Megan Sheppard on how to deal with excessive flatulence and bloating how to treat cold sores.
Q. I have an embarrassing problem with passing gas.
I seem to produce more wind than other people and it causes me pain if I try to hold it in.
Are there any remedies to help relieve or minimise this problem?
A. While flatulence is a completely normal process, it can certainly be uncomfortable or embarrassing if you are finding yourself with intestinal gas far too often.
It is thought that the average man passes wind around 12 times a day, while women are recorded at seven times daily.
A result of excess gases in the digestive tract building up, there are some foods more likely to create chemical reactions that lead to an increase in flatulence.
Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, and legumes are the top culprits — these are less likely to be broken down completely in the stomach and small intestine due to their complex carbohydrate content.
Once these foods arrive in the large intestine, they then need to be broken down by the bacteria in the gut, the by-product of this process is the production of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, and methane gases.
Of course, if you have food sensitivities or intolerances, this is also a common cause of excessive flatulence and bloating.
It can be one of the more harmless symptoms of a more serious digestive condition, such as coeliac disease, so it is a good idea to rule this out as a cause.
If food sensitivities are not an issue then you might like to try some natural remedies to help settle your gut.
Ginger is a wonderful digestive aid, and also helps with nausea.
Simply brew up a cup of ginger tea by using a couple of slices of the fresh root, or using ½-1 teaspoon of powdered ginger in a cup of boiling water and infuse for 5-10 minutes.
Drink 2-3 cups a day for best results, and sweeten with raw honey if needed.
Activated charcoal is good for helping to absorb both the gas, and the accompanying odour.
You just stir a teaspoon of activated charcoal powder into a glass (200ml) of water and drink it after a meal.
The texture takes a little getting used to, but it has no discernable flavour. You can also take activated charcoal as a capsule or tablet (if so, take 500mg after each meal).
Probiotic supplements and digestive enzymes can also help to reduce intestinal gas production, however, it should be noted that gas can actually increase as the gut bacteria establishes balance in your intestines.
Chewing your food thoroughly is a basic but effective step — it is the larger particles of food that cause issues, as these are the ones that need to be further broken down by bacteria once they have left the stomach and small intestine.
Take your time as you eat your food, as bolting your meals is another contributing factor.
Q. What should I use to treat cold sores?
A. Cold sores, as you no doubt already know, are caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-I).
This virus lies dormant in the nerve cells until it is triggered — usually by stress, low immunity, menstruation, sun or wind exposure, or fatigue.
Lysine is one of the most effective natural remedies for cold sores, as it suppresses the growth of HSV-I.
You will need to take 1,000mg of L-lysine, three times a day when you have a flare up, and take 500mg daily as an ongoing preventative dose.
Avoid foods or supplements containing the amino acid arginine, found in nuts, chocolate, whole grain cereals, and gelatin, since this is thought to trigger cold sores.
Lysine works well together with zinc — just 30-50mg of zinc daily — and is most effective when taken on an empty stomach.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a potent antiviral herb.
If you are unable to find Melissa cream or ointment then you can use Melissa essential oil and make your own by combining 1 drop of essential oil with 5ml of carrier oil (such as olive oil), and applying to the affected area with a cotton bud at the first tingle.
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