Medical herbalist Nicola Parker details remedies for bloating

Lockdown and poor eating habits has led many of us to shrug off digestive bloating as post-lockdown weight.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 12:30 pm

I’m being approached quite frequently about bloating at the moment. It seems rather seasonal, since we are entering autumn – the season for windy weather! It’s usually a topic I deal with all year round, but lockdown and poor eating habits has led many of us to shrug off digestive bloating as post-lockdown weight.

If your belly is a little bigger than you’re used to, try poking it. Give it a good prod and a squeeze. Extra fat will be soft and wobbly, easily remedied once your healthier habits are restored. If your fingers are met with hard, unmoving, uncomfortable bloat, then chances are you didn’t gain weight, you gained a tummy full of wind.

The annoying thing about this kind of bloating isn’t just that it makes our bellies look bigger, but it makes us feel really uncomfortable too. It’s usually triggered by eating, and bread is frequently called out as the worst trigger. Each time we eat, the bloat increases, so by the end of the day, we may be sporting a nice, round, protruding tummy that sticks out at the front.

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I know this problem all too well as before my herbalist days, it was a lingering issue. Being much slimmer then than I am now, I was once approached by a rude gentleman in a restaurant, asking me if I was pregnant while I sat sipping my wine. (Note to all men – Do Not Do This!).

I suffered from it for years, changing outfits to baggy or flared clothes if I knew I’d be eating on an evening out with friends. Even small amounts of food would make me feel full, fat and uncomfortable.

However, once I started learning about the gut, I realised that this problem that plagued me for years of my youth actually only takes a few weeks to get rid of, as long as you know what is causing it.

It’s an imbalance of gut flora, the bacteria that live inside us. Some of them, the problematic ones, get the opportunity to overgrow and when this happens uncomfortable amounts of gas are produced each time we eat.

Medical herbalist Nicola Parker

Many things can cause this overgrowth of problematic bacteria, including stress, diets high in sweet foods, fruit and sugar and, above all, antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off many of our friendly bacteria, leaving space for the problematic ones to multiply.

To solve the problem, it’s essential to kill off these problematic bacteria. To do that, I use a herb called goldenseal. I was taught that goldenseal has the power to kill anything but death itself, which seemed rather an extravagant and foreboding claim from my over-dramatic teacher.

Still, goldenseal is pretty potent. I consider it to be one of the more powerful herbs in my arsenal, beaten only by a combination remedy known by the alluring brand name Yeast Cleanse. Sounds pretty gross, right? Still, my foreboding and uncomfortably specific remedies really do the trick when it comes to uncomfortable bloating.

Taking these remedies kills off the problematic bacteria, but it’s essential to add in probiotic capsules at the same time. This helps colonise the gut with the friendly bacteria, which will make it more difficult for the gas-producing ones to return.

I say capsules because the yoghurt drinks simply aren’t strong enough. Alongside such clinical sounding and powerful remedies like Yeast Cleanse, a flavoured yoghurt drink simply won’t cut the mustard. A capsule will be much more powerful, containing billions of bacteria to help form your own internal army.

When using remedies this powerful, the issue of bloating can take about two to four weeks to resolve. That can seem miraculous, especially to those who have been suffering with this problem for years on end.

Since there is nothing “wrong” and no disease to find, tests by your GP will continue to come back negative and it’s often dismissed simply as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

If that sounds familiar, it doesn’t have to be. During the two to four week treatment, I do recommend a sugar free diet, since sweet foods can hinder the progress. Yet, after this time, the problem is usually completely resolved. No more bloating, gas or rude men, commenting on your fertility while you mind your own business, sipping on your wine in a restaurant.

For more information about these issues, or to make an appointment with Nicola, contact her clinic on 01524 413733.