a man in a gas mask

There are few normal body functions that generate more jokes and embarrassment than gas. In fact, the F word that is the common term for this act is frequently banned from newspapers and airwaves.

Flatulence is a fact of life. We all pass gas, whether we admit it or not. When undigested sugars reach the large intestine, billions of bacteria are waiting to feast. Their output is gas.

Some people are so troubled that they become reclusive:

“I am a 44-year-old female battling a daily, uncontrollable gas problem. This is so embarrassing I have quit going to social events or anywhere quiet, like church services. I’ve tried watching what I eat, but it seems that everything causes trouble. Maybe I should just stop eating!”

Certain foods are notorious for causing embarrassing gas. Beans, bran, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, prunes and radishes are well known for this problem. Less recognized are apples, bagels, dried apricots or raisins. Many people cannot digest milk sugar and get into trouble with dairy products. Others have trouble with sugar substitutes like sorbitol.

Sometimes the cause is sudden and mysterious:

“I had a huge problem with gas after returning from a trip to Turkey where I caught some type of intestinal bug. After nine months of horrible gas, I finally tried your remedy of fennel, which ended the problem.

“Having gas like this can ruin a person’s life. The stress and worry that accompany the problem actually changes who you are as a person. It affects friendships and sleep patterns, and gives you a feeling of loss of hope or even serious depression.

“I couldn’t explain to people why I could not eat at a luncheon, or why I had to leave quickly after eating lunch with them, or why I could not attend meetings. This was too embarrassing for me.

“I could not talk about it with other people as I might have with another health problem. When I tried, all I heard from my doctor, my best friend and my daughter was that gas is ‘normal.’ I felt toward the end that no one understood how bad the gas was. Thank you so much for writing about fennel!”

Anyone who would like to know more about how to use fennel seeds and many other natural approaches to alleviate gas will be interested in our chapter on Gas in Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. It is available in libraries and at bookstores or online (www.peoplespharmacy.com).

Besides fennel, other spices that have traditionally been used to combat gas include asafetida, ginger, turmeric and caraway. One reader reported:

“I have had a chronic problem with flatulence and had given up hope that I would ever find anything to help. I’ve lived on a very simple diet for many years, making my own sourdough bread with white organic flour because my body can’t handle whole grains.

“In an experiment, I put some caraway seeds into my bread before I baked it. Lo and behold, the flatulence disappeared. It hasn’t troubled me for two years now, and my acne rosacea has also cleared up. What relief!”

Other strategies include sipping a dash of bitters in club soda or donning a pair of carbonized undies. Activated charcoal is used in gas masks and also works well to trap odors as they emerge.

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  1. katie

    Simethicone (extra strength GasX) worked for me. I tried many other things like probiotics and full spectrum enzymes and nothing worked and then my gastroenterologist said to try the simethicone. She said it is a very safe medicine and I could take somewhat more than the usual dose. She did give me a bunch of tests, like gastric emptying, etc. and it all looked ok.

    This was not only a social problem, but I would wake in the night with excruciating pain. Now, if I wake with that pain, I just take extra strength Gas-x and it take care of it fairly quickly so I can get some sleep.

    I will try the fennel, though. I grow bronze fennel and it makes a ton of seeds. Very easy to grow in my region. I like caraway, too, so will add it to my diet, especially since I have rosacea, too.

  2. Spiderman

    Hey everyone hope you all are well

    I’m in the same boat as the rest of you. My chronic gas problem is worse than any nightmare I’ve ever had in my life. It began when I was 25, and it has worsened with each passing year. I am now 33. I have do e one thing that seems to help. I’ve eliminated all lactose, as well and all the sugar and carbs I possibly could. At least from how I feel it seems to be helping. Now I just……can’t tell if I’m passing gas or not because people still shun me.

    However they still talk about me and treat me as though I have leprosy or as if I was a rabid dog foaming at the mouth. I really am not sure what to do. Its a hellish existence. There must be a cure somewhere.

