Doctor's Blog

Ajirna- Indigestion and the ensuing micronutrient deficiency.

According to Ayurveda one would suffer from no disease if he had no indigestion. Indigestion, being the root cause of all diseases. Hippocrates too brought this wisdom to the western world long after Ayurveda had already propounded- ‘it all starts from the gut’.

From the tongue to the tissue is a pretty long journey the food has to make and to make it reach its right destination and in the right amount is what good nutrition is all about . While I slowly imbibed the wonderful ways of cooking the vedic way, there was just one more thing which I thought would make the food even more relish-able, Good Digestion!

Good digestion will not only burn up the pre-existing toxins (Aama dosha) in the body but will boost the metabolism and immunity. Just before we embark on our life’s journey to master the art of taste bud satiety here's a list of things that will ignite the fire for food, burn up the undigested (aama) and get the desired effect of the food .


As for the theory, food in the alimentary tract is acted upon by Samaan vayu , paachak pitta and kledaka kapha. Indigestion sets in,
-when a person eats too much,


-eats before the previous food has digested,


-eats incompatible foods or viruddha aahar e.g. ,
Milk with meat , Milk with fruit, Milk with salt, Milk with raw vegetables, Sprouts ( yes , Ayurveda does not consider it healthy unlike the popular belief), Excessive intake of raw foods ( salads) , along with cooked food, Curds with sour foods (tomatoes, orange etc )
-Eats when one is afflicted by sorrow, grief, fear or anger.


-Eats on suppression of urges to urinate or defecate etc .


And how exactly do you know it is indigestion?

  • feeling of food being obstructed in the alimentary tract ( taking longer than usual for its excretion)
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • pain in back
  • mild pain all over the body
  • excessive thirst ( the kind where the stomach is fills up on drinking too much water but the throat still remains parched )
  • increase in body temperature ( fever , in all its ways is caused by indigestion )
  • nausea and emesis
  • In certain cases , increased frequency of watery stools, sticky stools
  • anorexia or rather suppressed appetite

Also, specifically,


PITTAJ symptoms
  • burning sensation in the chest
  • excessive thirst
  • emesis
  • hyperacidity

KAPHAJA symptoms
  • bouts of sneezing / yawning
  • cold/ cough
  • diabetes ( a type of indigestion because sugars do not get metabolised of course )
  • and in long term , Kshaya rog ( Tuberculosis ).

VATAJA symptoms
  • pain in the bladder , rectum , lower back.
  • Arthralgia ( pain in joints ).

Hidden hunger

While most of us have an access to good nutrition, socio-economically and the current exposure to infinite web knowledge to a healthy diet for a disease free life, many of us continue to suffer from Micronutrient deficiency – The hidden hunger.



The micronutrient deficiencies have such elaborate manifestations that most of the times these symptoms assume the mask of a disease and the underlying deficiencies often go undiagnosed.

Unlike the popular belief that only vegetarians suffer from iron deficiency or B-12 deficiency, there is enough data to support that people from developing or industrialized, from high or low socio economic groups, vegetarians, vegans or even non vegetarians are at an equal risk of suffering from these micronutrient deficiencies.

The common micronutrients, essentially important for the body are:

Calcium

This is important for proper Muscle function, Nerve function, Hair, digestion and of course, strong bones. While most of us might be drinking enough milk and having good portions of yoghurt , the deficiency may still exist. It generally manifests as Cramps, hair fall, fatigue, abnormal heart rhythm, poor appetite and the most important, impaired intestinal absorption.


Vitamin-D

This is important for proper bone metabolism and thus strengthening the bones. Vitamin –D deficiencies manifest as joint pain, tiredness and depression.

Potassium

Potassium, regulates the ionic balance, functioning of heart and kidneys. Potassium deficiency can manifest as weakness, tiredness, or cramping in arm or leg muscles, sometimes severe enough to cause inability to move arms or legs due to weakness (much like a paralysis) tingling or numbness, Nausea or vomiting, Abdominal cramping, bloating, Constipation and Palpitations (feeling your heart beat irregularly)


Iron

According to the WHO, iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the world. Iron is, like all of us know the most important element for our blood. Iron is essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin thus maintaining the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. Iron deficiency manifests as anemia, pale skin, fatigue, hair loss and breathlessness.


B-12

B-12 is important for the DNA formation of our cells. Since all our cells contain DNA almost every cell in the body is affected by its deficiency. Also for regulating the myelin sheath of neurons –to put it simply , it is of utmost importance for proper nervous system functions. Deficiency often manifests as mouth ulcers, inflammation of the corners of the mouth, intolerance to hot spicy foods, impaired digestion and absorption of food, recurrent vaginal infections etc. Also, severe B12 deficiency include numbness in the legs, hands, or feet; problems with walking and balance; anemia; fatigue; weakness; a swollen, inflamed tongue; memory loss; paranoia; and hallucinations.

The list just goes on, with Iodine , Vitamin A, zinc, magnesium, folate etc.

My objective to highlight these deficiencies here is, even after a proper diet, these deficiencies are a cause one major dysfunction – Poor absorption due to improper digestion and food habits.

Grahani : Small intestine or specifically, duodenum, is the seat of digestive fire according to ayurveda. To maintain its healthy function and cure its disease is the basis of all ayurvedic treatments.


Our team Travancore Ayurveda, helps you fight these micronutrient deficiencies and ajirna with perfect diagnosis and treatment, the ayurvedic way, with a sure cure of panchakarma therapies and counseling to maintain optimum health and prevent diseases.

The therapies like Dhanyamla Dhara, Vaman, Virechan, Basti preceded by Abhyanga and Swedana, help eradicate the doshas that afflict the Grahani. Along with a maintenance therapy of drugs , advices on Pathya-Apathya we strive to achieve that delicate balance of all the three doshas and help you achieve the Shatrokta Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.


Dr. Zeel Gandhi, B.A.M.S