Intestinal gas: natural remedies against Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence
The blog summary can be found here.
The air inside the digestive tract derives from:
- swallowed air (25%): when swallowing food, water or saliva, air is also swallowed, which accumulates inside the digestive system. This mechanism is called aerofagia.
- gas produced during the digestion process by fermentation by the bacteria that make up the intestinal flora (75%): the excess is expelled through meteorism and flatulence; intestinal gaseous colic in the newborn. Flautlence and meteorism aren't synonims:
The term flatulence refers to the emission of a mixture of gases from the anal sphincter, generally accompanied by a characteristic sound and unpleasant odor, to due to the presence of an excessive amount of gas in the stomach or intestines. The gas in the digestive tract can derive from the air ingested or it can be the normal consequence of the bacterial fermentation that the foods, in particular the alimentary fibers, undergo in the lumen of the colon. The most common symptoms caused by gas are: abdominal bloating and pain, belching and noisy gas emission through the anus.
Meteorism indicates the excessive accumulation of gas in the stomach and intestine, which causes distention and abdominal swelling due to fermentative or putrefactive phenomena or secondary to aerophagia. The gas in the digestive tract can derive from the air ingested or it can be the normal consequence of the bacterial fermentation that the foods, in particular the alimentary fibers, undergo in the lumen of the colon. Meteorism is often associated with bloating, abdominal pain, belching, halitosis, borborigmas, and the emission of gas through the anus. Meteorism is the consequence of incorrect eating habits, metabolism dysfunctions, digestive difficulties, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, dysbiosis.
Some possible causes of excess intestinal gas:
- unbalanced diet, too rich in sugars and / or starchy foods in general;
- Hurried meals, the bad habit of eating out, the stress that often "shakes" the day of many people. The production of gas can also depend on dyspeptic conditions, on the ingestion of "flatulent" foods (beans, chickpeas, chestnuts), or, again, derive from the air introduced into the alimentary canal by reflex dilation of the upper esophageal sphincter ";
- lactose or gluten intolerance (see also "intolerance line");
- imbalance of intestinal bacterial flora.
What foods could cause excess intestinal gas production?
Most foods that contain carbohydrates can cause gas formation while, on the contrary, fats and proteins cause negligible quantities. In particular:
- the sugars that cause gas are mainly raffinose, lactose, fructose and sorbitol: lactose, which is found in milk but also in dairy products, such as cheese and ice cream, and processed food, such as bread , cereals, salad and condiments; sorbitol is a sugar found naturally in fruit, including apples, pears, peaches and dried plums. It is also used as an artificial sweetener in many sugar-free diet foods, candies and gums; fructose is found in foods such as honey and fruit such as dates, raisins, figs and prunes. Glucose and fructose are unfortunately common in snacks (glucose-fructose syrup) and in some beers; beans contain large quantities of raffinose, while small amounts are present in cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, other vegetables and whole grains;
- most starches, including potatoes, wheat and pasta, produce gas, while rice is the only food containing starch that does not cause gas;
- many foods containing soluble and insoluble fiber (1). Generally a balanced diet contains 75% of insoluble fiber and 25% of soluble fiber, so the optimal ratio of soluble / insoluble fiber is exactly 3: 1. High-fiber foods are cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruit. Legumes are generally considered the best source of fiber, both in terms of quantity and quality. An excess of fibers, especially the soluble ones, can also cause meteorism, flatulence, tension and abdominal swelling.
In addition to food, pay attention to what you drink and in particular to carbonated drinks.
Intestinal gas: the plants recommended in herbal medicine
A very important position is given by the plants of the Umbelliferae family and, in particular, by fennel, anise, cumin and coriander. Other plant drugs with carminative action are chamomile, mint, lemon balm and angelica.
The ESCOP (European Society for Cognitive Psychology) indicates:
- against flatulence: green anise fruit, carvi fruits, artichoke leaves, fennel fruit, chamomile matricaria flowers, peppermint leaves;
- for intestinal swelling: green anise, carvi fruits, fennel fruit;
- for flatulent colic of the newborn: carvi fruits and fennel fruit;
- for gastrointestinal spasms: green anise, carvi fruits, fennel fruit, lemon balm leaves, camomile matricaria flowers.
Intestinal gas: the natural remedies that we recommend
Fennel compound: based on fennel, anise, lemon balm, ginger, charcoal. We recommend taking 1-2 tablets before each main meal.
Fennel seeds: fennel is used most of all for its carminative properties, but also because it is an expectorant, light visceral, digestive and lactic acid. Fennel is less carminative than cumin, but more so than anise; it has an antifermentative action ("flat stomach effect").
Green aniseed seeds: the composition of green aniseed fruits is very similar to those of fennel as the pharmacological actions are also superimposable: carminative activity, antidyspeptic, intestinal antispasmodic.
Lemon balm leaves: the French Avis indicates the lemon balm for these indications: "Gastric embarrassments, digestive slowness, fluteness, eructations, minor disturbances of sleep, abdominal painful states of digestive origin".
