Intestinal gas and abdominal bloating are uncomfortable and embarrassing problems. Gas and bloating are the most common health complaints, so don’t be embarrassed if this issue affects you – you’re not alone. Gas and bloating are the result of a build-up of certain gasses in the intestines, usually due to incomplete or improper digestion of food.
This article provides solutions for eliminating both gas and bloating using quick home remedies, dietary considerations, herbal remedies, alternative therapies, and the elimination of possible causes. By following the suggestions below, you can achieve immediate relief as well as long-term freedom from gas and bloating.
Part One: Causes of Gas and Bloating
Part Three: Long Term Solutions for Gas and Bloating
- Herbal Remedies for Gas and Bloating
- Dietary Suggestions for Gas and Bloating
- Improve the Health of Your Colon
- Alternative Therapies
- Move Your Body
- Other Causes for Gas and Bloating
Causes of Gas and Bloating
What Causes Intestinal Gas?
Intestinal gas, appropriately called “flatulence” can sometimes be caused simply by the swallowing of excess air while eating or drinking or when one is nervous. Although this can be the cause in some situations, most often, gas is caused by incomplete digestion.
When food is not completely digested before it reaches the large intestine, it may ferment, and produce gas as a by-product. This often happens after the intake of certain foods. To see the list of gas-producing foods, refer to the dietary section of this article.
We get the urge to “pass gas” when the gas from the intestines descends to the rectum by the act of peristalsis (the wave-like contractions of the smooth muscle in the digestive tract). When gas reaches the rectal area, there is usually an urge to eliminate it. Elimination of gas may occur voluntarily or involuntarily.
Flatulence is a normal and healthy bodily function. You will never get rid of gas entirely; however, there are limits as, to what is considered healthy when it comes to the frequency and severity of intestinal gas. Chronic gas or the sudden onset of intestinal gas along with other symptoms can indicate that something is not quite right in your digestive tract.
Holding gas in is never recommended. Retaining gas will cause discomfort and over time may cause distention of the bowels, increasing other problems in the area such as constipation.
What Causes Abdominal Bloating?
Bloating is a distention of the abdominal area due to an increase of pressure in the intestines. Gas builds up in the large intestine causing a feeling of fullness, tightness or discomfort in the abdomen. Bloating is annoying and uncomfortable, but rarely painful.
Bloating, like flatulence is caused by the improper digestion of food. Poor digestion can be due to dietary habits, food allergies or intolerances, digestive system disorders, or the presence of unfriendly microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract. There are less common, potentially severe causes of abdominal bloating, so if relief is not found by improving digestion, then it is worthwhile to get an examination to determine other causes.
Short-Term Solutions for Gas and Bloating
The remedies in this section may provide quick relief from gas and bloating, but most are not recommended to be used long term. Try out a few of the suggestions below, until you find one that works for you and keep it on hand in times of urgent need.
Taking activated charcoal will reduce the amount of gas in the intestines as well as the odor associated with it. Activated charcoal is effective because it absorbs the toxins that contribute to the formation of intestinal gas. Activated charcoal can be taken to reduce existing symptoms, or as a preventative when taken before a meal that is likely to produce flatulence.
*** Do not take charcoal if you are on any medications, as charcoal will absorb the medication as well. Depending on which medications you are on and how quickly they are absorbed, it may be ok to use activated charcoal 1-2 hours before or after the medication but check with your doctor first.
In some countries, it may be difficult to purchase activated charcoal capsules in store, but you can get them easily and quickly online here.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix 1-2 Tbsp of organic, raw apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water and drink before meals that are likely to produce gas.
*** The acids in apple cider vinegar can damage tooth enamel over time, so always dilute it in water and rinse your mouth after drinking it, alternatively drink diluted apple cider vinegar through a straw.
For quick relief from gas and bloating drink 1/4 – 1tsp of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) dissolved in a small glass of warm water.
Alternatively, mix the baking soda, a pinch of salt, and the juice of half a lemon into a glass of warm water.
*** Although baking soda can provide quick relief from gas and bloating, it is not be used regularly; regular use of sodium bicarbonate will lead to a decrease in the amount of stomach acid, which over time will worsen Gastrointestinal complaints.
Discomfort or pains associated with gas and bloating may subside soon after eating 4-6 strawberries (fresh or frozen). The claims for this remedy are all anecdotal, so I am not sure exactly why this works, but it seems to give quick relief for some people.
