Flatulence isn’t harmful, but it can be embarrassing. Everybody has gas, but some people seem to have more gas than others. Diet or even medications may be to blame, but home remedies sometimes help.
I would like to know the formula you once printed about using bitters for flatulence.
The Angostura bitters label suggests taking one to four teaspoonfuls after meals for flatulence. Some readers put it in club soda or 7UP to mask the bitter taste.
For the past several months I have been suffering with flatulence. It is extremely embarrassing. I worry every time I go out in public that I will pass smelly gas. I have tried over-the-counter medications like Gas-X, Beano, Tums, and charcoal capsules. I try to avoid foods that might give me gas, but even so, the problem persists. Is there anything I can do? It is getting so bad that I don’t want to go out in public anymore.
It sounds as if you have tried almost everything in the pharmacy. Fennel tea is a home remedy to consider. Crush one teaspoon of fennel seeds with a spoon and steep it in hot water for five minutes. Some flatulence sufferers have also suggested using a dose of Pepto-Bismol to help control odor.
THE PEOPLE’S PHARMACY
Favorite Food #11: Fennel Seed
This member of the celery family is a well-known herb native to southern Europe and western Asia, but it was also known in ancient China as well as in India, Egypt, and Greece. In the Middle Ages people prized it as a vegetable, and indeed we appreciate its flavor today. Colonists brought fennel seeds to the New World.
This aromatic little spice might seem modest and mild. But in reality, it has the power to tame unpleasant flatulence and heartburn. For many years, we have heard from readers who have banished gas by sipping fennel seed tea. Some report that it’s also possible to get relief by chewing on the actual seeds. In fact, many Indian restaurants offer fennel seeds as a colorful after-meal treat to aid digestion. They can also be purchased at health food stores.
For people who don’t like the licorice flavor, fennel seeds are available in capsule form as well. (In fact, fennel is not actually related to licorice and therefore carries none of its potential dangers, like increased blood pressure, fluid retention, depleted potassium, and disrupted hormonal balance.) Anyone allergic to celery, carrots, dill, or anise should avoid fennel. Pregnant women should not use fennel oil or extracts, but fennel seed infusions are probably safe.
We have heard that, in addition to soothing the stomach, fennel seeds may ease upper respiratory and sinus symptoms. One reader uses this recipe for sinus trouble:
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
½ inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Combine ingredients in two cups of water. Boil until one and a half cups of liquid is left. Strain mixture and drink it hot with milk. You can substitute honey for brown sugar.
Fennel Seed Tea
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup boiling water
Smash seeds with a spoon to “bruise” them. Steep in water for five minutes. Strain out seeds and sweeten to taste.
I am interested in purchasing flatulence filters. My mom has severe gas problems and is taking charcoal tablets along with other things. The problem is still noticeable. I would like to try the filters. I have checked drugstores but have had no luck.
Search the Web for the GasBGon flatulence filter seat cushion (www.gasbgon.com). It contains activated charcoal that traps odors from the digestive tract. The same company (Dairiair at 877-427-2466) also makes underwear with activated charcoal woven into the fabric. These carbonized undies reduce unpleasant smells even when the wearer is not sitting on a flatulence filter seat cushion.
Your newsletter had a story about a lady who needs help for the gas caused by her mother-in-law’s cooking with onions, cabbage, beans, and barley. I’ve found peppermint oil capsules (sometimes sold as breath fresheners) are brilliant for quick relief. Prevention would be better, however. My grandmother always boiled her onions first and then strained the water off before adding them to her recipe. This removed the gas-causing part, and we could all enjoy eating her meals with no worries.
Thanks for the recommendation of peppermint oil capsules. Some readers claim that mint tea drunk after a meal can ease gas. Your suggestion of discarding the initial cooking water can help with beans as well as onions.
What is the best thing to do for daily, embarrassing gas? I eat high-fiber foods during the week, but more of a variety on weekends, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I have continuous gas all week.
A record of what you eat and how your gut responds may be helpful in pinpointing whether you are reacting to a specific food. Some people find that milk and dairy products cause distress. Others have trouble with foods like bagels or pretzels. Once you identify a likely culprit, avoiding it should tell you if you were correct. Another reader found a simple solution: “Activia yogurt is excellent in stopping flatus. One small carton a day stopped most of the problem.” Activia contains probiotics (good germs) that can aid digestion.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic