Carminative Herbs for Gas and Bloating

Best Carminative Herbs & Supplements for Gas and Bloating

Carminative herbs are medicinal plants that have been shown to help to expel or release trapped gas from our intestines.  (In my opinion, they’re the best kind of herbs for gas and bloating – a total game-changer!)

In my fields of clinical herbalism and functional nutrition, the most popular and effective carminative herbs for gas and bloating include (but certainly aren’t limited to):

  • Coriander (1, 2, 3
  • Cardamom (4, 5)
  • Chamomile (6)
  • Cinnamon (7)
  • Cumin (8)
  • Fennel seed (9, 10, 11)
  • Ginger (12)
  • Holy basil (13)  
  • Lemon balm (2, 14)  
  • Peppermint leaf (15)
  • Rosemary (16, 17)
  • Anise (18)
  • Black pepper (19)

They generally tend to work best when taken in therapeutic doses and/or as herbal blends taken alongside diet and lifestyle changes, versus as stand-alone interventions.

Keep reading if you’d like to dive deeper into how you can work with carminative herbs and supplements to potentially help relieve your gas and bloating symptoms naturally.

Disclaimers:  

  • This article was written for general education purposes, not to be used in place of consultation with a doctor, registered dietitian, and possibly a clinical herbalist.  Consult with your treatment team 1-1 to receive custom advice tailored to your bio-individual needs.
  • The use of carminative herbs, supplements, and tea for gas and bloating is meant to complement and enhance, but not replace, medical and nutritional therapy interventions which address the root cause(s) of your gas and bloating symptoms on a deeper level.

Affiliate disclosure:  This article contains affiliate links*. As an Amazon Associate (and a proud affiliate for Mountain Rose Herbs* and WishGarden Herbs*), I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you!  (Please note that I never link to third-party sellers on Amazon, due to the risks of buying supplements on Amazon and eBay.)

Carminative definition and meaning 

Carminative is an adjective which describes any substance that aids in the expelling of gas, subsequently helping to relieve abdominal distention (bloating).

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “carminative” was coined back in the 15th century (aka the mid-1600s) by the medical community.  

  • Carminative was originally derived from the Latin words “careere” and/or “carminare”, which translate to “to card” – aka to comb through wool.

So, what does carding out wool have to do with carminative substances? 

The Online Emytology Dictionary explains that carding in this particular context alluded to the action of dispersing, relaxing and disentangling the humors (fluids) of the body, in a way that could be compared to combing or “carding” out knots in sheep’s wool.

How carminative herbs work

The majority of carminative herbs are often referred to as the “movers and shakers” among clinical herbalists.  

That’s because they move stagnation, with a dispersive effect in our circulation and in tissues of our body – with a special affinity for the gut.

These carminatives are also often added to herbal formulas and preparations in tiny quantities to help move and disperse the medicine throughout our circulation faster.

Aromatic

They work the way they do because of their volatile oils and aromatic constituents, which are energetically dispersive, relaxing, opening, and usually warming.

(An exception to the warming property would be peppermint’s menthol, a constituent which stimulates our cold receptors and thus sometimes having more of a cooling effect on certain tissues of the body.)

Antimicrobial

Herbs may also be carminative indirectly, if they have antimicrobial and/or antifungal properties, IF your gas/bloating happen to be related to a microbial or fungal overgrowth in the gut.

Bitter

Bitter herbs (which tend to stimulate and increase our digestive secretions) may be anti-spasmodic if our gas/bloating is related to an digestive insufficiency.

(Read more about digestive bitters here!)

Nervine and anti-spasmodic

Another subtype of carminative herbs (i.e. chamomile and lemon balm) can also work more on a nervine, antispasmodic level by calming and quieting intestinal spasms.

Given their unique ability to help disperse break up stagnation in the gut, carminative herbs  generally make nice natural remedies and wonderful plant allies when it comes to reducing and managing unpleasant symptoms of gas and bloating.

However… It’s also important to make sure you’re still addressing the root cause(s) of these symptoms, which aren’t just happening randomly for no reason!

(Per the Universal Law of Cause and Effect, everything has a cause.)

What causes gas and bloating?

In some cases, gas and bloating can result just from lifestyle habits such as:

  • Swallowing air
  • Eating too fast
  • Not chewing food well enough
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating “gassy” foods (beans, cruciferous veggies, etc.)

But in more complex cases (like the stuff I often see in my clinic), gas and bloating are surface-level symptoms which actually reflect deeper gut imbalances such as:

(It’s important to keep a food-symptom journal and work alongside a gut health dietitian to help you determine which foods your body can/can’t digest well, and of course a qualified doctor to help you rule out any potential underlying medical conditions and/or functional gut imbalances.)

Now, let’s dive deeper into all the different ways you can work with carminative herbs to relieve the gas and bloating – alongside other interventions (as needed).

