Bloating is an extremely common symptom reported by almost everybody at some stage in their life. It is described as a subjective discomfort caused by intestinal gas while abdominal distension is a visible increase in abdominal girth.
Around 16% of healthy individuals experience bloating at least once a month. Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome suffer from bloating 25% of the time and pain 33% of the time.
Bloating is said to be more prevalent in women than men. Many women report increased bloating sensation prior or during the menstrual cycle.
- Impaired gut microflora (bacteria that reside in the intestine and aid in digestion)
- Increased gas production and transit
- Abnormal abdominal wall and diaphragm reflexes
- Abnormalities in Posture
- Abnormal or heightened perception of changes in gastrointestinal tract
- Food intolerance
- Gender and sex hormones
- Psychological aspects
Individuals suffering from functional gastrointestinal disorders like GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disorder), functional dyspepsia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome commonly report bloating as a symptom. Increased psychological distress has been reported concomitantly with increased severity of bloating.
Antibiotics, probiotics, laxatives, antispasmodics, and gas reducing substances are generally used to treat bloating. Dietary and lifestyle changes are the best approach when managing bloating.
How does turmeric ease bloating?
The inclusion of spices in the diet not only adds flavor to the dish but also aids in digestion. Turmeric, the Golden Spice can also aid in improving digestion and digestive health.
1. It is a carminative and digestive stimulant
Traditionally turmeric is said to work as a carminative and protects from the formation of intestinal gas. Due to its hot potency, turmeric serves as anti-flatulent, digestive and stimulant.
Turmeric is reported to have antispasmodic activity which can help with abdominal pain. Curcuminoids isolated from turmeric are reported to have smooth muscle relaxant effects and inhibit spasms in uterus and intestine.
Experimental studies have demonstrated that turmeric/curcumin exhibits anti-flatulent activity. Ayurveda states that turmeric is an antinoxious substance- it counteracts the effect of any toxic element in the diet and protects from its after effects.
Animal studies show that curcumin stimulates digestion by improving the action of intestinal lipase (enzyme that breaks down fats) and sucrase and maltase (enzymes that breakdown carbohydrates).
What does this mean?
Turmeric/curcumin works as anti-flatulent and antispasmodic. It also improves digestion by increasing the activity of digestive enzymes. These properties can help in preventing bloating and reduce associated abdominal pain.
2.Turmeric has gastroprotective activity
Yadav et al have documented turmeric’s gastroprotective activity. Gastrointestinal problems occur as a result of the action of harmful reactive oxygen species, secretion of excessive gastric acid, damage to the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines etc.
This also leads to the formation of gastric ulcers while in some cases it manifests as GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disorder). 80% of the times this damage is caused by the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, followed by H.pylori (bacteria that causes acidity) infection and eating spicy foods.
Research proves that curcumin protects from gastric ulcer formation, eliminates H.pylori infection, protects from drug induced inflammation. Its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties protect the stomach lining and reduce the occurrence of gastric diseases.
Since it deals with the root causes, curcumin and turmeric can help in the prevention of GERD and gastritis which at times are the reasons behind severe bloating.
What does this mean?
Bloating is at times a symptom of underlying conditions like gastritis and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder). Turmeric protects the lining of the stomach and intestines from damage by irritants like certain medicines, H.pylori infection, alcohol etc; it prevents gastric ulcer formation.
3.It remedies dyspepsia or indigestion
Dyspepsia is a clinical term for indigestion. Its symptoms include nausea, abdominal fullness or bloating, belching and upper abdominal pain.
A clinical trial was conducted in Thailand on the effect of turmeric on dyspepsia. Turmeric powder was compared with an anti-flatulent drug and placebo. Patients received 2 capsules of turmeric powder 4 times a day for seven days.
87% patients receiving turmeric responded to the treatment, while in anti-flatuent drug group response rate was 83% and in placebo, it was 53%. Mild side effects were reported in every group and treatment satisfaction rate was 50% in each group.
A study examined the effect of a capsule filled turmeric on peptic ulcer treatment. 45 individuals participated in the study and were given 2 capsules of 300mg each five times a day. Within 4 weeks of treatment, ulcers were absent in 12 cases. Within 12 weeks of the treatment, 19 cases did not have ulcers.
