Health of a person is depended upon the food he eats and his ability to digest, absorb and assimilate it. A person is considered healthy when this process is smooth and balanced. Unfortunately, modern diet habits and lifestyle ended up in more cases of digestion problems very common in young & otherwise healthy people. Most stomach problems are related to the digestive tract, although symptoms may also be due to conditions of the body wall, blood vessels, urinary tract, reproductive organs, or organs of the chest. Conditions that affect digestion or cause pain or discomfort in the abdomen are often perceived and described as stomach problems, although the stomach may not always be involved.
When pain is present, stomach problems may be due to the organs near the site of the pain, such as the stomach or gallbladder in the upper abdomen, or the appendix in the lower abdomen. Generalized stomach problems may be associated with diet, infection or inflammation. In women, stomach problems may be related to the menstrual cycle or to infection or other conditions of the reproductive organs.
Signs & symptoms
Stomach problems may vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Stomach problems are often related to the digestive system, but may also be related to other body systems.
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Distension of the abdomen or bloating
- Bloody stool (blood may be red, black, or tarry in texture)
- Changes in bowel movements
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Urgent need to pass stool
- Bacterial, parasitic or viral infection of the gastrointestinal tract
- Celiac disease
- Diverticulitis (inflammation of an abnormal pocket in the colon)
- Food intolerance such as lactose intolerance
- Gallbladder disease or stones
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Liver diseases, including hepatitis
- Ulcers of the stomach or duodenum
Stomach problems can also be caused by conditions involving other body systems including:
- Abdominal or hiatal hernia (weakening in the abdominal wall or diaphragm, through which internal organs can pass)
- Cancer of an abdominal or pelvic organ
- Endometriosis (condition where tissues resembling the uterine lining grow in other areas of the body)
- Kidney stones
- Menstrual cramps
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Pleurisy (inflammation of the lining around the lungs)
- Shingles (painful, blistering rash that results from a reactivation of the varicella-zoster, or chickenpox, virus)
- Urinary tract infections
Serious or life-threatening causes of stomach problems
- Abdominal abscess
- Abdominal, pelvic or testicular trauma
- Aneurysm of the abdominal aorta (life-threatening bulging and weakening of the wall of the abdominal aorta that can burst and cause severe hemorrhage)
- Bowel obstruction or perforation
- Chemical or heavy metal poisoning
- Colonic volvulus (twisting of the colon) or intussusception (telescoping of the intestines into themselves)
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Intestinal ischaemia (loss of blood supply to the intestines leading to death of intestinal tissue)
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Peritonitis (infection of the lining that surrounds the abdomen)
- Torsion of an ovary or a testicle
These include disorders of the gut-brain axis, effects of diet, genetic factors, infections and disturbances in the intestinal microbiota, low-grade mucosal inflammation, immune activation, altered intestinal permeability, disordered bile salt metabolism or abnormalities in 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) metabolism.
Upper GI endoscopy
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP),
Treatment of digestive disorders differs according to the underlying disease. Symptomatic management is also important. Following measures are found beneficial in various gastric conditions.
- Cutting off fat intake.
- Avoiding fizzy drinks.
- Eating and drinking slowly.
- Quitting smoking.
- Stopping chewing gum.
- Trying relaxation techniques & yoga
- Practising meditation
- Exercising regularly.
- Avoiding foods that cause gas.
- Avoiding sweeteners that cause gas such as fructose and sorbitol.
- Lactase supplements
Antacid that contains calcium carbonate or magnesium.
It completely depends upon the underlying disease or the cause of the condition. Many problems of digestion can be treated with a change in diet & lifestyle but some chronic diseases have a long-term pathology and bad prognosis.
Nervous & muscular disorders
Disease & Ayurveda
Ayurveda describes the process of digestion under the term Agni or digestive fire. Ayurveda theories state that the food we consume get digested similar to the process how the food gets cooked. Any derangement in the balancing of normal Agni will lead to digestive disorders and thereby other diseases & complications.
Concept of agni
Agni can be understood as “digestive fire” and it is assessed by appetite. Ayurveda states all diseases occur due to manda agni or reduced digestive fire.
