Let’s be straightforward. This is a page about gas, so, that’s what it’s going to sound like it’s about. No dancing around the subject matter, no putting things tentatively, no shame, no giggling…ok a little giggling is fine. Call it whatever, gas, toots, breaking wind, farting, flatulence, air attack, the nether belch-we’re all referring to the same uncomfortable situation that crops up at the worst time-during a test in a silent room, or in a crowded elevator. Usually harmless, intestinal gas can be uncomfortable in more ways than one, and is a symptom rather than an illness itself. Because there are so many possible causes there are many ways to treat it, and you can usually find relief with simple natural remedies.
1. Drink some peppermint tea
Peppermint is great for soothing churning stomachs and easing gas pains. Its essential oil contains menthol, which has an antispasmodic effect of the smooth muscle of the digestive track. It also soothes nerves, and therefore can soothe stomachs that really feel the effect of nervousness and stress. Drink a cup after dinner to help keep things moving slowly.
You will need…
-1 bag of herbal peppermint tea
-1 cup or so of freshly boiled water
Steeping tea seems like something that’s simple enough, but there’s a proper way to go about it. We often times let the tea bag sit in the water for several minutes, then pull the bag and drink the liquid. This doesn’t allow all the goodness of the tea to infuse thoroughly, and we’re shorting ourselves a good chunk of the benefits. After you boil your water, pour it over the tea bag in a mug, and then cover the mug (a plate works fine.) Let it sit for a full 10-15 minutes. Remove the cover and take out the tea bag, squeezing it to get out every last bit of the healing mixture. If it’s too hot to grab, press it against the side of the mug with a spoon. Sip, relax, and enjoy.
2. Let ‘em loose
My first day in 9th grade I was terribly bloated for some reason. The whole day I held it all in, despite my stomach bubbling angrily. When I got off the bus at the end of the day to walk home I am pretty sure I made it back in half my usual time, powered by a self-made jet pack. The moral of the story: if you have gas, try not to hold it in. This isn’t always possible of course, but if you could nab a moment to yourself or run to the bathroom you’ll do yourself a favor. The air has to come out some way, and it’s only going to build up and get worse if you hold it in.
3. Ginger is a tummy tamer
Whether you’re nauseas, struggling with the stomach flu, or suffering from indigestion, chances are you’ve been given ginger in some form to help calm your upset tummy. It is capable of performing its wonders because of several different chemical components it possesses. Two chemicals-gingerols and shgaols- relax the intestinal track and ease any inflammation, while the root in its entirety act as a carminative-that is it prevents the formation of excess gas, or helps expel it.
You will need…
- 1 fresh gingerroot
-A grater (optional)
-1 cup of boiling water, if making tea
-Lemon and honey (optional)
There are several ways to make gingerroot tea but for gas, we liked this one. Get a medium sized piece of raw gingerroot that looks nice and fresh. Scrub it clean, much like a potato, under warm water. Slice 4-6 thin quarter sized pieces and place them in a large mug. Add a touch of honey or lemon if you like, and then pour very hot water over the slices. Don’t let it boil-turn off the kettle just before or immediately afterwards. Cover and steep for 10 minutes before enjoying. Drink a cup before or after a meal to help with digestion.
Another way to reap the benefits of ginger is to eat a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger before meals, or nibble a root throughout the day.
4. Crunch on caraway
For centuries caraway has been used to give trapped gas in the digestive track a little shove out the back door. In England from the Middle Ages onward, it has been reported to help gas “caused by wind trapped in the body.” Of course air is only part of it but, if you find yourself puffing up from too much trapped gas, munching on a small handful of caraway seeds straight, or caraway crackers if the taste is too strong, might help.
You will need…
-a pinch of caraway seeds OR several caraway crackers
When you feel bloated and you’re unable to pass gas, eat a pinch of caraway seeds or a few caraway crackers. If you suffer from regular bloating due to gas, try eating a pinch every morning until you feel you no longer need to.
5. Drink chamomile tea
If peppermint doesn’t suit your fancy, or doesn’t seem to work for you, chamomile is a good route to go. In Germany, a place where herbal treatments are used more frequently than in the west, they call chamomile alles zutraut which translates to “capable of anything,” because it is so useful. Antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and just plain relaxing, chamomile can help with gas due to indigestion as well as heartburn, whereas peppermint is better for gas caused solely by indigestion.
You will need…
-1 bag of chamomile tea
-1 cup or so of freshly boiled water
-honey or lemon juice (optional)
Boil approximately 1 cup of water and pour over tea bag. Cover the mug, and let the tea steep for a full 10-15 minutes. Squeeze the bag to get out all the last bits of goodness, and add a bit of honey and lemon if you like. Avoid milk, which tends to trigger gas.
