In today’s fast-paced and stressful world, digestive issues have become increasingly common. Many people suffer from gastric problems such as indigestion, bloating, acidity, and irritable bowel syndrome. Gastritis is characterized by inflammation of the stomach lining and is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by various factors such as infection, excessive alcohol consumption, prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stress, and certain autoimmune disorders. Gastritis can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and indigestion. If left untreated, it can develop into more serious complications. While modern medicine offers effective treatments for these conditions, an alternative holistic approach can be found in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine. Ayurvedic gastric care focuses on restoring balance and harmony to the digestive system, offering a comprehensive solution to heal from within. In this blog, we will explore the principles and practices of Ayurveda that can help you achieve optimal digestive health.
Firstly, we will understand Gastritis according to modern aspects and in Ayurveda for better understanding.
Gastritis, characterized by inflammation of the stomach lining, is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by various factors such as infection, excessive alcohol consumption, prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stress, and certain autoimmune disorders. Gastritis can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and indigestion. If left untreated, it can develop into more serious complications.
- Identify the Underlying Cause: To effectively treat gastritis, it is essential to identify and address the underlying cause. This may involve diagnostic tests to determine if the condition is caused by H. pylori infection, an autoimmune disorder, or other factors. Once the cause is identified, appropriate treatment can be initiated.
- Medications for Symptom Relief: Depending on the severity and cause of gastritis, your doctor may prescribe medications to alleviate symptoms and promote healing. These may include antacids to reduce stomach acid, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to block acid production, and antibiotics to eradicate H. pylori bacteria if present.
- Dietary Modifications: Making changes to your diet can play a significant role in managing gastritis. It is important to avoid foods and beverages that can irritate the stomach lining, such as spicy foods, acidic foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks. Instead, focus on a gastritis-friendly diet that includes whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and probiotic-rich foods like curd. These foods promote healing, support a healthy digestive system, and reduce inflammation.
- Stress Management: Stress has been linked to the development and exacerbation of gastritis. Implementing stress management techniques can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing. Engage in activities like yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and regular exercise to reduce stress levels. Prioritizing self-care, getting adequate sleep, and seeking support from loved ones can also contribute to overall well-being.
- Lifestyle Adjustments: Certain lifestyle habits can worsen gastritis symptoms. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption, as they can irritate the stomach lining and hinder healing. It is also advisable to avoid prolonged use of painkillers tablets, as they can contribute to stomach irritation.
Understanding Gastritis in Ayurveda:
- In Ayurveda, gastritis is seen as an imbalance in the pitta dosha, which governs digestion and metabolism. Excessive intake of pitta-aggravating foods, stress, irregular eating habits, and unhealthy lifestyle choices can disrupt the delicate balance of pitta, leading to gastritis symptoms.
- In Ayurveda, Gastritis is referred to as Amlapitta. Amla means sour, and Pitta refers to the fiery dosha responsible for digestion. According to Ayurveda, acid reflux occurs when there is an imbalance in the Pitta dosha, leading to excess acidity in the stomach. This doshic imbalance can be triggered by various factors such as excessive consumption of sour, spicy, and fried foods, irregular eating habits, stress, and emotional factors. It can lead to symptoms like a burning sensation in the chest and throat, regurgitation of sour fluids, bloating, and discomfort after meals.
- Ayurveda identifies three main subtypes of gastritis based on the involvement of other doshas: Vata-pitta gastritis, Pitta-kapha gastritis, and Vata-kapha gastritis. Understanding the specific doshic imbalances is crucial for tailoring an effective treatment plan.
Ayurvedic Gastric Care & Treatment
Ayurveda views the human body as a unique combination of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each person has a specific constitution, and an imbalance in these doshas can lead to digestive disorders. Ayurvedic gastric care aims to identify the root cause of the imbalance and restore equilibrium through personalized lifestyle and dietary modifications.
- Dietary Modifications: Ayurveda places great emphasis on adopting a suitable diet to pacify aggravated Pitta and alleviate acid reflux symptoms. It recommends avoiding hot, spicy, and sour foods, along with carbonated drinks, caffeine, and alcohol. Instead, incorporate cooling and alkaline foods like fresh fruits (except citrus fruits), vegetables, whole grains, and ghee into your meals. Including herbs like coriander, fennel, cumin, and cardamom in your diet can aid digestion and soothe the stomach.
- Lifestyle and Digestive Habits: Ayurvedic guidelines for Amlapitta emphasize maintaining a balanced lifestyle and establishing healthy digestive habits. Eating meals at regular intervals, in a calm and peaceful environment, helps optimize digestion. Chewing food thoroughly and eating mindfully aids in the proper breakdown of food and reduces the risk of acid reflux. Engaging in stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises can also alleviate symptoms by calming the mind and supporting overall digestive health.
- Ayurvedic Herbal Remedies: Ayurveda offers a wide range of herbal remedies to manage Amlapitta effectively. Some commonly used herbs include aloe vera, Yastimadhu, Indian gooseberry (amla), chirabilwa, and Shatavari. These herbs have cooling and soothing properties that help balance Pitta, reduce inflammation, and promote healing of the gastrointestinal tract. However, it is crucial to consult with an Ayurvedic Doctor before incorporating herbal remedies to ensure they are suitable for your specific condition and dosha.
Ayurveda utilizes a wide range of herbal remedies to alleviate gastritis symptoms and promote healing. Some commonly used herbs include:
- Yashtimadhu: Known for its soothing properties, Yastimadhu helps reduce inflammation and protect the stomach lining.
- Indian Gooseberry (Amla): Rich in vitamin C, amla strengthens the digestive system and aids in the healing of gastric ulcers.
- Cumin (Jeera): Cumin seeds can alleviate bloating, reduce acidity, and improve digestion. They can be consumed in the form of tea or added to meals.
- Coriander (Dhania): Coriander seeds possess cooling properties and can relieve abdominal pain and inflammation.
- Aloe vera: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, can provide relief when consumed as a juice or gel.
- Ginger: Believed to speed up the movement of food through the GI tract, while also protecting the gut. It will ease bloating, cramping, and gas.
- Panchakarma: Panchakarma, a specialized Ayurvedic detoxification therapy, can be beneficial for individuals with chronic or severe Amlapitta. It involves procedures such as Abhyanga (oil massage), Swedana (herbal steam therapy), Virechana (therapeutic purgation), and Basti (medicated enemas) to eliminate toxins, balance the doshas, and restore digestive harmony. Panchakarma should be performed under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic Doctor.
- Ayurvedic Medications: Ayurvedic formulations known as “Pitta pacifying” medicines are commonly prescribed to manage Amlapitta. These formulations contain a combination of herbs and minerals that help reduce acidity, soothe the stomach lining, and restore balance to the digestive system. These may include herbal preparations like Triphala, which is known for its digestive benefits.
- Stress Management: Ayurveda recognizes the intimate connection between the mind and the gut. Stress and emotional imbalances can disrupt digestion. Incorporating stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises can have a profound impact on gastric health. By managing stress effectively, we support a healthy digestive system.
Ayurvedic gastric care offers a holistic approach to healing digestive issues. By addressing the root causes of imbalances within the body, Ayurveda aims to restore harmony and promote optimal digestive health. Through a combination of dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, herbal remedies, detoxification therapies like Panchakarma, and stress management techniques, Ayurveda provides a comprehensive solution for those seeking a natural and holistic approach to gastric care. However, it is essential to consult an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner for personalized guidance and to ensure safe and effective treatment. Embrace Ayurveda’s wisdom and experience the transformative power of holistic healing for your digestive system.
Dr Chetan Upadhyaya and Dr Pramod