Herbal Health Information on Stomach Bloating and Wind

I have seen patients with quite distended and hard abdomens due to bloating. This is often accompanied by wind and considerable pain. It usually follows eating, but people will report that it seems to be any kind of food substance that sets it off.

My own experience of treating people with Bloating is that it is food related and once the digestive tract gets sensitised and aggravated by an original food substance it will react to any food substances after that. Imagine an open wound that is constantly being irritated, it oozes liquid and swells up. Sometimes people have suffered a discomfort after eating, most of their lives, in other cases it may start after a Tummy bug or period of stress.

The lining of the gut is covered with a membrane which is normally intact and across which digested food gets transported into the blood stream to be used around the body.

There are many foods which can aggravate the gut lining causing inflammation and a subsequent decrease in digestive function. This may result in poor digestion of food or poor absorption of food or both.

Although most gut bacteria aid digestion, poorly digested food is a veritable feast for  gut bacteria which feeds on it and causes fermentation in the gut with the production of gas, which fills and extends the gut, until it is expelled.

If you have found that a particular food substance causes bloating, it is essential you cut it out of your diet.

The foods most likely to cause bloating are Wheat and dairy products.

Wheat, because it is a high fibre food and the fibre in wheat is very harsh, dagger shaped and will irritate the lining of the gut, which it is designed to do.

Dairy because it is food for baby cows and humans, especially of Italian and Asian backgrounds, can find it hard to digest as they do not have the proper enzymes to do so.

Wheat is quite easy to eliminate from the diet as it can be substituted with rice and corn products.

Dairy I usually say don’t cut it right out but reduce it. The major problem with both these foods is that we are eating too much of them, for example:-


Wheat cereal with milk tea/coffee


Sandwich and yogurt



Pasta and ice cream or a milk pudding


You can see that the wheat and dairy intake may be three times a day seven days a week. Imagine if you did that with fish or eggs or any other food, your tummy is going to complain.

An example of a reduced wheat and dairy diet would be:-


Rice krispies or Cornflakes or Muesli (Oats have a gentler form of fibre) with cow’s milk or rice milk. nuts/ seeds/ fruit


Baked potato with a filling or salad /fruit


Meat eggs or fish or vegetarian alternative, with vegetables, potatoes or rice

The secret is to vary the foods you are eating so that you do not eat too much of the same foods. Yogurt a couple of times a week and cheese no more than twice a week.

Tea and coffee should be no more than three a day (together not separately)

Drink at least two pints of water a day.

The herbal approach, using tinctures, is in two stages:-

  • Firstly, to protect the gut from the ingested food and improve digestive function.

Marshmallow root is high in mucilage which coats and protects the gut lining. Seen in the Cuckmere herb walk video.

Meadowsweet has anti inflammatory properties to reduce inflammation in the gut.

Fennel and peppermint aid digestion and break down wind produced in the gut so that it is easily expelled. These two herbs are the basis for many baby anti colic mixtures and can be drunk as teas. Fennel can be seen in beach herbal walk video.

I have found it may take a couple of months to calm the inflammation in the gut.

  • secondly to repair and toughen up the gut lining

Any herb that is high in tannin will do this job, such as Agrimony or Centaury. Agrimony can be seen in the Beachy Head video. Centaury can be seen in the Shingle Beach video.

The very best healing herb in the herbal Pharmacopoeia is Marigold.

Marigold, (Calendula officianalis, not any of the ornamental ones) is also anti bacterial, anti viral, anti fungal, anti inflammatory and antispasmodic. It is a growing medicine chest in one very pretty little plant.

The healing process can also take up to two months, but at the end of this time the digestive process should be working well and people can usually start to reduce the amount of tincture they are taking.

If you need more help please do come and see me in clinic, the details of which you can find by clicking the Clinic tab at the top of the page.

If you would prefer to visit me in my clinic, please click here for details or go to the clinic tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist, Herbal Health Information