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Do you feel bloated? Ayurvedic insights

Bloating and gas are common symptoms that many clients identify during consultation in our clinics.

According to Ayurveda, good digestion is the main indicator of good health and wellbeing. Regular, persistent bloating and gas is a sign of poor digestion, and the need for extra care of the health.

What is bloating?

Bloating is an abnormal swelling or increase in diameter of the abdominal area. A full and tight abdomen frequently causes abdominal pain and discomfort.

What cause bloating?

Quite simply, bloating is caused by a weak digestive fire or agni. In Ayurveda, this condition is called Aadhmaana, and it is a type of vata imbalance. Occasional bloating or gas is normal but when it becomes regular and persistent, it a sign and symptom of digestive imbalance.

When the abdomen bloats it is because the gastrointestinal tract was not able to split the food into tiny enough particles to absorb. Then our food can turn toxic and we are deprived of the nourishment we need in our tissues.

Bloating may be related to a range of factors.

Food habits

  • Eating heavy and fatty foods, which can delay stomach emptying
  • Raw and uncooked food, which is difficult to digest for a person with weak agni and poor digestion
  • Some beans
  • Cold food and drinks
  • Drinking milk (in some adults)
  • Drinking carbonated drinks and gassy food
  • Swallowing air when eating too quickly, drinking through a straw, chewing gum or sucking on candies

Addiction and medicines

  • Smoking
  • Certain medicines like narcotics and calcium channel blockers slow down the gut, and may lead to gas being trapped in the bowel.

Medical conditions

  • A gastrointestinal infection, blockage or disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterised by abdominal pain, cramping and changes in bowel function
  • Conditions such as celiac disease or lactose intolerance in which the intestines aren’t able to digest and absorb certain components of food.
  • Stress or anxiety

Preventative advice

  1. Enjoy mostly cooked foods. Do you know there are two types of cooking? One that happens in the kitchen and the other inside our bodies. When you have a strong internal fire, you can tolerate a certain amount of raw food. But if your digestive fire is weak, and you are experiencing symptoms of bloating and gas, you definitely need to favour cooked food. It is easier to digest and gentle on your system.
  2. Spice up your food. In ayurvedic cooking, we use spices and ghee not only for taste but also for medicine! Some of the common spices that balance the agni or digestive fire are cumin seeds, ajwain, fennel seeds, ginger, and asafoetida.
  3. Use ghee. Ghee helps to lubricate your food and hydrate your intestine for proper digestion, absorption and elimination.
  4. Chew thoroughly. Why do we have 32 teeth? Of course, for chewing and smiling perfectly. Chewing is an important part of digestion. When we rush our meals, we don’t give adequate time for the first stage of digestion that occurs in our mouth. Slow down and chew – ideally up to 32 times each mouthful. And chewing some fennel, ajwain or cumin seeds after food also aids digestion.
  5. Eat mindfully. Sitting quietly and eating slowly is the secret of happy digestion.
  6. Drink 30 minutes after, not before and during, your meal. Ayurveda says drinking liquid before and during your meal dilutes your digestive enzymes and dampens your digestive fire. However after your food has settled (approximately 30 minutes), it is good to drink some herbal tea like ginger tea, cumin tea, ajwain tea or butter milk (ayurvedic lassi).
  7. Eat smaller amounts. Ayurveda discourages eating to full capacity. It loads our system, giving it too much work to do. A rule of thumb is to fill our stomachs throughout the day with 50% solids, 25% liquid leaving the remaining 25% empty. But this is a personal experiment. Find out what works for you to keep it light.

Herbal medicine

Triphala: Triphala is a mixture of 3 medicinal fruits that treats the entire digestive tract.

Hingwastak powder or tablet:   

Ashta Choornam: Ashta choornam is an ayurvedic preparation that is excellent for the digestive tract. It stimulates appetite, assists proper bowel elimination, and prevents accumulation of gas.

Half a teaspoon of Ashta choornam is mixed with a tablespoon of warm rice and a small amount of ghee (optional) and taken before the meal.

Ayurvedic management of bloating

Treatment modalities include promoting deepana (by carminatives), paachana (by digestives) and vaataanulomana (by gas expellers). For customised treatment, your ayurvedic doctor will assess your constitution and tailor a solution for you.

Ayurvedic detox (panchakarma) is also recommended for eliminating the symptoms and the causes of digestive discomfort. It entails virechana (purgation) and vasti (herbalised enemas) for cleansing the intestine.

For further information, please visit one of our branches to consult with our specialist and begin the process of ayurvedic wellbeing.