Does your stomach blow up after a meal? Or perhaps you find some foods upset your digestion and make you feel nausea?
If your digestion needs help, try these herbal teas, they’re all commonly available in Singapore. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician Neo Min Jun works at Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic in Singapore, dividing her time among the branches in Chinatown, Tiong Bahru and Simei. Here, she offers some remedies for digestive issues for your tummy. These herbal teas can be easily prepared at home, even if you’re no expert in herbal teas or TCM.
In Singapore, it’s good to know that TCM doctors and Western doctors collaborate well – in fact, there are TCM clinics in many major hospitals and clinics. So if your gastric or digestive problems persist, don’t be shy to consult a TCM expert, or a Western doctor. Here’s some of the most effective herbal teas in Singapore.
1. Hawthorn oolong tea – helps you digest oily foods
If you have eaten too much oily food, consider sipping on some Hawthorn Oolong Tea. How does it help? Well, TCM physicians use hawthorn to improve the digestion of meat and oily food. Its sour and sweet taste makes it work well in the stomach, spleen and liver meridians – the channels in your body that qi travels through.
But don’t take this tea if you are pregnant, or breastfeeding.
How to make: Brew 15g of oolong tea in 200ml of water. Boil 3 to 5g of hawthorn in water for 15 minutes. Mix both teas together. Drink this tea while it is still warm.
2. Malt tea – used to reduce bloated stomach
Different foods can cause bloating. Perhaps you are gluten-intolerant, or your body does not react well to lactose in milk,or spices. In TCM, bloating can also be caused by over-eating which leads to undigested food and stagnant qi in the stomach.
To relieve this wind and a bloated stomach, try drinking Malt Tea. Malt helps to break down carbohydrates and regulate the stagnant qi in the stomach, which in urn reduces bloat. The natural saltiness of malt works well in the stomach and spleen meridians.
How to make: Brew a pot of malt tea with one or two malt tea teabags. Do not add additional sugar or sweetener. Consume warm.
3. Ginger and orange peel tea – to reduce nausea
This is one of the most popular herbal teas in Singpore. Ginger is a traditional remedy for nausea, and in TCM it is used to reduce reflux and vomiting. Ginger and orange peel can help the qi in the stomach flow in the right direction – downwards. The orange peel also boosts the qi of the spleen, which helps digestion.
How to make: Put two or three slices of fresh ginger with 10g of orange peel in 200ml of hot water. Consume warm.
4. Kudzu flower herbal tea – to reduces hangovers
If you like a glass of wine, this tea can help with hangovers. The pueraria flower has a sweet taste and in TCM, it’s used to stimulate the spleen and stomach meridians. It helps to increase the vigour of the stomach, relieve hangover symptoms and quench the thirst caused by excessive alcohol intake. Hangovers are partly the result of dehydration, so anything that tastes nice and makes it easier for you to drink more water, is a good thing.
How to make: Place 15g of dried kudzu flower in 200ml of hot water. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Consume warm.
5. Chamomile herbal tea – for better digestion
Chamomile herbal tea in Singpore is used to help treat digestive problems, mostly because of the Chamomile flower’s anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. This tea is also famous for being a calming drink, because it contains phytochemcials or plant chemicals that reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
How to make: Place 15g of loose leaf chamomile tea in 200ml water. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. The herbal tea in Singapore is naturally quite sweet, but you can add a drizzle of honey, if you prefer.
6. Fennel seed tea – used to reduce flatulence
Feeling nauseous? Essential oils in crushed fennel seeds contains plant estrogen. This inhibits muscles spasms, allowing your stomach to digest food more easily. As well as being used in TCM herbal teas, fennel seed is also used in Ayurvedic treatments to relieve nausea and improve digestion. This tea tastes pleasantly of licorice, and it’s also anti-flatulence, and reduces excess wind, tummy bloating and stomach cramps.
How to make: Place 15g of fennel seeds in 200ml water. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain throuh a sieve to remove the seeds, and drink warm
7. Peppermint tea – drink to reduce a bloated stomach
Peppermint is one of the best solutions for gas-related problems, like burping and bloat. Peppermint herbal tea is used in Singpore to expel gas in the stomach and calm the digestive system. Peppermint tea is calming, and aids in better sleep – all of this adds up to better digestion, and less excess gas.
How to make: If you can find fresh peppermint, steep 10 to 15 leaves in 200ml of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. This tea is also readily available in most supermarkets and speciality tea stores.
8. Senna tea – to fix constipation
When you are feeling constipated, try a cup of Senna tea. Constipation is not glamorous, so this is one of those herbals teas in Singapore that is rarely discussed in public, but it works. The stimulant effect of senna tea will help clear out your digestive system and loosen up congestion. That’s because senna contains compounds called anthraquinones, which are powerful laxatives. A word of caution when drinking this tea, the longer you steep it, the stronger the drink becomes, and excess amounts of senna in the body can be unhealthy and even cause sharp stomach cramps.
How to make: Two grams of dried senna leaves are all that’s needed to feel its effect. Allow your tea to steep for 10 minutes, and then strain before drinking.
9. Burdock root tea – to improve digestion
Burdock root contains powerful antioxidants, such as phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin, which aids digestion and acts as a diuretic. While burdock is a digestive treatment, it does so by increasing intestinal secretions and digestive acid, so it isn’t recommended if you suffer from excess stomach acid, or have ulcers or an irritable bowel.
You should also avoid burdock root tea when you have heartburn or diarrhoea – which burdock can even cause, in rare cases. Finally, do not take burdock when pregnant.
In Singapore, you can buy fresh burdock roots in Japanese or Korean markets.
How to make: Place 15g of loose burdock root in 200ml of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes before drinking. Best to consume about 15 to 30 minutes before a meal.
First published by The Singapore Women’s Weekly / Last updated by Jasia Shamdasani