  3. leelee

    I know exactly how you all feel I’ve struggled with it as long as I can remember I’m 15 going on 16 and I carry tons of perfumes and secretly spray when nobody is watching me while I attend school , my gas gets worse when I go to public, and I just feel all alone its uncontrollable and its ruined my life I’ve been in deep depression I now have dark circles because I would stay up at night worrying about how I would get through the next day.. I’ve tried over the counter medicines from tums to philips colon health and my doctors say its “Normal” ITS NOT NORMAL .. and nobody understands how hard it is to live with, but somehow I’m managing to hold on and I’m still looking for a non-existing remedy there’s no hope…

    • No doubt29

      I’m also fifteen years old and I’ve dealt with this for three years and I’d like to know if there’s something I can do.
      Does anyone here have any answers?
      Will fennel tea really solve this whole life ruining issue.

    • GRACEG

      Tests worth considering Get checked for, SIBO small intestial bacteria overgrowth,
      Read, Ending The Viscious Cycle by Elaine Gottshall
      Get stool check for parasites and yeast overgrowth/candida overgrowth

      Alkalize 3 x a day drink 1/4 tsp bakingsoda in glass of water

      Get the good flora consider highest quality, antibiotics likeVSL 3
      soil based pribiotics, bacilus subtillis
      Meanwhile experiment with peppermint pills, charcoal and fennel
      Get on a elimination food diet

      • The People's Pharmacy

        Baking soda has a lot of sodium in it. If you have a problem with high blood pressure, we suggest you be cautious with the baking soda.

  4. anonymus
    united states

    I am only 15 years old and it seems since last year I have become so afraid of something embarrassing happening I have just stopped going places and having friends over its ruining my life and it has given me really bad anxiety. I had to quit school and be home schooled this year because of it…..

  5. Becky
    United States

    I’ve had this problem for two years now, soon it will be three. I have lost all hope since I have tried pharmacy medicine and it has left me unchanged. I can not interact with other as much as I should or could have done if I weren’t how I am. I recently told a doctor for the first time and all he said was to add more veggies and fruits and eight bottles of water to my day. I don’t think he knows how much this ruined my life.

    I must do this for a month but I need something faster because I want to walk into my work place happy and sit with fellow work members to chat instead of being paranoid of someone noticing and telling everyone so they can laugh at me and recognize me just for that one mistake. As you frolic around your merry life I am desperately searching online for remedies and cures. I’m skating on thin ice… and I hope and beg I don’t fall to an abyss of depression and rejection and a terrible view of life… it will happen one day… I know it will I just,…iIjust hope it isn’t when I least expect it…. (。ŏ_ŏ)

  6. Manui W.
    Phoenixville pa

    Hi my name is Manui W., I been having really bad gas problem for a year and a half now. I had to leave my school n quit my job because I was getting made fun out of. I dont know what to do I have seen some doctors but no one knows what’s going on. The gas problem worsen anytime people are around me and when I am by myself it don’t happen.
    please help me somebody

  7. R

    I have tried a lot and nothing seems to work. I must be allergic to something I DON’T KNOW. This problem is controlling my life.

    • Lizzi

      Nervous or anxiety can cost gas…that’s why doesn’t happen to you when you’re by yourself.
      As much you get afraid to pases gas, more you will do. Try to relax, walking every day help or take some natural sedatives, V alerian, root, passiflora, Melissa etc. Good luck

  8. CHERYL M.

    I have suffered from uncontrollable gas my whole life. Makes me feel like I’m not apart of the real world. I am friendless.

  9. Mary

    After years of trying everything… I’ve been taking a glass of milk every night… sometimes butter milk and it seems to work. My stool in the morning is light and everything comes out. Someone above said gas has something to do with constipation (fermenting food in the stomach) and I now believe so too.
    I must say however, that I had myself tested for a bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori after reading about it on the web and the result was positive. My doctor put me on anti-biotics, but it’s the nightly milk that seems to wash all the acid away.

  10. Encourager

    Hello everyone with tummy noise. OMG!!! U must try caraway seeds and or Fennel! It has truly helped my embarrassing tummy growls (especially, when not hungry) I also suck on two licorice tabs from the health food store every morning. My tummy woes have been totally resolved. I just wanted to share my success story!! Have a blessed day!!!

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