The rest did not have ulcers but suffered from gastritis, dyspepsia and gastric lining erosions. Within 2 weeks of treatment, abdominal pain and discomfort were relieved.
What does this mean?
Dyspepsia or indigestion presents with symptoms of bloating, belching and flatulence. Clinical studies show that turmeric at high doses can help in relieving symptoms of indigestion, abdominal pain and bloating.
4.It improves gut bacteria and preserves intestinal barrier
Approximately 500 species reside in our gut and their population differs from individual to individual. They play a very important role in immune function, digestion of food, absorption of drugs and maintenance of intestinal barrier.
Abnormalities in gut microflora caused by unhealthy diet, alcohol intake or consumption of certain medications can impair digestion and this may lead to bloating.
Oral curcumin supplementation is proven to protect intestinal barrier from Western diet induced changes and also from bacterial toxins. In an experimental model of colorectal cancer, curcumin supplementation is found to increase microbial richness and promote the populations of good bacteria and simultaneously reduce the population of harmful bacteria.
What does this mean?
Impairment of intestinal microbial population is held as one of the possible causes of bloating. Curcumin is proven to positively regulate the growth of intestinal microbes. It also protects the intestinal barrier from infection and diet associated changes.
5.Turmeric shows potential in functional gastric disorders
Various digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diverticulosis, food allergy, constipation could cause bloating.
A clinical trial conducted in the UK showed a drop of 50-60% of IBS related symptoms after treatment with standardized turmeric extracts for 8 weeks.
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property can be useful in the treatment of various gastric disorders. Curcumin’s antimicrobial action can help fight various infections that could affect the digestive system.
Curcumin regulates immune responses in allergy. In experimental model of food allergy, curcumin has demonstrated therapeutic potential. Frequent consumption of turmeric at moderate doses can modulate allergic responses in individuals susceptible to food allergies.
What does this mean?
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial and immune regulating property can help in treatment of IBS, food allergy and other disorders which cause bloating.
6.Turmeric can attenuate anxiety and depressive symptoms
Symptoms of bloating and abdominal fullness have been linked with anxiety and depression. There is a high prevalence of bloating symptoms in individuals suffering from IBS.
Curcumin is proven to attenuate symptoms of anxiety and depression in IBS by modulating brain chemicals that affect both the brain and the digestive system.
What does this mean?
The chemicals that are responsible for brain function are also involved in regulation of digestive function. Anxiety and depressive behaviour can present with symptoms of bloating and belching. Curcumin can help in treating anxiety and depression observed in major depressive disorder, IBS and related disorders.
There is no recommended dosage of turmeric for bloating. Just include it in your diet. 1-3g of powdered turmeric root should help. Here are a few recipes. A combination of turmeric and ginger can also aid as a digestive stimulant.
Turmeric is poorly absorbed in the body. The Golden Paste is an excellent way of taking turmeric and ensuring that it is absorbed in the body. Here are a few recipes in which you could include The Golden Paste.
Although turmeric can help in fighting the causes of bloating, you must have heard of cases where turmeric caused bloating. This can occur when you take too much of turmeric. Stick to moderate amounts of turmeric daily.
Turmeric supplements should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation. Turmeric can mildly increase bleeding risk, so it is advised to discontinue turmeric supplements prior to surgical procedures.
Turmeric supplements should be avoided if suffering from gallbladder issues or bile passage obstructions.
Turmeric supplements could have possible drug interactions with diabetes medication, blood thinning medicines, stomach acid reducing drugs and certain antidepressants.
Consult a doctor before taking turmeric supplements.
Bloating is a symptom of some underlying condition like irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disorder, or even anxiety and depression etc.
Traditionally turmeric is said to work as a carminative and aid in digestion and relieve intestinal gas. Scientific evidence point that turmeric can help in treating underlying conditions that cause bloating.
However, you should take turmeric in moderate doses; high doses of turmeric can worsen the symptoms of bloating and other gastric symptoms. The Golden Paste and Turmeric Milk are excellent remedies for bloating.