By Megha Bajaj
Indigestion is one of those universal problems that we all go through at some point of our life. here are some simple treatments to manage indisciplined, erratic traffic in the tummy
You want to see a miracle? Look in the mirror. The human body is one of the most phenomenal creations in existence. As one reads of the various different systems within, in this case the digestive order, one is filled with awe and wonder. To understand where various indigestion problems arise, and their prevention and cure, one needs to understand the entire system. Imagine your digestive system to be a huge road network that has to take this food piled on little trucks throughout the body, absorb nutrients along the way, and finally throw the trucks away in the form of excreta. The trucks are nothing but fibre.
Digestion begins in the mouth with the chewing of food (mastication). Mastication not only breaks down food molecules into smaller particles, but also sets off a green signal to the body to start the entire digestive process.
The esophagus is the tunnel that connects the mouth to the stomach. It delivers the saliva-mixed food from the mouth to the stomach, and serves as an air lock between the outside world and the digestive tract. The stomach, in many ways, is the main road for the truck laden with food. It is here that food is crushed into tiny particles, toxins are removed, and food is sent off to the small expressway called small intestine.
Here is where the maximum absorption takes place. This small expressway has many folds that the truck must pass through, and on its way, a liquid called pancreatic juice, which helps in digestion, is mixed with the food. Active absorption takes place, and energy is generated. There is a small tunnel through which nutrients absorbed are carried to a place called liver. Finally, the trucks enter the large expressway or large intestine, with almost 90 per cent of their loads lifted off. This expressway is five feet long, and it takes the trucks 6-72 hours to get out. (The roads in the stomach and small expressway take only about 1-2, 2-6 hours respectively). Sodium and water are absorbed here. And then gradually the trucks make their way towards defecation. The more trucks there are, i.e. more the fibre intake, quicker will be their exit.
Having understood the system, we can now realise where and how the indigestion takes place:
If you have indigestion due to any of the above causes, the common symptoms you will experience will be: burning feeling in the upper abdomen, often accompanied by nausea, abdominal bloating, belching, and sometimes vomiting. Acidity, heartburns, constipation and diarrhea may also occur. All these can be cured by some of the amazing alternative therapies given below:
Foods that Heal
In his book, Home Doctor, Dr. Phadke writes of several home remedies for indigestion:
According to the popular website, www.ayurvediccure.com, Ayurveda attributes indigestion to a weakening of the agni, or digestive fire. They consider it to be a primarily pitta function. They believe the causes of this weakening is: Stress, smoking, which interferes with the enzyme production in digestion, very long gaps between two meals generating unrequired acid, over-eating, eating too little, eating stale food.
Ayurveda advices dietary control, and the choice of right food. Other tips: do not eat when stressed, wear loose clothes, eat your night meal at least two hours before bed-time, and don’t do too much exercise immediately after eating. Ayurveda also recommends having curd and buttermilk daily as they strengthen the digestive fire. Also, have a teaspoon of white sesame seeds every morning as part of your daily routine.
Ayurveda also recommends paachan, a herb medicine. It includes important herbs like ginger, pepper, leadwort, menthol, and the embelin, which individually and collectively, help the digestive powers of an individual to become stronger. For the correct doses, go to a good ayurved.
Roshan Patel, a Mumbai-based hom-oeopath, treats almost 10 patients daily for complaints of indigestion. After understanding all the symptoms through a long discussion, and getting to the underlying causes, she uses some of the following remedies for relief:Arsenicum album would be indicated if a person feels anxious, restless yet exhausted, and is worse from the smell and sight of food. Bryonia, when the stomach feels heavy, with rising acid, and a bitter or sour taste. Pain and nausea are worse from motion of any kind. And Lycopodium when the person’s appetite may be ravenous, but eating even a small amount can cause a feeling of fullness and bloating. Rumbling gas may form in the abdomen, pressing upward, and making breathing difficult. There are many other remedies, but primarily these are seen to give maximum relief in minimum time.
Deepa Bhatia, with her ‘Breathe’ range, literally breathed new life into aromatherapy. Today this 30-something woman is a known name for her healing oils. She says, “It’s a misconception that aroma oils only have beauty utility. Aromatherapy has application in everything from common cold to the female reproductive system.” According to her, the prime benefits of essentials oils would be for stress, anxiety and depression. For example, Patchouli, an oil which smells like wet earth, relieves stress in even the most anxious of people. Jasmine oil helps in times of trauma. Just two to three drops of orange oil in half a bucket of water is enough to cure constipation. And Aromatherapy can successfully be used to cure indigestion, and other digestive disorders like ulcers.
One of the digestive benefits of yoga is that it restricts the blood flow to certain parts of the body while holding some poses. Once these poses are released, this area of the body is then flooded with blood, and thus, oxygen. Oxygen has healing properties, and is necessary for proper organ function.
Another major benefit of yoga is practising breathing, known in yoga as pranayama. Simply forcing ourselves to breath into our bellies during certain yoga poses, sends breath and healing to the digestive area. Regular focussed breathing can also open up blocked areas of energy in the body. Blocked energy, or prana, in the stomach/intestines, is often the cause of digestive problems. Mr Ravi Dixit, senior teacher at Kaivalyadham, recommends the following postures for good digestion:
The traffic in the stomach can be well-managed using just a few of these simple tips. Happy digestion!
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