Topic of the Month
The digestive system is a series of hollow
organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus.
Inside this tube is a lining called the mucosa. In the mouth,
stomach and small intestine, the mucosa contains tiny glands that
produce juices to help digest food.
There are also two solid digestive organs, the liver and the
pancreas, which produce juices that reach the intestine through
small tubes. In addition, parts of other organ systems (for
instance, nerves and blood) play a major role in the digestive
When we eat such things as bread, meat, and
vegetables, they are not in a form that the body can use as
nourishment. Our food and drink must be changed into smaller
molecules of nutrients before they can be absorbed into the blood
and carried to cells throughout the body. Digestion is the process
by which food and liquids are broken down into their smallest
parts so that the body can use them to build and nourish cells and
to provide energy.
Indigestion, also known as upset stomach or
dyspepsia, is discomfort or a burning feeling in the upper
abdomen, often accompanied by nausea, abdominal bloating,
belching, and sometimes vomiting.
In Ayurveda the condition of indigestion is
called ‘Agnimandya’. It is
caused by the aggravation of doshas likely, Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Characteristic symptoms of agnimandya caused by the vitiation of
these doshas are elaborately described in Ayurvedic texts. In
brief when Vata is vitiated there is more pain, when Pitta is
vitiated there is more burning sensation and when Kapha is
vitiated there is more of nausea and vomiting.
Psychic factors like anger, anxiety and worry
play an important role in the digestion of food. According to
Ayurveda the food taken in time and in proper quantity does not
get digested if the individual is suffering from these mental
- Aggravation of the three doshas - vata, pitta, kapha.
- Overeating or excessive intake of improper food
- Eating too fast
- Significant caffeine intake
- Eating fatty or greasy foods
- Overindulgence in alcohol
- Tobacco smoking
- Eating spicy foods and eating less of high-fiber foods.
- Emotional trauma, nervousness or other psychic factors as
anger, anxiety and worry.
- Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder)
- Acute or chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
- Acute or chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the
- Duodenal ulcer
- Gastric ulcer
- Drugs such as antibiotics, aspirin, and nonsteroidal
- Feeling of a heavy stomach
- Stomach pain
- Burning Sensation in the chest.
Avoiding the foods and situations that seem to
cause indigestion in some cases is the most successful way to
treat it. Smokers can help relieve their indigestion by quitting
smoking, or at least not smoking right before eating. Exercising
with a full stomach may cause indigestion, so scheduling exercise
before a meal or at least an hour afterward might help.
Herbs which are useful :
Jeera (Cumin seeds, Cuminum cyminum):
fruit is a source of thymol. Thymol is used as an anthelmintic
against hookworm infections and also as an antiseptic in many
proprietary preparations. It is a stimulant, which increases the
secretion and discharge of urine and relieves flatulence. It
strengthens the functions of stomach and arrests any bleeding.
(Asafoetida, Ferula foetida):
(Asafoetida) has been held in great esteem amongst indigenous
medicines from the earliest times in India. It is reputed as a
drug, which expels wind from stomach and counteracts any spasmodic
disorders. It is also a nervine stimulant, digestive agent and a
Ajwain (Bishop’s weed,
seeds are stimulant and are useful in counteracting spasmodic
disorders. Ajwain has been used in indigenous medicine for the
treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, atonic dyspepsia, cholera,
colic, flatulence and indigestion. The volatile oil extracted from
the seeds is also useful in cholera, flatulent colic, diarrhoea,
atonic colic and indigestion.
Dhania (Coriander, Coriandrum sativum):
leaves of dhania are stimulant and tonic. They strengthen the
stomach and promote its action., relieve flatulence, increase
secretion and discharge of urine and reduce fever. They act as an
aphrodisiac, help in removal of catarrhal matter and
from the bronchial tubes and thereby counteracting any spasmodic
disorders. Dhania seeds reduce fever and promote a feeling of
coolness. Dhania juice is highly beneficial in deficiencies of
vitamin A, B1, B2, C and iron.
of saunf are digestive, appetizing and stimulating. They increase
the secretion and discharge of urine. The seeds are sweet,
laxative, aphrodisiac and arrest bleeding. They also relieve
flatulence and promote the removal of catarrhal matter and phlegm
from the bronchial tubes. Oil of fennel, distilled from the dry
seeds is aromatic, carminative and antispasmodic.
Kitchen Remedies to correct
(Cumin seeds) is very useful in digestive
disorders like biliousness, morning sickness,
indigestion, atonic dyspepsia, diarrhoea, malabsorption
syndrome and flatulent colic. One teaspoon of
jeera is boiled in a glass of water and the
decoction mixed with one teaspoon of fresh dhania
leaf juice and a pinch of salt. This decoction
can be taken twice daily after meals as a medicine
(Asafoetida): The herb is an effective
remedy for several diseases of the stomach.
It is one of the best remedies available for
flatulence and is essential ingredient for most
of the digestive powders. In case of flatulence
and distension of the stomach, hing should be
dissolved in hot water and a pad of cloth steeped
in it may be used for fomenting the abdomen.
(Bishop’s weed): For relieving flatulence,
dyspepsia and spasmodic disorders, the seeds
may be eaten with betel leaves. A teaspoon of
these seeds with a little rock salt is a household
remedy for indigestion.
(Corriander): One to two teaspoons
of dhania juice, added to fresh buttermilk,
is highly beneficial in treating digestive disorders
such as indigestion, nausea, dysentery etc.
(Fennel): An infusion prepared by boiling
a tablespoon of fennel seeds in 100 ml of water
for half an hour, is highly beneficial in indigestion,
biliousness, flatulence, constipation and atonic
dyspepsia. Chewing its seeds after meals prevent
foul breath, indigestion, constipation and vomiting.
Take a light
fat-less diet. It is better to observe fast. Have plenty of water
and juices, especially lemon juice laced with a pinch of salt.
Intake of raw garlic is very beneficial in this condition. Thin
and fat-less buttermilk is useful in treating all types of
indigestion. Hing in powder form is also useful.
Foods to avoid:
Peppermint / Spearmint
All caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, many soft drinks)
Life Style :
Smokers can help relieve their
indigestion by quitting smoking, or at least not smoking right
before eating. Avoid eating before bed and avoid wearing tight-waisted
clothes. Sleeping just after having a full meal produces
indigestion and a sleep before lunch during daytime helps in
digestion. Try to take physical and mental rest and keep free from
worry and anxiety. Physical exercise is a must.
Ayurvedic Supplements :