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Natural Remedies for Bloating, Gas and Flatulence

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Updated May 23, 2014

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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 health care provider to rule out other causes.

Also read my article, Healthy and Unhealthy Stool to find out what the color of your poop says about your health.

1) 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.

Treatment Strategies:

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

2) 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.

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.

Treatment Strategies:

  1. Chew food carefully. Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth. Any work your teeth don't do, your stomach will have to do later.
  2. An alternative practitioner may suggest an elimination and challenge diet. This is a diagnostic diet to help uncover food sensitivities and intolerances.
  3. Consult your primary care provider to rule out malabsorption disorder if you are also experiencing weight loss and diarrhea.

3) Gas and Flatulence 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.

Treatment Strategies:

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

4) Odorous Flatulence and Gas

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

Treatment Strategies:

  1. Chew meat and other protein foods carefully. Avoid excessive protein in your diet.
  2. Taking activated charcoal tablets can help to remove the odor.

5) Eating Foods that Produce Gas

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, non-carbonated beverages, and yogurt made with live bacteria.

6) 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 abdomen discomfort and bloating. Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease may have similar symptoms.

It's important to remember that gas and bloating are vague symptoms that can be associated with many medical diseases, so consultation with your primary care provider should always be the first step.

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