Coffee and Diarrhea

Could coffee be part of your morning diarrhea problems?

Angry woman with coffee and diarrhea medicine giving a thumbs down.

Is Coffee giving you diarrhea? How about belly pain?
© Can Stock Photo

In the United States, coffee is the wake up beverage for most people. However, coffee can stimulate sensitive bowels and cause diarrhea. Many other countries wake up to tea first thing. Since caffeine is the main reason coffee causes diarrhea, there is probably a strong link to tea and diarrhea as well, but coffee is the real heavy hitter in the caffeine and bowel irritant game. It can allso be a big contributor to irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.

 

Chronic morning diarrhea, and coffee. Is there a link?

A lot of people have chronic morning diarrhea. I wonder if that’s because the first thing that hits their digestive tract is a hot cup of bowel stimulant.

I know for years I drank coffee with cream (Are you lactose intolerant?) and sugar first thing every day. I could feel the caffeine getting my bowels rumbling after just a few minutes. It wasn’t a problem at first but then coffee and diarrhea started becoming a morning routine. I didn’t make the connection right away though.

Why might coffee cause diarrhea?

Sick man with diarrhea medicine and coffee in bed.

Are you fighting coffee with diarrhea medicine?
© Can Stock Photo

Most people who drink coffee know that it has a laxative effect. In other words coffee makes you poop.

The high levels of caffeine stimulate the bowels, and the acidic nature of coffee may irritate the bowels.

Another theory (not mine) is that some people are very sensitive to bile. Bile is part of the human digestive tract’s operation. Bile helps break down fats.

However, coffee causes the body to secrete bile which then moves into the intestines causing irritation.

Irritated intestines work overtime to get rid of bile, coffee and everything else along with it.

As extra liquid rushes to the intestines and coffee stimulates peristalsis, you may get all kinds of cramping…

Coffee in, diarrhea out.

Will drinking decaffeinated coffee help diarrhea problems?

I can usually feel coffee work it’s way into my system. Coffee diarrhea has a feeling to it deep in my intestines. It’s a squirming cramping feeling. I usually don’t get this feeling with decaf coffee so my vote is yes, decaf will probably help.

However, coffee itself can be an irritant for some people. Your experience could be different from mine.

Also, watch what you put in your coffee. Diarrhea can be caused by other things such as lactose intolerance (from the cream) or an annatto allergy from creamer. Sugar can also cause cramping in some people.

Coffee and Constipation???

Coffee and diarrhea sure, but for some people coffee can cause constipation. Coffee can cause cramping and bowel spasms that lock the stool in place until it dries out.

This can be especially true for those people that drink coffee as their primary beverage. In other words not much water or anything else.

This try hard stool can be an IBS nightmare.

Okay, so what about tea and diarrhea?

Woman with sick belly drinking tea.

For some people tea won’t cause as many diarrhea problems. For others it’s still too much.
© Can Stock Photo

Tea has caffeine too. But usually about half as much as coffee. Green tea has even less in most cases.

I find I don’t have problems with tea causing diarrhea. However, if you drink a lot of tea you may find the caffeine stimulates your bowels too much.

An interesting thing about coffee vs. tea though, coffee has a lot of caffeine and makes many people nervous and edgy. That can certainly lead to diarrhea all by itself.

Tea on the other hand has less caffeine, but tea also has a special amino acid in it called L-Theonine.

L-Theonine has a reputation for being calming, relaxing, and increasing a person’s sense of well being. That may actually help prevent diarrhea (just my opinion there).

What to do if coffee and diarrhea are your morning companions.

Well, a hypocrite would say just stop the caffeine all together. But I’m not going to do that. I find it very hard to get going in the morning without caffeine.

So, for the most part I’ve switched to tea, which amazingly I DO find relaxing yet stimulating. And I do still drink coffee but not as much. I also drink it black because I’m lactose intolerant, and don’t like creamer.

Does coffee and diarrhea cause me trouble sometimes? Yes, but usually not.

If you want to quit caffeine alltogether…

Sign pointing to coffee and the toilet.

This sign has special meaning for some people.
© Can Stock Photo

My heart goes out to you. I tried this and it was hard for me. Caffeine is addictive, and you’ll find yourself going through withdrawal for a few days. That means headaches, being irritable, and maybe some bowel troubles. If you have a problem with coffee and diarrhea it may be worth it though.

For my part I’d try switching to half decaf, then a quarter before quitting.

I know, I’m wimpy about suffering. But I don’t like suffering :).

For other IBS trigger foods try Foods to Avoid with IBS or the Food Intolerance section.

Comments

  1. Katherine says

    Shawn! You’ve just given me a new lease! Now I know what’s been causing my irritation as I was starting to suspect coffee. It has been nearly years and finally, I know I’m not the only one and I know how to prevent it! Thank You!!! :)))

    • says

      Thank YOU for the kind words, Katherine. I hope it ends up helping you. If not, poke around there’s other stuff here that may help you solve your problems.

      • Chris says

        Violent attacks at night with throwing up and Diarrhea? I’m not even 40 yet and this is what I’m dealing with now an upset stomach with the urge to throw up then unfortunately it happens throwing up.

  2. Mark says

    Hi Shawn
    Thanks for your observations on this. I think i have found that coffee is the cuprit in my long term issue.

    It seems to cause massive discomfort in my anus and i can be going to the toilet up to 3 times in 1 hour in the morning. The visits are uncomfortable and the level of pain caused by passing a stool makes hygiene a problem too.

    I stopped coffee for 3 weeks and stuck to tea, although being a Scot it’s impossible to break free from tea or coffee completely ;-), my situation improved massively. Yesterday i experimented with a coffee and within an hour or so symptoms returned and right now i am sitting in some discomfort waiting for things to pass. Very uncomfortable 2 trips to the loo so far.

    What a pest! I love coffee but it hates me.

    oh well.

    • says

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for commenting. I hope it gets better soon.
      It seems to be be that with IBS, we have to give up the foods and drinks we love most.
      All the best to you!

      Shawn

      • Emma says

        Hi, my doctor thinks I have IBS as I get stomach cramps often and I get a rumbling in my stomach when im not hungry. I used to drink coffee in Starbucks and I got the urge to go to the toilet verrry quickly before I had even gotten halfway through my cup, I changed to tea but that gave the same effect so then I changed my milk to soya but that didn’t help either… Does this sound normal to you?

