Abdominal bloating occurs when unexpected gases are produced as a result of incomplete digestion or when you are unable to fully digest particular foods (food intolerance). Bloating occurs when you eat on the run, gulp food down and drink during and straight after food. Bloating can occur when you are mentally stressed, experiencing anxiety and feeling generally uptight due to stressful situations. Bloating results from stress due to inadequate/insufficient sleep. Bloating can be a painful distressing symptom that happens at/after almost any meal. Any stress that is affecting the gastrointestinal tract can contribute to bloating.
Ayurvedic medicine refers to it has “Vata rising” (Vata represent’s air), if not resolved, becomes stagnant referred to as Ama – resulting in toxicity within the system. Vata (air) should not rise, it should flow downwards – which equates with elimination. So to have bloating is an indicator of Vata derangement. Vata represents cold, dry, light and mobile so is treated by introducing warming remedies and those offering moisture and promote weight. We need to establish a calming influence since Vata is a sign of stress and hyperactivity. Remedies that assist in balancing Vata would lean towards being sweet, sour, salty and nutritive in action along with offering moisture. Slippery Elm is one good example that many people have heard of.
Depending on each situation some herbs with a pungent flavor can decrease Vata but not in excess otherwise it will aggravate Vata states. Pungent herbs are often considered the hotter tastes but moderation is the key and the bloating you are experiencing may not always require this approach.
It is far better to see a qualified practitioner. Not all Naturopaths’ draw on philosophies of Ayurvedic energetic’s with western herbal medicine.
- Dairy – especially cows
- Grains containing gluten – wheat, rye, oats, barley etc
- Sensitivity to fructose – from fruit
- Allergic reaction to yeast and all foods/drinks containing it – includes alcohol
- Preservatives, chemicals and colorings that are added to foods
- Plants from the nightshade family – tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, pimentos and paprika.
- Combining foods that are not compatible – dairy and grains/pasta, fruits cooked with animal food
- Emotional/mental stress – impacts on the entire gastrointestinal (GIT) function such as – eating when angry, upset, feeling anxious and pressured – especially in work environment when meeting deadlines, eating and working at same time.
- Rushing meals, not chewing thoroughly, drinking during eating.
- Bowel disorders such as ongoing constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel disease, colitis, diverticulitis.
- Inadequate digestive enzymes
- Some women also feel bloated prior to their menstrual cycle – this is often hormonally related and means the hormonal system is out of balance,
What to do
- Food allergy testing
- Check hormonal levels if a cyclic bloating such as estrogen, progesterone, LH and FSH
- Stool test
- Practice yoga, tai chi and meditation to relax the mind and body
- See a naturopath who can formulate the correct remedies to help improve on gut/bowel function, including healing of mucous membranes. You will also need the appropriate probiotics. Many different formulas have been created to cater for particular states of dysbiosis and bowel problems.
- You may require anti parasite treatments. Some parasites live in the body for decades feeding off you and breeding. You may kill off the adult parasites but often hundreds of eggs hatch afterwards so remedies must be taken consistently over a period of time. They can contribute to many intestinal problems which results in bloating and sometimes colicky pain and fatigue.
Once the correct tests have been conducted the right protocol can be put in place with natural remedies. You may need to omit one of your favorite foods or more, for a while if not for good. Often the food we crave is often contributing to our problem.
If you realize the bloating is due to stubborn bowel function, please do not use laxatives even if natural, constipation can occur for many reasons. To use laxatives on an uptight stressed colon will only irritate the mucous membranes further; this in turn will make your belly bloat out with irritation. Moisturizing herbs need to be included such as slippery elm and flaxseed meal. Psyllium can make bloating worse in many people. Relaxant herbs need to be included if it is stress related. If any symptoms persist see a qualified Naturopath since there are so many herbs that could be selected.
If constipation is caused by stress a hot Epsom salt bath at night with about 4-5 drops of vetiver essential oil and a handful of rock salt can help relax the viscera (intestinal organs). Epsom salts contain magnesium and have a slight laxative effect yet not cathartic as in oral use. Make sure you do a spot test with Vetiver on the wrist making sure no skin reaction. This is more suitable for the uptight tense/spastic colon. Or for people who have genetically slow peristalsis and/or a very narrow colon.
If you have a state of dysbiosis within the intestines you need specific probiotics not a general formula. Underlying trigger needs to be sought and addressed.
Any miss-alignment with the spine can affect how the body’s organs are working. Low/mid (sacral/lumber) back problems usually affect the digestion and bowel function as well as reproductive system.
Too much exercise!
Practice moderation, know your limits. To push yourself constantly can trigger not only adrenal and nerve depletion but you place too much stress on the gut/intestinal function and Vata derangement occurs. If you stress your body with too much exercise you drain your resources in many ways, you hinder the efficiency of the digestive system, contributing to bloating and flatulence.
If you are troubled with colitis, diverticulitis or parasites then you will need correct remedies to treat these disorders and dietary changes.
Some people want to resolve the bloating but are not always able to make work related changes i.e. long distance driving where they cannot stop for the toilet, rush their meals, erratic work hours, such as shift work (impacting on the central nervous system (CNS) affecting digestion), includes those working in the airline industry (we are meant to be grounded, not in the air). I have observed GIT and CNS disorders with many people working in this industry) and of course rushing meals due to limited breaks. .
Bowen therapy is helpful for all digestive and bowel problems freeing up blocked energy, relaxes and encourages normal peristalsis, and re-aligning the spine/body, another good reason I combine with naturopathic consults.
Daily meditation can help greatly by de-stressing the entire physiology of the body. Calms and soothes the mind and entire nervous system. I often include meditation.
Don’t put off resolving what initially appears a simple symptom of bloating, it may manifest in more complex issues.
Lyn Craven is a Practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki Therapist, Meditation Teacher, a Corporate Health Consultant. Lyn is health researcher/writer of health topics for Health magazines and has produced a meditation CD assisting people manage stress. She runs a private practice in Sydney and locum consults /workshops in Noosa. Contact: 0403 231 804 or firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.lyncravencorporatehealth-naturopath.com www.facebook.com/NaturopathandBowenTherapy