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Gas, flatulence, and bloating are embarrassing topics people seldom discuss. These byproducts of indigestion are characterized by a second "F word" people do not use in polite company.

The issues of even talking about the subject makes finding effective medical treatments and home remedies for gas, flatulence, and bloating so difficult that the New England Journal of Medicine published an article on how to talk about gas entitled "Speaking the Unspeakable."

Fortunately, you don't need to talk about indigestion to do something about it. Here are 10 tips for the best home remedies for gas, flatulence, and bloating that reliably relieve the problem.

  1. Let it out. Some people are better able to control the anal sphincter that allows the release of gas than others. They can make the flatulence semi-surreptitious (unless it is smelly). Holding gas in, however, only makes the problem worse later. Holding gas to avoiding flatulence results in bloating, cramping, or colic. It's always better to find the first convenient place to let it rip than to try to hold it in all day, feel miserable, and risk a completely uncontrollable emission later.
  2. Consider buying seat pads. On long-distance road trips, smelly gas (and not the kind you pump into your car) is an inevitable problem. If a member of your family or a frequent traveling companion has a problem with flatulence in enclosed spaces, consider buying a gas-absorbent seat pad. Filled with charcoal, this pad absorbs about 60 per cent of smelly odors. It will not completely solve the problem of in-the-car gassiness, but it will make it much more bearable. Charcoal-lined underwear is even more effective.
  3. Take a careful look at your medications. People who avoid beans, broccoli, cheese, colas, and all the other foods and drinks that can cause gas sometimes don't realize that medications can cause flatulence. Any pill that blends a little bit of medicine with a lot of milk sugar (as a filler) can cause flatulence. Many antidepressants, most calcium supplements, and many pain relievers cause flatulence. Other medications (and their generic equivalents) that can cause flatulence include Actonel (risedronate), Agrylin (anagrelide), Alka-Mints, Alka-Seltzer, Aleve (naproxen), Alugal, Apitone, Asacol suppositories, Balsalazide suppositories, bentiromide, Bio-Cal, Calci-Chew, Calcilac, Calcite-500, calcium carbonate, Calsan, Calsup, Caltrate, Canasa suppositories, Chooz, Chymex, Climara (estradiol), Cinobac Pulvules, Cinoxacin, Colazal suppositories, Crestor (rosuvastatin), Dicarbosil, Dijene, Dipentum suppositories, Effexor (venlafaxine), Fosamax (alendronate), Gleevec (imatinib), Glycate, Lipitor (atorvastatin), Mesalamine suppositories, Mevacor (lovastatin), Olsalazine suppositories, Os-Cal, Os-Cal 500, Paxil (paroxetine), Pentasa, Premarin and Prempro (estrogen replacement), Prozac (fluoxetine), Supplical, Xenical (orlistat),  Zocor (simvastatin), Zoloft (sertraline) and, oddly enough, the gas-relieving medication Rolaids.
  4. If you eat gas-producing vegetables in the broccoli and cabbage family, start your meal with Beano. Beano is a pill that delivers a tiny dose of a human digestive enzyme called alpha-galactosidase. This enzyme breaks down fibers so that eating beans and vegetables does not cause gas. In very, very rare instances it is possible to become allergic Beano over a period of 2 to 3 years, but this only happens if it is taken in overdoses before practically every meal. Using Beano once or twice a day does not result in allergy or sensitivity.Don't confuse Beano with Lactaid. Beano is for preventing gas after eating beans, fruits, or vegetables, and won't help prevent gas after consuming dairy. Lactaid prevents digest upset caused by dairy products, but won't help with beans, vegetables, or fruit.
  5. Try a flatulence-free bean. Beans are inexpensive. They can be prepared in countless ways. They are a great source of protein and fiber. Unfortunately, for most people, eating beans causes gas. The manteca bean, however, is essentially gas free (and is promoted in Third World countries as a way to provide infants with protein without causing colic), and the white-and-purple Anasazi (or Appaloosa) bean is nearly gas free. If you eat a steady diet of beans every meal for 3 to 4 weeks, however, your colon will develop enzymes that prevent the production of gas, although your family and friends may have forced you to live in a cabin in the woods in the meantime.
  6. Cut the cheese out of your diet. Even if you are not lactose-intolerant, cheese can cause gas. Cheese, like beer, sauerkraut, salami, sausages, tomatoes, and tuna, is especially high in the amino acid histamine. This is the amino acid involved in allergic reactions (for which one takes anti-histamines). Even if you are not lactose intolerant, eating cheese, especially at the same time as drinking beer or eating salami, sausages, or kraut, can overload the gut with histamine and cause not just flatulence but also dry eyes, dry mouth, itchiness, and diarrhea. Usually it's enough just to avoid eating three or more of these foods at the same time: No kraut with a chili cheese dog, no sausage, cheese, and tomato omelets. 
  7. Don't use drinking straws, especially for carbonated beverages. The air you swallow when you suck on a straw has to come out as gas.
  8. Don't use sugar-free gums if they are  sweetened with sorbitol or xylitol. These sugar-substitutes feed the fermentative bacteria that live on the wall of the colon, especially the Lactobacillus bacteria you get from Activia and other brands of probiotic yogurt.
  9. If belching is a problem, start each meal with a bitter food. Bitter foods stop belching. Eating a bitter food, especially at the beginning of a meal, triggers a reflex that releases stomach acid. The extra stomach acid digests food more thoroughly, leaving fewer potential allergens and reducing fermentation.
  10. Consider homeopathy. Exactly how homeopathy works may never be known, but the fact is, it often does. Different remedies treat different combinations of symptoms.

The best way to use a homeopathic remedy, if you cannot consult with a professional homeopath, is to take a single dose and see how your body reacts. If you take a second dose and it does not work, try a different remedy, allowing at least a few hours for results. Homeopathic remedies are inexpensive and free of side effects, and sometimes they are exactly the right home remedies for gas, bloating, and flatulence.

  • Arsenicum album stops flatulence after eating spoiled food.
  • Carbo vegetalis stops belching and flatulence.
  • Colocynthis stops flatulence and belching caused by torsion (bending over, standing up, moving quickly, etc.).
  • Lycopodium relieves a combination of bloating, constipation, and flatulence.
  • Natrium Sulphuricum is primarily for liver conditions, but it also relieves flatulence that occurs with a bad taste in the mouth.
  • Finally, Sulfur (the homeopathic remedy, not the yellow mineral) is used to treat especially odorous flatulence.

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  • Hemmink GJ, Weusten BL, Bredenoord AJ, Timmer R, Smout AJ. Aerophagia: excessive air swallowing demonstrated by esophageal impedance monitoring. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Oct.7(10):1127-9. Epub 2009 Aug 9.
  • Ohge H, Furne JK, Springfield J, Ringwala S, Levitt MD.Effectiveness of devices purported to reduce flatus odor. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Feb.100(2):397-400.
  • Van Ness MM, Cattau EL Jr. Flatulence: pathophysiology and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 1985 Apr.31(4):198-208.
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