        • says

          Here is my 2 cents on that. IBS is what they call it when they can’t figure out your digestive tract problems (usually bowel problems). Does this sound NORMAL to me? No. Soy can cause IBS symptoms in some people (me for instance). So can cow’s milk or cream. So can something called annatto, which is common in non-dairy creamer.

          I don’t know what you put in your coffee or tea. It’s possible that the caffeine is the culprit, but if it were me, I’d try drinking coffee black, with nothing in my stomach, and see what happens. Then I’d try tea the same way. If they both cause you to run for the toilet, I would guess caffeine is not for you. I hope it helps!

    • Kate says

      Amazing, years and years of major digestive issues, and no one, until now mentioned caffeine, although I’ve had my vague suspicions, but when you’re “reacting” to so much, it’s hard to nail down the primary offenders, plus, due in part to my health issues, I crave that caffeine hit–albeit not enough to keep doing it if this is the price.

      I’d say to anyone whose Irish/English ancestry (like me), the formula may be to get off caffeine, certainly gluten and dairy (since there is evidence we simply are genetically adapted to handle it), and I’ve recently learned that gluten destroys the ABILITY to digest dairy and soy properly and can even set into play zinc/copper imbalances at the cellular level that can cause a whole new level of illness. Shawn, thank you for words of wisdom and COMMON SENSE, something none of my over-priced gastroenterologists provided, and thanks to the post that mentioned that “creepy, crawly” feeling from caffeine. One that’s haunted me, especially in the a.m. for years.

      • Carolyn says

        Every time I drink coffee,in a matter of minutes I experience diahearra, it’s nasty. I’ve tried drinking it black and I just want to throw up because the taste is so bitter. I usually take cream and 1/2 tsp sugar also I get dizzy spells from it. Do you have any advice? Thank you much appreciated,Carolyn

        • says

          If this were me, I would STOP immediately. Coffee doesn’t seem worth what you’re describing. I can’t tell you what YOU should do, but that’s what I would do. The dizzy thing worries me. Some people don’t respond well to caffeine, but since you’ve had it before that wouldn’t seem to be the issue. Some people have trouble with cream, others have trouble with artificial creamer do to annatto and other additives.

  3. Angela says

    Are there any other options for a morning stimulant? Coffee gives me diarrhea but I need a stimulant. I like tea but wonder if it will give me enough caffeine.

    • says

      From what I know of it, coffee has roughly twice the caffeine of black tea. Caffeine of any kind can spark IBS troubles though. However I find I do better drinking twice as much tea as I used to drink coffee. I hope it helps! Shawn

  4. CM says

    I’ve started drinking Kava acid-neutralized instant coffee, which irritates my insides significantly less than brewed regular or decaf coffee. Maybe this might help someone else!

  5. Boy in Osaka says

    Shawn Thank you for the excellent info! I’ve just started drinking coffee a lot these past few months and have been experiencing frequent bouts of diarrhea almost daily. This post really helped! Thanks

  6. L.A. says

    Nice clear post. I quit coffee for awhile but recently started again. I find a glass of water a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee equals three or four trips to the washroom in the morning. Love morning coffee but seeing this makes me wonder if it’s time to pack it in again.

    • says

      Thanks for thinking it’s clear. That’s how I try to write. I can get away with tea easier than coffee. If you quit, let us folks know how you make out! Shawn

  7. danny says

    heyhey Shawn.i just found this link.i love coffee..but as others i have seen say”it hates me”i have suspected coffee as being why i poo way to much.i have also had pain in my butt…not fun :’( i have quit drinking it before for awhile..looks like iam gonna jump off coffee again.thanks for the info :-D

    • says

      Danny that’s lousy. I drink tea for caffeine, but some people can’t take that either. Good luck with jumping of the coffee habit!

  8. thessa says

    Thank very much …… I didn’t want to believe it was coffee but. Its pretty plain to see now. I used to drink coffee a lot before, I stopped for a whole then every time I had an occasional cup…..diarrhea….. no more coffee for me …oh well

  9. Frank says

    I have been lactose intolerant for years. Decades. I had a direct reaction from eating a milk product to the toilet…in 20 minutes. Dizziness, bloating, gas, diarrhea, aches and pains every day of my life. Even a few fainting sessisons. Alright, now sit down for this one… Cause if you are like me your life is about to change. I quit coffee one day for no particular reason. After the few mandatory days of headaches, I accidentally ate an ice cream without my lactaid pills around. Lo and behold, no diarrhea. I wrote it off as a good day. Next day yogurt. Nothing. No reaction. It has now been a month and my poopsters are hard as nails and I am loading up on lactose both to keep proving it to myself but also to make up for all the lost years of indulgence. No doctor or nutritional specialist caught this. I am an absolutely new man. If Good luck….

  10. Rosalinda says

    About 4 years ago I started to try and lose weight, at this time I discovered that everytime I had a cup of coffee in the morning I would get diarrhea but also felt great and empty afterwards. Well now its getting to the point where I feel like popping all day but nothing comes out. The only time I poop is in the morning when I drink my coffee, but I’m scared that if I stop I will not be able to poop at all. Also keep in mind that I eat lots of foods full of fiber and still just feel like everything is just stuck inside, not a day goes by that I’m not bloated or have gas, please help

    • says

      Well, like I say lots of times. I’m not a doctor, and you should check with yours. You could have some issue that’s easily fixed! But I can say that exercise can help (it’s been helping me), and so can things like prunes (though for some reason they make ME sick as hell, other people swear by them). Other factors are dairy in general which some people find to be “binding”, or maybe other foods you’re sensitive to. There is some information around here about food elimination diets that may help. Don’t give up!!!

  11. B says

    I gave up coffee months ago and have been drinking Pero (an “immitation” yet healthier alternative) which has been working wonders. Needless to say, this morning I had a Starbucks vanilla frappucino (bottle) and almost immediately got stomach cramps followed by diarrhea, which has not stopped yet. I guess this is what happens when a body is weaned off of a chemical and then it is suddenly reintroduced. No more coffee for me, iced or not.

