Gas in the abdomen can cause some of the most socially embarrassing situations. You’re eating with your friends at a restaurant, telling them a wonderful joke, when all of a sudden a loud burp escapes your mouth and you, yourself, become the joke. Another time, you may be sitting calmly in a meeting or a classroom when suddenly gas escapes your behind, and everyone shoots glances at you. If abdominal gas is pushing you into all these embarrassing situations, you have reached the right place. Read on as our article equips you with the valuable information needed on how to get rid of trapped gas.
Trapped Gas and Its Causes
The first thing you need to know is that gas is normally present in your digestive tract all the time, and is produced naturally by the inhalation of air or digestion of food but it doesn’t cause any problems. Only when excessive gas starts forming and accumulating in your digestive tract do you experience frequent episodes of belching, bloating and flatulence 1)http://www.medicinenet.com/intestinal_gas_belching_bloating_flatulence/page5.htm. Some of the common causes of excessive gas in the abdomen include the following:
- Certain foods such as beans, lentils, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, milk products and hard candy are broken down by natural bacteria residing in your intestines, resulting in gas production.
- Increased growth of bacteria in your intestines, called bacterial overgrowth, can cause excess gas production even when you’re not eating gas-causing foods 2)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099351/.
- Eating too quickly and in large portions may cause the food to remain unchewed, which delays its digestion. This undigested food then produces large amounts of gas.
- Certain diseases of the digestive tract like celiac disease, food allergy, irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance can all lead to accumulation and trapping of gas within the abdomen.
- Anxiety and stress have also been associated with excess gas in the abdomen.
Getting Rid of Trapped Gas
While several over-the-counter medicines, such as simethicone, are available for abdominal gas, none of them have proven effectiveness in treating trapped gas. Braden Kuo, from Massachusetts General Hospital, goes so far as to say: “from most of our experience, we don’t find that they work.” 3)http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2010/06/14/over_the_counter_anti_gas_medications/
Fortunately, there are many natural remedies that effectively remove trapped gas without relying on drugs and medicines. Let’s look at them in detail:
Treatment #1 – Improve your Diet
As already mentioned, certain foods are important in causing accumulation of gas in your abdomen. So, the first step you should take is to avoid them. Because of differences in digestive systems among different people, the exact food that may be responsible for trapped gas in your abdomen can vary. The best method is to experiment with cutting down different foods from your diet to find out which one is the culprit in your case.
Leafy vegetables, carbonated drinks and foods containing artificial sweeteners are especially notorious for causing trapped gas and should be avoided completely 4)http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Flatulence/Pages/Treatment.aspx. In addition to cutting gas-causing foods from your diet, you should also add gas-reducing foods to your diet. Lemon juice and pumpkin are among the most beneficial foods in this regard.
Furthermore, you should always try to chew your food thoroughly so it is digested quickly by your digestive system. Taking in small portions or bites at a single time helps with easy digestion.
Treatment #2 – Regular Physical Exercise
Lack of physical activity has been suggested as a cause of trapped gas in the abdomen. For instance, shift work, which involves standing or sitting at a single place for long periods of time, has been associated with constipation, abdominal pains, grumbling and flatulence 5)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2784228/. Accordingly, world’s leading hospital, Mayo Clinic, recommends regular exercise for the treatment of trapped gas and gas pains 6)http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gas-and-gas-pains/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20019271. A 10-15 minute walk after each meal, a light jog every evening or going regularly to a gym can all help you fight abdominal gas. A specific yoga exercise or pose called the “Wind-Relieving Pose” (Pawanmuktasana) is recommended by yogis to get rid of trapped gas in your abdomen. In order to perform this pose do the following.
- Lie straight on your back with arms to your side
- Breathe slowly, bend your knees and bring them towards your chest.
- Now put your hands around your knees and press your thighs against your abdomen
- At the same time, bend your head and draw it upwards so that your chin touches your knees
Researchers from India have found that this pose helps in addressing the problems of excessive gas, abdominal discomfort, bloating and flatulence 7)http://www.ordonearresearchlibrary.org/Data/pdfs/IJDFR84.pdf.
