01.03.2015 Holistic Health

Holistic Therapies for Bloating

Holistic treatments including yoga, Pilates, meditation and Bowen therapy help with bloating, says naturopath Lyn Craven

Yoga and Pilates

Some yoga and Pilates exercises can be helpful in expelling trapped wind in the intestines - in fact they are an easy and effective way to release the excess air (Vata) which will help your gastrointestinal tract. If there is trapped air in the intestines then the bowel cannot eliminate properly. One easy exercise is where you lie on your back, bend your knees up to your chest, hold onto your upper thighs while hugging your bent legs close to your chest and gently roll back and forth (ideally on a yoga mat). Don't roll onto your neck, only as far as your upper back. This will eliminate any trapped air first thing in the morning and assist with any remedies you are taking. But don't do this exercise if you have any past or present injuries or acute back pain. In that case, see a practitioner who practises sports massage, Bowen therapy, or acupuncture or a physiotherapist for advice. Any misalignment of the spine can affect how the body's organs are working. Low/mid (sacral/lumber) back problems usually affect the digestion and bowel function as well as reproductive system.

Too much exercise!

Too much of a good thing is not always what you need! Practise moderation and know your limits. To push yourself constantly can trigger not only adrenal and nerve depletion but place too much stress on the gastrointestinal system so that Vata derangement can occur. This is even more prevalent in those who rush to the gym at lunchtime to do a workout, then rush back to work while quickly eating lunch. Or maybe you're one of those who have a quick snack or piece of fruit then pump away at the gym.

We need to relax after we have eaten. If you stress your body with too much exercise, you drain your resources in many ways. It can hinder the efficiency of your digestive system and contribute to bloating and flatulence.

If you are troubled with colitis, diverticulitis or parasites then you will need specific remedies to treat these disorders and dietary changes. I recommend slippery elm powder for all gastro intestinal disorders. It should be in everyone's cupboard if you experience any of these problems. Use around two round dessertspoons a day, and mix it with presoaked cereal (brown rice flakes, quinoa, amaranth, barley etc) or add to goat/sheep/coconut yogurt. Avoid mixing it with soy, though, as soy interferes with thyroid function.

Digestive enzymes

Some people may have a deficiency in their digestive enzymes. This is more common as we get older or with those who have been on pharmaceutical medication for many years. It can also apply to those who have had a very poor diet of fast foods and loads of sugary sweets!

Eating the same food over and over can affect how digestive enzymes work. Many different products are available that help your existing gut enzymes. The fact is you never replace any depleted enzymes - once they die off that's it. You are born with so many enzymes for digestive function and over the years enzymes do die off so an older person would have far fewer than when they were younger. People who have a poor diet or have taken long-term pharmaceutical medications will experience reduced enzyme activity due to enzymes dying off before their time.

There are several different types of enzyme products available and all of them are formulated to cater for a variety of symptoms or disorders. If you are uncertain ask a health professional.

Your case could be resolved quite easily; then again if it is chronic it is more complex and takes a longer time. I have seen really good outcomes with people experiencing constant bloating but we need to always find the source of the problem so we are better placed to put together the correct healing protocol.

It's also important to maintain a good balance of digestive juices and acid (not to be confused with digestive enzymes). We need the right minerals to create this balance in the gut and the formula must be in correct ratio so just taking zinc by itself, for instance, will not help.

Work Schedules

Your busy work schedule can contribute to digestive and bowel problems

However, some people want to get rid of the bloating but are not always able to make work related changes. For instance, long distance driving where they can't stop for the toilet, erratic work hours such as shift work which always impacts on the nervous system and that in turn affects digestion and, of course, rushing meals due to limited breaks. The practitioner will need to work with you around this erratic schedule and you may need to take ongoing remedies. Some people have a predisposition to succumb to stress. They are often sensitive people who are easily stressed. Know your limits, try to maintain them and ensure you get at least 7-8 hours undisturbed sleep a night.

Food combining

Some people have experienced improved digestive function by following the protocols of food combining. Here you would need to understand which foods combine well with others and avoid eating a food that does not resonate with another and can, in fact, contribute to fermentation in the intestines resulting in bloating and bowel problems. Continue eating wrong combinations and this may lead to allergies, headaches, upper and lower respiratory disorders and more.

Bowen therapy

Bowen therapy has been very helpful with improving digestion and bowel function. It can also assist with constipation so regular treatments can help establish normal peristalsis along with appropriate remedies; this in turn can help eliminate any parasites or worms and help move excess Vata. Since Bowen therapy works with the energy of the body as well as a physical application it lends itself to a complete healing for the body. This is extremely important when you are looking at stress being a major trigger to a tensed colon. Bowen helps free up stagnated Qi energy in the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, stomach and the entire digestive tract.


Daily meditation can help greatly by destressing the entire physiology of the body. It calms and soothes the mind and entire nervous system. This is a fantastic healing tool that you can include with any of the above and I recommend everyone learn it and practise it daily to enhance all facets of your life. Find the style of meditation that is right for you, the one you enjoy. It is quite easy to learn but does require you to devote some time and discipline in setting time aside each day, even if it's just 15 minutes. I have found that creative visualisation is an easy meditation, fun and imaginative. Guided journeys take you into a place of peace and tranquillity and help every system in your body gain a well earned break, restore and rejuvenate.

My advice is do not ignore this common symptom and just put up with it. The longer you do more health issues will arise including malabsorption where you fail to absorb good nutrition from all that great healthy food you eat!

Read Part One: Feeling Bloated?

Sydney-based Lyn Craven is a practitioner of naturopathy, nutrition, medical herbalism, Bowen therapy, Reiki energy healing and meditation, and is a corporate health presenter/consultant with 19 years' experience in natural therapies. www.lyncravencorporatehealth-naturopath.com

Disclaimer: Information presented in this column is not intended as medical advice but to advance the understanding of holistic nutrition and lifestyle and its place in a balanced approach to health. Readers are encouraged to be guided by their own healthcare professionals.

Lyn Craven

Lyn Craven is a practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki therapist, meditation teacher and Corporate Health Consultant. She is also a health researcher/writer and has produced a meditation CD assisting people to manage anxiety and stress. She runs a private practice in Sydney and can be contacted on +61403 231 804