 and 4 cups you don’t have to worry about green tea laxative effect. Even if you are a tea addict, you should be safe if you boil the leaves in the water more than one time or try a decaffeinated tea.