What does Ayurveda suggest for acidity problems?

Acidity has become a common problem these days due to hectic lifestyle, stress, unhealthy food habits and various other reasons. But frequent episodes are alarming signs and require proper medical advice. One should understand the process of digestion to prevent the symptoms related to gastrointestinal disorders that may develop at a later stage. The food we consume through our mouth reaches the stomach through a muscular tube-like structure called the oesophagus or the food pipe.

Home remedies

There are various Ayurvedic medicines for acidity that fall under easy home remedies. Few home remedies involve drinking cumin-soaked water, including banana, cucumber, or yoghurt in the diet, a glass of buttermilk post spicy meal, watermelon juice or simply having a glass of lukewarm water after a meal.

Also, there is another important controller called the oesophageal sphincter at the lower end of the food pipe, that permits the movement of food to the stomach at regular intervals; any weakening on this sphincter may cause reflux.

Some gastric glands in the stomach secrete hydrochloric acid, which gets mixed with the food particles to aid in the process of digestion. This acid may be produced in excess or due to any other condition, may flow back to the oesophagus, which creates a burning sensation in the lower chest area.

Common Causes

Factors that cause acidity include irregular eating habits, eating dinner just before going to bed, overeating especially spicy food items which are high in cholesterol, consumption of alcohol and frequent smoking, etc. Other common lifestyle causes involve obesity, lack of physical activity and stress & inadequate sleep.

Few medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and people who take medication for high blood pressure, depression, steroids (NSAIDs) are also prone to acidity.

Symptoms

Symptoms that indicate acidity varies from person to person; however, heartburn and chest pain are common. Other symptoms include a burning sensation in the stomach or throat, difficulty in swallowing, frequent hiccups, burping, nausea, bad breath, restlessness, etc.

Few also have regurgitation where there is a bitter or sour fluid passing between the throat and mouth. Hyperacidity results with time and the symptoms are presented as persistent pain due to heartburn that moves from stomach, chest, or up to the throat, chronic abdominal discomfort, sore throat, black or bloody stools, etc. Some serious risks with hyperacidity are oesophageal ulcer & strictures.

Ayurvedic treatment

Ayurveda, the most traditional and ancient system healthcare is based on herbal remedies and has a stack of Ayurvedic medicine for acidity. It describes acidity as ‘amlapitta’ and the three main causes as ‘hurry’, ‘worry’, & ‘curry’. The line of treatment involves avoiding all causative factors followed by palliative care, where measures are taken to pacify pitta. ‘Triphala’ (Sanskrit, tri – three, phala – fruits) is a highly effective and historical polyherbal medicine in Ayurveda that maintains overall human health & homeostasis.

This formula consists of fruits – Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), Bibhitaki & Haritaki from three plants in equal amounts according to the writings of ayurvedic text. This Triphala Rasayana (Triphala along with ghee & honey) with multiple therapeutic benefits is essential as it promotes digestion, efficient absorption, elimination & rejuvenation. The taste or rasa is sweet, sour, astringent, pungent and bitter and the only missing taste in this formula is salty. Its action or virya is neutral, and post effect or vipaka is sweet. Hence it is called the pillar of gastrointestinal treatment.

Multiple studies have validated a number of potential uses of Triphala, which include free radical scavenging, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, appetite stimulation, gastric hyperacidity reduction, dental caries prevention, antipyretic, analgesic, antibacterial, antimutagenic, wound healing, antistress, hypoglycemic, anticancer, hepatoprotective, chemoprotective, radioprotective, and chemopreventive effects. It is also reported that this treatment has reduced constipation, mucous, abdominal pain, hyperacidity, and flatulence while improving the frequency, yield, and consistency of stool.

It has an oral antimicrobial agent and exhibits an antibacterial effect against Streptococcus mutans, one of the most prevalent oral pathogens responsible for dental cavities.

Studies demonstrate the potential of Triphala as a therapeutic agent for weight loss and reduction of body fat. It exerts hypoglycemic effects in patients with type 2 diabetes who are likely to have high postprandial blood glucose levels, especially after consuming carbohydrates.

Always remember that the change starts with you.

Amidst all causes of acidity, lifestyle stands first. Hence a vital panacea will be to make necessary lifestyle changes which may include losing weight if one is obese, having healthy food at regular times, avoiding junk and fried food, having dinner 2 – 3 hours before bed, avoiding caffeine, smoking & alcohol, being mindful and active, practising yoga, meditation, drinking adequate water & having a regular sleep cycle.