Bloating -the feeling you get as if your stomach is stuffed- is at best uncomfortable, and at worst, a symptom of a dire gastrointestinal problem. Almost all of us have experienced bloating at least one time in our lives.

It is such a common phenomenon- almost every time after a big, hearty meal! Epidemiologic studies have revealed that 15–30% of the general United States (US) population experiences bloating symptoms, compared with 15% reported in an Asian population.

It should be noted, however, that bloating can also cause anxiety. A study published by NIH found that moderate to severe levels of bloating reported a history of depressive disorders as well as more severe daily symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Bloating caused by simple reasons such as overeating, swallowing too much air, eating foods that produce gas(beans, dairy products, lentils, etc.) usually goes away on its own after a while.

However, if you want to speed up the process of reducing bloating, then use this article as a handbook to fight bloating. We highlight several science-backed quick ways, herbal remedies and over-the-counter medicines you could use to fight bloating.

5 DIY ways to relieve bloating fast

1. Move your body and check your posture.

Physical exercise and proper body posture have been shown to help in digestion and allow blocked pathways in the gastrointestinal tract(GI) to clear up and relieve the feeling of distention.

According to a study that specifically reviewed the effectiveness of physical activity and gas clearance in patients in bloating, “Mild physical activity enhances intestinal gas clearance and reduces symptoms in patients complaining of abdominal bloating.”

You can go for a short walk around your block or a quick 5-10 minutes session on a stationary bike to get relief from bloating fast.

Your posture throughout the day can also cause bloating.

A study published in the National Library of Medicine(NIH) found that staying in an upright posture was almost 7 times more effective in allowing an uninterrupted flow of intestinal gas in comparison to lying on your back with your face upward.

This is especially relevant if you have a habit of taking a quick power nap after lunch or if you go to sleep immediately after dinner. Lying down after a big meal may be causing a gas buildup in your body and causing bloating. So, you should avoid lying down for 1-2 hours after having a meal.

2. Take a warm, relaxing bath.

This can be the most relaxing way to relieve yourself of bloating. A 20-30 minute bath in warm water can help to reduce any sore abdominal muscle and any stress on your GI tract.

The relaxing bath also lessens your stress and helps relieve bloating since it has been found that psychological stress can also cause bloating sometimes.

If you want to take this relaxing solution to the next level, you can also try taking an Epsom salt bath.

Since our skin is porous, an Epsom salt bath can extract extra water from our body through reverse osmosis and relieve the feeling of distention.

Besides being a cure for bloating, an Epsom salt bath can have many additional benefits.

According to an article on WebMD, an Epsom salt bath can be used as a home treatment for soreness from diarrhea, sore muscles after working out, bruises and sprains, tired and swollen feet, and ingrown toenails, among other benefits.

3. Drink warm water

It is the same theory as taking a warm, relaxing bath to relieve bloating fast. Drinking warm water can help to reduce sore abdominal muscles and aid in an unobstructed GI tract.

Bonus tip: You can also add some chopped ginger pieces to your glass of water and let the ginger pieces soak in the water for some time.

Ginger is a traditional spice used to treat indigestion, and it has also been scientifically proven that ginger extracts can accelerate and stimulate gas flow in the GI tract.

4. Do an abdominal massage routine.

An abdominal massage can also help relieve bloating fast. Massaging can help push the stool, fluids, and gases blocked in your GI tract and help you get relief from the feeling of distention.

Here is a self-massage technique provided by the Michigan Medicine of University of Michigan:

If you experience pain while doing abdominal massage, then it is recommended to discontinue it immediately and instead try other methods of relieving bloating.

5. Get your hands on some peppermint-oil capsules.

Peppermint-oil capsules are available to buy over-the-counter at many drugstores and can help relieve bloating. Though they are primarily marketed towards people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS), they are also known to reduce bloating.

According to a study, peppermint oil, considered a natural spasmolytic agent(an agent that slows down the gut movement and relaxes stomach muscles) due to its calcium influx blocking effect, was also superior to placebo in reduction of abdominal distension and bloating.

Side note: Peppermint is known to worsen heartburn, so it is recommended that people who often suffer from heartburn should not take peppermint-oil capsules to treat bloating and instead follow other methods.

7 Ayurvedic remedies for bloating

Ayurvedic remedies have been honed for thousands of years, and the knowledge is passed down from generation to generation.

And sometimes, an ayurvedic touch can do wonders for our ailments. Ayurvedic remedies for also bloating consist of natural medicines and herbs, so there are fewer side effects than modern over-the-counter medicines.

In ayurvedic realms, our whole body is interconnected with the natural elements. Our stomach especially is intricately connected to ‘agni’ (which means fire). Agni is the ever-present source of combustion, which requires constant fuel (food).

Sometimes, there is a problem with the power of agni or the pathway of fuel to the agni that might cause gastrointestinal problems like bloating.

Bloating might also be caused by a problem in our ‘vata’ (element of wind). Here are 7 ayurvedic and herbal remedies to get rid of your bloating:

1. Yoga poses

Yoga poses can help stimulate the abdominal muscles and release trapped-up gas inside our GI tract.

