While some gas is a normal and natural part of the digestive process, unwanted intestinal gas may develop for a variety of reasons. Some of us are gifted with the ability to laugh it off; for others, the embarrassment causes anxiety. Then there’s painful gas when it becomes trapped on its way through the intestine. Everyone at one time or another has experienced periods of digestive gas which resolves itself again. I remember being shocked with the amount of gas I was producing while pregnant, and then relieved when it settled again postpartum.
Gas in the lower intestine is naturally produced by the breakdown of cellulose by our healthy microbiome, the intestinal bacteria that reside in our colon. When gas becomes excessive, smelly or trapped, it could be due to constipation or diarrhea, irritable bowel, allergies to foods, an inflammatory process or digestive upset. Even more broadly, hormonal activity in the pelvic organs can cause gas and bloating, as many women can confirm as they go through their menstrual cycle. If gas is due to hormones, allergies, irritable bowel or colitis—if it’s associated with other symptoms in other words—then it’s best to find a classical homeopath for a constitutional remedy which takes the whole symptom picture into account. There are really hundreds of homeopathic medicines to suit every type of digestive upset and especially if the problem is chronic or recurring, an experienced homeopath can offer guidance.
Many times though, intestinal gas resolves itself in time and yet a well chosen homeopathic remedy can relieve the suffering much more quickly. Here are my top picks for intestinal gas:
Painful trapped gas: choose Colocynthis or Magnesium phosphoricum
If pressure relieves the abdominal pains, and they are agonizing and sharp, then Colocynthis 30ch will help. Colocynthis is also a great choice if an annoyance brought on the intestinal upset, or you feel irritable as a result of the pain, though this isn’t necessary if the other symptoms fit. If you reach for a hot water bottle for relief, pick Magnesium phosphoricum 30ch instead. Depending on the intensity of pain, take the remedy every 1-4 hours for three doses, then 3 times daily until the pain passes. Mag phos 6x is also available as a Schuessler cell salt—if you have this available, it’s a great remedy for any type of cramps, but needs more repetition, every 15-30 minutes for 4-6 doses and as symptoms improve, continue 4-6 times daily. In homeopathy, whenever symptoms subside, it’s best to stop the remedies and let the system rebalance itself. You can always return to the remedies if needed.
Bloating with gas: Carbo vegetabilis or Lycopodium
If bloating accompanies the gas and overall digestion feels weak, then Carbo vegetabilis 30ch is a wonderful remedy. Choose Carbo veg if the simplest food disagrees or if bloating and gas are so intense, they cause shortness of breath. It’s often indicated for people who feel tired and need fresh air or air blowing on them. Carbo veg is a remedy often indicated for intestinal gas after surgery or slowed digestion with gas in older people, though anyone can benefit.
If bloating and gas causes rumbling and fullness after eating even a light meal, also consider Lycopodium 30ch. This common remedy is an excellent choice when digestive gas causes gurgling and rumbling in the abdomen. If there is any discomfort, it’s usually right-sided and worse between 4:00 and 8:00 pm.
Because Carbo veg and Lycopodium tend to be for people with symptoms that are less intense than the pains of trapped gas of either Colocynthis or Mag phos, start by taking the remedies every 2-4 hours for 3 doses, then as symptoms improve repeat 2-3 times a day until symptoms subside.
If there is no improvement within a few hours to a day, then the selected remedy may not be a good fit. Since homeopathic medicines always stimulate the body to heal itself and every person presents with a unique set of symptoms, there is no blanket approach. There are actually hundreds of remedies for digestive upset and I’ve just listed the most common here. Another suggestion is to add the simple tips suggested below, rather than overuse the homeopathic medicines when they’re not working as they should. Furthermore, no remedies should be taken on a regular basis, especially in a 30ch potency. If this seems necessary, seek the advice of a qualified homeopath, who can choose a better fit.
Simple tips to aid digestion and avoid gas:
- Take time for meals and chew your food well. Chewing well starts the digestive process properly, so your food is completely digested by the time it reaches your colon, resulting in less fermentation.
- Watch your food combining. The general rule is to eat proteins with vegetables but avoid starchy foods and especially fruit. Eat fruit as a snack rather than with a meal.
- Avoid large amounts of water with meals, as it dilutes digestive juices. If you’re thirsty, drink before your meal.
- Pay extra attention to the food you put into your body when you’re not feeling well. Read labels, make your own meals and listen to what your body tells you about what works and what doesn’t.
For added measures, fennel tea is excellent for helping relieve gas and discomfort after a meal and can be used regularly. Another digestive aid is to add digestive plant enzymes to ensure you’re completely digesting the food properly. While digestive enzymes can help reduce the amount of gas during a meal, it’s also recommended to continue taking them with most meals for a several weeks to help take a load off the digestive organs and restore order–unless you have an ulcer, then enzymes are contraindicated. Finally, probiotic supplements help rebalance the intestinal flora in the lower bowels, especially if these have been upset by an unhealthy diet, too much sugar or antibiotics. However don’t add everything at once or you won’t know what is working and what is not. Probiotics are more of a long term approach and should taken a period of several weeks, rather than just a few days to re-seed a healthy microbiome in the colon.
Wish you could to learn more about helping yourself with homeopathy at home? Choose a homeopathy class at www.vancouverhomeopath.com/events.