Since gas and bloating are usually caused by poor digestion of a particular food or a meal, digestive enzymes can offer relief as they help to break down the problem-causing foods. Enzymes should be taken before meals for the best results.
Common digestive enzymes include:
Enzymes involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates (starches and sugars):
Enzymes involved in the breakdown of proteins:
- Betaine HCL
Enzymes involved in the breakdown of fats:
Enzymes for the breakdown of plant fibres:
You can buy full-spectrum digestive enzymes which contain all the enzymes to break down everything. This way you don’t have to guess and your digestive system will get the help it needs. I like the enzymes by Enzymedica. It is best to save enzymes as an occasional remedy for situations when you are likely to get gas or bloating. Such situations include those occasional meals where you may tend to overeat, when you eat foods that you normally do not, or times when you end up mixing a wide range of foods, which can complicate the digestive process.
If you supplement regularly with digestive enzymes, the body may create a dependency. Only take what is necessary and do not use them regularly if it can be avoided. Consider trying herbal bitters before enzymes, since bitters stimulate the body to produce more of its own enzymes.
If you must use enzymes, use plant-based rather than enzymes from animal sources. Our bodies do not produce enzymes such as bromelain (from pineapple) or papain (from papaya), by taking these, you do not have the same risk of creating a dependency as you would if you took enzymes that the body already produces, such as trypsin or amylase.
If you are vegetarian, you want to make sure that you look for plant-based enzymes, as many enzymes are sourced from the internal organs of animals.
Beano is a brand name for the digestive enzyme alpha-galactosidase. When taken before meals Beano will prevent gas and bloating caused by certain foods. Alpha-galactosidase breaks down certain complex sugars called polysaccharides and oligosaccharides which are found in beans and legumes, nuts, whole grains, and cruciferous vegetables. It is the fermentation of these complex sugars in the large intestine that causes uncomfortable gas and bloating. By breaking these sugars down before they reach the large intestine, gas and bloating can be avoided.
As with all digestive enzymes, Beano must be taken before meals for the best results.
“Beano” is not the most desirable source of the alpha-galactosidase enzyme. Beano contains the artificial sweetener mannitol may cause stomach upset or diarrhea. Those with an intolerance to gluten should not take Beano as it contains wheat. Beano is not vegetarian-friendly as it contains animal ingredients such as gelatin, cod, flounder, and redfish. There are other manufacturers of the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, it may be worth seeking out a more pure source.
Gas-X is a pharmaceutical preparation having Simethicone and Calcium Carbonate as it’s active ingredients. Simethicone reduces the surface tension of trapped gas bubbles, dispersing them and allowing them to be eliminated. Calcium carbonate acts to give fast relief from the discomfort of gas and bloating.
Gas-X may offer relief from gas and bloating, but it is not recommended for various reasons:
- Simethicone is said to have no side effects when taken in small doses, but it can cause severe allergic reactions. Possible reactions include difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, rash, hives, itching, swelling of the face, mouth, lips or tongue.
- Calcium Carbonate it is an antacid, and regular use should be avoided. Since low stomach acidity causes many digestive complaints, taking an antacid such as calcium carbonate will make things worse in the long run.
- Gas-X also contains many undesirable ingredients such as mannitol, dextrose, maltodextrin, artificial flavors, talc and the food coloring D&C red 30.
Often intestinal gas and bloating are due to a slow transit time of feces in the colon, otherwise known as constipation. If fecal matter sits in the colon too long, it will begin to putrefy. But, if you get your bowels moving, with laxatives such as castor oil, cascara sagrada, or senna leaves, the fecal matter and the gas will be eliminated.
- Castor oil is made from the seeds of the Castor plant (Ricinus communis). It is an effective, old time remedy for constipation as well as gas and bloating. Take 1 tablespoon to help get things moving. Castor oil is very thick and tastes unpleasant, so it can be difficult to swallow. Chasing it immediately with water and then sucking on a lemon or lime wedge will rid your mouth of the taste.
- Herbs such as cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana) or senna (Cassia senna) act as powerful evacuants. You can take these laxative herbs in capsule or tea form.
Depending on how constipated you are, herbal laxatives can take up to a few hours or even overnight to give effects. Do not become impatient, and take more than the recommended dose, as you may be in for an uncomfortable surprise later.
