Flatulence is the presence of excessive air or gas in the stomach or intestines that bloats the organs. It may be an ordinary disease – eight out of ten people suffer from it – but it is an embarrassing situation to pass fowl-smelling gas with or without noise as it is considered a bad manner. Some people suppress this urge, but Ayurveda recommends this urge not be suppressed as doing so can give rise to many diseases.
Impaired digestion and poor absorption of foods in the small intestines cause flatulence. Certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, Crohn’s disease or colon cancer, may also cause flatulence. People with scar tissue (adhesions) from abdominal operations or internal hernias may have a sensation of bloating because of increased sensitivity to gas. Additionally, a diet that is low in fiber and a sedentary lifestyle cause indigestion or ama (mucus) formation leading to flatulence.
- Pain or feeling of heaviness in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy and dullness
- Belching and headache in some cases
Flatulence, known as Aadhyaman in Ayurveda, is caused due to an imbalance of Vata and Pitta Dosha. Pitta is a humor that symbolizes heat or fire. It controls the digestive fire or jatharagni – the fire that helps digest foods. Vata is another humor, which symbolizes air or wind. Low Pitta Dosha and aggravated Vata Dosha result in low digestive fire, thus impairing digestion. Impaired digestion leads to flatulence.
The food we eat is digested by our digestive fire and is converted into nutrient plasma by a special mechanism. The nutrient plasma thus produced nourishes all other dhatus or body tissues. In case of impaired digestion, the body produces ama or toxins instead of healthy nutrient plasma. This ama forms a coating on the inner walls of the digestive gut, and aggravates Vata Dosha. Aggravated Vata leads to trapping of air in the digestive gut, which leads further to distension of the organs, thereby causing a state of flatulence.
Diet and Lifestyle Advice
- Stick to a vata-pacifying, easily digestible and nutritious diet
- Avoid raw foods, even raw salads and sprouted beans and pulses
- Use vata-pacifying herbs like asafetida, celery seeds, cumin seeds and cardamom while cooking
- Avoid rice at night
- Whole wheat and brown rice are helpful
- Avoid tea, coffee, late night dinners, alcoholic beverages, aerated drinks, and fermented foods.
Always make sure you eat your food in calm and relaxing surroundings, without the disturbance of television or loud music. Food should be warm and freshly prepared and should be taken only when you feel hungry. Practice Vajrasan and Agnisaar Pranayam.
Some Home Remedies
- Make a mixture of 1 gram of asafetida fried in purified butter, ½ teaspoon of black salt, and 3 teaspoons of celery seeds. Take 1 teaspoon with lukewarm water 2-3 times a day.
- Make a mixture of 1 teaspoon of roasted cumin seeds powder, 1 teaspoon of celery seeds, 1 teaspoon of dried ginger powder and ¼ teaspoon of black salt.
- Take ½ teaspoon of the mixture with lukewarm water twice a day.
- Have 1 glassful of buttermilk with 1/6 teaspoon each of roasted cumin seeds powder and dried ginger powder. Add black salt according to taste.