Gas and bloating

Q: I have gas and bloating all the time. It starts about mid-morning and I am miserable all day. I have had a couple of tests for gall bladder problems, but both came back indicating no stones. I have considered trying one of the intestinal cleansing aids that I have seen at the health food stores. Do you think I would benefit from it? I am at the point I would try anything. I am a 44-year-old woman in excellent health except for this little condition. I usually eat cold cereal for breakfast, usually Frosted Mini-Wheats, or some kind of fiber cereal. Could this also be what is causing the problem? It doesn’t really seem to matter what I eat though … it is every day.

A: Most of the time, gas and bloating can be attributed to either a deficiency of hydrochloric acid, other digestive enzyme deficiencies, improper bacteria balance in the colon (dysbiosis), or food intolerances. However, in women, sometimes it can be due to a pelvic problem. For that reason, I would strongly encourage you to schedule a pelvic exam with a qualified health care practitioner. Once any kind of ovarian or uterine growth is ruled out, you can proceed to the digestive related issues.

An intestinal cleansing aid wouldn’t be my first choice for treating gas and bloating. I’d start by trying to find out if certain foods could be causing your symptoms. This is something you may be able to figure out on your own by eliminating foods you might be sensitive or allergic to. Wheat, dairy, citrus fruits and soy are a few of the most common allergens. Try eliminating them one at a time, for a week or two each, to see if your symptoms improve. If so, try reintroducing them one at a time to see if the symptoms come back. (This “elimination and challenge method” is used by many alternative health practitioners.) You may find that avoiding certain problem foods is enough to prevent gas and bloating.

Another widely used remedy for gastric distress is a broad spectrum enzyme supplement, available at health food stores. These products contain hydrochloric acid and the enzymes protease, lipase and sucrase, as well as additional enzyme support. Another effective natural treatment is a lactobacillus supplement that introduces the friendly bacteria (needed for normal digestion) into your digestive system. Both these products are available at health food stores.

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