*** Do not use herbal laxatives on a long term basis – you can create a dependency making the bowels lazy, thus worsening your condition. Herbal laxatives are for occasional use only. If you suffer from chronic constipation, there are healthier solutions such as increasing your intake of dietary fibre and doing a thorough colon cleanse.
Long Term Solutions for Gas and Bloating
Although short-term therapies are effective at providing quick relief from gas and bloating, they do not eliminate the cause of the problem. Many of the suggestions below may give relief from gas and bloating immediately, but they will also provide a long-term solution when incorporated into your lifestyle.
Bitter herbs stimulate the secretion of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, thus improving overall digestion which results in a decreased occurrence of intestinal gas and bloating.
Herbal bitters can be taken as needed or you can take them on a long-term basis to tonify the digestive organs. Bitters should be tried before taking digestive enzymes, as it is preferable to get the body to produce its own enzymes, rather than supplement with enzymes.
Bitter herbs include:
- Aloe (Aloe vera)
- Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
- Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)
- Barberry (Berberis spp.)
- Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus)
- Boldo (Peumus boldo)
- Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
- Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)
- Centaury (Centaurium erythracea)
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- Chiretta (Andrographis paniculata)
- Colombo (Frasera caroliniensis)
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officianalis)
- Gentian (Gentiana lutea)
- Goldenseal (Hydrastitis canadensis)
- Gold Thread (Coptis spp.)
- Horehound (Marrubium, vulgare)
- Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
- Quassia (Quassia amara)
- Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
- Virginia Snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria)
- Yarrow (Achillea milefolium)
Some bitters are quite strong and may not be well tolerated in people with a weaker constitution. Bitter herbs should not be used continuously over an extended period. If you are using them long-term, be sure to cycle them by taking one week off for every three weeks you take the herbs.
A German doctor developed Angostura Bitters to treat patients with alimentary disturbances. The formula is made in Trinidad and sold worldwide as a beverage taste enhancer. It is a blend of bitter herbs which gives relief from gas, bloating, stomach pain associated with gas, as well as many other disturbances of the gastrointestinal tract.
Angostura bitters is a common ingredient in many popular cocktails, but it can also be mixed with water, lemonade, or your favourite juice. You can drink it to relieve existing symptoms of gas and bloating, but it will be more effective if you can take it before a meal, or sip it during a meal. Angostura Bitters are easy to find in some countries, but not as readily available in North America. I have found them on Amazon, however.
Another popular bitter formula is “Swedish Bitters” which is sold as a herbal elixir. Many companies manufacture bitter formulas under this name, and they are easily found at shops or online.
Herbs and spices which give relief from gas bloating are classified as carminatives. Carminative herbs not only prevent the formation of gas, but they also assist with the expulsion of gas from the body.
Many herbs are carminative in action, but not all will work for every individual. Try a few, until you find the one that works the best for you.
Most carminative herbs are common cooking ingredients, and you can add these herbs to your cooking, or make a tea to sip with or after meals. You will find many carminative herbs in your spice cupboard and I have provided links to the less common ones.
Some of carminative herbs include:
- Ajwain (Trachyspermum ammi)
- Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
- Asafoetida (Ferula asafoetida)
- Basil (Ocimim basilicum)
- Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
- Caraway (Carum carvi)
- Cardamom (Elettaria cardemomum)
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
- Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
- Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
- Dill (Anethum graveolens)
- Epazote (Chenopodium ambroissides)
- Fennel (Fornecuum vulgare)
- Garlic (Allium sativum)
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
- Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
- Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
- Tumeric (Curcuma longa)
- Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
8 Ways to Incorporate Carminative Herbs in Your Diet:
- Add fresh mint leaves to lemonade or make a refreshing tea out of dried or fresh peppermint, spearmint, or wintergreen leaves.
- Crush fennel, anise, caraway, or cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle, pour hot water over the crushed seeds, add a touch of honey for sweetness and enjoy as a post-meal beverage.
- Add cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg to porridge, baked goods, hot chocolate, or tea blends. These also give a nice flavor.
- Mix fresh chopped dill or parsley into your salads.
- Look beyond pasta sauce to see where you can incorporate generous amounts of garlic, basil, oregano, and thyme. Try these herbs in scrambled eggs, beans, or tofu dishes.
- Give your starchy dishes a rich flavour with cumin, coriander, caraway, and ginger.
- Add small amounts of ajwain, asafoetida, epazote, or kombu to your ethnic dishes. Ajwain and asafoetida are staples in Indian dishes; epazote is commonly used in Mexican foods and kombu in Japanese cuisine.
