Digestion and Its Abnormality: An Ayurvedic Perspective

Digestion is the process by which the food you ingest is broken down into a simpler and absorbable form. According to Ayurveda, Agni is considered as the key factor for digestion and it is responsible for good health of an individual.

The definition of health in ayurveda goes like this “Samadosha, samagni, samadhatu malakriyah Prasannatma indriyas manah swath abhidayate”- Sushruta.

A person is said to be healthy when there is balance in his doshas (Vata, pitta and kapha), agni (metabolic factors), dhatus (tissues), malas (excretory products) and harmony in mental factors like indriyas, manas, atma. This signifies the role of agni in maintenance of normal health.

Types of Agni

In Ayurveda, there is description of 13 types of agni in the human body:

  • Jatharagni – Jatharagni is the biological fire in the body which is responsible for digestion of food which you eat. It is only one.
  • Bhutagni – Bhutagni refers to the agni attributed to each panchamahabhutas ( Akasa, Vayu, Agni, Jala and Prithvi). The food we eat is made up of panchamahabutas and even our body, this bhutagni transfers the energy from the food to your body into simplest form and support the panchamahabutas in your system. .It is five in number.
  • Dhatvagni – Dhatvagni refers to tissue metabolism. According to Ayurveda, our body is made up of seven dhatus- Rasa (Body fluids like lymph), Rakta (Blood and its components), Mamsa (Muscular system), Meda (adipose or fat tissue), Asthi (Skeletal system), Majja( Bone marrow) and Shukra Dhatu (reproductive system). The nutrients absorbed from the intestine is processed in each of these system by respective dhatvagnis for their nourishment, proper functioning and development. It is seven in number.

Jatharagni is further divided into 4 types according to the dosha dominance and intensity of  agni:

  • Vishama Agni- Dominance of vata dosha manifests visham agni in an individual. It is characterised by varying or irregular digesting capacity. Sometimes the digestion will be fast and good, sometimes it will be slow and weak.
  • Teekshna Agni- Dominance of pitta dosha manifests teekshna agni. It is characterised by intense and quick digestive capacity. Whatever you eat gets digested very soon and it starts burning the body tissues leading to weakness.
  • Manda Agni- Dominance of kapha dosha results in mandagni. Majority of the diseases are characterised by mandagni. In this digestion is very slow and sluggish.
  • Sama Agni- Balance in all the doshas manifests sama agni. It is responsible for healthy development and normal functioning of the body. In this the digestion is neither slow nor fast.

 

Causes of Ajirna 

    • Untimely food – Skipping breakfast, eating a late night dinner, irregular food timing.
    • Over eating – Eating large amount of food at a time or eating before the previously consumed food is digested.
    • Profuse drinking – Drinking large amount of water or juice immediately after food, excessive alcohol consumption.
    • Stale foods – Eating leftovers, refrigerated or frozen foods.
    • Eating style – Eating too fast or slow, eating while driving, standing, just before going to shower.
    • Type of food – Consuming either dry or oily (deep fried) foods very often, foods prepared after soaking for longer duration in water and very spicy foods.  “The food you eat can be either the safest medicine and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”- Ann Wigmore.
    • Psychological factors – Emotional disturbance, fear, anxiety and stress also causes disturbance in digestion.

 

Different types of Ajirna (Indigestion)

    • Vistabdha ajirna – caused due to vitiation of vata dosha. It is characterised by pain abdomen, bloated stomach or gaseous distension, pain all over the body, fatigue, non elimination of stools and flatus.
    • Vidagdha ajirna – caused due to vitiation of pitta dosha. It cause burning sensation in the chest and throat region, different kinds of pain, increased feeling of thirst, sour eructation or belching, tiredness, fainting and giddiness.
    • Ama ajirna – caused due to vitiation of kapha dosha. The feature of this are puffiness of around the eyes and face, frothy and increased salivation in the mouth, nausea, repeated belching having the smell of the food you ate and feeling of heaviness in the body.
    • Vilambika – caused due to vitiation of kapha and vata along with accumulation of ama. Person suffering with this, feels very lazy and discomfort in the chest region.
    • Rasa sesha ajirna – This is caused due to heavy and late night dinner. In this, you will feel that the food consumed last night is not digested when you wake up in the morning.