Ginger root: Ginger promotes digestive function and regulates gastrointestinal motility and elimination of gases. Thanks to its functional principles called "gingerols" the Ginger root is able to stimulate the normal peristaltic movements of the stomach and intestine, this effect is called "prokinetic effect".
Vegetable carbon: it is not absorbed in the intestine, but the tiny particles retain between them the air that develops at the gastric level (when too much air is swallowed during meals) and at the intestinal level (imbalances in the bacterial flora and abnormal fermentation of foods).
Aeris drops: useful to promote regular gastrointestinal motility (contributing to the reduction of intestinal spasms) and the elimination of intestinal gases, it can be used in the treatment of intestinal colic and in meteorism phenomena in infants, children and adults.
It is formulated with: Carvi, lemon balm, camomile and Bifidobacterium infantis, For newborns we recommend the dosage of 5 drops before each feeding (6-8 times a day). In the case of important gaseous colics, we can suggest increasing the dosage to 10 drops for afternoon and evening feeding (ask the pediatrician). Aeris drops can be taken by the mother (passage with breast milk): in this case we recommend 20 drops, twice a day, before a meal.
Carvi fruit: similar to green anise, it is aromatic, carminative and antimicrobial. Promotes digestive processes and fights intestinal atony. It exerts sedative action on the motility of the stomach and in particular counteracts the aerofagia. It fights flatulence, abnormal gas formation in the intestine and consequently colitic manifestations and digestive disorders.
Chamomile flowers: Plant with antispasmodic activity particularly indicated for sedating painful manifestations, from intestinal colic to dysmenorrhea, it possesses undoubted anti-inflammatory, cicatrizing, ulceroprotective, antibacterial and spasmolytic properties. As spasmolytic and carminative it is indicated in digestive colic (colitis, meteorism) and in case of alteration of the bacterial flora as it helps to reconstitute it. Important are the aromatic and bittering properties that facilitate digestive processes.
Melissa leaves: Used in the treatment of states of anxiety accompanied by restlessness and irritability, disorders of the digestive sphere (gastric neurosis) and minor sleep disorders, it has antispasmodic and sedative properties. It has a calming, antispasmodic and carminative action. It comes back, together with Camomilla and Fennel, in the composition of preparations to treat infantile colic.
Bifidobacterium infantis: This probiotic belongs to the Bifidobacteria family, characterized by the ability to survive in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic bacteria). The international scientific literature shows that breast-fed children have a higher concentration of Bifidobacteria, compared to children who have not been able to benefit. It also improves protection against pathogenic germs.
- Aeris Herbal Tea, formulated with Cumin fruits, Chamomile flowers, Thyme wild leaves, Coriander fruits, Fennel fruits and Green anise fruits.
- for those who also want to improve the bacterial flora: Erboflora Intolerance or Erboflora Rigenera or Erboflora junior, of which we had spoken in a last post.
- cotipsillium kinetic ("flat stomach" effect and carminative), based on Psyllium, supercritical dry extract with a high titre of Ginger and vegetable digestive Enzymes, is instead suitable for recovering intestinal punctuality besides deflating the belly. It also contains dry extract of Tamarind and concentrated pear juice, useful for promoting intestinal regularity in the case of constipation.
Intestinal gas: the indicated bud extracts
- Bud Extracts: cranberry bud extract is considered the specific remedy for all the disorders affecting the colon (irritable bowel, spastic colitis, meteorism, etc.). Dosage: 50 drops, diluted in water, 15 minutes before the main meals. Valid is the simultaneous prescription of Linden bud extract: to be used, for all ages of life, in the treatment of disorders related to the emotional sphere (anxiety syndrome, etc.), in case of stress and in the multiple expressions of neurovegetative dystonia by virtue of now proven spasmolytic and sedative properties. Dosage: 20-50 drops, diluted in water, upon awakening and before going to bed;
for meteorism in particular, Dr. E. Campanini recommends this therapeutic scheme: cranberry bud extract 50 drops in water before breakfast; juniper bud extract 50 drops in water before lunch; walnut bud extract 50 drops in water before dinner. Cycles 20 days a month for 2-3 months;
for gaseous colics of the suckling: Linden bud extract of 1-3 drops in a little water starting from the feed of the early afternoon and until evening, at which time the colic appears in the most annoying way for the infant and for the parents.
Visit our herbal department for any clarification or for more information.
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(2) Compendio alle Monografie ESCOP, Andrea Lugli, 2007
(3) Species differences in the prokinetic effects of ginger. Ghayur MN, Gilani AH. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2006 Feb-Mar;57(1-2):65-73.
Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia. Hu ML, Rayner CK, Wu KL, Chuah SK, Tai WC, Chou YP, Chiu YC, Chiu KW, Hu TH. World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Jan 7;17(1):105-10. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i1.105.
(4) Fitoterapia, Capasso , 2006.
(5) Manuale pratico di gemmoterapia, E. Campanini, 2006