- Chew 1/2 tsp of anise or fennel seeds after meals. Chew well and be sure to swallow the seeds afterwards. The pleasant licorice-like taste of these seeds will also freshen your breath.
Dietary Suggestions to Prevent Gas and Bloating
General Tips for Eating
- Limit the amount of liquids you drink with each meal; liquid dilutes the digestive juices needed to digest your food properly.
- Drink more fluids throughout the day (but not with meals).
- Do not eat when you are under stress; your energy is going towards the stress response (fight or flight) when the energy is taken away from the digestive organs and put into the limbs.
- Chew with your mouth closed and avoid talking while you eat to reduce the amount of air taken in. Do not drink beverages through a straw, as this also introduces extra air into your digestive system.
- Eat meals at regular times each day; this will aid in the release of digestive enzymes and the overall functioning of the digestive system.
- Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly. Digestion starts in the mouth; necessary enzymes are secreted in the saliva which begins the digestion of carbohydrates. Chewing also increases the surface area of the food, making it easier for the other parts of your digestive system to do their job.
- Do not overeat. Overeating stresses the digestive system. As a rule, eat only until your stomach is about 2/3rds full. The slower you eat and the more thoroughly you chew, the less likely you will be to overeat. Your body takes about 20 minutes to recognize that it is full, so if you eat very quickly you do not allow the body to register when it has had enough.
- Don’t eat another meal until your previous meal is digested – the new undigested food will mix with the partially digested food causing it to sit longer in the stomach, resulting in fermentation.
- Implement some simple food combining principles. Poor food combining can lead to indigestion, fermentation, putrefaction and the formation of intestinal gas. A common mistake people make, is mixing fruits with other foods. Fruits when eaten alone, digest well, but when mixed with other foods lead to fermentation. Also, avoid eating a lot of raw and cooked foods together. Food combining principles are more complicated than this, but incorporating these suggestions is a good start, that will show results in your digestive tract.
Change the way you cook
- Use spices in your cooking to help reduce the effects of poor food combinations. In addition to these spices, cook with black salt (a greyish-pink salt from India). This mineral-rich salt helps to relieve flatulence, indigestion, and constipation. Black salt has a distinct smell and taste due to its high content of sulphur, but the flavor mixes well in cooked dishes, so do not be afraid to use it in place of your regular salt.
- Most people become gassy after eating beans, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts. These foods are too healthy and beneficial to eliminate from the diet, so make them more digestible by adding carminative herbs to dishes containing these foods or by occasionally supplementing with the alpha-galactosidase enzyme. The same can be done eating starchy foods such as potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, and radishes since starch is another common cause of intestinal gas.
- Soak beans and legumes (for 6-24 hours depending on the bean) before cooking to release some of the gas-producing components, throw out the soaking water and cook them in fresh water.
*** If you have recently introduced a food into your diet that was not a regular staple before, it may take some time for your system to adjust to the new food. Remember that foods such as beans, legumes, and whole grains may initially create gas and bloating when added to the diet, but in time, your body will adapt, and gas will subside. Diligently follow the suggestions above while you are going through your transition phase.
Identify Problem Foods and Food Allergies or Intolerance’s
If you are experiencing gas and bloating you may be sensitive to something you are eating or drinking. Consider the following foods when determining the cause of your intestinal difficulties.
- Many people cannot digest gluten, a protein found in certain grains. Gluten-containing grains include barley, farro, kamut, rye, spelt, triticale and wheat.
- Dairy products are also a common culprit as many people cannot adequately digest lactose (milk sugar).
- Foods which cause stress on the digestive system (such as fried foods, red meat, and nuts) are often too difficult for some people to digest. Limit your intake of these foods or eat them mid-day when digestion is at its peak. Avoid these high-stress foods in the evenings when digestion is weaker.
- If you are using whey protein powder, it may be responsible for your gas. Switch from a whey protein concentrate to a high-quality whey protein isolate, or break up your dose into smaller quantities throughout the day, sometimes a serving of protein powder is too much to digest at once.
- Artificial sweeteners such as mannitol, sorbitol and sucralose may cause stomach complaints such as gas and bloating. Eliminate all foods and beverages containing these additives.
- Carbonated beverages (anything bubbly or fizzy) introduce air into the digestive system and may be the cause of your gas.
How to Test for Food Allergies and Intolerances
Many Naturopaths offer food allergy testing. You can also determine food allergies by following an elimination diet and recording your meals and symptoms in a food journal.
