Many of us experience digestive upset in various forms. What I see people concerned with the most is general bloating. There are many causes of bloating from low stomach acid, eating too fast, eating when we’re stressed, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and many more serious causes. These conditions take time to address properly.
In the mean time, it’s important to know how to help yourself feel better in the moment.
What is abdominal bloating?
Abdominal bloating is a feeling of pressure in the abdomen that may also be visible as a distended belly (often called a “food baby.”) It results from an increase in volume of the contents of the abdomen. This could be from extra liquid in the intestines, extra gas or extra stool when we’re constipated.
Other more serious causes are internal bleeding, liver disease, ovarian cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and others. This is why it’s always important to have an ND or MD do a thorough work up on your case before jumping to treatment.
Today, though, we’re talking about what to do about mild cases of bloating that might come with too many beans in our meal, constipation or eating something that didn’t agree with us.
Herbal Teas and Bloating
Herbs are my favourite, easy bloating relief option. They taste good, are cozy and make us slow down a bit to relax which is super important for proper digestion. Have you ever had bloating all day and then when you finally got home and felt free to relax that’s when some extra gas was passed? The right tea can help speed that process along.
- Peppermint tea (Mentha piperita) – it’s an old favourite for many but beyond tasting delicious, peppermint tea essential oils help relax smooth muscles in your gastrointestinal tract. Relaxing the muscles can reduce the pressure in your intestines. Once that happens, there is usually less discomfort and sometimes gas or a bowel movement can happen more freely.
- Chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita) – is most commonly known to help people sleep but acts like peppermint. It also reduces inflammation and is a mild pain reliever, all good things for a bloated belly.
- Ginger tea (Zingiber officinale) – is usually thought of as a spice but makes an excellent tea. Ginger compounds act like those in peppermint and chamomile, but in addition to that it helps reduce nausea and prevents muscle spasms which often come with a bloating episode.
A note about these herbs: always consult a healthcare practitioner before using these for the first time if you’re taking medications, have existing health conditions, have a history of plant sensitivity or are pregnant or breast feeding. Chamomile is in the daisy family, so if you’re sensitive to daisy pollen, you’ll want to avoid this one. Peppermint can make heart burn worse by loosening the smooth muscle that keeps your stomach contents from reaching up into your esophagus. Ginger can be very warming and might be irritating to someone with gastritis or an ulcer.
Godfrey A, Saunders PR, Barlow K, Gilbert C, Gowan M, Smith F. Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Volume 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs. Toronto. CCNM Press Inc; 2010.