Gas is natural, but that doesn’t mean you have to just grin and bear it. Though there are plenty of remedy options on the pharmacy shelves, they’re often packed with ingredients that are unnecessary or harmful—the opposite of what you want when your gut is already feeling off. (That’s why we made Hilma Gas Relief with just five natural ingredients.) So what else can you do when you’re bloated and gassy, besides blame the dog? We asked clinical nutritionist Cassie Brown, MS, CHHP for her favorite natural remedies for gas.
To learn the basics about gas and what it might be telling you about your body, you can read Gas, Explained here.
In the moment:
Look for soothing natural herbs. Brew a cup of ginger, fennel, or peppermint tea. “All three are considered carminatives – they’re warming and help relax cramped/overworked intestines and help to move gas through,” says Brown. “It’s recommended to always add one of these carminatives to a tea or tonic if the goal is to assist the GI system!” For more potent relief, you can look for herbs in capsule or tincture form.
Move your body.
Go for a walk or stretch. “Walking and/or taking time to breathe deeply, twist and stretch helps our organs to eliminate properly and improve circulation,” Brown says.
If you’re feeling gassy during a meal, slow your pace and wait between bites — it’ll help your digestive system do its thing. When you’re in a “rest and digest” state, Brown explains, your blood flow goes directly to your gastrointestinal system, where enzymes are properly released to help the digestion process.
Chew your food.
Those digestive enzymes also exist in your saliva, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re not just resting between bites but taking enough of them. “Chewing our food is the first step of the digestive process,” explains Brown. “Taking time to chew and taste our food stimulates enzymes needed for digestion and decreases the size needed to be broken down, which allows for the nutrients to be absorbed easier.”
In the long-term:
Practice mindful eating.
Are your meals often scarfed down in between meetings or during your commute? Try setting aside time to eat your meals without distractions. Otherwise, you’re in “fight or flight”, not the “rest and digest” state Brown recommends. And in “fight or flight” mode, our blood flow goes everywhere else but our digestion system. If that’s a habit, your digestive system will suffer.
Consider pre- and probiotics.
Your gut has a microbiome — a whole world of good and bad bacteria, fungi, and other microbes. “Pre- and probiotics, whether in food and/or supplements, both help to diversify our gut bacteria and create a balanced microbiome,” Brown says. And a balanced microbiome tends to be a less bloated microbiome.
Try a digestive bitter.
Pre- and probiotics may be more in the spotlight, but digestive bitters like artichoke leaf, dandelion, wormwood, and burdock can do wonders for your gut and gas too (and can be found in a few of Hilma’s digestive products!). “Bitters help to fire up and strengthen our GI process by helping to stimulate the formation and release of digestive enzymes, acids and bile production that break down and move everything through,” Brown explains. Your digestive tract actually has bitter taste sensors that react to digestive bitters to stimulate digestion.
Limit refined sugar, fried and processed food, and alcohol.
If these are a mainstay of your diet, your gut might be paying the price. “If these habits make up a large portion of our lifestyle, they’ll exhaust our digestive system and mostly our pancreas — which is crucial for secreting important digestive enzymes that help break down our food,” Brown explains. “Continuing to eat these foods frequently will slowly begin to affect our pancreas and its ability to produce enough enzymes which, in turn, make your GI system suffer.” Once in a while though--feel free to indulge.
See your doc.
If it feels like nothing’s working, you might want to check for food allergies, intolerances, or possible SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Keep track of what you eat, your eating habits, and your gas for a couple of weeks before you talk to your doctor. “Narrowing down and removing foods that we’re unable to digest, or identifying how to prepare them so they work for our body, helps to reduce chronic GI symptoms,” Brown says. Make a note of acid reflux and heartburn symptoms too. “Stomach acid helps with the breakdown of proteins and damaging bacteria,” Brown says. “If there isn’t an optimal amount to break down the proteins, they end up entering the small intestine developing things like reflux, bloating and gas.”