  12. J says

    It took me over a year to figure this out! I’ve been to docs. and to a natruopath and was told it was gluten. I stopped the gluten but still didn’t feel good. This week I’ve started drinking tea as we were out of coffee filters and I kept on forgetting to pick some up. I’ve felt great. This morning had a cup of joe and guess what else I had? Geez. I’m also buzzing from the caffeine. Back to tea tomorrow.

  13. hypno says

    Doing a quick search brought me to this site. For the past 2 months, I’ve been getting diarrhea more often after drinking my coffee w/cream. At first, I suspected it was the cream, so I stopped that. After a week, there was no improvement to just drinking black coffee.

    After that, I completely cut out the coffee (since I thought it was the culprit) and went to caffeine supplements (namely pills like vivarin/no doze). Guess what? After another month, I still have diarrhea!

    I think it’s the caffeine that’s irritating my bowels in some way. Being that this just started happening, it’s concerning me a bit. I might switch to tea just to see what happens.

    • says

      Hey there Hypno, Caffeine CAN irritate bowels, from what I’ve read. Tea has caffeine too. Usually about half the amount as coffee. That being said, I have a lot better results from drinking tea. Tea does have l-theanine in it, which many people say soothes the nerves. I know that tea is more relaxing for ME. I’ve tried kicking the caffeine habit any number of times. The older I get, the more I need it to claw my way out of bed in the morning though.

  14. Dutchanadian says

    My double doubles are so addictive, but send me to the crapper without fail in 15 min.. sitting there right now of course, as I bet some of you are too reading this.

    I’ve read and agree with a few different aspects of coffee that cause this: caffeine, lactose intolerance, acidity, etc. However the primary factor for me is actually the temperature of the coffee – any time I order iced coffee or iced cappuccinos with espresso shots, hardly any problem… did a 9 hour drive with iced Capps only and never worried where the next rest stop was. Hope this helps! Too bad they cost so much more than coffees at Tim Hortons.

  15. Colin says

    I have the same problems with caffeine, and I know it is addictive. But if you feel you really need this lift in the morning, there is a problem because none of us should really need an artificial stimulant. Cutting down never fully solves the problem, because you are still feeding the addiction. In the past I have successfully dealt with smoking and alcohol, not by cutting down, but by quitting altogether. It may be difficult at first, but you cannot afford to be wimpish about this. Stick to your resolve as a matter of pride. After all, people managed without caffeine in the past, so we can do it again.

    • says

      {whimper} I know you’re right Colin. I know it. I’m a caffeine coward though :) Maybe in the spring, rather than the dark of the coming winter.

  16. Anthony says

    I know I have a sensitive tummy. I had a bottle of refrigerated mocha cappuccino at a local Kroger store and a few hours later had extreme D! a month later I thought I’d try it again and the exact same thing happened. Worse, it takes several days to adjust to getting back to half way normal. But it seems that since I have been a heavy coffee drinker for years and past age 50, I have symptoms of IBS and my sister was diagnosed with it too. I will have to either give up caffeine or take a chance now and then and suffer the consequences. But, in any case they say the big D! will not kill you. Just make you feel like you are going to.

    • says

      It seems that coffee all by itself can give it to lots of people. Then the caffeine is gasoline on the fire. I here you about the big D! No fun. Any chance it’s the dairy in the coffee? Some people get diarrhea from dairy products. I do drink coffee (to survive ;)), but seem to be mostly alright if I drink it black. That took some getting used to though.

  17. Ricky Howard says

    Hi, I’ve been suffering from “ibs like symptoms” for years now and while i haven’t found a specific cause at the moment I think i have became intolerant to coffee. I used to drink a lot of coffee and for the most part was fine but today just one half a cup of coffee seemed to set off a bad IBS attack all on its own. I do however drink about 5-10 Cups of tea a day and get along just fine so it can’t be the caffeine. However i did also note that giving up caffeine alltogether caused more problems than it fixed. I have a weird stomach. At times it seems over sensitive yet others it seems as strong as steel. Have started keeping a food and bowel movement diary since my colonoscopy so i hope it turns up something. :) I feel for anyone with bowel problems so i wish you all luck

    • says

      I have a weird stomach too. It’s never strong as sttell though. It goes from being OKAY to being an acid reflux, sore pouch that I have to putt heat on. As far as coffee vs. tea, tea much better for me as well. But I’m sitting here drinking black coffee which I find usually works find without the cream and sugar. USUALLY. Thanks for the well wishes. ~ Shawn

  18. Whisperingsage says

    I was never a coffee drinker, but when i had gallstones for two years, Ironically, I found out if I drank a strong cup of coffee when having a stone “stuck” (quite painful), 70% of the time it would pop it out within an hour or so. I finally used other herbs and nutrients to get the rest of them out, but still have trouble getting the gall bladder to expel bile normally (for meals) so coffee is a help for that to happen.

    • says

      Wow! Self medicating with coffee :). Bile can be a gut irritant, and that’s why some people say fat causes such a problem for some IBS sufferers. I’m glad you found something that helps! – Shawn

  19. Jon says

    Hey Shawn, thanks for the interesting info. I have been drinking tea and especially coffee for most of my life with no problems at all. Then about 2 years ago I decided to go on a diet and since I was hungry a lot, I began drinking lots of coffee which seemed to supress my appetite. All of a sudden I started with severe bowel cramping in the mornings and a real urgency to go! Doing some research I found that jogging can cause the same problems(I had also just started jogging) so I stopped jogging. The problem did seem to ease up but never completely cleared. About a month ago, the problem flared up again so I began trawling the internet to try and find out what was happening to me (I have read some scary stuff I can tell you) At first I thought I was Lactose intolerant but cutting out dairy made no difference. Then I tried cutting out wheat….no effect. After I began reading your website today I noticed something. I haven’t been drinking coffee as much this week, only one cup per day in fact and guess what? My symptoms have eased significantly.
    I think you are onto something here…. :-) I’m giving this a try, i’ll let you know!!! Thanks !!

  20. sheL says

    Glad I found a common bond here! ;) I have finally come to the conclusion that coffee, although I have drank it for the last 20+ years, has suddenly became poison to my guts over the past couple of years. I was blaming it on what I ate, but after changing my diet and only drinking coffee in the morning, I realized it was the coffee! This makes me sad, I love coffee.

