The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Natural Health Care
by Beth Burch N.D.


Flatulance is the excessive collection of gas in the stomach or the intestines. Gas in the stomach, is often accompanied by belching and stomach distention. It is usually due to air that is swallowed by eating too rapidly, gulping liquids, or drinking carbonated beverages. Sometimes excess stomach gas accompanies stomach inflammation (gastritis) or stomach ulcers. Gas in the intestinal tract is produced by the fermentation of carbohydrates (sugars, starches and cellulose) or by the putrefaction of proteins. This can be aggravated by undigested food that reaches the colon and is then digested by colon bacteria producing gas. Various disorders of the intestines, pancreas, liver or gallbladder may contribute to the poor digestion of food. Constipation and postponing bowel movements may also increase the amount of intestinal gas produced and expelled. A spastic bowel may also

There are several food groups that often cause increased gas production. The first is the legume group. If beans cause you to produce gas, don't stop eating them as they are very healthy. Instead, there are several ways to reduce the chance they will produce gas in the intestine. Soaking beans before cooking and discarding the soaking water is helpful, as well as utilizing herbs and spices when cooking may help. Milk and dairy products also cause problems. Some people have a condition called lactose intolerance. They have low levels of the enzyme needed to digest the carbohydrate in milk, lactose. Members of the cabbage family including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts may also contribute to gas, as can onions, celery, corn, apples, dried fruits and prune, apple and grape juices.

To help relieve belching and stomach distention, the following simple measures may be helpful. First, eat slowly, chew food well and avoid carbonated beverages, straws, and hot drinks. To help relieve stomach gas, it may be helpful to chew papaya tablets or to use an herbal combination with peppermint and potassium carbonate.

Intestinal gas is best relieved by several approaches. Avoid foods that cause gas. The offending foods differ from person to person so you may have to experiment with eliminating different foods for the best results. The use of digestive enzymes with meals may help to more completely digest food in the intestines, preventing undigested food from reaching the colon. Carminative (gas relieving) herbs are often helpful. Try ginger and chamomile, in tea form to help ease stomach gas, or in capsule form for intestinal gas. Exercise can help to increase intestinal movement and prevent the slow passage of food through the intestines which can allow the buildup of gas. Regular bowel movements and preventing constipation are also important.

Of course, severe or persistant gas, abdominal pain or undigested food in the bowel movement should be evaluated by your health care provider.

* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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