An Elimination diet is when you eliminate all suspicious foods and then slowly add them back into your diet one by one. By incorporating each food back into your diet separately you can identify which ones produce symptoms.
Keeping a food journal is very useful for determining any food allergies or intolerances. By writing down everything you eat and what time you eat it you will be able to see patterns of when or after which foods your gas and bloating is worst. In this way, you can eventually determine the problem foods.
Improve the Health of Your Colon
Improving the overall health of your colon is a crucial step in eliminating problems with gas and bloating. The suggestions below are simple and effective. Since most problems begin in the colon, improving the health of your colon may also reduce symptoms you may be experiencing elsewhere in the body.
Consider Colon Cleansing
Performing an enema or a herbal colon cleanse eliminates old, impacted fecal matter which may be the cause your gas problems. Cleansing of the colon also improves the overall health of the colon and the entire body.
Fill up on Fibre
Increase your intake of dietary fibre (more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans) and use a supplemental fibre such as psyllium, acacia, or ground flax. Fibre will improve overall digestion and elimination.
Added fibre may increase gas initially, but after your body adjusts to a higher intake of fibre, the gas will subside.
Read More: Fibre: Why You Need it and How to Use it.
Binge on Beneficial Bacteria
Gas and bloating can often be the result of low levels of good bacteria in the colon. Add some probiotics, in the form of acidophilus capsules or cultures such as live yogurt and kefir, to your daily diet and see if it makes a difference. Relief will not be immediate, but symptoms of chronic gas will gradually decrease as the population of good bacteria in your colon increases.
Alternative Therapies for Gas and Bloating
Reflexology, Acupuncture, and Su jok
You may also want to consider looking into alternative therapies such as Reflexology, Acupuncture, and Su jok therapy. These therapies work with the circulation of energy in the body by accessing specific points related to the various organs of the body. By stimulating the points that correspond to the digestive system you can obtain relief from digestive problems. You may find short-term relief from one session, but to achieve long-term improvement, multiple sessions are advised.
These therapies should be looked at as an addition to your health regime, not as stand-alone cures. Incorporate these alternative therapies with your own efforts in areas of diet, exercise, and colon cleansing for a more holistic, long-term solution for gas and bloating.
Gas and bloating occur in the lower GI tract, which according to Ayurvedic Medicine (India’s ancient healing science) is the seat of vata dosha. Problems in this area, such as gas and bloating are symptoms of excess or aggravated vata dosha. To eliminate vata related symptoms such as bloating and flatulence, one must adopt a lifestyle and habits which decrease vata dosha.
Ayurveda is a holistic system of healing that will look at all physical and mental factors which contribute to an imbalance in your doshas. An Ayurvedic therapist will offer various treatments including advice on dietary changes, herbal remedies, massage and other physical therapies to help your body regain its own natural balance.
Read More: What is Ayurveda?
Move Your Body
Take a short walk after eating. Movement in your body will increase peristalsis and promote healthy digestion overall.
Make an effort to get more exercise on a regular basis. When we remain stagnant, our bodily functions also remain stagnant. When our body is moving and the energy is flowing, the functions of our circulatory, endocrine, and digestive system significantly improve.
Yoga asanas or postures allow the body to move in ways that we typically do not in a typical day, limiting our positions to standing, sitting, slouching, or laying down. The asanas listed below stimulate and relax the abdominal organs releasing trapped gas and stimulating the digestive process.
Although these asanas can offer quick relief from gas and bloating, they should be performed on a regular basis to tone the digestive system.
With the exception of vajrasana, all yoga asanas should be performed on an empty stomach (a minimum of 2 hours after eating).
Vajrasana – otherwise known as “diamond pose” can aid digestion when practiced directly after meals.
Kneel with the knees slightly apart (about a fist width between the knees). Spread your heels, so that your buttocks sit between the heels. Your big toes should be close but not touching. Hands rest on the upper thighs with the fingers pointing towards the inner thighs and thumbs on the outside of the thighs. Keep your spine straight and chest and shoulders expanded. Sit in vajrasana for 10-15 minutes after your meals.
Pavana Muktasana – literally translates as “wind-release pose” – the name speaks for itself.
Lie flat on your back, and raise your bent knees towards your chest, heels should be close to the buttocks. Keep the knees together and clasp your legs with your arms. You can raise your head off the ground and bring it towards the knees if it is comfortable for you.