Herbs and supplements for gas and bloating: Hidden gems and natural remedies

Food 

Cooking with carminative herbs is a nice way to gently integrate them into your routine.  Adding carminative foods/herbs to your meals can go a long way!

A few ideas can include:

  • Grate some fresh ginger onto salads
  • Add freshly grated ginger and turmeric to ferments (sauerkraut, carrots, etc.)
  • Add fresh ginger to sushi
  • Garnish naturally-sweetened treats with some fresh peppermint leaves
  • Add fennel seeds, ginger root, cumin, coriander, and other carminative herbs/spices into soups and stir-fry dishes

Fennel seeds

Simply chewing on dried fennel seeds before/after meals, or upon symptom onset has been clinically proven to help expel trapped gas! (20)

You can usually find organic dried fennel seeds at your local supermarket or you can also order them online via Mountain Rose Herbs*, Frontier, or another online herbal apothecary of your choice.

  • Suggested use: Chew on ~1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds for ~15 minutes before eating, or whenever you feel symptoms.

While certain classic carminative herbs like fennel, chamomile, ginger, and peppermint work great on their own, I find they tend to work better blended synergistically with other herbs.

Carminative herbal tea infusions

You can make an herbal tea infusion simply by steeping carminative herbs of your choice (fresh or dried) into hot water, for about 15-20 minutes.

(Keep in mind, loose herbs generally tend to be more potent than tea bags.)

Some herbs like fennel seeds and ginger root are also more potent when fresh.  Most other types of carminative herbs are more effective when dried.

  • How to make:  You can steep single herbs on their own (i.e. 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, peppermint leaves, ginger root, coriander, cardamom, anise, cinnamon, etc. into a cup of hot water) or you can blend multiple herbs together (1 tablespoon loose herbs per 8-12 ounces of hot water in a tea steeper/tea ball).
  • Suggested use:  Drink 1 cup (or ~8 to 12 ounces) of carminative herbal tea infusion of your choice, any time of day (as needed), whenever you start feeling gassy/bloated.

Capsules

Peppermint oil, fennel, and/or ginger capsules can be very effective as carminative herbal supplements for gas/bloating because the majority of the medicinal extracts from capsules get released in our intestines, where gas and bloating start.

There’s a variety of carminative herbal capsules on the market worth exploring.  

The ones I’ve included below aren’t the only products, but I chose these because they’ve been well researched, third party tested and certified for safety.

As always, consult with your healthcare team to narrow down your options! 

IBGard*

This enteric “triple”-coated peppermint oil supplement uses Site-Specific Targeting (SST) technology to promote delayed release, so that the peppermint oil gets released slowly and strategically into your small intestine.

According to a 2016 study, taking IBgard capsules 3x daily for just 4 weeks was effective at reducing IBS symptoms (including gas and bloating) and it was also well-tolerated among particulates. (21)

  • Suggested use:  Take 1 capsule within ~15-30 minutes before/after meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.

Peppermint Gels with Ginger & Fennel, by NOW Foods*

This product is a blend of peppermint, ginger and fennel seed extract, to help enhance the carminative benefits.  (The whole is greater than the sum of its parts!)

  • Suggested use:  Take 1 capsule within ~15-30 minutes before/after meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.

Peppermint Oil G.I. by Protocol for Life Balance*

This product is very similar to the above peppermint gels in that it also uses ginger and fennel.  

  • Suggested use:  Take 1 to 2 capsules within ~15-30 minutes before/after meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
    • Note that these capsules are derived from bovine source, so this product isn’t vegetarian.

Intesol® by Metagenics*

This blend combines peppermint with chamomile and lavender, two nervine herbs which can potentially help alleviate stress-induced gut distress and reduce intestinal spasms.

  • Suggested use:  Take 1 capsule within ~15-30 minutes before meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.

Ginger Supreme by Gaia Herbs*

While this particular product is primarily intended to help relieve nausea, the ginger and turmeric extracts can also help potentially reduce and relieve gas and bloating.

Give it a try, especially if you find you don’t tolerate peppermint or fennel for any reason! (One size never fits all.)

  • Suggested use:  Take 1 to 2 capsules ~15-30 minutes before meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.

Herbal tinctures

So, you’re not into chewing on fennel seeds, tea isn’t practical day-to-day, and you hate swallowing pills… Enter:  carminative herbal tinctures for digestion!

Herbal tinctures are alcohol extracts of herbs, much like tea is a water extract of an herb. 

Taking herbs in tincture form can be convenient like capsules – and unlike tea (which is large volume and time-consuming to make and sip), you only need tinctures in small drop doses.

There are infinite types of herbal blends on the market for digestive support, and this list is not exhaustive!  But it can be a great place to start.

Chai Herbal Bitters by Mountain Rose Herbs*

Bitters herbs help to stimulate our digestive secretions naturally, because their bitter taste sends cues and signals (through our vagus nerve) from our taste receptors to our digestive organs (like the stomach, liver, gallbladder and pancreas) to start preparing for a meal by releasing stomach acid, bile, and digestive enzymes, respectively. 