Digestion involves the breakdown of food into smaller and absorbable parts. It begins in mouth; salivary enzymes mix with food and start to break down its size and content and move into stomach through oesophagus. In the stomach, the food is further broken down by mixing with gastric acid until it passes into small intestine where it mixes with enzymes which secreted from pancreas. These enzymes are denoted as Pachaka pitha in Ayurveda. Enough water and electrolytes are needed to be maintained by Kapha to regulate the pH in the system. Rhythmic contractions of bowel are done by Vaata and thus mixed gastric juice help the complex food transform into absorbable particles. Most of the digestion take place in the small intestine (Grahani in Ayurveda). Water and minerals are absorbed back into the body in the large intestine. The waste products of digestion are defecated from the anus.
Thus, Agni can be effective only when the Three dhoshas are in normal state. Ayurveda discussed three types of agni present in body those are jadaragni (digestive fire in GI tract), dhathwagni (tissue level digestive fire), bhuthagni (molecular level digestive fire). Jadaragni digest swallowed food into absorbable form. Dhathwagni helps to mainatain and repair various tissues present in the body like blood, plasma, bone, bone marrow, reproductive cells etc. Bhuthagni help to transform molecules into pancha mahabhuth (earth, water,fire, wind and ether/space), basic elements of matter mentioned in Ayurveda.
Individual ‘s health and immunity are directly proportional to the Agni bala. Any derangement in Agni cause improper digestion and this gives rise to various diseases.
Malfunction of agni takes palce in three different ways.
- Mandagni ( Low digestive power)
- Vishama Agni (Irregular digestive power)
- Tikshna Agni ( Intense digestive power)
It can happen due to various factors from Untimely food and Excessive intake of food, Cold and Heavy oily food, Water pollution, Suppression of natural urges, Sleeping more during day time etc to psychological factors likeFear, Worry, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Anger etc
Concept of Ama
Whenever agni bala is proper, we can eat and absorb maximum nutrients. Strength of Agnibala depends on our habits and emotions. Also, it depends on body type; it is important to arrange your food habits according your body type. Whenever the Agni is low or not sufficient to do its work, food digestion is improper and this condition not rectified for long may cause serious diseases. This improper Agni leads to poor brake down of food, improper absorption, chest burn, bloating etc. This partialy digested morbid food called Ama. Some consider ama as accumulated waste materials (mala) in body. Another opinion is that ama is the primary stage of vitiation of doshas and is a toxic product. Ama can be manifested at various levels like dosha, dhatu and mala. Ama is believed to cause vitiation of all doshas and give rise to various symptoms and diseases in body. Ama acts like slow poison.
Any factor which causing the derangement of thridoshas
Unhealthy or improper habits related with food intake
Not mentioned separately
Due to the causative factors, when the deranged doshas get lodged in the aamasaya or pakwaasaya, they vitiate the Agni and the diseases manifest.
Digestive disorders enlisted in Ayurveda
- Atisara: Diarrhoea,Watery stool are passed several times a day associated with abnormal pain and fatigue.
- Malabandha: Constipation
- Amlapitha: Heartburn and acidity, an increased acid level in stomach.
- Chardi: Vomiting,
- Parinama sula: Pain that felt at the time of digestion of the ingested food.
- Visuchika: In this condition, Low digestive power associate with vitiated Vata causes indigestion and produce pricking pain all over the body
- Alasaka: Ingested food remain in stomach without digestion for long time neither moves upward nor down.
- Vilambika: Paralytic Ileus.
- Anaha: severe distention in the abdomen with belching and flatulence.
- Anna drava sula: Pain which manifested after some time of the intake of food.
- Gulma: Accumulation of air or gas or mucus, or any other semiliquid material in the alimentary tract in the area of cardiac orifice, umbilicus, abdomen and pelvic area.
- Udhavartha: Suppression of urges cause to reverse movement of vata, resulting in a constricted feeling of heart, head ach, hiccough, cough, catching pain at throat, deglutition difficulty etc.
- Krimi roga: In broad sense, all worms, microbes whether visible or non-visible. 20 types of krimi and its treatment explained in ayurveda
- Arsas: Mamsa ankura (fleshy mass) which obstruct at opening of anus and make difficult like an enemy. Commonly called piles/hemorrhoids.
