Natural Remedies for Bloating, Gas, and Flatulence

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Gas, flatulence, and bloating can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Fortunately, there are some natural remedies that can help. Before trying any natural remedy, it's important to consult a qualified healthcare provider to rule out other causes.

Swallowed Air

Some people habitually swallow air, called aerophagia. They're usually unaware they do this, and the cause is often anxiety-related. The gas swallowed is composed mainly of oxygen and nitrogen.

Most of the oxygen is absorbed by the mucous lining of the gut or is used up by colon bacteria, with very little ending up in flatulence. Nitrogen, on the other hand, is poorly absorbed by the mucous lining and most of the swallowed nitrogen ends up in flatulence. Here are a few treatment strategies:

  • Becoming aware that air is being swallowed can help. People become conscious of their breathing patterns.
  • Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) may help to reduce anxiety. Also, find out about other natural remedies for anxiety.
  • Avoid lying down after eating. Gas from the stomach passes into the intestines more readily in this position.

Poorly Absorbed Carbohydrates

Hydrogen and carbon dioxide are produced by colon bacteria in the presence of poorly absorbed carbohydrates. If flatulence is accompanied by diarrhea and weight loss, it may indicate a malabsorption disorder such as lactose intolerance or pancreatic insufficiency and should be evaluated by your primary health care provider.

A new hypothesis suggests that poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates—collectively referred to as FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols)—contribute significantly to bloating and flatulence.

More common is excess flatulence after eating large amounts of poorly absorbed carbohydrates such as beans or foods to which you have a food sensitivity. Common food sensitivities include milk and wheat products. Here are a few treatment strategies:

  • Chew food carefully. Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth. Any work your teeth don't do, your stomach will have to do later.
  • An alternative practitioner may suggest an elimination and challenge diet. This is a diagnostic diet to help uncover food sensitivities and intolerances.
  • Others suggest the use of a low-FODMAP diet (although clinical evidence of its benefits remains uncertain).
  • Consult your primary care provider to rule out malabsorption disorder if you are also experiencing weight loss and diarrhea.

Gas After High-Fat Meals

Eating a high-fat meal can generate a large amount of carbon dioxide, some of which is released as gas. That's because carbon dioxide is produced in the small intestine when bicarbonate is released to neutralize stomach acid and fat during meals.

It is unclear which types of fat are more likely to cause flatulence and bloating. Although trans fat is considered the prime suspect, other studies suggest that long-chain triglycerides found in many foods (including healthy fish) may be just as problematic.

Here are a few treatment strategies.

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of three large meals.
  • Avoid high-fat meals.
  • Consult your primary care provider to rule out the possibility of fat malabsorption. Signs of fat malabsorption include loose and light-colored stools.

Odorous Gas

Gas that has a strong odor usually results from the metabolism of sulfur-containing proteins and amino acids in the intestines. Here are a few treatment strategies.

  • Chew meat and other protein foods carefully. Avoid excessive protein in your diet.
  • Taking activated charcoal tablets can help to remove the odor.
  • Bismuth subsalicylate found in Pepto-Bismol has also been used to reduce the noxious gas odors.

Gas-Producing Foods

Certain foods are inherently gas-producing. Gas-producing foods include beans, cabbage, onions, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, fluffy wheat products such as bread, apples, peaches, pears, prunes, corn, oats, potatoes, milk, ice cream, and soft cheese.

Foods that produce minimal gas include rice, bananas, citrus, grapes, hard cheese, meat, eggs, peanut butter, noncarbonated beverages, and yogurt made with live bacteria.

Other Conditions

When someone has persisting bloating and flatulence, lab tests and X-rays are first conducted to exclude the presence of medical disease. Colorectal cancer often presents with the symptoms of abdominal pain and bloating and needs tests and examinations to exclude it as a cause.

Gas and gas-related pain are common features of many gastrointestinal disorders. Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease are both characterized by bloating, flatulence, and abdominal pain and are easily misdiagnosed for the other. To differentiate between similar diseases, always seek the care of a specialist gastroenterologist.

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Article Sources

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