Useful Essential Oils
Which essential oils are effective for flatulence (gas)?
The following essential oils have traditionally been used for flatulence (gas):
- Caraway Essential Oil – dilute up to 1-2% in any carrier oil (5 – 10 drops per tablespoon) and massage onto your stomach and abdomen area, or dilute and use in an aromatic bath.
- Coriander Essential Oil – dilute up to 1-2% in any carrier oil (5 – 10 drops per tablespoon) and massage onto your stomach and abdomen area, or dilute and use in an aromatic bath.
- Fennel Essential Oil – diffuse after eating, or use 2–4 drops total with food.
About The Condition
What Is Flatulence?
When we take in food, we also swallow air with it. These small amounts of air collect in the digestive canal and have to be expelled. The actual digestive process itself also creates gases, which contributes to the gas that needs to be removed. Some of these gases can be removed by burping / belching. The rest needs to be removed via flatulence.
Most of the gases that need to be removed are odorless, and sometimes you may not even notice that you have expelled them. However, if the gas contains elements like sulfur, it can have a bad odor. This too is normal (especially if you eat a lot of cabbage and/or onions). What causes gas to be smelly, however, varies from person to person.
You can cause excessive flatulence by swallowing more air than normal (e.g. by talking while your mouth is full of food) or by eating foods that are hard to digest. Sometimes, it can be related to an underlying medical condition like indigestion or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Other ways you can swallow more air than normal include smoking, chewing gum, not chewing your food properly, sucking on things like pen-tops or candy, or having dentures that are too loose.
Drinking bubbly drinks like pop doesn’t help, as it accumulates CO2 in the stomach, but generally most of this gas is eliminated by belching.
Which Foods Create Gas?
Some carbohydrates in foods can’t be fully digested. So instead of being absorbed by the colon, they are generally broken down by healthy bacteria living in the colon and gas is released as part of this process. Some foods that contain high levels of these types of carbohydrates include onions, legumes, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, apples and raisins.
Eating large amounts of fiber like bran can also cause wind and bloating. Sorbitol and fructose (in fruit drinks) can also cause flatulence.
Some health conditions produce gas as a by-product (e.g. indigestion, constipation, lactose intolerance, gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, giardiasis, and mal-absorption of nutrients). Some medications also cause gas (e.g. non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, laxatives, antibiotics, antifungal medicines, statins and, the drug used to help people stop smoking, Champix).
What Are Conventional Medical Treatments For Flatulence?
Most doctors recommend you change your diet and lifestyle first as a way to curb excessive flatulence from occurring. For example, avoid eating many of the foods that contain high levels of the in-absorbable carbohydrates, and instead favor foods that have carbohydrates that are easier to digest like rice, potatoes, bananas and oranges. But as everyone is different and some of even these foods can cause gas in some people, you have to experiment and try to find foods that digest well for you. Keeping a food diary can help you to try to work this out. However, you still need to eat a balanced diet with enough fruits, vegetables and proteins.
Some people find eating six small meals instead of three large meals helps. There is some evidence that drinking peppermint tea can help. Other evidence shows that small amounts of ginger can aid digestion. However, pregnant women should get medical advice before taking ginger.
Sitting down to eat and chewing your food well instead of chatting whilst eating can, of course, help. Not getting up during the meal and sitting for a few minutes after a meal can help the digestive juices to do their job more effectively.
Regular exercise has been shown to help reduce bloating and smooth out the flow of gas through the body.
Sometimes doctors will also recommend charcoal tablets, as charcoal helps absorb gas in the digestive system. However, sometimes there can be conflicts with these and other types of medication. Charcoal pads can also be used in clothing to absorb bad flatulence odors. Simethicone (e.g. in Gas-X and Mylicon) is also sometimes prescribed, but as with all forms of medication, this can cause side effects.
Alpha-galactosidase dietary supplements (e.g. Beano) can also sometimes help you to digest the difficult-to-digest forms of carbohydrate.
Taking probiotics can also be useful, as it encourages the growth of "friendly bacteria," which helps with digestion.
What Are Alternative Treatments For Flatulence?
For those that have trouble digesting legumes, the traditional Indian solution is to cook them with asafetida.
In addition to the remedies like peppermint tea, ginger and probiotics mentioned above, some people say that chewing slowly on a small amount of fennel seeds (or drinking them as a tea) can help reduce gas. Some also say a tea made from caraway seeds can help. Or, you can use them as essential oils (see the Useful Essential Oils tab for details).