What if none of the food you ever ate got digested? It’s a scary prospect to consider. The implications are numerous. For one, it would mean that your body cells would have no nutrients to operate on, since ingested food is not broken down into the useful components. Aside that, you would constantly feel heavy. To top if off, it would be a real trouble when you have bowel movement. Indigestion and heaviness is not a favorite condition.
Yet, this does happen to some people. Statistics have shown that in the U.S., 20% of people are affected by indigestion, and yet only 10% of seek medical attention. This is to show that it has a pretty high incidence.
Indigestion, or dyspepsia, is a functional disease. This is to say that the symptoms of dyspepsia arise as a result of improper functioning of a group of muscles, an organ, or the nerves controlling them. It is often a chronic disease that can last for years and even up to a lifetime, with periodic recurrent episodes of alternating intensity or mildness of symptoms between days, weeks or even months.
But Medhya Herbals is here to help you relieve the symptoms of indigestion that you might feel, with Ayurveda at the ready.
Ayurvedic Perspective of Indigestion and Heaviness.
Indigestion is mainly caused by an ineffective agni(digestive fire). Agni is a pitta component mostly, so we can say that, by extension, indigestion is due to an abnormality in the Pitta dosha. Pitta, afterall, is responsible for all transformative processes such as the metabolic machinery necessary to convert ingested food to the smaller nutrient units that will be used by the body.
Reverting back to agni, again, when agni, the digestive fire, doesn’t ‘burn’ aright, then digestion is incomplete(ajirna), and this leads to several complications, primarily the accumulation of ama. However, the probelm can vary depending on the particular type of agni that is involved, and this variation cuts across all three doshas.
Types of Agni: The Right Proportion of Digestive Fire?
- Samagni: This is balanced agni. It is the proper proportion of digestive fire, and digests food completely, so that all the cells of the body can get sufficient nourishment from the broken down nutrients.
- Vishamagni: This type of agni is varying. It happens when vata is the dominant dosha. Here, the digestive fire alternates between sufficient and poor, and as a result, there is poor digestion. It leads to constipation and bloating.
- Teekshnagni: In this state, the digestive fire is heightened, and it overburns. It is as a result of a spike in pitta(fire) dosha. When agni is too much, food can get too quickly digested than is good. As a result, there is perpetual hunger, thirst, heartburn and diarrhea.
- Mandagni: The last of the agni types. Here, the digestive fire is lower than it is supposed to be, and is a result of kapha dominance. Since the intensity of the digestive fire is dampened, digestion is very slow, leading to poor digestion(ajirna).
So, you’re wondering what you do to cause yourself indigestion?
Indigestion leads to heaviness, since the food just stays there, and more often than not, it is caused by poor lifestyle and dietary choices, such as those listed here:
- Overeating or eating too fast: overfeeding puts too much strain on the digestive system, or the digestive fire, such that it is unable to process all that has been dumped on it. Similar effect occurs with eating too fast.
- Infections can also cause a feeling of heaviness in the stomach.
- This condition can also result from the backflow of stomach acid from the stomach into the oesophagus.
- Pregnancy increases the risk of indigestion and heaviness.
- Certain medications, such as NSAIDs(Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) like ibuprofen, antibiotics, estrogen, etc, can also cause indigestion.
- Overconsumption of greasy foods, excess intake of sugar, etc, can also cause this.
- Taking too much of wheat can also cause one to feel heavy. Wheat has a lot of fibers that are not easily digested.
- Other health conditions that increase the risk of dyspepsia include diabetes, thyroid disease, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease.
- Irregular food habits confuse the bodies metabolic processes.
What Does it feel like?
If you’ve had episodes of indigestion before, then you certainly know what it feels like. But just so we’re on the same page, we will look at a far from exhaustive list of symptoms that present itself in the case of indigestion and heaviness.
These symptoms are usually precipitated by the very act of eating, and they include:
- Feeling full and uncomfortable even after a small meal.
- Pain in the upper abdomen and lower chest. Discomfort may also be felt in the back.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Bloating and flatulence(There are highly effective remedies to bloating however).
So, what do you do about it?
Since it is a functional disease that has to do with malfunctioning of the muscles lining the wall of the stomach and intestines, Western medicine may direct treatment at these muscles, called smooth muscles, by the use of smooth muscle relaxants. Antidepressant drugs may also be used. Cisapride helps with heaviness due to slowly emptying stomach, and erythromycin is useful as an antibiotic that also stimulates gastrointestinal smooth muscle cells.
Holistic Cure for indigestion and heaviness with no side effects using Ayurveda.
The list of Ayurvedic remedies for addressing problems with digestion is very long, but a few of them have been made available here for you.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda contains the alkali, sodium carbonate, that helps to neutralize excessive stomach acid. Hence, it is an effective antacid.
- Ginger: It contains gingerols and other antioxidants that help relieve indigestion, and nausea. It also has the ability to relieve irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: It has a full arsenal of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus to battle acid reflux and to burn down fats. It can be taken with water or honey.
- Triphala: It contains amalaki, haritaki, and bibhitaki. It is tridoshic and helps to relieve constipation and bowel irregularity.
- Lavender: Aside its powers of curing indigestion, it also serves as an antiseptic and takes care of insomnia and high blood pressure.
If you want to have healthy digestive system, here are things you can do.
As was earlier mentioned, indigestion is largely due to poor lifestyle and dietary choices, and it can be cured and prevented by reversing those choices. If you don’t have it yet, you really should start doing these things to keep safe.
- Eat modestly and have moderate spacing between meals. You should have at between four to six hours between meals.
- Quit over-drinking and smoking.
- Exercise regularly to give your build up your body. For example, taking a walk will help energize you and reduce drowsiness, thus alleviating/preventing heaviness.
- Do not overindulge in snacking between meals.
- Eat on time and eat regularly. Be consistent in your feeding. Do not skip breakfast.
- Do not go to bed immediately after eating.
Eat Healthy for a better digestive fire.
- Regulate your diet according to the type of agni you have. The imbalanced dosha should be balanced up.
- Take less sugars, salts, spicy foods and consume less fibers to promote digestion.
- When you eat, take your time. This gives your body time to actually process the signal that it is being fed. If you eat too fast, you can finish two helpings before your body realizes that you are eating. If the body doesn’t know its being fed, you keep feeling hungry and you keep eating, but in reality, you’re actually overfeeding.
- Don’t eat meals that are high in fat and condiments.
- Drink enough water while eating. Water takes up more space faster, and is easier to metabolize than any other food item. When you drink water, it takes up space that you would have used to store excess food while eating. The water is then soon taken away, freeing you up.