    At first I thought it was the artificial sweetener (sweetnlow) in the coffee, so I quit using that. but after 3 bouts without the sweetener, I’m now realizing it’s just the coffee. Still sad, but relieved to find out what was causing it. Going to breakfast with friends or family came to a complete halt when I was thinking that the food was doing it. Still leery though.

    I drink diet coke almost daily though and it doesn’t set it off, yet. :)

    Thanks for the information! It’s not fun to talk about, but it’s a huge hindrance and life altering(!)… and comforting to see it’s more common than I think.

    This morning I mixed a cappuccino with my coffee and it quickly reminded me why this was a bad idea.

    It must be associated with aging and genetics. I use to stop at starbucks at the airport before getting on a plane, now the mere thought of that throws me into a panic attack!

    Some advice I have found that has helped me and made my life a LOT better is yogurt with probiotics.

    1/2 cup kefir in the morning http://lifeway.net/Products/Kefir/LowFatKefir/LowFatStrawberry.aspx
    1/2 mountain high in the evening http://www.mountainhighyoghurt.com/

    Do this faithfully for at least a month and see if it helps you. The containers usually last for about a week when you do this, So buy 2 at a time and you are good for a couple of weeks.

    Anyway, hope that helps. Here is to being social again!

    • says

      I really appreciate all the details you’ve shared here, Shell. I admit quitting coffee has been hard. I think I’ve gotten it beat, then… How about a decaf after dinner. Next thing I know, I’m guzzling the high octane coffee for breakfast. Thanks for the probiotics tip too. I really CAN’T do anything dairy though. Sometimes it makes me wonder what the heck there is to eat. Of course the answer is meat and vegetables for me, though I’m a veggiphobe. ;). All the best. I’m glad you’re social again! – Shawn

  21. Jean says

    What interesting reading. I have diverticular disease, but pretty sure I have had IBS for years. Am on a low fibre diet for the next 6 weeks, and have been fine, except last night I had some spinach and this morning I had coffee. Wow, fast trip to the bathroom. I am off all lactose so it’s not that. It;s got to be the coffee.

    • says

      Hi Jean, Glad you found it interesting. Yeah, I have a love hate relationship with coffee. If I’ve been behaving on everything else, I can drink it. If things are already upset though… Well, just unpleasant.

  22. Lisa says

    Thank you so much for this article. And thanks to all that have commented. It just confirms what I’ve been starting to suspect! I feel quite stupid to be honest that it took me a few weeks to make the connection now – but thing is, I used to be able to have coffee in massive amounts any time of the day with no issues! I then cut out caffeine completely for almost half a year and have been having just one morning cup…only to find myself in the loo 3 or 4 times shortly afterwards! It’s a shame but coffee will have to go.On the other hand,my favourite tea (ginger!) is caffeine free and has a soothing effect on the stomach so that’s a win there… I find that for me it’s not so much the need for a stimulant but rather a habit of wanting a cup of something warm in the morning.

    • says

      Something warm in the AM can be very nice. If I’m not up to coffee, sometimes I’ll do black or green tea. I just can’t seem to get moving without it. Still depends on how the insides are doing.

  23. says

    Very interesting reading. I have been more and more convinced that I was producing too much bile, or that my bile was the wrong quality.
    I then thought I would check out whether coffee can influence bile production. It seems it can have a significant effect in raising the bile being deposited into the stomach/intestines.
    My bowel movements are generally very loose, (with the odd exception) this leaves me with a sore bowel and sometimes a sore anus. I also have, what I think, is bile reflux which burns my asophagus (bile reflux is not acid reflux apparently)
    I have just had a G and C and I seem to be clear of cancer but I have an irritated bowel and an irritated and ulcerated asophagus.

    Thanks for your comment one and all. Tomorrow I will switch from coffee to Rooibos tea (but not tonight)
    I also found when browsing the net, that it was quite common some years ago – and maybe still is in some parts of the world for peaple to have coffee enemas!! well, if you can use coffee for that purpose then surely drinking the stuff must also have the same effect?
    Regards to all – John

    • says

      Hi John, I didn’t know there was a difference between acid reflux and bile reflux. I’ll have to look into that. I do know research shows that many people with IBS have “reflux”. I wonder if there is a high incidence of bile reflux in that mix.

      I read a book that endorsed coffee enemas, and how it was supposed to help with bile somehow. I’m not doin’ it though. If I’m going to have a coffee, it’s going in the mouth end ;). But I get your point about having the same effect.

      Thanks YOU for sharing your ideas.

  24. Patricia says

    Thanks so much for putting things so simply and packing quite a bit of info into one page. My IBS just flared up again recently after a very long period of having no problems. It had been so long, in fact, it took me a while to realize what was going on. I love coffee dearly, but switching to regular tea has made a real difference, though things still aren’t perfect. Learning about Ltheanine was quite interesting as well. Thanks!

    • says

      Thanks Patricia, Comments like yours make me feel like the time I spend here is worth something to someone. I’m glad you found it interesting, and easy to read. I too was surprised about the l-theanine thing. I do find tea relaxing, yet stimulating at the same time. I’m glad you stopped by.

      Shawn

  25. Ana says

    thank you shawn ,, that was very helpful .
    im a med student .. my phama. prof said that the best way to treat is to give what the patient has lost ,, if the patient hs lost blood, so we give him blood ,, so im assuming if i lost water , which is in feces, which causes diarrhea ,, so i should drink more water .
    what do you think ? is it going to stop diarrhea?

    • says

      That’s an interesting statement by your proffessor. I don’t know if it carries over to all things though. Not to be gross (but being gross anyway :) ), a lot of people pass a lot of mucouse when they have IBS flare ups. I don’t think they have a mucous shortage though. I know that’s not an apples to apples discussion.

      BUT!!! I’ve read in a few places I’ve read that drinking more fluids CAN help IBS symptoms in some cases. I don’t see how it can hurt to take in more water (in moderation).

      Let us know how you make out!

