Search
Close this search box.

The Best Natural Remedies for Bloating

In this article:

Bloating is a build-up of excess gas in the digestive tract. As pressure increases in the abdomen, it causes discomfort and occasional pain. Some people experience persistent bloating with abdominal swelling or distention. Although the culprits of bloat are too numerous to count, there are about as many natural remedies—good news for those searching for quick, effective relief at home.

Causes of Abdominal Bloating

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Food intolerances or malabsorption 
  • Chronic constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Overgrowth or deficiency of gastrointestinal bacteria
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Abnormal intestinal motility
  • Diverticulosis
  • Parasitic infections like giardiasis
  • Behavioral health issues (anxiety, depression, stress reactions)

How to Relieve Bloating

The most effective way to treat chronic bloating is to identify the underlying cause(s). For example, people with celiac disease who continue consuming gluten may experience bloating no matter how many natural or pharmaceutical remedies they try. Medicine and natural treatments can temporarily relieve chronic constipation, but bloating may persist until the source of the constipation is determined.

Experience the benefits of personalized natural healthcare with a trusted, licensed naturopathic doctor in your area.
Find a Naturopathic Doctor
Experience the benefits of personalized natural healthcare with a trusted, licensed naturopathic doctor in your area.
Find an ND

Natural Remedies for a Bloated Belly

Home remedies for bloating prevent or reduce excess gas in the digestive tract, subsequently alleviating abdominal pain and discomfort.

Modifying Dietary Habits

One of the best ways to prevent bloat is through diet. Our digestive systems are equipped with acid, enzymes, and bile that break down food. Sometimes, the digestive process is thrown off course. For example, people with lactose intolerance, who do not have adequate levels of the enzyme lactase, cannot effectively process dairy products. Intestinal bacteria then feast on the undigested food, releasing carbon dioxide and triggering bloat. An estimated 20% of the general population experiences some type of food intolerance. 

Other common culprits are gluten, fatty foods, cruciferous vegetables, carbonated beverages, beans, lentils, some fruits, and artificial sweeteners. Elimination is the most practical way to confirm intolerance or sensitivity. Avoid the suspected problem food for two to three weeks before incorporating it back into your diet.

A diet low in FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) may help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). FODMAPs are poorly absorbed by the body and may cause digestive distress. 1Lacy BE, Gabbard SL, Crowell MD. Pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment of bloating: hope, hype, or hot air? Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011;7(11):729-739. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3264926

Lemon Balm

Naturopathic doctors often recommend lemon balm to relieve gastric discomfort. Lemon balm supports digestive motility and may reduce bloating2Aubert P, Guinobert I, Blondeau C, et al. Basal and spasmolytic effects of a hydroethanolic leaf extract of melissa officinalis L. on intestinal motility: an ex vivo study. J Med Food. 2019;22(7):653-662. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2018.0154; however, more research is needed to confirm the herb’s benefits. People with hypothyroidism should avoid lemon balm, as its effect on thyroid function is unclear.

Peppermint

Peppermint oil has proven efficacy in reducing bloat and may alleviate related symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. With a high concentration of flavonoids, peppermint can reduce gas buildup and bloating by relaxing the gut and keeping digestive bacteria in check.3Fifi AC, Axelrod CH, Chakraborty P, Saps M. Herbs and spices in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: a review of clinical trials. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1715. Published 2018 Nov 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111715 Studies have shown that peppermint oil can also relieve pain and bloating associated with IBS. Sipping peppermint tea after meals aids digestion.

Ginger

Ginger’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties may minimize abdominal pain and bloating. Studies have explored ginger’s effect on gastric motility and its ability to stimulate gastric emptying, which is especially beneficial for people struggling with constipation4Fifi AC, Axelrod CH, Chakraborty P, Saps M. Herbs and spices in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: a review of clinical trials. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1715. Published 2018 Nov 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111715. Drinking ginger tea after a meal may slow carbohydrate digestion and help regulate blood sugar.

Turmeric

Part of the ginger family, turmeric can decrease pain and distension. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory that reduces inflammation throughout the body, which may address the root cause of bloating.5Fifi AC, Axelrod CH, Chakraborty P, Saps M. Herbs and spices in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: a review of clinical trials. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1715. Published 2018 Nov 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111715

Probiotics

Probiotics are specially cultivated to promote a healthy gut microbiome. Although most people maintain a healthy microbiome naturally, bacteria in the gut can easily become imbalanced. Antibiotics are the most common offender. Probiotics have proven benefits for people with IBS bloating6Hungin APS, Mitchell CR, Whorwell P, et al. Systematic review: probiotics in the management of lower gastrointestinal symptoms – an updated evidence-based international consensus. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2018;47(8):1054-1070. https://doi.org/10.1111/apt.14539. Increasing good bacteria in the gut gives harmful bacteria fewer chances to proliferate, resulting in less carbon dioxide production. If probiotics worsen symptoms, however, SIBO testing may be needed, as probiotics may exacerbate SIBO symptoms.

