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An antiflatulent agent is a drug used for the alleviation or prevention of excessive intestinal gas, i.e., flatulence.
Mechanisms of action
- Enzymes – Enzyme-based dietary supplements break down indigestible substances and prevent these substances from reaching the large intestine intact – where anaerobic bacteria produce gas. Substances indigestible by humans are usually present in foods associated with flatulence, like beans. When these substances reach the large intestine intact, they may be fermented by intestinal bacteria, thereby causing gas production. These supplements are usually taken with foods associated with flatulence. It is important to take the appropriate enzyme with the appropriate food. When consuming beans and other vegetables high in complex carbohydrates, it may be helpful to take a product that contains alpha-galactosidase, such as Beano. Additionally, for individuals with lactose intolerance, taking a lactase-containing product with lactose-containing foodstuffs may reduce flatulence.
- Herbal inhibitors – Many herbal substances have been observed since antiquity for reducing flatulence, particularly gas from eating legumes. Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and garlic are potent in reducing gas. The potency of garlic increases when heated, whereas the potency of cinnamon decreases. Other spices have a smaller effect in reducing gas, including turmeric, black pepper, asafoetida and ginger. Other common Indian spices, cumin, aniseed, ajowan, and cardamom do not inhibit gas production, in fact they exacerbate it significantly.
For the alleviation of flatulence, an antifoaming agent such as simethicone may be taken orally. This agent will coalesce the smaller gas bubbles into larger bubbles, thereby easing the release of gas within the gastrointestinal tract via burping or flatulence.
Enzyme-based dietary supplements
- Epazote is claimed to have antiflatulent properties.
- Asafoetida reduces the growth of indigenous microflora in the gut thereby reducing flatulence.
- A. Savitri, T. N. Bhavanishankar and H. S. R. Desikachar. Effect of spices on in vitro gas production by Clostridium perfringens Food Microbiology, 1986, 3, 195-199
- NE Longnecker (2000). "Passion for pulses: health benefits of pulses and why Australians should eat more of them" (pdf). Proceedings of the nutrition society of Australia. 24: 191–195.
Some herbs are also thought to counteract the flatulence effect, including cumin seed, epazote, asafoetida and winter savoury.
- S. K. GARG, A. C. BANERJEA, J. VERMA. and M. J. ABRAHAM, EFFECT OF VARIOUS TREATMENTS OF PULSES ON IN VITRO GAS PRODUCTION BY SELECTED INTESTINAL CLOSTRIDIA. Journal of Food Science, Volume 45, Issue 6 (p 1601-1602).