      Thanks for sharing. Shawn

  26. Susan says

    In the past I drank coffee occasionally now & then in the morning with just sugar added only. Than my husband found dry dark chocolate creamer to add to my coffee besides just sugar only that I liked a lot so I drink 1 cup of Joe every morning. Both times I have had no troubles with diarrhea. When I found out at times when the dry dark chocolate creamer was not stocked in stores at times than my husband found dry creamy chocolate to try that was good but not as good as dry dark chocolate that I liked even more. So now since I drank more dry creamy chocolate in my 1 cup of Joe every morning more than the dry dark chocolate creamer because of not always being stocked in stores when I wanted it than I stated morning diarrhea. I didn’t realize coffee was linked to diarrhea until my husband told me that could be the problem so I stopped only one day when I was out of creamer which my husband was right coffee does link to diarrhea but I did not stop there drinking the coffee because diarrhea only happened after I drank more dry creamy chocolate with my 1 cup of Joe which diarrhea didn’t happen when I had the dry dark chocolate creamer with my 1 cup of Joe. So now I decided to only drink 1 cup of Joe only when the dry dark chocolate creamer is stocked in stores & since I want a hot beverage in the morning when there is not creamer available I will try hot tea. I hope this message will help too.

    • says

      Hi Susan,

      Creamers like the one you are talking about can sometimes have additives that may be causing your problem. It sounds like you drank coffee without a problem, then drank coffee with a certain brand of creamer without any problem. From what I see here, your problems really started when you tried a different brand of creamer. It could be an additive in that brand. Just a thought. It’s good that you’ve got options to avoid diarrhea problems!

  27. Aria says

    I know this is a little late, but you and all the comments have helped ease my mind.

    Coffee, for me, is so oddly hit-or-miss. Sometimes I can drink it like a champ, but then sometimes it just goes right through me. I change brand, creamer, and even change to cold coffee. It’s just so random when it attacks. I noticed today that I was rather stressed this morning and had a, well, not fun morning.

    My mother wants me to see a specialist but the thought of that really kind of scares me. I have bad anxiety and my phobia of digestive problems connects to it. I guess it would be really good idea but I’m still kind of hesitant about it.

    I wanted to thank you for this article and thoughts in the comments from everybody else, it really helped. Oddly enough knowing that it’s IBS and not something else eases my mind with my phobia.

    If it helps anyone, I know that drinking water afterwards really makes me feel better. I know that was mentioned before but I have to say it works great for me too.

    • says

      Thanks Aria. It’s never too late. There are weird additives in creamers. One such is annatto, which Marlene Stein determined caused HER IBS problems. If you do a site search here you can find info about her and annatto. There are probably all kinds of other things in creamer. I know it’s harsh, but I’ve been drinking my coffee black for a few years now. No sugar either for me. After I got used to it, I prefer it that way. I also have WAY fewer problems.

      There’s also tea. I love darjeeling tea, which is a kind of “black” or regular tea. Tea can be relaxing as well as invigorating. The relaxing part supposedly comes from an amino acid called l-theonine. The caffeine content of tea is roughly 60 percent that of coffee for most types. Green tea has a little less caffeine.

      I hope it helps! – Shawn

  28. Shaun says

    Thanks for sharing this. I have been struggling with this for a about a year and after reading your post I stopped drinking coffee and drinking cola. Finally I get through the day without a rumbling stomach and the need to rush to the toilet!

    • says

      I am SO glad Shaun! I’m glad you’re better, and so glad that something here helped you. Thanks for letting me and others know about your success! – Shawn

  29. Kevin says

    Used to drink tea with 1% milk and my IBS was not being helped.
    Switch to coffee a few months back with lactose free creamer and my IBS was very very bad..

    Never realized cofee was causing it,i suspected stopping my vitamin D tablet was the cause.

    Just switched from coffee to tea today and low and behold my IBS is down like hell..

    • Kevin says

      Did a search on Cofee and ibs , so my finds are refuted.. need to try for a few more days to confirm coffee it actually my issue or there is something else.

    • says

      Hey there Kevin. I’ve said to others here, that it COULD be the creamer. Just sayin’. But lots of people DO have trouble with coffee, and some can’t do caffeine of any kind. If you think of it, let us know back here if you continue to get relief from the switch from coffee back to tea.

  30. Connie says

    Let me leave my experience here because I haven’t seen it mentioned.

    MT DEW…….is a gut killer. I too thought that I had IBS for years, but one day decided that I was going to give up the green liquid. After a few days of thinking I was gonna die, something wonderful happened……no more stomach cramps or trips to the bathroom numerous times a day. As a matter of fact, I almost started having trouble going…..almost like my system needed the caffiene to make my parts work. I even drank a dew just to releive myself.

    I have went back on the sauce over the holidays, but as soon as I go back to work, off the caffiene I go again. I just hope my bowels will regulate themselves eventually.

  31. Jennifer says

    I’ve been looking for information like this and always wonder why every time I drink Starbuck’s coffee latte or green tea latte, within hour I have diarhea. For me, I don’t think I’m lactose intolerant since I can drink coffee with cold milk or eat yogurt. I found that coffee with sugar gives me inflamation on the head. I have no problem with any other coffee latte such as McDonalds, Dunkin Donut, Panera Bread, or even Border when it existed. The Starbuck latte that I usually get at the mall isn’t hot enough. I think that may be the cause of my diarhea. The froth equipment may not be that clean before every use. I also find that drinking green tea helps decrease inflamation because of high antioxidant property. Anyone share my thought?

    Jenny

    • says

      Hi Jenny, if it happens at every Starbucks, I wouldn’t think it would be the cleanliness of the equipment. I would guess that there might be some ingredient in the flavoring or something that sets you off. Green tea does have some great properties. I find it relaxing and energizing at the same time.

  32. Shelley says

    After another bout of diarrhea this morning after having my coffee I stumbled across this site. My naturopathic doctor had me on an extremely strict diet last year saying I had many food intolerances, including coffee. After the 3 months I quit the diet and went back to decaf for a while and had very few diarrhea problems. Then I started wanting a more flavorful coffee this fall and went back to regular. It was ok for a while, but now I am having regular episodes. Seems like I will have to give up the coffee for good. It isn’t that I need the caffeine though. It’s more the comfort of it -something to look forward to in the morning. It makes me sad to give it up. But it is strangely comforting to read about all the people who have the same problem, that I am not alone. Eating more fermented foods, like yogurt, kombucha and saurkraut along with a good probiotic have helped me alot too. Thanks for sharing your info.

