Bloating is one of the most common symptoms that my patients complain of. As a follow up to my last blog which discussed the most common causes of bloating, this blog discusses some natural treatment options that you can try at home. Bloating is uncomfortable, painful and can cause you to feel self-conscious about your abdomen as you ‘feel 6 months pregnant’. While there are many reasons for bloating, here are some simple home remedies for bloating that you can try to get some relief:
1- Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil is great for bloating and other digestive symptoms such as gas or indigestion. It is a carminative herb, which means that it acts as a relaxant to the digestive tract, calming down spasms and reduces the buildup of gas, thereby preventing bloating. The volatile oils within peppermint work locally in the digestive tract to reduce inflammation and it also tastes pleasant and is cost effective. Simply add 2 drops into a glass of water or herbal tea and sip. You can also try rubbing some peppermint oil on the abdomen for bloating relief.
2- Ginger tea
Ginger is another carminative herb that reduces abdominal bloat as well as acts as a digestive stimulant to strengthen the digestive process. It is a demulcent herb, which means it can soothe and reduce inflammation in the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract. Gingers effect on stimulating digestion means it increases transit time to ensure food is moved smoothly through the digestive tract, with less fermentation. It also increases digestive acid and enzyme production to aid digestion. A ginger tea between meals helps to reduce bloating and improve digestion. Ginger tea bags will work, however it is just as easy to add some freshly grated ginger with a squeeze of lemon into boiled water and strain after 5 mins or so. You can add ginger into your fresh juices, smoothies or use regularly in your cooking.
Fennel is my number one herb for bloating. Another carminative herb, the British herbal pharmacopeia states that it is useful for ‘flatulent dyspepsia’. It works best when the bloating is related to flatulence and gas. Fennel has an aniseed flavour, and tastes great when added into salads. I use a potato peeler to add shreds into my salads. Fennel seeds make a nice addition to meat marinates when crushed using a mortar and pestle. Fennel can also be purchased in a tea bag to sip throughout the day and is often combined with other herbs such as licorice or ginger for digestive support.
4- Apple Cider Vinegar
The bitterness of apple cider vinegar stimulates digestion by increase stomach acid and enzyme production. This in turn ensures that our food is broken down efficiently and reduces bloating. It has lots of other health benefits such as improving liver function, stimulating gall bladder function, regulating bowel movements, increasing nutrient absorption and stimulating metabolism. In fact, anything that tastes bitter will stimulate digestion and reduce bloating such as lemon juice in water, a few olives before dinner or dark green leafy veggies such as chicory or radicchio. Apple cider vinegar is a cost effective of incorporating more bitter foods into your diet. Add 1 tsp of good quality and ideally organic apple cider vinegar into about 30-50mls of room temperature water and ‘shot’ before breakfast and dinner.
5- Fermented foods
Fermented foods contain natural live cultures (like probiotics) that improve our digestive health and reduce bloating. While not commonly incorporated into a western diet, these foods do wonders for digestion. Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kefir, yoghurt, kombucha or kimchi. While it is ideal to make these yourself, this can be quite time consuming and there are some great companies who now sell fermented foods. Try your local farmers markets or health food stores a there is a great range that you can purchase premade these days. Sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented veggies are a great addition to your main meals.
Contact me if you would like more treatment options to get your bloating under control- [email protected]