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7 Best Herbs to Help Relieve Bloating, According to Chinese Medicine

Ahhh, is there anything worse than bloating? You can cut out processed foods, sugar, dairy, alcohol and anything greasy for a boring kale salad, and yet that pesky bloat still manages to find a way to haunt you.

So, in an effort to help stop (or at least manage) that uncomfortable ballooned feeling, we turned to acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner Kieren Ko, to explain why bloating occurs and how to alleviate this problem with a Traditional Chinese Medicine approach.

What causes bloating in the stomach?

There are many factors that may cause bloating including food intolerances, intestinal bacteria, ulcers and an increase of gas in your gut.

Traditional Chinese Medicine looks towards dysfunctions within the organ system to pinpoint why bloating is occurring.

“Bloating can happen due to various reasons such as a weakened digestive system on its own, impairment of digestive function due to “phlegm” (the most basic and common form is water retention) or because of a weakening due to other factors like stress,” Ko explains to Bed Threads Journal.

“In Chinese medicine, we use the analogy of a pot on a stove to represent the digestive system. The fire under the pot represents digestive strength. When there is a weakness there tends to be a smaller fire, hence making it harder to break down food and resulting in it sitting around causing the bloated sensation.”

He notes that eating foods that are too cold (such as ice cream and even that healthy salad), can affect your stomach, which will trigger feelings of bloating.

“People who are easily susceptible to bloating should stay clear of ‘raw’ or ‘cold’ foods and should switch it up with cooked or ‘warming’ foods to make it easier to digest and absorb nutrients.” Again, think of that brewing pot on the stove.

What relieves bloating fast?

Other than looking at the cooking process and temperature of your food, certain herbs can be added to food or sipped on as tea, to help achieve the same effect.

The addition of certain herbs in your diet can help balance your body, settle the stomach and digestive system, and neutralise the problem that’s occurring.

7 best herbs to reduce bloating

Here are seven common herbs you can turn to:

1. Sheng Jiang = Ginger

2. Gui Zhu = Cinnamon

3. Shan Zha = Hawthorn

4. Hei Hu Jiao = Black Pepper

5. Ding Xiang = Clove

6. Xiao Hui Xiang = Fennel seeds

7. Gan Cao = Liquorice root

It’s important to note that herbs can provide temporary relief, but if your bloating is causing you extreme discomfort or is coupled with other symptoms, it’s best to talk to your local GP.

7 lifestyle changes to reduce bloating

As well as incorporating herbs into your diet, there are other lifestyle choices you can add into your daily routine to help prevent bloating from occurring. These include:

  • Taking a walk after eating
  • Sitting up straight after eating
  • Eating slowly and mindfully
  • Consuming smaller but more frequent meals
  • Drinking beverages at room temperature
  • Increasing physical activity during the day
  • Standing every hour at work

It’s also important you don’t completely cut out any food groups you think are causing you to feel gaseous. For example, high-fibre foods such as vegetables and legumes are not only packed with essential nutrients, but are also crucial for bowel regularity and colon health. Before making any dietary changes, make sure to consult a health professional such as a dietitian who will be able to create a healthy personalised meal plan for you.

When to be concerned about bloating

Whilst bloating is a normal bodily function, it can also be a sign of an underlying health issue. Head to your doctor if it becomes severe or is accompanied by any other symptoms such as nausea and stomach pains.

Kieren Ko is an Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner. Find him at Health Space Clinics or follow him on Instagram @khwtcm.

Are you eating healthily but still feeling terrible and think you might have a food intolerance? Here's how to figure it out.

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