‘Ugh I feel so bloated’, a common refrain and one we’ve all probably said at some point in our lives. The uncomfortable feeling of our stomachs being inflated with gas is all too familiar, and none too pleasant. But what exactly is bloating and why does it happen? We sat down with Fusion Health Naturopath and Nutritionist, Erika Morvay to get some answers.
“All disease begins in the gut” Hippocrates
A healthy digestion is critical to general wellbeing. We are only now beginning to understand how correct Hippocrates was.
What causes abdominal bloating?
Abdominal bloating is often caused by gases produced by the bacteria, which live in the large intestine. These bacteria always produce some gas, but excessive gas can be produced
- When we consume certain foods
- When our digestive tract is unable to absorb food
Abdominal bloating can sometimes be accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of appetite
- Feeling of fullness
- Loose stools, diarrhoea
My top herbal medicines to relieve digestive symptoms
- Globe Artichoke is traditionally used in Western Herbal Medicine to support liver and gallbladder function. It may help to relieve symptoms of bloating, abdominal discomfort, belching and nausea.
- Chamomile has been traditionally used in Western herbal medicine for its anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory actions. It’s indicated for symptoms such as bloating, flatulence and belching.
- In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the digestive process is regulated by the Spleen and Stomach which transform food to form Qi (energy) essential for all other processes in the body. Chinese Yam, a herb traditionally used in TCM, is said to strengthen the Spleen and Stomach Qi, while Chinese Licorice is often used in TCM to tonify Spleen Qi. Spleen Qi assists in the extraction of nutrients and essence from food.
- Goldthread and Citrus Peel are often used in TCM for the relief of abdominal bloating, reflux, nausea, vomiting and loose stools.
- Black Atractylodes and Evodia are used in TCM to help resolve nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort.
It’s all about gut bacteria
Did you know that your gut contains ten times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body?3 More and more clinical studies show how the health and diversity of the microbiome (gut bacteria) influences our digestive health and general wellbeing.
Your gut bacteria perform many different functions including:4
- Promoting normal gastrointestinal health
- Helping to reduce the risk of certain infections
- Regulating healthy metabolism
- Positively affecting immune health
If you are experiencing digestive symptoms, your gut bacteria could be out of balance.
What can cause this imbalance?
- Antibiotics and other medications
- Diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
- Diet low in fermentable fibre
- Various toxins
- Chronic stress
- Chronic infections
The good news is that you can improve your gut flora. Choose a broad-spectrum probiotic with a higher number of strains, which can help support the diversity of your gut bacteria.6 It’s also important to engage in healthy dietary and lifestyle practices.
Several medical conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome may also be associated with abdominal bloating, so it’s recommended to seek an advice from your healthcare practitioner.
* Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare practitioner.
Erika is a qualified Naturopath and Holistic Nutritionist. She has over a decade of experience working within the natural therapies industry and continues to educate herself to grow her expertise. She is part of the technical services team at Global Therapeutics (Fusion Health), providing expert advice to consumers, practitioners and retailers alike. She is also a founder of an online natural fertility coaching business, educating and supporting couples on their fertility journey. She is especially passionate about empowering and supporting women to live a nourished, fulfilled life. She can be contacted at www.erikamorvay.com