Natural remedies for flatulence and bloating
Let's face it - nobody wants to put up with flatulence or bloating! Luckily, mother nature has a few tricks up her sleeve to ease the symptoms of these embarrassing problems. Naturopath Kathryn Terril reports.
Flatulence and bloating are the result of an excessive amount of gas in the digestive tract.
Although some gas production is a by-product of normal digestion, too much can cause an expansion of the digestive organs which may lead to discomfort and pain.
The gas then needs a means of escape - which results in flatulence. All in all, it's a dilemma we'd all rather do without.
It’s hard to beat the amazing range of herbal remedies on offer when it comes to improving any kind of digestive problem. Treating the symptoms of excessive gas is no exception.
Herbal remedies used for digestion are categorised according to their main action on the digestive tract. Herbs are often used to assist flatulence classed as carminatives, aromatics or volatile antispasmodics.
Add 30 drops of chosen essential oils to 30 mL of vegetable oil base and massage the abdomen in a clockwise direction
Caraway (Carum carvi)
Caraway belongs to the carrot family, and it is thought to be one the most reliable herbal carminatives available.
It is not known exactly how carminative herbs work, though they probably act on the walls of the digestive tract by improving the tone of the digestive muscles, assisting the absorption of gases and relieving spasm.
Interestingly in Europe, caraway is often used as a spice added to foods likely to cause wind, such as cabbage dishes.
Tip: crush caraway seeds and add them to an after dinner cup of herbal tea.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Also a member of the carrot family, fennel is another great carminative. Again, it is the fruit (more commonly known as the seeds) that are used.
It has an excellent relaxing effect on the gastrointestinal muscles. Fennel is widely available as a herbal tincture (or ethanol and water extract) and is a common addition to herbal tea mixes for digestion due to its combined therapeutic effect and pleasant flavour.
Tip: carry a small tin or jar of fennel seeds with you and chew on a few following a meal. Not only will it refresh your mouth, it will help with any gas related discomfort.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile is well known for its relaxing and calming effects on the nervous system. Its calming effects on the digestive tract are lesser known but definitely not less effective. This herb is the perfect choice if flatulence and bloating are triggered by nervousness or stress.
Tip: look for good quality organic chamomile tea from your local health food store or specialty tea shop, rather than using the more commonly available tea bags from the supermarket.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is very versatile as it has multiple actions on the digestive tract. Not only is it carminative, it is also excellent for reducing nausea and digestive inflammation.
Tip: get into the habit of grating lots of fresh ginger into soups, stir fries and fish and chicken dishes.
Did you know?
- In medieval times, fennel was hung over doors on Midsummer’s Eve to ward off evil spirits.
- In the Mediterranean, chamomile tea is commonly ordered in restaurants and bars, even in a concentrated ‘espresso’ form.
- Ginger use dates back to early Sanskrit and Chinese texts, and is referred to in ancient Greek, Roman and Arabic medical literature.