Passing gas or passing wind is considered to be one of the most embarrassing acts that a person can commit in public. However, sometimes the urge becomes so strong that the person cannot control and becomes a laughingstock. Passing gas is actually a perfectly normal bodily function, but in some cases its severity becomes so high that it can be termed as a disease. About 30 to 40% of all people worldwide suffer from problems with flatulence. A survey would show otherwise because most people with gas problems would refrain from speaking about it in public, even with their own physicians owing to embarrassment.
A proper diet is indeed the best way to get rid of this embarrassing tight-spot.
Adhyamaan is the Sanskrit word for flatulence. A flatulent person feels the urge to pass wind repeatedly. The gas expelled by the person could be noiseless and odorless, or it could be noisy and with an offensive odor. The gas that is expelled during adhyamaan is called as a flatus. In slang English, the act of passing wind is called as ‘farting’, though this word could be considered offensive in some circles, as much as the act itself.
Flatulence is a normal physical activity and happens in every person, especially after a heavy meal. Hence, the medical term flatulence is applied to only those people who suffer extremely from this condition, i.e. they have no control on their biological urges of passing wind.
Ayurveda has a fantastic explanation for adhyamaan. According to Ayurvedic beliefs, adhyamaan is caused due to abnormal agni in a person. Agni means fire, and in Ayurvedic language, a person with normal agni is a healthy person and a person with abnormal agni is an unhealthy person.
Sometimes the agni of a person is vitiated. This can happen due to the following causes:-
Any of these three can impair the pitta dosha of the person. This vitiation of the pitta dosha is called as the amala pitta. This is the chief causative agent of all digestive problems with the human system, including adhyamaan or flatulence.
In medical terms, flatulence is caused due to the inability of digesting all the food that is consumed by the person. The food that remains undigested is passed on to the colon. Here the fermentation of the leftover carbohydrates is carried out by the colonic bacteria, which leads to the formation of intestinal gas.
People also swallow air directly during different activities that they perform. Whenever you eat or drink anything, you also take in a fair amount of air. This air passes out as wind. Generally such air that passes out is odorless and noiseless.
Some foods contain more gas producing capacity than others. Beans are notorious in this aspect. The complex sugars contained in the beans are not digestible by the intestines. The undigested part passes out as wind throughout the day.
There are many people who are lactose intolerant. These people cannot digest the lactose sugars in milk and other milk products. Hence the undigested lactose accumulates in the person’s stomach as gas, along with other problems such as bloating of the stomach, cramps and even diarrhea.
Many medicinal drugs are the cause of flatulence. Antibiotics like narcotics, calcium channel blockers, etc. can cause flatulence in the person.
A healthy human being passes wind about eight to twenty times a day. Hence, just passing wind a couple of times a day is not called flatulence. Flatulence is the term given to excessive passing wind and therefore sometimes it is also called excessive flatulence.
The symptoms to diagnose flatulence or excessive flatulence are as follows:-
There is a repeated and uncontrollable urge to pass wind.
The urge is felt at the anus. The nerve endings of the anal tract are specialized to understand the signal.
In flatulence, the urge can be so strong that the person could get confused between the signal for passing wind and for defecation. Hence there could be accidental defecation sometimes.
The wind passed by flatulent people has traces of methane in it due to undigested food. Due to this, the gas passed is foul-smelling.
When the wind is to get expelled, pressure is built up over the anal sphincter. This causes the wind to vibrate the anus, leading to noisy discharges.
The person could have either diarrhea or constipation.
Flatulence is an embarrassing condition. A person who breaks wind in public is generally ridiculed and even shunned in social circles. This is perhaps the most drastic complication caused by flatulence.
Medically, flatulence can be the external symptom of some deep-rooted gastric or intestinal disorder. If the problem arises repeatedly, then a detailed medical investigation is required. Some people have pains with flatulence. These pains could be either in the abdomen or in the anal tract. Such pains need to be checked for ulcers, piles or tumors.
Flatulence or Excessive Flatulence can be prevented by adhering to the following guidelines:-
Avoid foods that cause flatulence. See the following list of foods that cause flatulence:-
Chew the food properly before ingesting. Starchy foods are mostly digested during chewing itself. If taken into the body un-chewed, then they will remain undigested and cause gas problems.
Do not slurp on your hot drinks like tea and coffee. Slurping takes air inside along with the drink. This extra air passes out as gas.
Similarly, do not use straws for drinking. With straws, you have to build in suction pressure by sucking in air.
Say a complete no to all aerated drinks. Aerated drinks contain carbon dioxide, which passes out as gas. In fact some people use sodas as a remedy to eliminate gases after a heavy meal.
After a heavy meal, take a brisk walk or indulge in some other form of exercise. This will burn the calories and aid in digestion.
Do not eat rapidly. Eat with slow calculated bites so as to get the stomach well-acquainted with the foods that you are putting inside it.
Many medications, especially allopathic, cause flatulence. If you have a problem with flatulence, you should tell this to your physician before he or she prescribes an antibiotic for some ailment.
Keep your stress levels down. Overworking the brain reduces the blood supply to the digestive system and slows down digestion.
If you have dentures, check that they are properly fitting. This is to ensure that you can masticate (chew) your food properly before ingesting.
The right diet in the right balance is the best way to reduce the problem of flatulence. The following steps are to be noted:-
Avoid all foods that cause flatulence. Refer to the above list.
However, it is unhealthy to avoid all flatulence-causing foods at one go. Eliminate them one by one, so that you do get the nutrients of the other foods.
Drinking a lot of water helps. Water can convert the gas toxins in the form of liquid toxins. This helps in the removal of the excess gas in the form of urination and perspiration rather than gas.
Putting a drop of peppermint extract in the water you drink helps to reduce the offensive odor of the flatus.
Do not eat to the extent of fullness. A full stomach will find it difficult to digest the foods.
If the problem is very severe, then you must eat little amounts several times a day, to give your digestive system proper time for digestion.
In Ayurveda, there is a three-fold treatment method for the problem of adhyamaan. The three principles involved are:-
Carminatives are substances that have antispasmodic properties to treat cramps within the abdomen. This reduces the pain during flatulence. Digestives break down the complex foodstuffs to simpler molecules leading to better digestion. Gas-expellers help in expelling the gas rapidly and in voluminous amounts in one go, which normalizes the problem of flatulence for some time.
There are a large number of herbs ascribed in Ayurveda with curative properties for flatulence. Below is a list of such herbs with their action of the human body.
Some Ayurvedic preparations that have been proven effective in treating the condition of flatulence are:-
All these preparations need to be taken under expert prescription and supervision.