INDIGESTION can be described as a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen, belching, anorexia and altered bowel conditions. This could be due to a shift in food habits, contamination of food items or a sudden change in the daily routine or the life-style. Ayurveda has described these conditions as Ajeerna.
Ayurveda says that indigestion occurs due to the adoption of “mithya ahar vihar”, which denotes eating a wrong diet and following an improper daily routine.
A wrong diet means to much fried foods, meats, sweets, a wrong combination of foods and of mixing to many foods in a meal. Over-eating and eating before the last meal is fully digested can also cause indigestion. Similarly, taking too much coffee and alcohol and excessive smoking also disturb normal digestive functioning. Staying up late in the night, emotional disturbances like stress, grief and anxiety and taking too much drugs like antibiotics, pain-killers and steroids are the other factors which contribute to the digestive upsets.
In all types of indigestion, fasting for at least one meal-time is necessary. After this when patient feels hungry, he should be given lime water, boiled vegetables or their soup. There are many ayurvedic medicines to treat digestive upsets. But differentiation should be made between acute indigestion and a chronic condition.
Classic ayurvedic medicines used in such conditions include lavanbhaskar churna, hingashtak churna and avipattikar churna. The famous shankh bhasma or the shankh vati, if given with lime water, has also very good results. There are many more effective medicines which are used in stubborn cases of indigestion, but only under the supervision of a physician.
Usually mild cases of indigestion respond to certain home remedies. Here are few tips –
- Chewing a small piece of fresh ginger with table salt five or 10 minutes before meals is good to stimulate digestion.
- Take an equal amount of black pepper, dried mint leaves, ginger powder, coriander seeds, cumin (jeera), fennel, anise seeds and asafoetida (hing). Grind them together to make fine powder. Take one teaspoonful of this powder twice a day after meals.
- Drinking buttermilk after breakfast or lunch improves digestion. Adding roasted cumin seed powder and a little of salt into buttermilk enhances its effectiveness.
- Taking plain soda water gives immediate relief from symptoms of gas, distended abdomen and acidity.
Precautions: In modern life-style digestive upsets are a very common problem. Ayurvedic classics in general advise a light and easily digestible diet. The most important rule to be followed is that one should not overeat and should also avoid meal until the previous meal is not digested. Sleeping immediately after dinner makes food stay in the stomach for a longer period, thus resulting in early morning digestive distress. Persons prone to frequent indigestion are advised to eat compatible food and should also do a regular morning or evening walk.