A wind-releasing pose known as ‘pawanmuktasana’ can be beneficial to push out trapped gas.

The Art of Living organization gives the following methods to practice this yoga pose:

You can also try out other yoga poses such as child pose, knee-to-chest pose, seated forward fold, squats, and happy baby pose to promote wind release from your GI tract.

As with any other exercise routine, it is best to start with simple yoga poses first and then move onto more elaborate and challenging poses. Yoga is about connecting your mind, body, and spirit, so you should practice yoga at your own pace.

2. Ghee, salt, and warm water

Ghee is an essential cooking ingredient in many South Asian cuisines. Instead of traditional cooking oils, ghee is used aptly to elevate food taste, and it also has some additional health benefits.

Ghee is simply a form of highly clarified butter that is typically made from cow’s milk. The nutritional profile and fat content of ghee and butter are similar.

A MedicalNewsToday article claims that ghee may be better for people sensitive to lactose and casein because it contains less of both.

Ghee can also help relieve bloating as ghee can coat and lubricate food to pass easily throughout the GI tract.

Ghee is also better for people suffering from mild lactose intolerance and lessens instances of bloating.

If you are not comfortable using ghee instead of cooking oils and butter, you can simply mix a teaspoon of ghee and a pinch of salt into a cup of warm water and drink the mixture to get relief from bloating.

3. Hot water first thing in the morning

Drinking warm water to ease indigestion and bloating is a standard method, but Ayurveda tells us that the fire in our GI tract(the Agni) must be jump-started every morning.

So, drinking a glass of hot water every day is recommended to promote healthy gastrointestinal functioning even if you have not been suffering from bloating or gastrointestinal problems lately.

This should be a regular routine of your day, just like brushing your teeth and flossing.

4. Small portions throughout the day

In Ayurveda, it is considered that eating a large quantity of a meal at once can overload your digestive system. Agni in your stomach can have a hard time dealing with a large amount of food and can be extinguished, which might lead to gastrointestinal problems.

So, it is recommended that you eat small portions of food throughout the day so that your gastrointestinal system is not overworked.

This method of spacing out your food throughout the day prevents a buildup of air inside your stomach in the absence of food and helps to avoid bloating.

5. Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds are an Ayurvedic staple for treating indigestion and gastrointestinal problems.

If you visit food stalls and restaurants in South Asia, then you will notice a bowl of fennel seeds with sugar cubes near the cash counter in most places.

This is because fennel seeds help to provide relief from acidity and aid in digestion. A healthy digestion system will prevent you from feeling bloated.

6. Digestive spices in your food

Ayurvedic spices also have mild medicinal effects. Fennel, cumin, coriander, ginger, ajwain, and hing (aka asafoetida) can help prevent gas buildup from your food.

Spices that increase saliva production can also aid in preventing acidity in the stomach. Freshly made drinks like coconut water with bits of tender coconut or buttermilk (takra) can counteract the acidity in your stomach.

7. A vata-relief diet may help.

A diet that reduces gas buildup in your stomach by carefully choosing the type of food you eat and your lifestyle habits can also help reduce bloating.

You should avoid all raw, cold, dry, and rough foods. This includes raw veggies, cold juices and smoothies, salads, crackers, dry cereal or granola (especially cold milk), popcorn, dry toast, frozen foods, hard foods, and iced or cold beverages.

Limit heavy, hard-to-digest proteins such as meat and most beans. Lighter meats (chicken and fish) and beans (soaked mung beans and red lentils) are acceptable.

3 Medicinal remedies for bloating

There are also some prescription and over-the-counter medicines that can help with bloating. However, it is always best to limit medicinal methods and instead adjust your diet and lifestyle habits to reduce gastrointestinal problems to avoid medicinal side effects.

1. Antibiotics

Antibiotics are increasingly being used to treat gastrointestinal problems. Since it is believed that changes in the gut bacteria can lead to issues of IBS and bloating, antibiotics can help remove unwanted gut bacteria.

According to a study, “Specifically, rifaximin, a rifamycin derivative, has largely been studied, and it showed superiority to placebo in relieving bloating in IBS or in patients who were diagnosed as SIBO.”

Rifaximin also has more minor side effects and is more effective than other antibiotics like neomycin, doxycycline, and amoxicillin/clavulanate. Antibiotics, however, are primarily prescription-based, and you consult your doctor before using them.

2. Probiotics

Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms that confer a health benefit on the host when administered in adequate amounts.”

Since our gut is home to millions and millions of gut bacteria, probiotics can help increase the number of gut bacteria beneficial to our digestive system.

A recent prospective study of the probiotics found an improvement in bloating severity during an 8-week trial period.

3. Gas relief medicines

Over-the-counter medications for gas relief, like Gas-X and Pepto Bismol, contain Simethicone, an FDA-approved antifoaming agent that relieves gas and bloating.

A study found that Simethicone is an antifoaming agent that improved symptoms of upper abdominal bloating.

You should consult a doctor before starting any medication.

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