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Are you tired of experiencing bloating?

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Article by Lyn Craven

Lyn Craven Profile | Email | Website
Lyn Craven Lyn Craven - ND. DMH. DRM. DBT. DPT. Reg. Trainer Cert IV
Specialising in all Female Health & Reproductive Disorders, Digestive/Bowel problems, Chronic Backache, RSI, carpel tunnel,
Stress management, Natural healthy vision and support for Glaucoma
Corporate Health Consultant - Naturopath
Advanced Bowen Therapist, Reiki/Energy Practitioner
Meditation Facilitator & Freelance writer.
Bondi - Sydney
Australia 2000
0403 231 804

Are you tired of experiencing bloating?      

This is such a common problem and often over looked manifesting in other disorders if the symptom of bloating is not addressed.

What is bloating?

Abdominal bloating occurs when unexpected gases are produced as a result of incomplete digestion or when you are not able to fully digest particular foods (food intolerance). Bloating also occurs when people 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.

In Ayurvedic medicine they would refer to it as “Vata rising” (Vata represent’s air), if this is not resolved them it becomes stagnant often 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 that offer 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.  So, one needs to take care in choice of remedies.  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.

Pungent herbs

·         Anise

·         Allspice

·         Basil

·         Bay leaves

·         Caraway

·         Cloves

·         Galangal

·         Horseradish

·         Marjoram

·         Paprika

·         Parsley

·         Sassafras

·         Thyme

·         Valerian

·         Watercress

Pungent/sweet herbs/spices that can help depending on your constitution and symptoms

·         Angelica

·         Cardamom

·         Chia

·         Ginger

·         Lemon balm

If you are unsure which of the spices to use and how often in conjunction with appropriate herbs see a practitioner who is qualified to assist you.  Not all Naturopaths’ work with Ayurvedic energetic’s or Ayurvedic medicine.

What triggers bloating?

Intolerance to certain foods such as:

·         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, paprika and pepinos.

·         Combining foods that are not compatible such as – dairy and grains/pasta, fruits cooked with animal food.  Often creative recipes are not always conducive to our digestive system despite all the present TV programs illustrating popular cuisines and elaborate dishes/dressings!

·         Emotional/mental stress – this has impact on the entire gastrointestinal 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 through your meal, not chewing it thoroughly, drinking during eating.

·         Drinking/eating cold foods can also contribute to bloating if cooked food follows.

·         Bowel disorders such as ongoing constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel disease, colitis, diverticulitis.

·         Parasites

·         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, fluid retention can occur, also congestion of blood flow to the uterus often described as stagnant Chi energy.  Hormonal activity/imbalance can affect gastro intestinal function.

Everyone’s sensitivity and entire metabolism will vary and some people may find they can tolerate certain things mentioned here without distress – for a while – but eventually problems may arise if this becomes a regular lifestyle choice.

Obviously all the above examples of bloating would need to be treated differently.  All of them can be resolved – some are easier to treat than others but natural remedies and perhaps a change in diet or lifestyle choices would be necessary.  Pharmaceutical remedies that may be prescribed often create various side effects requiring additional drugs to help with the new set of symptoms.  Some of these antacids contain aluminum and other unpleasant chemicals which only contribute to further gut derangement.

What to do

·         Consider food allergy testing to see what you may be reacting to.

·         Check hormonal levels if a cyclic bloating such as estrogen, progesterone, LH and FSH

·         Stool test – usually conducted by a Functional Lab at your cost.  A kit will be sent out to you.

·         Practice yoga, tai chi and meditation to relax the mind and body, helping with underlying anxieties, mood swings and any sleep problems

·         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 live bacteria.  Many different formulas have been created to cater for particular states of dysbiosis and bowel problems.

·         You may require anti parasite treatments – stool tests can ascertain if parasites are present.  Some parasites live in the body for decades feeding off you and breeding like crazy.  You may kill off the adult parasites but there are often hundreds of eggs that are likely to hatch 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 relevant tests have been performed offering a clearer picture of what is causing the bloating then the right protocol can be put in place with natural remedies to help you eliminate the bloating.  It may mean that you have to omit one of your favorite foods or more for quite a while if not for good.  Often the food we crave for and eat the most of is often the contributing to our problem.