6. Eat pumpkin
Gas is usually caused by improper food digestion, which is why high fiber foods (like beans) often times create some issues with flatulence. Fiber is hard for us to digest, so it passes through our gut in bulk. When food does not break down in the small intestine, it goes into the large intestine where natural bacteria feasts on it. As a by-product of their munching they produce a variety of gases, which produces a whole range of problems for us. Pumpkin is helpful because it can reduce the amount of gas created. Eat along with any meal to nip your problem in the bud.
You will need…
-Around a cup of pumpkin, baked, steamed, or broiled OR whip up a different pumpkin recipe
Eat approximately 1 cup of pumpkin with your meal to ward off gas. You can have it baked, steamed, or broiled, or whip up a recipe all your own.
7. Activate yourself
Activated charcoal has helped a number of people with their gas, although no exact reason is known. It is thought that it’s because the activated charcoal is porous (its created like regular charcoal, but oxidized with hot steam or air that makes it develop pores) and these internal spaces are good at trapping chemicals, which is why it is used in the case of drug overdoses. One could apply the same train of thought to excess gas given off by bacteria in our intestines. If you want to see if this could be effective for you, talk to your doctor and read the dosing on the back of the packaging. There is powder, capsule, and tablet form.
8. Chew food thoroughly
Gas is created, in most cases, by food that we’re having a hard time breaking down. If you chew your food thoroughly you’ll digest it faster, and it will pass through your body with ease. That means it’s not sitting your intestines causing more and more gas that builds up and needs to be expelled.
9. Drink warm lemon water
A glass of warm lemon water every morning keeps the doctor away. It may not sound as good as “an apple a day” but it’s still a helpful habit. Lemon is good for you in a number of ways, including lending a hand when it comes to easing your gas pain. The acidity in lemon stimulates the production of HCL (hydrochloric acid) which is what breaks down our food. More HCL = food breaking down more efficiently = less bloating and gas. The water flushes your system and keeps your digesting tract moving along smoothly. This mixture also works as a mighty fine way to detoxify your entire body, because the lemon helps the livers enzymes work more efficiently.
You will need…
-3 fresh lemon wedges OR 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice
-A cup of water
When you wake up in the morning, before you eat and when you have an empty stomach, warm up one cup of water. It doesn’t need to be hot-just nice and toasty warm. Cut 3 slices of fresh lemon and squeeze the juice into the water. Give it a little stir and drink the whole glass. If you don’t have fresh lemon, substitute it with a tablespoon or so of lemon juice. You can adjust the amount of lemon you add, really, just make sure the water is cloudy.
10. Whip your diet into shape
Many of the foods we eat today, particularly in western culture, just spell trouble. Caffeine laden beverages, sugary sweets, fatty fried foods, and a number of other unsavory edibles mean that your doom is imminent. And by doom I mean having to pass gas in a crowded elevator that’s stopping at every floor. While it is without a doubt best to avoid these unhealthy triggers, healthy foods like beans and broccoli can cause gas too, thanks to their high fiber content. You can try to limit yourself when it comes to healthy culprit foods, but really focus on the unhealthy ones. You’ll feel better overall, and if you’re gassy, at least you know its natural gas…
11. Whip yourself into shape
Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand, and combined make one of the most powerful remedies for a vast amount of ailments that plague us. A little daily dedication is going to take you a long, long, looooong way when it comes to feeling good. It will help your gas too, because gas is often caused by lifestyle and/or diet. If you exercise and move you are keeping your digestive tracts motility trucking along and expelling gas at a rate that won’t blow you away (pun I sent intended.) Most people experience flatulence on average 14 times a day no matter what, and exercise helps maintain that regularity.
12. Eat some anise seed
Anise has anti-spasmodic properties and helps to relax your digestive track, which has a tendency to react to stress in unpleasant ways. The relaxation also helps with cramping. It is also a carminative, which is just a fancy way to say that it is known to expel pent up gas and relieve the bloating that goes with it. Always check with your doctor, but parents with colicky babies have said providing anise seed in water often times brings relief to their children.
Gas is a natural part of life. We’ve developed a culture that shies away from it, makes it terribly embarrassing, and creates way more trouble than it’s worth. If you’re passing gas that means everything down there is working as it should. Think about how you feel when you’re bloated, and then imagine what it would be like if you never ever tooted. Awful. That being said, too much of anything is never a good thing. A gas leak can create all sorts of awkward and uncomfortable situations whether they should or not, and keeping some natural remedies in store can help keep you keep your digestion in line.
Random fact about flatulence
-There is a scientific area of medicine called “flatology,” which pretty much translates to, “the study of farts.” …..I am not sure I could handle the lectures.
By Claire GoodallClaire is a lover of life, the natural world, and wild blueberries. On the weekend you can find her fiddling in the garden, playing with her dogs, and enjoying the great outdoors with her horse. Claire is very open-minded, ask her anything :) Meet Claire
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