(Read more about the many types of bitter herbs for digestion, here!)

This Chai Herbal Bitters* is a type of digestive herbal bitters which happens to also contain carminative herbs, like ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. It’s a great option for my fellow chai fans.

  • Suggested use:  Take 1 dropperful or about 20 to 30 droplets of bitters ~15 to 20 minutes before meals, as needed (or per your healthcare provider’s recommendation) to help reduce/prevent gas and bloating.

Digestive Rescue GI Normalizer by Wishgarden Herbs*

This product is a simple-yet-powerful blend of ginger, peppermint, fennel, and catnip.  Highly recommend trying! It generally works pretty fast.

It’s available online as well as in some natural food stores.

  • Suggested use: Take 1 dropperful (~20-30 drops) in an ounce of water, upon onset of gas/bloating symptoms or ~15 to 30 minutes before meals, as needed (or per your healthcare provider’s recommendation).

Digestive Cordial (aka “Neutralizing Cordial”) by Texas Medicinals

Just a few drops of this tasty cordial after a meal can go a long way to get things moving and settle your stomach, especially after rich meals.  It’s also quite tasty! 

    • Suggested use:  Take 1 to 15 drops, to help settle your stomach after heavy meals, as needed (or per your healthcare provider’s recommendation).
  • Note: it contains sucrose, which should be avoided in cases of sucrase-isomaltase deficiency.

Tummy Care Extract by Mountain Rose Herbs*

This product contains a beautiful synergy of fennel and ginger (carminative herbs) with relaxing, antispasmodic nervines chamomile and catnip, as well as calendula – an astringent herb which can be toning and tightening for tissues of a leaky gut.

  • Suggested use: Take 1 dropperful (~20-30 drops) in an ounce of water, upon onset of gas/bloating symptoms or ~15 to 30 minutes before meals, as needed (or per your healthcare provider’s recommendation).

Glycerites

Glycerites are essential alcohol-free versions of herbal tinctures in that instead of using alcohol, they use vegetable glycerin to extract the herbs.

Glycerin can extract aromatic and carminative herbs really well.  So, glycerites can make a nice option for anyone who would rather not (or can’t) consume alcohol, even in drop dose, for any reason.

Below are a few alcohol-free carminative herbal glycerites worth knowing about:

Other natural remedies and interventions for gas/bloating

While carminative herbs can do wonders, as I mentioned earlier, usually more interventions are needed as part of a holistic approach.

I recommend considering the following:

  • Chew your food very well! (Think applesauce consistency, or chewing ~30x per bite)
  • Eat mindfully, using your 5 senses to experience and enjoy meals
  • Meal spacing: eat 3 balanced meals daily, trying not to snack too often
  • Add in more digestive support like herbal bitters, digestive enzymes, and/or probiotic foods/supplements with meals
  • Add regular movement into your routine
  • Try the yoga wind-relieving pose as needed
  • Keep a food-symptom journal to pinpoint any potential food intolerances
  • Consult a registered dietitian as needed for dietary modification
  • Consult an integrative and functional medicine practitioner as needed, to help you rule out any underlying medical conditions 
  • Partner with antimicrobial/antifungal herbs and supportive supplements, as needed, to eradicate underlying microbial/fungal overgrowth holistically

Frequently asked questions

Is fennel low FODMAP?

Wait a minute!  According to Monash University, fennel leaves and bulbs and “fennel tea” are high FODMAP. (22

And research is telling us that high FODMAP foods are more likely to trigger unwanted symptoms of gas and bloating in many cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). (23)

But rest assured, fennel SEEDS are low in FODMAPs, and can be safely chewed or infused as tea, since up to 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds are low FODMAP. (22)

Fennel seed is low FODMAP

Related articles – recommended reading

Final thoughts

Carminative herbs have a unique property to help alleviate symptoms of gas and bloating.

In my experience, the most potent and well-researched carminative herbs include fennel seed, peppermint leaf, ginger root, chamomile, and chamomile. 

But many other warming herbs such as cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and others have also been shown to have a carminative effect, especially when used in conjunction with the above herbs.

You can take carminative herbs in food, tea, capsules, tincture, or glycerites.

(The best delivery method depends on your lifestyle preferences based on what feels most practical and sustainable.)

While these herbs can make wonderful allies to help reduce symptoms of gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort, keep in mind it would not be holistic to just lean on them for symptom management.

It’s important to make sure you’re taking a multidimensional approach which includes healthy lifestyle practices, dietary modification, and testing / medical intervention as needed to make sure you’re tackling the gas and bloat at the root-cause level.

Next steps

If you’d like to learn more about how to manage and address unpleasant gut issues holistically, make sure to download my free gut health nutrition guide: 5 Common Diet Mistakes to Avoid When Healing Your Gut!

Free Download - 5 Diet Mistakes to Avoid When Healing Your Gut - by Jenna Volpe RDN LD CLT

 

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