How to Get Rid of Bloating, Gas and Cramping

How to Get Rid of Bloating, Gas and Cramping

Many many years ago I was experiencing horrible bloating and cramping a few hours after eating. This is way before medical school and years before I know anything about food allergies and sensitivities, gluten, or any of the stuff people normally try on their own to heal their digestive issues. I was fresh out of college and I was living in a remote location doing an internship for a PhD student and I did not even own a car yet. I would make a foray to the closest health food store (in a borrowed car) 100 miles away and buy copies of all of the herbal medicine books I could find. I was making a huge batch of homemade bread with 2 rises and ate slices of them regularly slathered with butter! (They were delicious).   My stomach was killing me but I could not figure out why because, after all, I was “eating healthy foods” like whole grains, tofu, veggies…. Why did I have so many problems? And then…. I went camping!!!! And brushed my teeth with water from the creek. And got even sicker. Now I had giardiasis on top of the problems I had already!!!!! After weeks of trying to cure it myself (I had my herb books and knew just enough to be dangerous) I finally got a ride to the nearest clinic (40 miles away) and got some antibiotics. I was better for a little while but the problem did not really go away. In fact, it would be years before I really got a handle on things.

Here is what I’ve learned from years of schooling and 26 years of practice


  1. Identify and eliminate food allergens and intolerances. This is usually done through and IgG blood test which tests for delayed hypersensitivities to foods. A traditional allergist only tests for IgE antibodies or the type of allergic reaction which can cause hives or anaphalaxis. Most digestive issues are caused by Delayed Hypersensitivies which are a different reaction.   Another way to test is through the Elimination Challenge Diet which for some people is preferable if they cannot afford a lot of functional medicine testing. However the Elimination Challenge Diet is time consuming and can also be confusing and frustrating. Most of my patients want the information quickly so they can utilize the information and start to feel better sooner so usually (unless they are on certain medications which will change the test results) we order the blood test.    Often this is the main diet tweak you need to make to help with your digestion.   Other people need to go more deeply into a Paleo or GAPS diet in order to get great results.
  2. If the above diet changes have not helped to improve bloating or cramping, many patients find some relief with a FODMAPS The FODMAPS diet eliminates certain fructose sugars from the diet which in some people can exacerbate bloating and cramping. FODMAPsis an acronym (abbreviation) referring to Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are complex names for a collection of molecules found in food, that can be poorly absorbed by some people. The diet is hard to wrap your brain around. A bit more complex than “Avoid Grains” which is a big part of Paleo or GAPS diets.   If you would like to see a list of foods that aren’t allowed on the FODMAPS diet look here:
  1. Check the health of the microbiome and gut flora and also test for SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). I use certain specific functional medicine tests to those ends.   Based upon the results that I get from these tests, I will treat accordingly. I also run a sensitivity to both herbal and botanical products. Testing will also let me know if the good healthy gut bacteria are in balance or whether they are growing in the proper amount in a patient’s GI tract.
  1. For immediate relief from bloating and cramping, certain herbs can be vey helpful in supporting gut motility and relieving cramping and bloating. Especially if it feels like the air is just stuck in there and won’t move through. These herbs are known in botanical medicine as Carminatives. Some examples of commonly used carminatives are: Pepperming, Spearmint, fennel, caraway, cumin, and ginger.

Because some reactions to herbs can vary in some people,  it is recommended that you use  under a practitioner’s recommendation.

As always all herbs should be used under supervision as individual reactions may vary.

  1. Chicken soup and bone broth is the bomb! Try going on a bone broth fast when you are in the throes of an attack. It can really help set things right.

If you have been suffering from intractable bloating, cramping, or gas, or have already been diagnosed with SIBO and are not getting the results you would like on your own or with your current practitioner, consider working with me one on one. I offer in-person naturopathic medical support as well as long distance phone or video consulting. I offer a FREE 15 minute phone consult where you can ask me questions and get a feel for whether we would be a good fit for each other. You can schedule the consult over the phone by calling (303) 443-2206 M-F 8:30-5 or online 24/7 by clicking here:

Be well!


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