General Question

hollym's avatar

Does coffee make you poop?

Asked by hollym (304 points ) June 17th, 2008

I don’t drink coffee that often, but I drink a ton of tea (unsweet). I’ve always heard that coffee has about the same amount of caffeine as black tea, but it makes me um… have to go way more than tea. Why?!

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25 Answers

lefteh's avatar

A quick Google search turned up this:

Coffee is only a mild laxative, it’s a much stronger diuretic. There’s one chemical that causes this: caffeine. When caffeine is metabolized it produces three chemicals; paraxanthine, theobromine, and theophylline. These are the ones that cause the sweet sweet effects of caffeine. Theophylline is the smooth muscle relaxor, and since your bowels are smooth muscles, there you go! There’s not much theophylline in caffeine compared to the other compounds, so it’s not a very strong laxative feeling. Coffee drinkers feel it more, since they do tend to take in more caffeine than tea drinkers, although if you put back enough black tea, you’ll see the effect just as well. Like most chemicals, your tolerance for theophylline increases the more caffeine you metabolize.

shilolo's avatar

There are some studies to suggest that caffeine increases anal sphincter contractions and lowers the sensory threshhold for defecation, so that caffeine results in an increased desire to defecate.

hollym's avatar

I guess, though, my question should be revised. Why does coffee make me poop more than tea if the caffeine levels are near the same?

syz's avatar

…and may I say as an aside, that when you google “coffee and bowel movement, defection”, you get some truly disturbing sites…..

KJ's avatar

It’s a stimulant.

Les's avatar

It really does
Natalie dee always seems to hit the nail right on the head.

kapuerajam's avatar

the one time I was riding the metro
in D.C. and I had just drank a big latté and I had to wait for like 5 stops before I could go and when I did I got to the toilet just in time:)

PupnTaco's avatar

It does it for me in a big way. One of the reasons why I don’t really drink coffee.

hollym's avatar

@ Les : HAHA! I love her images! That one is awesome!

Zaku's avatar

This thread makes me uncomfortable in an unfamiliar way.

hollym's avatar

@ Zaku : Mission accomplished. :)

marinelife's avatar

@hahmoore I am not sure where you got the idea that the caffeine levels are the same for coffee and tea. A cup of black tea has about 1/4 the caffeine of a cup of coffee. Green tea has about 1/4 the caffeine of black tea. White tea has even less than green. Most herbal teas are caffeine free.

Here is a chart.

marinelife's avatar

Oh, I wanted to answer the original question.

Does a bear poop in the woods? (After drinking his morning cuppa, of course.)

hollym's avatar

All the bears I know stop at the 7/11 to poop.

I’m not sure why I thought coffee and black tea had the same amount of caffeine. I reckon I read it somewhere or just got it wrong.

I knew about green/herbal/etc tea.

Thanks for the chart.

Knotmyday's avatar

Speaking (perhaps far too) personally, aye, laddie, that it do. Pardon the accidental pun.

steelmarket's avatar

@hahmoore, maybe it is not the coffee (or the caffeine) but what you put into your coffee. If you have a mild milk allergy, this could do it. How about creamers and sweeteners?

that1mom's avatar

Haha! My mom and I LOVE to drink coffee. I fmy Mom gets any kind of strong coffee drink (I as well), we get these terrible tummy aches that require at least 2 hours solid bathroom time. I know it’s gross, but it’s the nature of the question people. Anyway, I think I would say yes.

hollym's avatar

@ steelmarket : I’m really really a weirdo when it comes to milk. I can eat yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, creamy sauces, but I cannot drink a glass of milk and I can’t really eat ice cream either. However, I know it’s not that, because it happens even when I add non-dairy creamer. It’s gotta be the caffeine. Poop-tastic!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Actually, Hollym, coffee has more caffeine than tea. In an 8 oz beverage, coffee has between 80 and 175 milligrams of caffeine, while tea has only 40–60 milligrams. This is according to http://www.wilstar.com/caffeine.htm

Zen's avatar

This thread was a natural laxative. Thanks.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, it does.

joybells34's avatar

Oh yes it does. My morning routine consists of getting up, making strong coffee and 30 minutes later heading off to the little girls room haha

Zen's avatar

This will yuck-out some peeps, you are forewarned: I take my first cup into the 00 in the morning and it is a laxative – for me.

echotech10's avatar

Coffee definitely makes me poop. I am also, like @joybells, I am pooping within 30–45 minutes after my morning coffee. I already have IBS, and poop a lot to begin with, but add my morning coffee into the equation, and I poop a lot more. That will never make me cut down or stop drinking coffee, truth be known. Sometimes though, when my bowels go in the opposite direction, I will drink extra coffee to get things moving again. That almost always works for me.

Kimmc1972's avatar

Talk to any physician. It is not the caffeine. It is from the various chemicals in the actual coffee bean. Also, coffee is not a diuretic. : )

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