There are a few things that are definitely true about gas. First? Everyone gets a little gassy from time to time. And second? Nobody likes it.
What's less clear is the best way to banish that bloated feeling. Home remedies for gas abound, but not all of them are proven problem-solvers. And in fact, some DIY treatments might actually do more harm than good.
So what can you do to win the wind war, and which fixes really aren't worth it? Here's what science has to say on getting rid of painful stomach gas.
1. Get Some Exercise
"It's long been known that activity and bowel function go hand in hand," says Jeff Scott, MD, board-certified gastroenterologist and founder of Happy Colon Foods. When you move your body, the food in your GI tract keeps moving too.
Regular physical activity can help keep constipation at bay and prevent gassy buildup, according to the Mayo Clinic.
"When we develop a sluggish colon, stool sits too long and continues to undergo fermentation by colonic bacteria, which produces gas as a byproduct," Dr. Scott explains.
Post-meal walk, anyone?
2. Drink Water
Here's just one more reason to sip: Drinking water may help your digestion, reducing the amount of gas you produce.
That glass of H2O plays a key role in breaking down food as it passes through your gut, as well as making stool soft and easy to pass, according to the Mayo Clinic. And both of those things can fight the formation of gas.
How much water should you drink? As a general rule, aim for about half your body weight in ounces each day, suggests the University of Missouri System.
3. Try Certain Yoga Poses
And while there's not much formal research on gas-fighting poses for people without IBS, experts say positions that involve bringing your knees to your chest could probably be helpful.
Yoga poses for gas relief — like Wind-relieving pose, Child's pose and Happy baby — are good examples to try.
"It's almost like promoting forward movement, like pushing air out of an air mattress before folding it up," explains Rabia De Latour, MD, gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health.
Try these positions when you have built-up gas in your stomach or chest:
- Start by lying on your back on a mat or soft surface.
- Slowly bring one knee to your chest, grasping it with both hands and pulling it toward your body. Hold for five seconds, then release.
- Repeat with the other knee.
- Bring both knees to your chest, wrapping your arms around them to pull them closer to your body.
- Hold for five seconds, rocking gently side to side, then release.
- Start by kneeling on a mat or soft surface.
- Place your hands on the mat, then slowly push your bottom back onto your heels.
- With your arms stretched out in front of you, palms on the mat, lower your forehead to the mat so your chest and abdomen are against your upper thighs (you can spread your knees if that's more comfortable).
- Hold for 30 seconds or as long as feels good to you.
- Start by lying on your back on your mat or a soft surface
- Slowly bring your knees into your chest, taking hold of the outer edges of your feet.
- Spread your knees apart, bringing them up toward your armpits.
- Flex your heels as you push your feet into your hands, making sure your ankles are directly over your knees and your shins are perpendicular to the floor.
- Hold or gently rock side to side for 30 seconds, or as long as feels good.
4. Sip Tea
Herbal products have traditionally been used to improve digestion and relieve gas pain. But the research so far has looked at essential oils and supplements more than teas.
Still, it's possible that the right herbal sipper could ease your symptoms, Dr. De Latour says. "There's virtually no downside to trying, so it's a great option," she notes.
A few contenders to consider when you have stomach pain and gas:
- Peppermint tea: Peppermint contains compounds that encourage the gastrointestinal tract to relax, according to a September 2019 review in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. And that could help release trapped gas.
- Chamomile tea: The same review concluded that chamomile can also encourage the GI tract to relax.
- Ginger tea: Taking ginger and artichoke leaf capsules before meals helped reduce feelings of pain and bloating, found an April 2015 study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It's not clear whether tea can have the same effect, but as Dr. De Latour says, it's worth a try.
Does Green Tea Help With Bloating?
Some test tube and animal studies have linked the antioxidants in green tea with less gas and bloating, but there's no research to show this in humans. If you decide to try green tea, keep in mind that it has caffeine, which some people should limit, including those with heart problems or anemia, or people taking certain medications.
5. Eat Gut-Friendly Foods
Namely, foods rich in probiotics. There are no foods that eliminate or "absorb" gas, but the friendly bugs in these foods increase digestive-supporting bacteria and reduce bad bacteria that interfere with digestion, which over time could promote a healthier gut, according to the Cleveland Clinic. And a healthier gut can mean less gas.
Probiotic foods include:
Foods rich in prebiotics — special plant fibers — might be helpful too. Prebiotics nourish the good bacteria in your GI tract to help the friendly microbes do their job, which could set the stage for better digestion, according to the Mayo Clinic.
