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In Ayurvedic anatomy, the stomach has been included among 5 major-viscera of the human-body. If we see the perspective of stomach from Ayurvedic point of view, why it has been addressed Amashya? In fact, Amashya is the seat for ama, the toxic culprit behind diseases. As per Ayurvedic nidan (diagnosis), jihva (tongue) is seen as the mirror-image of the digestive system.
Some important ailments of the digestive system along with Ayurvedic perspective are explained below:
The common cause for diarrhoea is bacterial or viral infection. Sometimes diarrhoea is induced by antibiotics like ampicillin due to killing of bacteria living in the gut. Diarrhoea and vomiting are main features of food poisoning. Some people present diarrhoea as malabsorption, in which they are not able to tolerate fat in the diet.
Diarrhoea induced by dreadful diseases like cholera and tuberculosis is uncommon today, largely due to effective treatments available today. Travelling to hilly areas can lead to a condition known as traveller’s diarrhoea. Irritable bowel syndrome (spastic colon) is another important cause of diarrhoea. Passing of watery stools is frequent. It is very important to find the cause of diarrhoea as it can lead to dehydration (loss of fluid).
Diarrhoea associated with blood and mucus is known as dysentery. Unhygienic vegetables and fruits are major cause of dysentery. Dysentery is of two types: Amoebic and Bacillary. Abdominal pain and tenesmus (pressure) are common in amoebic and bacillary dysentery. Basic cause is the inflammation (swelling) of small intestine. Burning sensation in the rectum and anus is common. In chronic amoebic dysentery, pain may start from upper right abdomen and there is radiation to the shoulder. In bacillary dysentery, abdominal pain, fever, dehydration and blood in stool are main features.
Light infection has no major hazard. The clinical symptom ranges from mild itching to massive bleeding. Abdominal pain, increased appetite, anemia, headache and diarrhoea are other clinical features. Stool examination gives clue to the diagnosis.
In Ayurveda first part of small intestine is known as grahani (duodenum). Most probably the disease has got its name from grahani as it is the site of absorption of food. Some Ayurvedic texts have called it as sangrahani. According to Ayurvedic concept, irregular dietary habits and continuous exposure to stress are contributing factors of the disease. Today we call this disorder as malabsorption as process of absorption is impaired in the small intestine. According to modern medicine, the exact cause of the disease is not known.
The clinical features encountered in malabsorption are
In Ayurveda, improper dietary habits are considered to be the cause of ulcers. Irritation of the mucosa by coffee, cigarette, alcohol, and drugs like corticosteroids and pain killers lead to ulcer formation. Recurrent attacks of hyperacidity (gaseous eructation) after consumption of spicy foods are linked to ulcer formation.
Infection with bacterium is considered to be the cause of recurrent attacks of hyperacidity and ulcers. Above all, modern lifestyle is blamed for the increasing incidence of ulcer. Stress and anxiety are linked to increased acid secretion and result is ulcer.
Pain in the chest is the main complaint. The major complication of ulcer is heamatemesis (vomiting of blood). It is a serious condition and is treated under expert supervision.
Veins (blood vessels carrying impure blood) in the anal region are longitudinal and have no valves (normally valves maintain unilateral flow of blood). As a result the veins are prone to blood congestion. More so these veins are comparatively superficial. Piles are basically varicosity (torturous) of the rectal veins. This varicosity forms a swelling of variable size within the anus.
Habitual constipation is the most common cause of piles. It causes rectal congestion (collection of blood) and piles protrude from original position. Alcohol is known to cause piles as it leads to portal congestion (portal vein supplies the liver). Sedentary occupation and lack of exercise are predisposing factors in causing piles. In addition pregnancy, uterine displacement or carcinoma of the rectum or pelvic region may cause piles.
As per Ayurvedic philosophy, constipation is the root cause of all the diseases. Treating the constipation is the thumb-rule of keeping the digestive tract working in a smooth fashion. Proper diet and regular-exercise are vital for maintaining the gut-tonicity.
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Rang HP, Dale MM, Ritter JM, Moore PK (2003). Diseases of the Stomach and Duodenum. In: Pharmacology. Edn. 5th, Churchill Livingstone Publication, Philadelphia, pp. 368-372.
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