Sasankasana and Balasana – are two slightly different poses, but they are both versions of the well-known “child’s pose.” Child’s pose works in a similar way to pavana muktasana; the compression of the abdominal organs stimulates peristalsis, improves digestion, and allows excess gas or “wind” to be released.
Start by sitting on your knees, then lean forward to touch your forehead to the floor. Keep your buttocks close to your heels if possible. Place your hands on the floor with your palms facing downward. Relax your arms beside your head in the posture sasankasana, or stretch the outward in balasana.
Bidalasana – the “extended cat stretch” positions the intestines in a manner which allows for the natural expulsion of intestinal gas. Bidalansana also massages the abdominal organs, while strengthening and toning this area.
Start on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Slowly slide your arms and torso forward so that your chest touches the floor. Your buttocks should be high in the air while your chest and knees are relaxed on the floor. Your arms should be reached out in front, but if you find too much strain on your neck while in the full posture, you can rest your head on folded arms.
Ardha Matsyendrasana – which is commonly referred to as the “seated spinal twist,” stimulates the organs of the abdomen and aids peristalsis of the intestines.
Sitting on the floor, bend one leg so that the knee and heel touch the floor, the heel is near the pelvis on the opposite side of the body. Bend the other leg, so that the knee is pointing upwards and the foot is flat on the floor, the heel sits at the outer-facing side of the knee of the other leg. Twist your torso in the direction of the knee that is pointing upwards, (i.e. if your right knee is pointed upward, turn your torso to the right). Keeping your spine straight turn your torso towards the back of the room, your head should follow. Your torso should be twisted so that the opposite armpit sits near the knee pointing upward. The elbow of this arm should rest on the outer side of the upward facing knee. Place your hand where it is comfortable; either pointing towards the ceiling or resting on the leg grasping the same foot at the ankle. The arm that is facing the back of the room should wrap around your back so that the hand is touching the opposite thigh.
*** Only twist within your comfort limits, do not push yourself into this asana. If you are doing this asana within a comfortable range, both buttocks should remain on the floor, and the spine can easily be kept straight.
Sarvangasana – more commonly called “candle pose” or “shoulder stand” inverts the body, thus releasing pressure on the abdominal organs. This allows the abdominal organs, especially the intestines to relax and allow any trapped air to be expelled.
Lie on the floor on your back, bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor, and your knees are pointing upward. Lift your buttocks and lower back, off the floor by pushing into your feet. Clasp your hands under your buttocks and lower back, and inch your shoulder blades together, so that your weight rests primarily on your shoulders. Once your shoulders are in place, you can unclasp your hands. Slowly raise and straighten your legs, putting your hands on the hips if you need support. Walk your hands down your back closer to your shoulder blades, and straighten your body. Your chest should be touching your chin.
If it is not comfortable to do the full version of this posture, then remain with your hands supporting your hips. You may want to fold your mat or add some additional padding if you feel too much pressure on your cervical vertebrae.
*** Do not turn your head while you are in sarvangasana. There is a lot of weight and pressure on the neck, so care must be taken to avoid injury.
Other Causes for Gas and Bloating
Check your Medicine
If you are on any prescription medications, check with your doctor about the side effects. Certain prescription medications such as iron pills, anti-histamines, and anti-depressants may cause bloating or constipation. Do not stop taking your prescription unless advised by your doctor. Simply check the side effects to rule the medication out as a possible cause.
Get Tested for Infections
Consider testing for bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections. These micro-organisms can reek havoc in the intestines.
Candida is an overgrowth of a naturally occurring fungus in the intestines. Often filling out a simple questionnaire can determine if you have candida overgrowth.
A common bacterial infection that can cause gastric problems such as gas, indigestion and stomach ulcers is Helicobacter pylori. Testing for H. Pylori involves doing a breath test at the lab.
Intestinal parasites include any types of protozoa, amoeba, or worms that have been introduced into the body from the ingestion of un-hygienic food or water. Usually, stool samples need to be taken and analyzed at the lab to determine if you have parasites.
Resources and Related Reading:
- David Hoffman, Healthy Digestion
- Christopher Hobbs, Foundations of Health: Healing with Herbs & Foods
- Michael Moore, Clinical Manuals
- John Lust, The Herb Book
- Usha Lad and Dr. Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-healing
- Noa Belling,The Yoga Handbook
- earthclinic.com: gas remedies
- drugs.com: side-effects