Indigestion, medically called dyspepsia or upset stomach, is not a disease. It is a discomfort that occurs in the abdomen (generally upper abdomen). It is accompanied by the feeling of fullness or bloating after one starts eating. Indigestion can be the underlying cause of certain diseases like ulcers, gall bladder diseases, GERD (Gastro-oesphageal reflux disease) and gastritis. It is a very common problem that occurs occasionally and is mild in most cases. The most common (and usually ignored) sign of improper digestion (which leads to dyspepsia) is lethargy and the feeling of heaviness.
Dyspepsia is accompanied by a number of symptoms and can be diagnosed very easily. Some of these signs are listed below: Burning in the stomach (heartburn)
Prolonged digestive problems often lead to the discharge of blood in the vomit or feaces. This can be a serious effect of indigestion and require immediate attention.
Stress is one of the most important aspects that lead to indigestion. Stress and anxiety cause an increase in acid and acid reflux that leads to dyspepsia and heartburn. Because of the stressful lives of the present time, everyone in always on the "fight or flight mode. It is the instinct that helps us escape dangers. This condition requires brain to be sharp at all times (even during sleep). As a result, a large amount of blood and nutrients are diverted towards the arms and legs, which can slow down or even stop the working of the gut.
This condition can go unnoticed but is one of the major causes of indigestion in the present time. Stress and anxiety has an impact on the microbiota of the gut. The gut requires a lot of bacteria to digest the food in the intestine. Stress disrupts the natural balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria which maintain gut equilibrium. When one is anxious, he or she tends to eat food at a very fast pace, which means that the person is not chewing the food properly but merely washing it down it water.
As a result, the gut has to work extra hard and invest more energy in breaking down the food. Thus, the stomach acid and natural digestive enzymes are impacted severely in the current lifestyle of the people and lead to indigestion.
Though indigestion can occur to anyone, few people who frequently suffer from abdominal discomfort, and hence can be considered to be at risk. Those people include:
Certain medications like painkillers, non-steroidal drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics can also trigger bloating and lead to indigestion.
Panchakarma or five actions is a ayurvedic method or program of cleansing and rejuvenating the body, mind, and soul. It is beneficial for the overall health, well being, consciousness and self-healing. Accumulation of Pitta (unwanted material) in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract gives rise to indigestion. The toxin from the undigested food (ama) can give rise to dhattus (unwanted tissues) from defective nutritive juice. Vasantika vamana is a very useful remedy for indigestion. In this procedure, the patients are allowed to drink a stomach full of milk, rice gruel and ghee. This is followed by administration of Vamana Yoga - a medical formulation consisting of Mandaphala papali (powder of seeds of Randia sp.), Vacha (Acorus calamus), rock salt and honey, which induces vomiting or emesis.
This is continued by infusion of Yashtimaddhu till green bile appears in the vomitus. This process of cleansing or Shuddhi is found to be very effective to get rid of pitta from the body. In addition, fasting is an essential concept in panchakarma to treat indigestion. After fasting, a person should not load himself with food rather consume something light like moong dal soup, boiled vegetables dusted with spices like ginger, pepper, cumin, cilantro, fenugreek, assafoetida (hing), etc. Regular consumption of herbs like hing, chitrak, vacha, longa, Emblica officinalis etc. Fresh juice of aloe vera, baked sounf (fennel seeds), rose water, sweet mint water acts as a coolant to the stomach and helps to prevent indigestion.
Curry leaves mixed with lime water, and a little honey should be consumed 2-3 times a day to relieve dyspepsia. Root of the Indian jalap helps to cleanse and balance digestion. Panchakarma has no side effects on the body if carried out properly.
Dyspepsia is more or less a lifestyle disorder. When the acid (HCl) in the stomach comes in contact with the sensitive lining of the stomach wall or mucosa, it breaks down the lining and leads to irritation and burning sensation. This can also cause inflammation and can often be very painful. Indigestion can also occur when the HCl flows in a reverse direction through the open cardiac sphincter; this occurs usually during the churning of the stomach.
Eating heavy, oily and spicy foods regularly is the most common cause of indigestion. Irregular eating habits, eating without thinking about the food quantity and compatibility, consumption of too much dry food and eating foods which are not suitable to the climate/environment and body can be considered to be some of the other causes of indigestion.