Do you feel bloated shortly after eating? Are you experiencing periods of constipation or excessive gas? Do you experience stomach pains or cramps?
These symptoms may seem unrelated, but they are all examples of digestive discomfort. These conditions, and others like them, may stem from your diet choices or a standing physical condition. However, most symptoms of digestive discomfort can be addressed through natural home remedies.
What are common sources of digestive discomfort?
Digestive discomfort on an occasional basis is prevalent among many American adults. Most symptoms are directly associated with your diet habits – in other words, what you eat and how you eat it.
The most common sources of digestive discomfort are bloating, gassiness, constipation, and stomach aches.
Bloating and gassiness are very closely related and are incredibly common. In fact, 1 in 10 Americans report feeling gassy or bloated on a regular basis. Bloating is typically caused by overeating, eating rich or fatty foods, and eating too quickly.
Gassiness can similarly be caused by eating too quickly since as much as 50% of the excess gas in your digestive system comes from air that you swallow while eating. The rest of the gas is produced by the bacteria that break down your food as it moves through your system.
Constipation occurs when you experience difficulty in relieving your bowels after eating and can manifest in either a decrease in frequency or an increase in difficulty of your bowel movements. Though the frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person, going longer than 3 days without one typically indicates an issue that should be addressed.
Stomach aches have many causes and can, in fact, be influenced by bloating or constipation. A stomach ache frequently manifests as brief or intermittent cramps and can accompany feelings of nausea. Persistent or recurring discomfort could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome or a stomach ulcer.
However, an aching or unsettled feeling in your stomach is commonly just a reaction to something that you ate early in the day, which sometimes manifests as indigestion.
What can I do about my discomfort?
Many people turn to over-the-counter medications to cure their digestive discomfort. Antacids react with the acid in your stomach to reduce their acidity levels, which can reduce discomfort associated with gassiness or acid reflux.
Likewise, laxatives introduce chemicals into your system which increase the frequency and mobility of your bowel movements.
Using an over-the-counter medication can be effective but it also requires you to add unnatural chemicals to your bodily processes. If your body becomes dependent on those additional chemicals then your body’s regular functions may actually adapt, which can result in developing a dependency on the medication.
In other cases, misusing or overusing medications can lead to new problems or incur negative side effects such as nausea or headaches.
To avoid the risks of negative side effects or throwing your body’s systems out of balance, consider trying one of these home remedies for common sources of digestive discomfort:
5 Home Remedies for Digestive Discomfort
If you are feeling bloated: take ginger essential oil.
Many mothers know that ginger ale can help to calm an upset tummy in a young child. But did you know that ginger is actually well known for its carminative properties?
This means that ginger essential oil can reduce excessive gas in the stomach and digestive system, which in turn can lessen discomfort associated with gassiness, bloating, and stomach aches.
As an added benefit, ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can be leveraged to cut off stomach aches associated with irritated or inflamed parts of the digestive system.
Reducing inflammation can allow your body to heal properly, reducing overall discomfort both immediately and in the long run.
Directions: Add 1-2 drops of essential oil to a full cup of tea or a glass of fruit juice. Ingest to reduce gassiness and bloating after symptoms begin, or drink with or after a large meal to reduce the risk of feeling bloated afterward.
For general stomach aches, drink some rice water.
Rice water is the water left over after making a pot of rice. It can help to offset stomach pain by creating a protective barrier between your stomach lining and your stomach acid.
In addition to helping to calm an upset stomach, the rice water can even help to decrease unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
You can drink the rice water directly if you wish, though the flavor is a bit bland and starchy. If you don’t like the taste you can add other ingredients to the rice water, or you could use it to make a soup or stew to achieve the same benefits.
Directions: To make a single cup of rice water, add two tablespoons of rice to about a cup and a half of water. (The rice will soak up some of the water as it cooks.) Do not add any salt. After the rice is tender, strain out the cooked rice.
You can drink the rice water as-is, if you like. To add some flavor you could season with a dash of honey and sugar. If the rice water is too thick, you can think it out with a little extra water without reducing its effectiveness.
If you have stomach cramps, with or without feelings of bloating, eat some fennel seeds.
Fennel is an all-around nutritional powerhouse. It is packed with over 80 different vitamins and minerals.
A single cup of fennel contains 14% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C, 11% of your recommended amount of fiber, and 10% of your target dosage of potassium.
In addition to its overall health benefits, fennel is also a popular home remedy for many conditions. It contains numerous antioxidants and can be used as an anti-inflammatory supplement. This is one of the properties that help it to effectively combat stomach irritation.
It can also soothe muscle cramps, including stomach spasms, to ease muscular discomfort in the stomach area.
Stomach cramps are often accompanied by(or a side effect of) bloating, and fennel can even decrease the production of excessive gasses in the digestive system.
The fennel plant, or its seeds, can produce these effects on its own.
However, for a more intensified effect, you could also use fennel essential oil, which contains the same benefits in a more concentrated dosage.
You can achieve many of the health benefits through a serving size of only a few drops of essential oil rather than an entire cup of the plant, which may also be more convenient to use.
Directions: There are several ways that you could use fennel to ease your discomfort. Try eating a few seeds after a large meal if you are prone to stomach aches. You could also make a fennel tea by steeping a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes.
Alternatively, to use fennel essential oil, add 1-2 drops to a glass of tea, protein shake, or other drink and consume.
To ease periods of constipation, drink coffee.
Coffee is typically recognized as a morning pick-me-up when you are feeling tired. Many working adults drink it every morning, and it has become a part of American culture: drunk with breakfast, served at business meetings, and used as a common low-key date spot.
Coffee does have several other health benefits aside from its caffeine content.
1-2 cups each day may reduce the risk of heart disease, and it contains healthy vitamins and antioxidants that can improve your overall well-being. But coffee is also an effective laxative when consumed early on in your day!
Drinking coffee in the morning stimulates your digestive system, which encourages bowel movements early on in your day.Directions: Drink a cup of coffee within 1-2 hours of waking up. For best results, opt for a hot drink instead of an iced or cold brewed coffee.
If the coffee doesn’t work, try eating some sesame seeds.
Sesame seeds have a high oil content, which can help to moisturize the intestines and prime your body for an easier and more comfortable bowel movements.
They also add some texture to your stool, which can give your intestines something to grip. They also can help to soften up your stool to make it easier to pass.
Directions: Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of a salads, cereals, chicken, or vegetable dishes and eat whole.
Alternatively, you could pulverize the seeds in a coffee grinder and use the powdering as a seasoning rather than eating the seeds whole.
Digestive discomfort is a common ailment among adults and can stem from a number of causes. Persistent discomfort may stem from indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, or other chronic stomach and digestive conditions. Periodic discomfort could be a sign of illness or simply an adverse reaction to something in your diet or your dinner.
If you have chronic digestive issues then you should consider discussing them with your doctor, as persistent pain and discomfort could be a sign of a more serious condition or an indication that you need to make a major change to your diet (such as, for instance, if you are lactose intolerant and do not know it).
However, if you have intermittent discomfort, try one of these home remedies before reaching into your wallet to purchase an over-the-counter medication. Many digestive issues can be addressed with home remedies like these, which adjust your body’s systems more naturally to avoid adverse side effects.