- Grahani Roga : Mandagni and Ama lead to Grahani roga. Chronic abdominal pain, flatulence, nausea, abdominal distension, constipation etc. are present.
- Pravahika: Watery stool, pain abdomen, sticky, repeated defecation, frothy and blood mixed stool.
- Arochaka: Anorexia, Loss of taste. In this condition you do not like to eat and gets bad taste in mouth. You don’t like to even swallow the food. It is common complaint among individuals, sometime appeared as a symptom of other disease.
- Bhasmaka: An abnormal digestive power, capable to digest heavy food easily. Powerful enough even “burn-up” the digestive organs.
- Ajeerna: Caused by malfunction of Agni and Pachaka pitta, a state called Mandhagni (low digestive power)
Each and every above-mentioned issue has subclasses according to 3 Dhoshas
Depends upon the dosha vitiation and chronicity.
As we already know, If the Agni is proper, food gets digested properly and transform to various healthy tissues, means the “digestion-absorption – assimilation” is balanced.
Ayurveda provide very effective and genuine solutions for many digestive problems.
In Ayurveda, any physiological derangement in our body is due to the vitiation of doshas. Hence you should analyse the vitiated dosha behind the problem. Ousadha kala (time of medicine intake) and oushada mathra(dosage) are related to affected individuals. Various panchakarma therapies are very effective to resolve the digestion related issues which can be provided only by a good ayurvedic physician.
In cases of parasites or imbalance in microbiota, krimichikithsa with cleansing therapies are done.
In other conditions, the first treatment to consider is amapachana or depletion of accumulated metabolic toxins.
In most digestive problems, Ayurveda suggests langhana the weight-reducing therapy. It could include upavasa or fasting so as to help kindle the digestive fire and burn remaining undigested particles.
Agnivardhaka herbal drugs are administered when the digestive fire is extremely weak so as to rekindle it.
In some cases, therapeutic procedures like snehapana, swedana, vamana, virechana and vasti etc are done to flush out accumulated waste materials.
Treatment is based on many factors like the affected indiviual’s prakruthi (body type), kala(time), dosha (functional factor), vaya(age), rogavastha (stage of disease) and desa (where he/she is living) etc. So, treatment is different for each individual.
Commonly used medicines
A healthy diet & lifestyle can help improve the health status of digestives system.
- To be avoided
Heavy meals and difficult to digest foods – cause indigestion.
Junk foods- cause disturbance in digestion and reduces the bioavailability of the medicine
Carbonated drinks – makes the stomach more acidic and disturbed digestion
Refrigerated and frozen foods – causes weak and sluggish digestion by weakening Agni (digestive fire)
Milk and milk products other than processed buttermilk – increase kapha, cause obstruction in channels and obesity
Curd – causes vidaaha and thereby many other diseases
- To be added
Light meals and easily digestible foods
Green gram, soups, fresh vegetables & fruits
Buttermilk processed with ginger, curry leaves, turmeric etc.
Freshly cooked and warm food processed with cumin seeds, ginger, black pepper, ajwain etc
Protect yourself from cold climate.
Better to avoid exposure to excessive sunlight wind rain or dust.
Maintain a regular food and sleep schedule.
Avoid holding or forcing the urges like urine, faeces, cough, sneeze etc.
Avoid sedentary lifestyle. Be active.
Regular stretching and mild cardio exercises are advised in mild digestive problems. Also, specific yogacharya including naadisuddhi pranayama, bhujangaasana, pavanamuktasana is recommended.
Regular exercise helps improve bioavailability of the medicine and food ingested and leads to positive health.
Yoga can maintain harmony within the body and with the surrounding system.
Simple exercises for lungs and heart health
All the exercises and physical exertions must be decided and done under the supervision of a medical expert only.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, United States. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please consult your GP before the intake.
Dr. Rajesh Nair, the co-founder and chief consultant of Ayurvedaforall.Com, is a graduate of prestigious Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College (affiliated with the University of Calicut), Kerala, India. Additionally, he holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy from Annamalai University.
Dr. Nair offers consultation at two busy clinics in and around Haripad, Alleppey, Kerala, the southern state famous worldwide for authentic ayurvedic treatment and physicians. While offering consultation on all aspects of ayurvedic treatments Dr. Nair has a special interest in Panchkarma, Yoga, and Massage.
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