• Activated Charcoal,
The passing of intestinal gas is a normal process, but it can become unpleasant, uncomfortable, or embarrassing. Intestinal gas has two primary sources: bacteria in the intestines and air swallowed by mouth (aerophagia). Certain foods greatly increase the production of gas in the intestines by providing nutrients to gas-producing bacteria. Common gas-increasing foods include beans, beer, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, fructose, onions, prunes, red wine, and sorbitol. In general, high-fiber foods cause more gas than low-fiber ones, and, for this reason, people who switch to a whole foods diet frequently experience more gas.
Certain medical conditions can also increase gas-related symptoms, including celiac sprue, colon cancer,
Treatment of excess gas begins with treating the underlying disease, if there is one. Beyond that, general steps include avoiding gas-producing foods and minimizing habits that cause aerophagia (such as gulping of beverages). Medications such as simethicone, metoclopramide, and antibiotics may also help, although the supporting evidence to indicate that they are effective remains incomplete.
Proposed Natural Treatments
There has been little meaningful scientific investigation of natural treatments to reduce gas in people who are otherwise healthy. However, some evidence supports the use of natural treatments for reducing gas production among those with irritable bowel syndrome
For example, a 4-week,
Beano, a product containing the enzyme beta-galactosidase, is widely available for reducing gas caused by consuming beans. This enzyme breaks down some of the gas-producing carbohydrates in beans. However, a study designed to test this substance found only weak evidence of effectiveness.
Activated charcoal taken by mouth may reduce the amount of flatulence, although not all studies agree.
Certain herbs called carminatives are traditionally believed to aid the movement of gas. These include anise,
In addition, numerous alternative therapies are said to help improve digestion and reduce gas, including
One study in dogs indicates that a combination of charcoal,
1. Nobaek S, Johansson ML, Molin G, et al. Alteration of intestinal microflora is associated with reduction in abdominal bloating and pain in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol . 2000;95:1231-1238.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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