  33. Michael says

    It’s a big relief to see that other people have those same issues and I’m impressed that someone has even made a website about it! Thanks Shawn!!
    Coffee, lots of tea, sweet stuff, chocolate, and probably dairy stuff in general, have been causing me diarrhea but sometimes I can drink lots of milk and I’m fine. Add to those some types of fruit or sugary products. So it’s a puzzle indeed! I’m now a bit more optimistic thanks to your website!! ;)

  34. Melissa says

    Thankyou for posting this! I couldn’t find any other info about it. I’m glad I’m not alone. I have found some things do help- drinking a small but strong coffee ie Turkish, Greek, Arab coffee on a FULL stomach after breakfast for example. But not with something else acidic (like tomato). Dates have probiotics I have been told, and also help with intestinal problems, so combining with this may help too.

    • says

      I’m glad you found what you were looking for here! Interesting news about the small strong coffee. I may try that. I used to like expresso :). I couldn’t find any info about probiotics in dates. Dates is such a common word. But I did find lists of foods with probiotics. Time for another article. Thanks for stopping by Melissa!!

  35. Rhonda says

    For years I’ve realized coffee made my ibs worse. But just recently my husband said maybe its not coffee its what you put IN your coffee. So I began using regular milk not my favorite flavored creamer. Immediately I found it was no where near as bad. The cramping wasn’t part of morning routine. There are days anything I eat causes cramps and diarrhea but the soy in creamers hands down is biggest culprit!

    • says

      Thanks for that information Rhonda! I bet others share your experience and will benefit from your comment. There is something else in some creamers, and other foods called annatto. At least one woman cured her IBS after many years by avoiding annatto.

      Here are some pages on annatto and soy:
      Annatto Allergy
      Soy Sensitivity

  36. Rhonda says

    One thing I found that works for me is calcium. I take calcium daily. My mom said it
    Constipated her so I thought Bingo!! Lol

  37. Ulla says

    I have developed Colitis recently and am in the process of trying to figure out, what I can/should eat/drink and what not.
    Dr’s all say they don’t really know.
    I usually do reasonably well, rather go from one extreme to the other – d or c, but generally pretty ok.
    But still did not find out what triggers what…grateful for all inputs, thanks…

  38. Laura says

    I have suffered from IBS since 2002. In 2002 I delivered a child, and a side effect of the pregnancy was gall stones. I was put under and had my gall bladder removed very soon after delivery. When I asked my doc about the very painful cramping and constant acidic diarrhea, he told me it was because I’d lost my gall bladder, and prescribed me fiber.
    Well, it was a gross neon orange drink and I just couldn’t take the stuff. I’ve been self-medicating with anti-diarrheal pills for the last 11 years. I admit to some guilt, because I know chronic use of AD pills can’t be good on the body.
    Recently, in the last month or so, I’ve developed a facial twitch. (The muscles are weak anyway from a bout with Bell’s palsy.) Research online suggested caffeine might be the culprit, so I went cold turkey. Haven’t had a twitching “session” since I quit caffeine.
    BUT. All of the signs of IBS, the cramping, gas and acidic diarrhea, have totally disappeared. I’ve been regular as clockwork with no cramps or pain for well over a month now. I only quit caffeine, in any form. I continue to have a high-quality decaf every morning, and I only drink herbal teas. Interestingly enough, I’ve still been having chocolate, that doesn’t seem to have enough to cause me problems.
    In hindsight, I can see that having a newborn, and the copious amounts of regular coffee that go with it, probably was the initial trigger for my IBS.
    It is sooo worth quitting, to know my body is finally back to normal. As a side note, my chronic eczema had cleared up also, now that I am not constantly dehydrated.

    • says

      Laura, I love what you have to say here. I’m SO happy you’ve got a happy ending! I hope others get hope from your story, and get the courage to go “cold turkey” on the caffeine. I hope your story reaches and helps many. Thanks for sharing – Shawn

  39. Thomas Batts says

    Green tea has more caffeine than black tea.

    I’m glad you have this website, it’s great that people with IBS can get support.

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by Thomas, and thank you for the nice comment about my site! From what I’ve read, green tea usually has a bit less caffeine than black tea. The numbers jump around a bit depending on brewing, and source though. Black tea has from 15 to 60 mgs of caffeine, green tea goes from about 25 to 40 mgs.

      Plain old coffee, the heavy hitter, weighs in at roughly 100 to 200 mgs of caffeine. Amazing that I didn’t jitter when I used to drink so much of it! – Shawn

  40. Linda says

    It’s always nice to hear that other people share in your misery. I’ve been an “iced” starbucks junky for years. But in the last two I’ve had issues. Like most of the other posts after one drink 30 minutes to an hour later I’m in the bathroom. I’ve always been health conscious, watch what I eat and workout 5 days a week. Today I tried an iced decaff coffee and I noticed the difference. WOW this is my only vice…..

  41. Kelly says

    I recently quit coffee and switched to green tea and herbal tea. No more diarrhea in the mornings! Since I can drink really strong black tea as well without having any symptoms, but coffee has a disastrous effect on my bowels, I suspect it doesn’t have much to do with caffeine for me and more with the acidity of coffee.

    Great to read that I’m not the only one who has experienced this. It got to the point where I had to have my morning cup to go at all, and if I couldn’t get a nice strong cup I would feel constipated all day! Like my body was waiting for the coffee to hit and stocking up to unleash everything at once. Right now I have a much more regular and healthy pattern of toilet visits, and hardly experience diarrhea or constipation anymore. :) I also have come to appreciate tea so much more, and wouldn’t go back to coffee even if it didn’t give me IBS symptoms!

  42. Remy says

    I’ve found that coffee gives me problems in the morning, but usually if I drink it later in the day or at night, it doesn’t cause as much distress. Since I need the pick-me-up in the morning and not at night, I’ve switched to tea with one or two shots of espresso in it. Combining the mild caffeine of the tea and the espresso seems to work pretty good for a pick-me-up and doesn’t wreak havoc on my digestive system.

  43. Diana says

    I had the same problem, I started to take every morning before coffee one teaspoon of Black Seed Oil (cumin) or Nigella Sativa with a teaspoon of honey. Amazing! I can have 3 cups of black coffee now and also, my stomach and gallblader pains are gone.
    Not very tasty, I have to agree but I feel great now.