If you are aware of not drinking sufficient water then increase to at least 1.5 liters a day, in hotter weather you may need up to 2 liters’.  Room temperature is good, never drink cold drinks.

Any woman with hormonal imbalance can be helped greatly with appropriate herbs and homoeopathic’s, often the pituitary is slightly out of sync and requires “fine tuning” to establish a state of equilibrium again.  Adrenals may also be affected which in turn can contribute to fluid in balance, remember the adrenals sit just above your kidneys.  Chronic stress can be a trigger.

Include good quality oils in your diet such as olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil and also unsalted butter. If you realize your 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 as there are so many herbs that could be selected for any GIT problem.

Spices can be helpful when digestive bloating occurs, especially if there is a lot of trapped air (Vata) but in moderation. I find they can be easily combined with herbal remedies and beverages, along with foods you cook.

If constipation is the cause and you know it is triggered 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 are full of magnesium and have a slight laxative effect yet not cathartic as if you had taken them orally which was frequently done decades ago.  Epsom salts are too harsh to take orally.  The bath is deeply relaxing and some people may even find elimination occurs the next day and the temporary bloating subsides.  Make sure you do a spot test with Vetiver on the wrist first just to make sure you will not have a skin reaction.  Usually it is ok. Again it really depends on the type of colonic function you have, and why you are constipated.  This is more suitable for the uptight tense/spastic colon.  Or for those people who genetically have a very narrow colon.

If you have a state of dysbiosis within the intestines you will need live bacteria that are formulated specifically for this problem.  This is when majority of people experience very loose bowels more than constipation.  Underlying trigger needs to be sought and addressed. General formulas are not always appropriate and I recommend you get assessed and possibly tested to ascertain correct probiotic/dysbiosis formula.

Yoga and Pilates can assist

Some yoga and Pilate exercises can be helpful in expelling trapped wind in the intestines; this is an easy and great way to release the excess air (Vata) which will help your gastro intestinal tract. If there is trapped air in the intestines then the bowel cannot eliminate properly. One easy exercise is where you lie on your back, bend the knees up the chest, hold onto your upper thighs and hug your bent legs close to your chest and gently roll back and forth (ideally on a yoga mat), do not roll onto your neck only your upper back, this will eliminate any trapped air first thing in the morning and assist with any remedies you are taking. Do not do this exercise if you have any injuries past/present or you have acute back pain.  See a practitioner who practices sports massage, Bowen therapy, acupuncture or a physiotherapist for advice.  Any mis-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!

Too much of a good thing is not always what you need!  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 GIT and therefore Vata derangement can occur.  This is even more prevalent in those who rush to the gym at lunchtime do a work out, then rush back to work, quickly eating lunch, or those who have a quick snack/piece of fruit then pump away at the gym.  We need to relax after we have eaten.  If you stress your body with too much exercise you drain your resources in many ways, you hinder the efficiency of the digestive system and this can contribute to bloating and flatulence.

If you are troubled with colitis, diverticulitis or parasites then you will need specific remedies to treat these disorders and dietary changes.  I recommend slippery elm powder for all gastro intestinal disorders, should be in everyone’s cupboard if you experience any of these problems using around 2 round dessertspoons a day, can mix with pre soaked cereal (brown rice flakes, quinoa, amaranth, barley etc), you can add to goat/sheep’s/coconut yogurt.  Not soy.  Soy interferes with thyroid function.

Digestive enzymes can help

Some people may have deficiency in digestive enzymes; this is more common in older people or those who have been on pharmaceutical medication for many years.  It can also apply to those who have had a very bad diet of fast foods and many sugary confectioneries.  Eating the same food over and over can affect how digestive enzymes work.  Many different products are available that help your existing gut enzymes.  You never replace any depleted enzymes, once they die of that’s it.  You are born with so many enzymes for digestive function and over the years enzymes do die off so an older person would have far less than when they were younger.  People who have a bad diet or have taken long term pharmaceutical medication will experience a lessening of enzyme activity due to enzymes dying off sooner. 

