3 Ways to Reduce and Neutralize Flatulence

Flatulence

Have you ever heard of a rectal catheter? It’s exactly what you imagine it to be. Did you know that several years ago, researchers at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield England used rectal catheters to measure and evaluate the flatulence released by ten volunteers? (I appreciate the thrill of discovery but I’m not sure I’d want to be a technician for that program.) Over a 24-hour period of observation, several facts about flatulence were determined. [1]

  • Women and men produce relatively equal amounts of gas
  • More gas is produced after meals
  • On average, people produce around 700ml of gas per day
  • Reducing fiber intake can reduce gas production

A flatulence fact not recorded in the study is that not every time is a good time to be flatulent. Certain social situations and environments are appropriate, others are not appropriate. Some people, however, are more flatulent than others and regularly experience, or inflict, the misery, horror, and distress associated with excessive flatulence. If this a problem that affects you, you will be happy to discover that methods do exist that can help you neutralize flatulence.

1. Take a Probiotic Supplement

There are a lot of advertising dollars being spent right now to stress (sell) the importance of maintaining healthy intestinal flora. Healthy probiotic colonies in the gut encourage and support healthy digestion. Unhealthy bacterial overgrowth hinders digestion and increases flatulence. This is especially true for persons with intestinal disorders like IBS or Crohn’s disease. If you believe or have been told that you’re too flatulent, try incorporating more probiotic foods into your diet and add a solid probiotic supplement to your nutritional regime. [2] [3]

2. Herbal Remedies

For hundreds of years, herbal remedies have been used to support an endless list of ailments.  In France alone, nearly forty plants have been identified as traditional remedies for indigestion. Peppermint and ginger are two of the most popular. Multiple clinical studies have confirmed that taking peppermint after a meal can help reduce a number of intestinal maladies, including flatulence. [4] If you need a solution that’s doubly effective, add some ginger to the mix. A randomized clinical trial conducted at Thailand’s Siriraj Hospital found that consuming a ginger and water solution produced an anti-flatulent effect. [5]

3. Charcoal Filters

Let’s face it, we’ve all been in closed quarters with mixed company and felt the very identifiable pressure of flatulent gases.  The polite, socially acceptable response is to wait until you’re in a private or designated area before unleashing the beast.  Sometimes, however, the pressure is strong and the wait can be long and unbearable.  If you’re on an eight-hour international flight, how long can you really hold it?

Earlier this year, researchers at Herlev Hospital in Copenhagen explored that very question and warned what most of us know: holding it in for long periods of time on an airplane is extremely uncomfortable and difficult. Furthermore, air pressure changes are a part of air travel and that can make make flatulence even worse.  The authors recommended embedding charcoal filters into every airplane seat cushion. Charcoal filters, which are able to absorb odors, would allow passengers to release gas without disturbing the nasal sensitivities of their flight neighbor. No mention was made if the filters have sound-suppression capabilities. [6]

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Tomlin J, Lowis C, Read NW. Investigation of normal flatus production in healthy volunteers. Gut. 1991 Jun;32(6):665-9.
  2. Bixquert Jiménez M. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with probiotics. An etiopathogenic approach at last? Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2009 Aug;101(8):553-64. Review.
  3. King TS, Elia M, Hunter JO. Abnormal colonic fermentation in irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet. 1998 Oct 10;352(9135):1187-9.
  4. Spirling LI, Daniels IR. Botanical perspectives on health peppermint: more than just an after-dinner mint. J R Soc Promot Health. 2001 Mar;121(1):62-3. Review.
  5. Lohsiriwat S, Rukkiat M, Chaikomin R, Leelakusolvong S. Effect of ginger on lower esophageal sphincter pressure. J Med Assoc Thai. 2010 Mar;93(3):366-72.
  6. Pommergaard HC, Burcharth J, Fischer A, Thomas WE, Rosenberg J. Flatulence on airplanes: just let it go. N Z Med J. 2013 Feb 15;126(1369):68-74.

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