You can find prebiotics in fiber-rich plant foods like:
6. Avoid or Limit Certain Foods and Drinks
If you notice a particular food or drink tends to get you gassy, one of the easiest and most effective solutions is to simply steer clear, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Different foods can be gas triggers for different people. But some of the most common culprits include:
- High-fiber foods: This is especially true if you increase how much you're eating very quickly. Bran, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and beans are some of the most notorious offenders, according to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).
- Sugar-free snacks, gum and candies: Many contain sugar alcohols like sorbitol, which can make you gassy, the ACG says. That's because sorbitol is broken down very slowly by your body — meaning it stays in your system longer than most other foods — and can cause bloating from gas-producing bacteria in your intestines. (Sorbitol is also found in apples, pears, peaches, prunes and some berries, but in very small amounts. In this case, it's eventually converted to fructose, or "fruit sugar," by enzymes in your large intestine.)
- Carbonated drinks: According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the bubbles in seltzer or carbonated water can bubble up in your digestive tract. The ACG says carbonated beverages are a primary risk factor for belching, bloating and gas because they create excess gastric air.
- Fried or fatty foods: Heavy, greasy food is harder for your body to digest, leading to indigestion and gas, according to the NIDDK.
- Dairy products: If you're lactose intolerant, milk, ice cream and some cheeses could make you bloated and gassy, per the ACG. (But yogurt may be OK!)
What About Probiotic Supplements?
If probiotic-rich foods are good for digestion, is it better to just pop a pill? Probiotic supplements may play a role in managing gas and bloating, concluded a May 2019 Advances in Therapy review.
But for now, the research is unclear on the best probiotics for gas and flatulence — we don't know which probiotic strains or combination of probiotics work best in treating certain diseases or health conditions, per the Cleveland Clinic.
What's more, you might have some unintended side effects. Probiotics could cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, flatulence or bloating in the first few days after taking them, the Cleveland Clinic says.
In all, "some studies have shown minor benefit and some have not," Dr. De Latour says.
Instead of focusing on supplements, she recommends sticking with a well-rounded, plant-based diet and avoiding foods that seem to trigger gas for you.
What About Papaya Enzymes?
Papain, an enzyme found in papaya, has traditionally been touted for its ability to aid digestion and settle upset stomachs. But the benefits aren't backed by any high-quality research, Dr. Scott says.
And in fact, papain might make your stomach woes worse. According to an August 2014 Mayo Clinic Proceedings review, over-the-counter papain supplements can trigger gastritis — stomach inflammation that can cause pain, nausea and vomiting.
What About Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is touted as a home remedy for many digestive problems. But there's zero credible evidence that it can help ease gas.
Plus, because it's acidic, drinking the undiluted vinegar could actually irritate your stomach and make you more uncomfortable.
What About Baking Soda?
Baking soda is thought to be a DIY heartburn remedy — albeit one with potentially harmful consequences if you consume too much too quickly, according to 2013 findings in the Journal of Medical Toxicology. But there's no evidence that it can help get rid of gas pain or bloating.
"It has the ability to quickly neutralize acid and raise the pH in your stomach. That does not, however, prevent gas and can cause some problems with medication absorption and increase fluid retention due to its salt content," Dr. Scott says.
In other words? Steer clear of this supposed natural remedy for gas and acidity.
Is This an Emergency?
- Journal of Medical Toxicology: "Baking Soda Can Settle the Stomach but Upset the Heart: Case Files of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco"
- American College of Gastroenterology: "Belching, bloating, and flatulence"
- Cleveland Clinic: "How to pick the best probiotic for you"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Probiotics"
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "The Effect of Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) and Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) Extract Supplementation on Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomised, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial"
- Advances in Therapy: "Bloating and Abdominal Distension: Clinical Approach and Management"
- Mayo Clinic: "Does drinking water during or after a meal disturb digestion?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gas and pains"
- Mayo Clinic: "Probiotics, prebiotics, and your health"
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Eating, diet, & nutrition for gas in the digestive tract"
- Plant Foods for Human Nutrition: "Herbal Teas and their Health Benefits: A Scoping Review"
- Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology: "Effect of Yoga in the Therapy of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review"
- Mayo Clinic Proceedings: "Over-the-Counter Enzyme Supplements: What a Clinician Needs to Know"
- University of Missouri System: "How to calculate how much water you should drink"