Fennel

Fennel is another helpful herb for bloating. Studies have shown fennel’s long-term benefits for digestion, bloating, and flatulence.7Liu H, Li J, Lin S, Liu T, Zheng C. Effects of dietary fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) seed powder supplementation on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, small intestinal morphology, and carcass traits of broilers. PeerJ. 2021;9:e10308. Published 2021 Jan 28. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10308 Fennel is also commonly used to address infantile colic, helping babies relieve trapped gas. People with hormone-sensitive conditions, including certain cancers, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids, should avoid fennel, as the herb may mimic estrogen.

L-Glutamine

L-glutamine is the body’s most abundant amino acid, needed by multiple organs. A randomized placebo-controlled trial that treated IBS symptoms with L-glutamine reported less bloating and abdominal pain.8Zhou Q, Verne ML, Fields JZ, et al. Randomised placebo-controlled trial of dietary glutamine supplements for postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome. Gut. 2019;68(6):996-1002. https://doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2017-315136 L-glutamine directly affects intestinal permeability, often compromised in many conditions that contribute to bloating. Signs of increased intestinal permeability include diarrhea, pain, and fatigue.

I Love You Massage

Abdominal massage is an easy at-home technique for promoting gastric motility and curbing bloat. Start with step “I,” using a small amount of lotion to lubricate the skin. Lie down in a comfortable position and apply pressure to the left side of the abdomen, just below the ribs. Work in a downward motion toward the colon. Repeat this movement a few times. Then, massage horizontally from the right side of your body below your ribs to the left. Return to the “I” pattern, moving downward. Next, repeat the “L” motion a few times. Finish with “U,” moving upward from the right hip to just under the right ribs and continuing in an “L” pattern across the body and down. Practice this technique as needed throughout the day. Although it may not be beneficial for severe bloating or pain, massage can help with persistent constipation.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is highly effective in decreasing pain associated with bloating. In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture diminishes bloat by stimulating specific energy points on various meridians. Needles are inserted across the abdomen, increasing blood flow. Acupuncture upregulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the “rest and digest” functions that promote gastric motility. Many naturopathic doctors are also licensed acupuncturists (LAcs).

When Bloating Persists

What works best to resolve one person’s bloating might not be effective for another. An optimal approach often combines a process of elimination to rule out problem foods with lifestyle changes and two or more therapies. Stick with herbal teas to support digestion and mitigate bloating unless you’re working with an herbalist who is well-versed in potential interactions and side effects. If bloating continues, find a practitioner to help identify the cause.

Footnotes

  • 1
    Lacy BE, Gabbard SL, Crowell MD. Pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment of bloating: hope, hype, or hot air? Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011;7(11):729-739. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3264926
  • 2
    Aubert P, Guinobert I, Blondeau C, et al. Basal and spasmolytic effects of a hydroethanolic leaf extract of melissa officinalis L. on intestinal motility: an ex vivo study. J Med Food. 2019;22(7):653-662. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2018.0154
  • 3
    Fifi AC, Axelrod CH, Chakraborty P, Saps M. Herbs and spices in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: a review of clinical trials. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1715. Published 2018 Nov 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111715
  • 4
    Fifi AC, Axelrod CH, Chakraborty P, Saps M. Herbs and spices in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: a review of clinical trials. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1715. Published 2018 Nov 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111715
  • 5
    Fifi AC, Axelrod CH, Chakraborty P, Saps M. Herbs and spices in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: a review of clinical trials. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1715. Published 2018 Nov 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111715
  • 6
    Hungin APS, Mitchell CR, Whorwell P, et al. Systematic review: probiotics in the management of lower gastrointestinal symptoms – an updated evidence-based international consensus. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2018;47(8):1054-1070. https://doi.org/10.1111/apt.14539
  • 7
    Liu H, Li J, Lin S, Liu T, Zheng C. Effects of dietary fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) seed powder supplementation on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, small intestinal morphology, and carcass traits of broilers. PeerJ. 2021;9:e10308. Published 2021 Jan 28. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10308
  • 8
    Zhou Q, Verne ML, Fields JZ, et al. Randomised placebo-controlled trial of dietary glutamine supplements for postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome. Gut. 2019;68(6):996-1002. https://doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2017-315136

This article is provided by

The Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. INM’s mission is to transform health care in the United States by increasing public awareness of natural medicine and access to naturopathic doctors. Naturopathic medicine, with its person-centered principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness overwhelming healthcare systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain optimal lifelong health. INM strives to fulfil this mission through the following initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of evidence-based natural medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research on this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

About The Author(s)

Author Medical Editor

Megha Sanghi, ND

Megha Sanghi is a naturopathic doctor licensed in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, working at New England Integrative Medicine. Dr. Sanghi’s passions lie in gynecological health, thyroid health, autoimmune conditions, and mental health. She is a Stage 4 Endometriosis Warrior herself and a strong advocate of her patient’s health. She lives in Boston with her husband, cat and dog.

Explore Gastrointestinal Health & Nutrition & Weight Management Articles

Explore

INM – NMC profession-wide survey assesses common priorities to drive fundraising.

Results: 1) States licensing 2) Public Awareness 3) Residency Access. INM’s priority areas (access, education, research) and initiatives are defined to match survey results.

Get Involved!