Say goodbye to gas problems – The Ayurvedic wayDr. Surya Bhagwati
Gas, bloating, and flatulence may make for good humor, but it’s no laughing matter when you’re at the receiving end. Having to deal with bloating and gas can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, especially if it’s a problem that surfaces frequently. Unfortunately, it is one of the most common digestive complaints and it can even be a persistent problem for many, especially if you suffer from other chronic gastrointestinal problems like inflammatory bowel disorder or ulcerative colitis. While there are plenty of OTC medications that can provide quick and effective relief, it is not advisable to consume such products frequently because of the risk of side effects.
Fortunately, there’s a lot that you can do to treat and manage the problem effectively, without the need for medications. Ayurvedic recommendations are some of the most effective in this regard and include a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as herbal remedies for gas.
The Ayurvedic Approach to Treating Gas & Bloating
A diet that is conducive to healthy digestion is regarded as essential in Ayurveda, as healthy digestion is said to be the cornerstone of good health. Almost all diseases that arise can be traced to faulty eating habits and digestive problems. The key to maintaining healthy digestion is to eat according to your dosha balance or prakriti. This refers to the natural energies that exist in nature, including foods. Formulating your own dosha balancing diet can be a bit tricky if you are unfamiliar with the concept of doshas and the Ayurvedic classification of foods. This makes it best to consult an Ayurvedic physician for a personalized diet. At the same time however, there are certain generalized recommendations that can be used by anyone to prevent, treat, and manage the problems of gas and bloating.
Avoid gas producing foods – It would be a good idea to track your diet with a journal or food planner to identify connections with foods, as each of us has different triggers. However, some foods are known to increase gas and cutting back on your intake could help. This includes foods like beans, pulses, broccoli, kale, cabbage, raisins, and prunes. This is primarily because of the presence of sulfates in these foods, which results in a release and buildup of gas during digestion. Red meats and egg yolks can also be problematic for the same reason. In some individuals, fruit sugars and fiber can also contribute to the problem as they may be hard to digest. This is why it’s best not to eat raw foods if you suffer from frequent bloating and gas. Additionally, intake of all junk foods and carbonated drinks should be limited as they are all associated with increased gas buildup due to their high content of fats and sugar. In many individuals mild lactose intolerance could also be the culprit, especially if you observe symptoms soon after consuming any dairy product.
Ayurveda also emphasizes the importance of healthy eating habits, not just nutrition from your diet. Eating meals quickly and with distractions, overeating, and having irregular meal times are also regarded as behaviors that can contribute to bloating and gas. When you eat rapidly without chewing food properly, you are more likely to swallow air, aggravating the problem. This is why it’s important to practice mindfulness eating, focusing on and appreciating all the foods that you eat. Similarly, following the dinacharya or daily routine helps to create a disciplined structure so that meal times are fixed and more attuned to the flows of nature.
Ayurvedic Herbs for Gas
Herbs that are commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine for gas are some of the most effective natural treatments for the problem. Most of these herbs work as natural digestive aids, reducing the risk of indigestion, and helping prevent gas and bloating. Ginger, peppermint, fennel, black pepper, and peperimool are some of the best herbal ingredients to look for, whether you’re preparing your own remedy at home or purchasing an Ayurvedic medicine for gas and acidity.
Ginger is perhaps the most popular and widely used natural digestive aid, often used to treat nausea. However, studies show that ginger can also alleviate gas pain as Ayurveda has long believed. Ginger enhances digestion and soothes the digestive tract, easing the movement and release of gas faster. It’s also known to possess various therapeutic properties, making it useful for range of gastrointestinal problems. Peppermint or pudinha is another notable herb for relieving gas and bloating and has been a staple ingredient in Ayurvedic medicines for gastric problems. It’s anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties don’t just help relieve diarrhea, but can also help relax the digestive tract to ease the passage of gas. Fennel is also known to be effective as a digestive aid that can help relieve and prevent constipation, which is a common cause for gas and bloating. In addition, some studies suggest that fennel can provide protection against peptic ulcers.
In addition to following the dinacharya, which we already mentioned in the context of diet, there are other lifestyle practices that can help reduce your problem of gas and bloating. The best thing you could do would be to take up yoga, as physical activity has been shown to promote healthy digestion, reducing the risk of such problems. Moreover, yoga is a therapeutic activity and there are several asanas that can specifically help relieve gas, such as Pawanmuktasana(literally means wind relieving pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, and Balasana, to name a few.
- Rastogi, Sanjeev. Ayurvedic Science of Food and Nutrition. Springer, 2014.
- Iovino, Paola et al. “Bloating and functional gastro-intestinal disorders: where are we and where are we going?.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 20,39 (2014): 14407-19. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i39.14407
- Lohsiriwat, Supatra et al. “Effect of ginger on lower esophageal sphincter pressure.” Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand = Chotmaihet thangphaet vol. 93,3 (2010): 366-72. PMID: 20420113
- Cash, Brooks D et al. “A Novel Delivery System of Peppermint Oil Is an Effective Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms.” Digestive diseases and sciences vol. 61,2 (2016): 560-71. doi:10.1007/s10620-015-3858-7
- Birdane, Fatih Mehmet et al. “Beneficial effects of Foeniculum vulgare on ethanol-induced acute gastric mucosal injury in rats.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 13,4 (2007): 607-11. doi:10.3748/wjg.v13.i4.607