    • says

      Wow. I don’t remember ever hearing of anything like that. I’m so glad you’re feeling great! Folks who want to try this should be cautious of allergies or sensitivities. Start slow if you’re going to try it. That’s my opinion anyway. Thanks for the tip Diana!

  44. Kyle says

    Stumbled across this blog after a terrible time in the bathroom after a few cups of coffee. Coffee is my favorite thing, but it has been ripping me up lately. My tummy is tumultuous at the best of times, but coffee lately is just brutal. This blog and comments just confirms that I need to make some serious changes. I would like to share that peppermint tea might be a good option for some. I know back when I had some serious tummy issues before that a warm cup of peppermint tea was very soothing, and some studies have shown that peppermint may provide some relief to IBS sufferers.

    • says

      Hello Kyle, I’m glad you found some information here to help you. Thanks for the reminder about peppermint tea. I have an article about that, and peppermint capsule here: . Regards, Shawn

  45. Chrissy says

    I too have these IBS symptoms since August 2012 but I also have had my gallbladder taken out in July 2012. It is really irritating because I don’t even drink coffee all that much. I go
    to Dunkin donuts and get iced coffee with mocha and low and behold I’m on the bathroom for what seems like forever. Its truly disturbing and i feel for all the coffee lovers of the world. I have found that if i only drink one or two a week and a few days apart it doesn’t happen as much.

  46. BILLY says

    I had diarrhea last night and it sure was hard staying up, and going to the bathroom about six times during the night. It had to be the coffee and I also ate some chicken soup, and maybe that too caused my diarrhea

  47. bent says

    same issues with me. it was a casual conversation with a doctor while undergoing a pre-employment physical that tipped me off. as a trucker, i always drank lots of coffee. it didn’t help that my baby brother owns a custom coffee roasting business. i’ve found that i can get a better morning stimulation, plus increased alertness drinking 2 ounce vitamin b shots. i still occasionally have a cup of half caffeinated / half decaffeinated coffee, even if it has side-effects (greatly reduced side-effects, thank goodness),and i have taken a fondness to “constant comment” orange spiced tea, especially on cold mornings. the freight gets moved down the highway much more efficiently when i’m not searching desperately for the next rest area.

  48. Mark says

    Gooday Shawn familiar story to the aboves, seven years of ibs and bad asthma. I gave up lactose and gluten trying to solve the problem, all allergy tests came up negative . The last four weeks I finally gave up coffee after your articles and accidentally had wheat like usual with no effect, now I’m eating normally just no coffee. Ibs and asthma has gone, thank you

    • says

      Wow Mark, that’s pretty startling! I’m so glad you got relief. Thanks for passing the story on to us here. Someone else may find it and be helped. Regards, Shawn

  49. Penny says

    Hi Shawn, I appreciate your website. I was diagnosed with IBS in 2002 after a very stressful time in my life. I had a colonoscopy and that was their conclusion since everything was normal.

    I was given a script for IBS, a muscle relax medication. However, I would sleep for 8 hours after I took it. It relaxed me alright. The other advice I was given was exercise to relax the intestine. I did exercise every day and at one point I hired a personal trainer too. That really helped me. In fact, my symptoms were greatly alleviated.

    Lately, I have gotten fat and lazy. So, back to the gym and get on a more disciplined diet. The alcohol now can really wipe me out for days. What has also helped me is a product my husband started using and I am now trying it out. It is called “Veema Bode” Shakes. I will see how well this works for me over time.

    I have had to lighten up on the decaf and caf coffee. The acid in decaf/caf coffee can really create an overactive bladder too as well as stomach upset. The acid in alcohol can have the same effect. So, I drink water and herbal teas.

    Thank you again for your website and information. Your website does look like lots of work, but it is nice to share experiences with other people.

    • says

      Thanks again for taking the time to write Panny. I totally identify with the excersize fat and lazy thing. I know I do so much better, in life AND my gut, when I excercise. But I’m olympic class lazy. I just got a talking to from my doc. I’m not that overweight, but he has told me it will help the IBS. My symptoms are way better than they used to be, but still, room for improvement. Also, I’m tired and get winded easily. I Turned 50 a few months ago, 2013, and don’t want to be one of those people that can’t do much when they are 60! Thanks for the reminder and the inspiration. – Shawn

  50. Penny says

    WOW Shawn, thanks so much for the info. Tomorrow, I’m going to do the almost impossible – not drink any coffee. I have had problems for years – ever since I had a gastric bypass (which didn’t work, by the way). I started having really soft poop and it would even come out when I passed gas – oh dear, how awful! My doctor at the time told me to try probiotics, but no one ever said anything about coffee. I have taken probiotics for years and really, no help. For some strange reason, I just entered “does coffee cause diarrhea” into Google and found your post…amazing! No one has ever suggested that my problem was caused by coffee, so I guess we will see. Over the years, my symptoms have become nearly intolerable. I have these “rushing” noises in my intestines, as if tons of fluid is just moving around in there, with all kinds of noises and “explosions”. It is extremely uncomfortable. Then, I also poop nearly every time I go to the bathroom, which could be 10 to 20 times per day! And it’s very soft, so I end up using a ton of toilet paper just to clean off. I must admit, I’m a coffee addict. I drink 10 to 20 cups per day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be the start of a “new” life for me because I’m going to stop drinking coffee altogether. I hate the thought of it because I love drinking coffee so much – I just love the taste – but I can’t continue to live like this. LET’S HOPE YOU ARE RIGHT and that stopping coffee helps my terrible symptoms. Thanks so much and I’ll let you know how I do.

    • says

      I really hope you do let us know back here Penny. I truly hope it helps, but that’s going to be a tough habbit to break! Stay STRONG! – Shawn

  51. Bob says

    I take prescription meds for blood pressure first thing in the morning, then a cup or two of coffee.. and yes, I believe I have the coffee induced diarrhea thing. Q: Could this be “washing away” the medications?

    • says

      I don’t think so. The doc or the pharmacist could probably give you the best answer, but the small intestine is a long organ. I can’t imagine medicine making it all the way to your colon then washing away. – Shawn

  52. Glenda says

    I drink a fair amount of coffee and it seems as though decafe makes me feel worst than regular coffee is that possible

    regards
    Glenda

    • says

      Hi Glenda,

      Bodies are so complicated that I CAN’T say no. Especially if you drink a lot of it, and especially if you have problems with cream or non-dairy creamer.

