Portrait of a young woman holding her nose because of a bad smell. Isolated on white.

Q. Someone wrote to you regarding her husband’s problem with gas. She found something that worked like a charm, but I can’t find the article now. My husband has the smelly kind of gas, not painful or noisy. It is more the silent but deadly variety. Since he doesn’t have a good sense of smell, he can’t realize how offensive it is.

He has it all day and all night, and sometimes I just can’t stand it. I keep a small can of perfumed spray in my night stand to use when it gets too bad. I surely would appreciate learning what worked so well for the couple with a similar problem.

A. We heard about this remedy from a doctor’s wife who was distressed by her husband’s flatulence. A Hungarian masseuse suggested that he take one tablespoon of flax seed powder with juice twice a day and 2 capsules of fennel seed two or three times a day. They found that this formula worked very well for him.

Flax and fennel doesn’t work for everyone, though. Another reader says:

” I tried the flax and fennel seed remedy for gas with no results. If anything it got worse. Any other ideas?”

Taking Beano with meals or activated charcoal capsules after meals is often helpful. Another reader swears by peppermint tea.

Perhaps the most interesting solution for smelly gas is good old-fashioned Pepto Bismol:

Q. I had colon surgery last year and as a result I suffered from embarrassing smelly flatulence. Fortunately, I found a product called Devrom (www.devrom.com). It has changed my life!

A. Stinky gas can be extremely embarrassing. Devrom contains bismuth subgallate. A similar compound, bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), is effective against odorous flatulence (Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology, Aug. 2001). It is possible to overdose on bismuth, so don’t get carried away. Too much bismuth could harm the nervous system or kidneys. Pepto-Bismol can interact with several medications.

Flatologists (experts on gas) often recommend keeping a diary of what is eaten and gas that is passed. This helps identify foods most likely to cause flatulence so your husband can avoid them. Some of the worst offenders are beans (obviously), onions, but also cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower. Even people who are only mildly lactose intolerant may need to avoid milk and dairy based foods. Here are some links to more information about flatulence.

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  1. Amy

    Some people have found that separating carbs and protein solves the problem, meaning that you pick one or the other to eat at each meal, but not both in the same meal. It takes some studying and label-reading if you aren’t a person who can readily identify carbs or proteins, but it is worth it to pay attention.
    It requires revamping your thinking: If you’re having eggs for breakfast, don’t do the toast at that meal. If you’re having roast beef, don’t do potatoes at the same meal. Many authors call it food-combining, but I call it food-separating. Some years ago I embarked on Suzanne Somers’ program to lose weight and a delightful side effect of separating was the end of smelly gas. I also lost the weight and kept it off.

  2. Celeste

    A possible cause of gas in folks who are lactose intolerant can be soy products. I substituted soy milk for regular milk after I found that I was lactose intolerant. The resultant SBDs (Silent But Deadlies) was horrible. After removing the soy milk from my diet, the problem went away.

  3. Terry
    Burlingame, Ca.

    What helps alot against the bad smell of gas is chlorophyll. Works great

  4. Tricia

    When we stopped eating meat – THAT problem disappeared!

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