 

Constipation is common for all types of ajirna and it is the sign of weak digestion.

In Ayurveda there is a concept called Ama, which is considered as the main reason for majority of the diseases. Ama is a toxic substance formed due to any of the above said ajirna. This ama is circulated all over the body through minute channels and gets lodged in different parts of the body causing diseases.

Characteristics of good digestion (Jeerna ahara lakshana)

  • Udgarasudhi- Clear belching without any smell or taste.
  • Utsaha- Feeling energetic devoid of heaviness and lethargy.
  • Vegotsargayatochitaha- Proper and timely elimination of waste products devoid of constipation and loose stools.
  • Laghuta- Sense of lightness.
  • Kshut pipasa- Feels hungry and thirsty after stipulated time.

 

Management of Various Types of Ajirna (Indigestion)

  • The first line of treatment for all types of indigestion is Langhana (fasting). Skip the meal if you feel your previous food is not digested and eat only when you feel hungry.
  • If you are feeling nauseous or vomiting, vomit it out. Never suppress the sensation by taking antiemetic drugs. To ease vomiting, you can drink 2 large glasses of lukewarm water with ½ spoon of rock salt.

 

Home remedies for Abdominal Pain

  • If you are having pain and gaseous distension of the abdomen, keep hot water bag on your abdomen for few minutes.
  • Chew ½ tsp of jeera with pinch of salt and asafoetida, followed by cup of hot water.
  • Dry roast equal quantity of fennel seeds, coriander seeds and jeera. Grind to a fine powder and take ½ tsp of this powder with warm water thrice a day.
  • Boil 1 tsp of ajwain in 1 liter of water, fill it in a flask and keep sipping this water often.

 

Ayurvedic Medicines to Improves Your Digestion and Cure Ajirna

  • Churnas – Hingvastak churna, trikatu churna, nagara churna, hinguvachadi churna, ajamodadi churna, avipattikar churna, lavan bhaskar churna, panchakola churna, vaishvanara churna.
  • Vatis – Chitrakadi vati, agnitundi vati, sankha vati, rasonadi vati
  • Kashayas – Gandharvahasthadi kashayam, Indukantham kashayam. Usually in weak digestion kashayas are not preferred.
  • Arista – Abhayarishta, draksharishta, jeerakarishta, mustakarishta, pippalyasavam and ajamoda arka. In children, Aravindasavam is ideal choice.

 

Dos

  • Spend some time to plan your diet and relish the food in peace of mind. Never eat in a hurry.
  • Chew your food properly.
  • Always prefer light food and in moderate quantity. It is advisable to eat only 3/4th of your stomach capacity, never eat full stomach.
  • Regularly use jeera, pepper, asafoetida, garlic and ginger in your cooking. Reduce the usage of green chilly, choose dry red chilli or pepper.
  • Replace curds with buttermilk.
  • Drink water sip by sip along with the meal. Always luke warm water is preferred if you have weak digestion.
  • Chew a small piece of fresh ginger with pinch of salt just before meals.
  • Prepare your food fresh and eat it when it is still warm.
  • Eat the fruits along with the meal, so you will automatically reduce the quantity of main meal, which helps you to maintain ideal body weight.
  • Finish your dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed. Keep your dinner very light.
  • Maintain at least 3-4 hours gap between the meals.
  • Avoid repeated snacking.
  • Don’t eat unless you are hungry.
  • Don’t eat anything just before exercise and immediately after exercise.
  • Never suppress natural urges. Attend to your nature calls wisely.

Additional Reading:

Digestive Disorders

Ayurvedic Perspective of Mandagni (low digestive fire)

Regular Exercise Ensures Better Digestion

To get more information and to buy ayurvedic products for better digestion, please click on the links below:

Hingvastak churna

Trikatu churna

Avipattikar churna

Agnitundi vati

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