Treatment #3 – Herbal Teas
Several herbal teas have been used for the treatment of abdominal problems for centuries. These herbal teas, which include peppermint tea, chamomile tea, ginger tea and fennel seed tea, relax the stomach and intestines and expel the gas trapped inside them.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a mint herb found widely in the Middle East and Europe. First discovered in 1753, the herb quickly got famous for its medicinal properties, particularly for its beneficial effects on the digestive system. Researchers have found that its tea is effective in treating indigestion and flatulence 8)http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.1936/abstract. Another study found that peppermint oil reduces bacterial overgrowth in the intestine 9)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12410625 which could be one of the mechanisms by which peppermint tea reduces trapped gas. Menthol, the major chemical found in peppermint, also relaxes the muscles of digestive system, allowing the trapped gas to pass out easily.
- Wash and tear fresh peppermint leaves.
- Put them in a teapot and pour some boiling water over them.
- Let them steep for 3-7 minutes depending on how strong you like your tea.
Chamomile is a herb that has been used for treating a variety of diseases since ancient times. Greek physicians used to call it “khamaimēlon” (earth apple) because of its faint apple-like odor. Recently researchers have found that ancient physicians were right in asserting its benefits in treating a number of disorders such muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders and rheumatic pain 10)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/. Researchers have also found that extracts from chamomile herb provide relief from flatulence, indigestion, anorexia, nausea, and vomiting 11)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2809371/.
Chamomile tea produces its effects through numerous phenolic compounds that have antispasmodic and anxiety-reducing effects, providing relief from excess gas accumulated in the abdomen. 12)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16628544
- Put a handful of dried chamomile flowers in a teapot
- Add boiling water over them and let them infuse for 3 minutes
While ginger is widely known for spicing up foods, few people know that its tea has numerous medicinal effects. For instance, researchers from Australia found ginger to be effective in reducing nausea, vomiting and retching in pregnant women 13)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15051552. The University of Maryland Medical Center also recommends it for the treatment of indigestion 14)http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/ginger. By enhancing digestion, ginger tea reduces the amount of undigested food, so that bacteria in the intestines produce less gas.
Fennel Seed Tea
Fennel seeds have been used as carminative (gas-removing) agents for thousands of years. Researchers have found that these seeds are helpful in treating painful spasms of the intestines by relaxing the digestive tract 15)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12868253. This is the reason why the tea made from these seeds helps with flatulence and bloating.
- Crush 2 tablespoons of fresh fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle.
- Put the crushed seeds in a teapot
- Pour boiling water over them and let them steep for 8-10 minutes
Treatment #4 – Natural Carminatives
Carminatives are substances that prevent or relieve flatulence. Several naturally occurring herbs are excellent carminatives. Some of the most effective among them are mentioned below. They can be chewed as such or taken in the form of oils or teas.
Anise seeds are used widely in herbal medicine for the treatment of flatulence. Recent scientific investigations into these seeds have proven their effectiveness in treating abdominal gas 16)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3405664/.
Caraway seeds are also famous carminatives. Carvacrol and caravone, chemical compounds in caraway seeds, have anti-spasmodic and anti-bacterial effects 17)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210012/. So, ingesting caraway seeds reduces the amount of gut bacteria and relaxes your digestive system; both effects act together to provide relief from trapped gas.
Spearmint is a species of mint and is well-known for its carminative actions. The compound responsible for its carminative action is (-)-Carvone, which has antispasmodic and relaxing effects on your digestive tract 18)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23103297.
Clove is a herb widely used to add flavor to meats, curries and beverages. In herbal medicine, it is used as an anti-flatulent. Researchers from Pakistan demonstrated antimicrobial activity of this culinary herb against some bacteria 19)http://pakbs.org/pjbot/PDFs/40%285%29/PJB40%285%292157.pdf. This may be responsible for its carminative action.
Freedom from Abdominal Gas
Trapped abdominal gas doesn’t kill you; it doesn’t even make you sick or confine you to bed. However, its effects are just as harmful. It impacts your social relations and self-image, causing constant stress and depression. Now you know that simply changing your diet, exercising regularly, and trying long-proven teas and herbs can free you from this curse and the embarrassments that come with it.
References [ + ]