  53. Terry says

    Hi Shawn, thank you for the info. I stumbled upon your site this morning looking up if ‘caffeine causes loose stool in the mornings’. Since about age 55, onset of menopause. Since I was a baby, (I am now 58) I always suffered with constipation, I believe I have had true diarrhea twice in my lifetime. So, around age 55, seemed spaghetti sauces, salad dressings AND caffeine caused me to have mushy or loose stool. I also think I may have IBS, as I had a couple weeks 2 mos ago of loose, watery, soft blobs of stool. Anyway, last night I went to Dunkin Donuts and bought a coffee at 11:30pm, a medium size. I NEVER have coffee that late. I usually have 2 good size cups in the morning and occasionally one around 7pm or so. Those night coffees occasionally play havoc on my bowels in the a.m.. So, I drank that coffee, woke up about 7, watched tv, had a teeny urge to go (it’s rarely urgent) came out fast, normal stool, like it usually does, then comes the tiny soft blobs, sometimes with straining involved. So I am pretty sure a lot of caffeine does NOT like me in the morning. I don’t want to stop caffeine totally (btw I am not a soda drinker) but I really need to stop drinking it at night. Thank you for your page, very informative as I wasn’t quite sure if coffee could be the culprit or not.

    • says

      Hello Terry,

      I don’t know about Dunkin’ Donuts ingredients, but a lot of people comment or write me with soy issues or anatto issues. Coffee can sure cause looseness, but be on the lookout for other culprits!!!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the site. – Shawn

  54. Nikolaos says

    I have for some months now diarrhea (I go in toilet one time maybe 2 everyday) or some days more like normal stools but i can see my stools are not as they suppose to be. I have no other symptoms except this problem. Do you think it might be because i sleep late in the night and i have a coffe during lunch time?

    • says

      I can’t say for sure, but sleep schedules can play a role in IBS, and coffee certainly can. I’d try skipping the coffee. Let us know how you make out!

  55. Lynda La Raus says

    Hi! I was thrilled to find this site as I have been suffering for years with this problem. I used to drink iced mocha from a grocery store carton – big mistake! Then I tried decaf, which didn’t give me any problems, and coffee in the afternoon isn’t bad either. One suggestion I have that hasn’t come up is dark chocolate espresso beans. I have 6 or 7 in the morning to get started, with no ill effects.

    Thanks so much for making this site. It’s been very helpfuyl.

  56. kerry says

    Shawn, I have these symptoms with my morning tea. so, now I think I must get off of tea too :(
    Another thing: Green tea has theophylline and another stimulant in it aside from caffeine. If anyone has issues with anxiety/stimulants, palpitations, etc, beware! green tea makes me very sick and my heart race as well. I avoid it like the plague!
    thank you

  57. dollie says

    i often get a bad stomach due to ibs but could never really pinpoint what was making it worse and i came across this site….i didnt realise that caffeine is the cause…. ive just gone two days without tea or coffee no stomach cramps or diarreah…i had a coffee this morning soon after i had a niggly stomach ache…and a few hours later im having to make continuous visits to the bathroom!!!! no more tea or coffee for me in the future…

  58. GloriaL says

    I, too have taken myself off coffee because of the severe diarrhea it causes. I recently learned that Cholestyramine (Questran) is used for people who have a syndrome after having the gallbladder removed of immediate diarrhea after eating.The Questran absorbed bile acids which are the main cause of the diarrhea. Since usually my post coffe diarrhea ends up being bile colored, I think I will try taking some 15-20 minutes before my coffee and see if it makes a difference. Questran is also given to lower cholesterol and I can use some help in that arena anyway. As with any medicine cholestyramine can have side effects. I will let you know the results of my non-randomized, uncontrolled, one person study is. I am hopeful!

  59. ak says

    It’s either give up coffee or breakfast….so I gave up breakfast. Having breakfast in the gives me the runs and gas. And also makes me hungry few hour later. As long as I don’t eat breakfast, I can drink all the coffee I want (usually 2 cups). I also don’t feel uncomfortable (cramping, gas, etc). throughout the day. If I don’t eat breakfast, I can not as hungry….and have a slightly bigger lunch.

  60. DT says

    I have had to skip coffee altogether and drink decafe tea. I don’t have loose stools but it will give me stomach cramps and anal and or rectum discomfort. Muscle relaxer has helped it but who wants to keep taking those to calm your system down..
    pls advise

  61. Chad says

    I used to have IBS D in high school! It went away and I started drinking coffee, it gave me diarrhea and then months later I stopped drinking it, and still have diarrhea everyday now, even with no coffee… What could still be causing it??

  62. Michelle says

    Hi, I’ve suffered also more recently with diarrhea after drinking coffee. And I believe the answer for me has been probiotics. When I take probiotics, I don’t get ‘sour stomach’ anymore and I become regular – no more ‘acid’ feeling or diarrhea -regardless of what I drink or eat. I have a feeling that is similar to some of the stories here – especially Chad – where now you are experiencing those symptoms even without drinking coffee. It is imperative to get the amount of good bacteria up to the right threshold within your intestines. I use Garden of Life: Primal Defense. But there are other cheaper ones you can find too, and I’ve read testimonies that they work too. Be well!

  63. Elle says

    I have breast cancer and drastically changed my diet – basically whole food/plant based (with occasional seafood – no dairy, very little sugar). I am getting tons of fruit/veggies — plenty of fiber. I used to be constipated (most of my life) but now I am the opposite. I drink coffee every morning (2 cups) and every morning I run to the bathroom. If I am in my car – it becomes an emergency. I have cramping and loose stool, but only in the am and only once a day. I had suspected celiac disease (tested negative) because I eat whole grains in the morning with my coffee. I have been diagnosed with IBS in the past, but I too feel it is a “catchall” term when they don’t know the cause of your symptoms. Anyway, based on your post and other reading, I now think my issue may just be the caffeine combined with abundant fiber. As a BC survivor, I think anything that causes your body to be out of balance should be eliminated. I think my love affair with coffee may be over. Thank you for this great post.

  64. TonyB says

    Wow no wonder i get the poops after i drink a espresso man i’m quitting that i drink tea so i dont think i will miss the caffeine much or get headaches i hope. Thanks for the blog write up i so wondered why got the terrible poops after this.

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