There are several different types of enzyme products available and all of them are formulated to cater for a variety of symptoms/disorders.  If you are uncertain ask a health professional.

Your case could be resolved quite easily; then again if chronic it is more complex and takes a longer time.  I have seen really good outcomes with people experiencing the symptom of constant bloating but we need to always find the source of the problem so we are better placed to put together the correct healing protocol.

Your busy work schedule can contribute to digestive/bowel problems

However, some people want to get rid of the bloating but are not always able to make some work related changes i.e. long distance driving where they cannot stop for the toilet, erratic work hours, such as shift work (always impacts on the nervous system which in turn affects digestion), this includes those who work in the airline industry (we are meant to be on the ground, 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.  The practitioner will need to work with you around this erratic schedule and you may need to take remedies ongoing.  Some people have a pre disposition to succumb to stress.  This is why I quote the Ayurvedic approach since we are classed as 3 main constitutions, Vata, Pitta and Kapha.  The former is nerve based and can live off their nerves and adrenals.  Someone who is slighter built, has a tendency to rush around during the day, quick mental activity, alert and intelligent but is not really a stayer when it comes to late nights.  They are often sensitive people who are easily stressed. Know your limits, try to maintain them, ensure you get at least 7-8 hours undisturbed sleep a night.  If you happen to be a Vata constitution you will need to observe these facts more than others.  If a Vata constitution suffers Vata derangement (too much air in the gastro intestinal system) then they will be suffering far more than a Pitta/Kapha type.  All constitutions can experience bloating if any of the above disorders are present.

Food combining can help

Some people have experienced improved digestive function by following the protocols of food combining.  Here you would need to understand which foods combine well with others and avoid eating a food that does not resonate with another, this can contribute to putrefaction and fermentation in the intestines resulting in bloating and bowel problems.  Continue eating wrong combinations and this may instigate allergies, headaches, upper/lower respiratory disorders and more.  Please see article in this issue and learn more about benefits of food combining.

Bowen therapy can help

Bowen therapy has proved helpful with improving digestion and bowel function.  It can also assist with constipation so regular treatments can help establish normal peristalsis along with appropriate remedies; this in turn can help eliminate any parasites or worms and help move excess Vata.  Since Bowen therapy works with the energy of the body as well as a physical application it lends itself to a complete healing for the body.

Meditation helps

Daily meditation can help greatly by de-stressing the entire physiology of the body.  It calms and soothes the mind and entire nervous system.  This is a fantastic healing tool that you can include with any of the above and I recommend everyone to learn it and practice it daily to enhance all facets of your life.  Find the style of meditation that is right for you, which you enjoy.  It is quite easy to learn but does require you to devote some time and discipline in setting time aside each day, even if just 15 minutes.  I have found that creative visualisation is an easy meditation, fun and imaginative.  Guided journeys to take you into a place of peace and tranquility help every system in your body to gain a well earned break, restore and rejuvenate.  This will help with reducing Vata which in turn will lessen/reduce Ama, since none of us want any toxicity in our bodies!

My advice is: do not ignore this common symptom and put up with it.  The longer you do then more health issues will arise including mal absorption where you fail to absorb good nutrition from all that great healthy food you eat!

I offer Skype/phone consults if you are unable to see me in clinic.  I do incorporate Bowen therapy with most naturopathic consults.  Please contact me to arrange a time so I can help you!

Lyn Craven is a practitioner of naturopathy and Bowen therapy and is a Reiki energy therapist, meditation teacher, corporate health consultant and presenter for health expos. She has produced a meditation CD for stress, anxiety and insomnia. Lyn runs a private practice in Sydney and offers Skype/phone consults for interstate people.  She can be contacted on 0403 231 804 or email at

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12 Apr 2014

Last Update: 3 Jan 2015

Article/Information supplied by Lyn Craven

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.