Gassy guts—we’ve all experienced it and we all hate it.
We don't mean to knock the wind out of you, but passing gas is more than a mere inconvenience. According to Ayurveda, frequent farting is seen as a sign of weak digestion. But in order to understand why that is, we have to delve into the mechanics of farting. It’s not the most glamorous topic, but learning about digestive problems and how to treat them the Ayurvedic way will make your life smoother.
Reasons for Excessive Gas
The body is a complex mechanism, and Ayurveda looks at all the moving parts and science behind the why of bodily functions. The reason you may be experiencing excessive gas usually boils down to your digestive system and what you eat.
Food travels down your esophagus and into your stomach where it gets broken down into its constituent parts by enzymes. This broken down food then gets moved to your small intestine, which is responsible for absorbing water and nutrients into your bloodstream. Waste products and other undigested foods then get moved to you large intestine, where they get broken down by bacteria and yeast. Digestion of certain sugars, or carbohydrates, in these waste products creates gas. You can then release this gas in the form of a burp or flatulence, which is composed primarily of nitrogen, in addition to hydrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, methane, and sulfur.
Ever had smelly gas after eating? Well, the sulfur component is primarily responsible for the odor. The type of gas that you release depends on the bacteria that created it, and the longer that it spends in your digestive track, the more pungent that the smell will be. What you eat directly corresponds with the gas you release.
Not only does digestion of the waste products by bacteria result in unwanted flatulence, but excessive gas also means that your body is not obtaining as many nutrients as it could be because they are going to the large intestine instead of getting absorbed in the small intestine.
What Does Ayurveda Say About Gas?
Ayurveda views gas as the result of weak digestion and it associates it with the vata dosha [energy of air + space]. Foods that aggregate vata and take longer to digest are then more likely to give you gas. Vata-aggravating food include dairy products, fried products and beans. People who are predominant in the vata dosha tend to experience bloating and gas after eating foods that are cold and difficult to digest while people predominant in pitta tend to experience gas after eating spicy or oily foods. People who are predominant in kapha tend to experience gas when eating foods like bread and cheese.
Treating Gas the Ayurvedic Way
Other than making lifestyle changes like eating less of these vata-aggravating and difficult to digest foods, Ayurvedic gas treatments also involve incorporating certain herbs and spices to help treat excessive gas and boating. For example, black pepper, ginger, and cumin are known to stimulate your digestive fire, and thus promote proper digestion. Similarly, pachana, or fasting, is recommended to help detox your body. During the fast, it’s recommended that you drink warm water with lemon and honey or eat warm vegetable foods.