Ask Pharmaca: Why Do I Have Gas and Irregularity?

Q. I have gas and irregular bowel movements and I don’t understand why. How can you help me?

A. Irregular bowel movements and excessive gas aren’t just disruptive to your day; they can also suggest something is off-balance in your gut. There are a number of factors that can play into irregularity and gas: food allergies or sensitivities, an illness or infection, inflammation, dysbiosis (i.e. gut bacteria is out of balance) or lack of fiber. Most likely, your digestive upsets stem from a combination of these factors.

An alternative medicine approach uses the “5 Rs” to help heal an imbalanced gut: Remove, Replace, Repopulate, Repair and Rebalance. Let’s take a closer look at what that means.

Remove food aggravators and lifestyle triggers. More than likely your irregularity stems from consuming foods that disagree with your constitution. The most common aggravators are wheat, milk, eggs, soy and corn. That being said, we are unique individuals in our constitutions; what aggravates one person may be beneficial for another.

Determining what foods do and don’t work for you can be accomplished through an elimination diet or through various lab tests with a qualified practitioner. It’s also important to think about removing non-food obstacles that can trigger digestive upset, such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine or obstacles that create stress in your life.

Replace factors necessary to optimize digestive secretions, enzymatic activity and gut motility. Here, we replace the obstacles to a balanced gut with nutrients that can assist in normal digestive processes. Support may include supplementation with what your gut already needs for proper digestion—such as hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), digestive enzymes and fiber—and repletion of vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients.

Recommended products

  • Digest Gold (Enzymedica) – Digestive enzymes play a crucial role in turning food into energy and maximizing nutrient extraction from foods.
  • Digestion Enhancement Enzymes (HealthForce Nutritionals) – A plant-based enzyme supplement to optimize digestion and assimilation of all foods.
  • Organic Original Digestive Bitters (Urban Moonshine) – Digestive bitters are a botanical-based way to improve pH in the belly and stimulate one’s own digestive juices.
  • Bio-Gest (Thorne Research) – Contains HCl, pepsin, pancreatin and ox bile, which support protein and carbohydrate digestion and fat emulsification and absorption.

Repopulate intestines with good bacteria, since proper bacterial balance in your gut is a priority when it comes to treating irregularity. Beneficial bacteria supports healthy digestion by obstructing the growth of harmful microorganisms (e.g. Candida), improving digestion and absorption of nutrients, promoting synthesis of key nutrients, enhancing intestinal motility and function, regulating intestinal mucous secretion and regulating blood flow to surrounding organs.

Recommended products

  • Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotic (Flora) – Supports and maintains healthy flora in the small and large intestines. Specifically formulated to maintain yeast balance.
  • RAW Probiotics Ultimate Care (Garden of Life) – Ultimate digestive and immune system care with 100 billion live cultures from 30+ probiotics strains.
  • Ultimate Flora RTS Critical Care (Renew Life) – A high-potency once daily probiotic, offering comprehensive digestive support.

Repair the gut lining. The intestinal walls become weakened and compromised when exposed to food aggravators, inflammation and stress. This can result in a “leaky gut,” in which undigested food particles escape the intestines and create havoc within the immune system and cause inflammation. Supporting a healthy gut lining and resolving a leaky gut are critical for proper absorption of nutrients. Foods rich in zinc, vitamins A, D and C and amino acids help repair gut lining, and the amino acid L-glutamine is particularly helpful in patching a leaky gut.

Recommended products

  • IntestiNew (Renew Life) – Supports healthy function of intestinal lining and soothes inflammation in the gut with L-glutamine, N-Acetyl D Glucosamine, Gamma Oryzanol and a botanical blend.
  • Organic Triple Fiber (Renew Life) – A blend of organic ground flaxseed, acacia fiber and oat bran offers balanced bulking and sweeping activities.
  • EnteroMend (Thorne Research) – A unique blend of botanicals, L-glutamine and fermented fiber for intestinal repair.
  • L-Glutamine (Jarrow Formulas) – Straightforward, affordable L-glutamine powder to support healing a leaky gut.

Rebalance lifestyle to reduce stress and support optimal health. Rebalancing is all about lifestyle choices—removing barriers to health and implementing practices such as yoga, deep breathing, positive affirmations, meditation, good sleep and exercise. These all work together to help balance the nervous system, hormones and good digestive health.