Date Posted:10 May 2012
Why is it that sometimes after a lovely meal discomfort can arise requiring a ‘quick fix’ to soothe the burning or relieve bloating and gas? Indigestion can be so irritating and painful. Let’s get to the bottom of these symptoms and see what can be done.
Indigestion can be defined as a feeling of fullness, bloating, nausea, heartburn or gassy discomfort in the chest and abdomen, often experienced during meals or shortly afterwards. One in four people experience some signs of indigestion.
What Ayurveda says
Indigestion and its various symptoms arise when there is a doshic imbalance in the gastro-intestinal tract (from the mouth to the bowel) causing improper or partial digestion. The type of symptoms felt and remedial treatments given below are based on whether it is due to imbalance of Vata, Pitta or Kapha dosha.
- Vata imbalance in the gastro-intestinal tract increases or aggravates the elements of wind and space giving rise to dryness, burping, flatulence and constipation. Digestive imbalances of a Vata nature tend to be changeable - sometimes good, sometimes slow, and sometimes too fast.Common causes are leaving the stomach empty of food for too long; irregular eating times; too much cold, dry and raw foods especially in winter; talking with food in the mouth and reduced digestive capacity due to stress or periods of fear and anxiety.
- Pitta imbalance in the gastro-intestinal tract increases or aggravates the elements of fire giving rise to heat in the tummy and intestines, causing food to move too quickly through the body. This contributes to an increase of acidity, ulcers, reflux and loose bowel, inflammation, skin disorders, fits of anger or rage, intolerance or impatience, disturbed vision, early graying and balding.Common causes are ignoring hunger signals when busy; intake of heating foods such as onion, garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, red meat, smoked foods, fried foods, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, alcohol and caffeinated food and drinks especially in summer; too much spicy, sour and salty foods; working too hard or working in the evenings; periods of stress or intense frustration, bitterness, anger and rage.
- Kapha imbalance in the gastro-intestinal tract increases or aggravates the elements of water and earth giving rise to a slow cold digestion characterized by a dull heavy digestion, sleepiness after meals and increase of mucous - sinus, post nasal drip or cough. The body may feel blocked and heavy somewhere.As the impurities from incomplete digestion spread about the body aches and pains often arise; mood can be low with lack of motivation and difficulty getting started; weight gain and fluid retention often occur; and weight loss plateaus or is difficult due to impurities blocking cellular metabolism.Common causes are eating before the previous meal has been completely digested; comfort eating; intake of heavy foods such as meats, dairy products, ice cream, fried foods, cakes, pastries and sweets in general; lack of exercise; eating a large meal in the evening; too much cold, sweet, sour and salty foods especially in spring.
Putting it right
No matter what the cause of your indigestion listening to your body’s signals of hunger (it’s time to stop and eat) and satiation (when to stop eating) are crucial. Take the time to be in touch with your body’s signals before eating and during eating.
- VATA If your appetite and digestion is changeable with gas or constipation take Rejuvenation Plus 1 tablet prior main meals, with 1 tablet of Digest Plus 15 minutes after meals 3 x a day. Be sure to establish a regular pattern of meal times to help your body re-establish a healthy rhythm of appetite and digestion. If you also experience constipation take 2 tablets of Digest Tone prior the evening meal and 2 tablets at bedtime with a little warm water. Favour Vata pacifying foods. Sipping Vata Tea during the day will help to regulate your appetite and digestion.
- PITTA If your appetite and digestion is hot, intense, burning or sour take 2 tablets of Emotional Balance prior main meals with 1 tablet of Aci Balance after meals. Drink Pitta tea throughout the day to help alkalise the body. Be sure to favour Pitta pacifying foods and avoid Pitta aggravating foods. Avoid delaying meals and eat lunch around midday.
- KAPHA If your appetite and digestion are cold, heavy, sluggish with increased mucous take Digest Tone 1 tablet before breakfast, lunch and dinner with 1 tablet of Rejuvenation Plus and sip Kapha Tea during the day to help stimulate metabolism. Favour Kapha pacifying foods. At times you may find Agni Balance helpful to fire up the digeston after a heavier meal – take one third of a teaspoon with hot water. It combines 3 hot spices and packs a punch when needed!
When symptoms are severe and long standing it is likely that impurities will have settled deeper in the physiology. In this case taking Elim Tox (for Vata and Kapha) and Elim Tox O (for Pitta) to help cleanse the channels allowing the body to more easily re-establish a healthy and comfortable digestion.
If symptoms persist consider seeing a Consultant for a pulse reading to identify any underlying condition that needs attention.
Eating is one of life’s joys and you deserve to enjoy it to the fullest. Bon appetite!