Photo: Getty Images
Acupressure, tea, and probiotics can really work
Tummy troubles—whether it’s gas, constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)—often plague women. But experts say new remedies can provide quick and easy relief. Try these five.
Walk it off
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when your tummy hurts, but “a brisk walk, maybe 10 to 15 minutes, can do wonders,” says gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan, MD, founder of the Digestive Center for Women in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Without exercise, the intestines become sluggish, leading to cramping and constipation.
“Stress is a common cause of stomachaches, and acupressure can release feel-good endorphins and help you relax,” Dr. Chutkan says. Try this simple trick: For 5 minutes, gently apply pressure in a circular motion with your fingers to the area that’s four finger-widths above your navel.
Overeating can trigger a stomachache, so when it happens give your body a good, long break from food. “If you had a muscle injury, you wouldn’t push it even harder. You’d rest it. The same is true of a stomachache,” Dr. Chutkan says. Try a liquid diet for a day—broth, water, or fresh juice will do—and then make a habit of eating smaller portions.
There’s new hope for the 20% of the population suffering from IBS, most of whom are women. Research suggests that Align, a probiotic supplement containing Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, can bring real relief for all of the major IBS symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. A one-month supply is $29.99 at major drugstores.
Make time for tea
A warm cup of peppermint tea may help your stomach muscles relax. Repeated studies suggest that oils from the peppermint plant may work as well as drug treatments for IBS symptoms. If you don’t do tea, try Heather’s Tummy Tamers Peppermint Oil Caps ($25.90; www.HelpForIBS.com), which contain peppermint, fennel, and ginger extracts.