The People's Perspective on Medicine

Will Beano Counteract Gas from Eating Beans?

Beans and other vegetables rich in fiber have many health benefits. There are also numerous ways to counteract gas that eating them can cause.
Stack of kidney beans on white background close up.

Flatulence can be a tricky subject. In addition to the embarrassing sounds it can make, escaping gas can create unfortunate odors. No wonder people are eager to find solutions to this problem. One reader wondered if taking Beano can counteract gas that results from eating beans.

Does Beano Work to Counteract Gas?

Q. What about taking Beano to counter the effect of gassing when you eat beans or other vegetables? Does it work?

A. Beano contains the food enzyme alpha-galactosidase. It helps break down the complex sugars called oligosaccharides before bacteria can digest them and produce gas. One placebo-controlled trial in children confirmed that this product can be helpful against flatulence (BMC Gastroenterology, Sept. 24, 2013). Previously, a small study indicated that it is also effective to counteract gas in adults (Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Jan. 2007).

The instructions on the bottle suggest taking it at the start of a meal containing beans, broccoli, onions or other vegetables that may result in smelly gas. We find this works quite well. 

Cooking Beans to Counteract Gas:

You may also want to learn how to minimize gas with your cooking technique. We discuss this in the following post.

There are other approaches to this problem as well. One reader shared a pharmaceutical solution:

Devrom for Postsurgical Flatulence:

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.

Remedies and Sensible Solutions for Gas:

You may also wish to listen to Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an expert on using herbs for common complaints, discuss how to counteract gas.

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    About the Author
    Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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    Citations
    • Di Nardo G et al, "Efficacy and tolerability of α-galactosidase in treating gas-related symptoms in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial." BMC Gastroenterology, Sept. 24, 2013. DOI: 10.1186/1471-230X-13-142
    • Di Stefano M et al, "The effect of oral alpha-galactosidase on intestinal gas production and gas-related symptoms." Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Jan. 2007. DOI: 10.1007/s10620-006-9296-9
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    Three things I learned decades ago, having grown up in the US Southwest and loving Mexican food:

    ~Always soak the beans, twice, discarding water each time – first time for a few hours, second time overnight (in frig)
    ~Add cumin to your seasonings – an essential spice for Mexican food
    ~Yes, include rice in same meal

    The nutritional value of the beans offsets the carb whammy of the rice! (at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!).

    I tried Beano years ago with mixed results. On one occasion after using it I got a terrible belly ache. I called the company, and I can’t remember if they asked me to send them the bottle, but I never used the product again.

    When I start the soaking process for beans I first pour boiling water over them then let them sit until lukewarm. I drain them and rinse them in cold water then put them in a bowl of cold water overnight. Next day I pour off the soaking water rinse them and then bring them to a gentle boil. When the foam roils up I drain the beans and rinse again. After that I skim off any foam that reoccurs and let the beans simmer gently. This seems to discourage the windies pretty well. I know some nutrients may be lost but the beans taste good and are pretty easy to digest. (I mostly use black beans, they are easier to digest it seems to me.)

    Heeing, Indian herb for gas prevention.

    I eat rice when I eat beans and do not have a problem. I learned this from traveling in Mexico where many meals include beans and rice.

    There is no link for cooking beans in this article.

    I find that cooking beans with a small piece of kombu (seaweed) helps with digestive issues.

    * Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^