Heartburn is a common condition and affects a significant portion of the population. Heartburn is more common in certain groups of people, such as older adults, pregnant women, and people who are overweight or obese. It is also more common in people who smoke or consume alcohol.
The most common symptom of acidity is a burning sensation in the chest, also called heartburn. This sensation usually occurs behind the breastbone and can radiate to the neck and throat. The burning sensation is caused by stomach acid flowing back into the oesophagus, which can cause irritation and inflammation.
Other symptoms of acidity may include:
- A sour taste in the mouth
- Abdominal bloating & Gas
- Belching or burping
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry cough
- Sore throat & Hoarseness
- Regurgitation of stomach contents.
These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can vary in frequency. Some people may only experience acidity symptoms occasionally, while others may have them on a daily basis.
It’s important to note that if you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any other possible causes or to see if this might be a symptom of a more serious condition such as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which is chronic acid reflux.
Ayurveda for management of acidity
The food we eat descends down the stomach. The gastric glands in your stomach create acid, which is necessary to digest the food. When the gastric glands create more acid than needed for the digestion process, you can feel a burning sensation below the breastbone. This condition is commonly known as acidity.
The most common acid reflux symptom is a burning sensation in the chest or pain. While most people suffer in pain, they do not realize that poor lifestyle choices are the primary reasons behind acidity.
Common causes of acidity:
- Unhealthy eating habits – Skipping meals, eating just before sleeping, overeating, high intake of spicy food, table salt and low dietary fibre.
- Smoking- weakens the sphincter, allows stomach acid to flow backward into the oesophagus leading to acidity.
- Medications like – Aspirin, ibuprofen, certain muscle relaxants, and Antihypertensives.
- Lack of sleep and stress can also cause more acid to be formed in the stomach, causing hyperacidity.
Ayurveda and Acidity?
Ayurveda describes about diet (Ahara), mental factors (Manasika) that lead to ACIDITY-Amlapitta (Hyperacidity). Excess consumption of alcohol, heavy food articles like cheese, milk and milk products and untimely food consumption lead to acidity. Our ancient seers quoted that even the wholesome food taken in appropriate quantity, does not impart health if the individual suffers from anxiety, grief, fear, anger, and uncomfortable posture.
Management of acidity through Ayurveda:
In Ayurveda, acidity is considered to be a condition caused by an imbalance of the digestive fire (agni), which is responsible for the proper digestion and metabolism of food. The treatment for acidity in Ayurveda aims to balance the agni and restore the natural digestion process.
Here are a few Ayurvedic approaches that may be used to manage acidity:
Ayurveda diet: Eating a diet that is easy to digest and avoids spicy, oily, and heavy foods can help to reduce acidity. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can also help to improve digestion. Consuming foods that are cooling and alkaline in nature, such as fruits and vegetables, can help to neutralize stomach acid.
Withdrawal of the foods that causes acidity is important . This involves- avoiding processed & packed foods, including more of fibre rich diet, fresh fruits and vegetables and consistent hydration of body. Chronic smoking and alcohol intake should be prohibited.
Herbal remedies: Certain herbs such as ginger, licorice, fennel and coriander are traditionally used in Ayurveda to reduce acidity. Certain formulations like Avipattikara churna, Sutsekhar rasa, Kamadugha rasa, Prawala panchamrita, Chandanasava, Ushirasava, Bhunimbadikada, Abhayarishta, Patoladi kashayam along with single drugs like- Shatavari(Asparagus racemosa), Yastimadhu(Glyccirhiza glabra), Sariva(hemedismus indicus), Vasa(Adhatoda vascika),Amlaki(Phyllanthus emblica), Chandana(Santalum album), Guduchi satwa(Tinospora cordifolia), Musta(Cyperus rotundus), Parpataka(Scoparia dulcus) can be efficiently used in cases of hyperacidity as they primarily act as antacids- reducing the excess acid secretion.They also act as carminatives, promoting digestion and relieve constipation.One can even take Gasomap, , ShankaVati , Hingvastaka Choorna after consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner.
Panchakarma: Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic method of detoxifying the body. The Ayurvedic detoxification process can help to flush out toxins from the body, which can help to reduce acidity. The process includes various treatments such as Vamana, Virechana, and Basti.
Purificatory procedures (Panchakarma)eliminates the excess acid secretion from the gut and thus reduces the symptoms resulting in least probability of recurrence of hyperacidity.
Lifestyle changes: avoiding triggers such as alcohol, smoking, caffeine, and stress can help to reduce acidity. Also, practicing yoga and pranayama can help to improve digestion and reduce stress.
Here are a few Home remedies to treat acidity:
- Drinking ginger tea with honey can help to soothe the digestive tract and reduce inflammation.
- Consuming coriander powder mixed with water before meals can help to neutralize stomach acid and improve digestion.
- Consuming a mixture of fennel seeds and rock salt after meals can help to reduce acidity and bloating.
- Consuming a mixture of licorice root powder and ghee can help to coat and soothe the digestive tract.
Hyperacidity is quite irritating due to faulty life style, dietetic indiscrimination and mental stress. Imbalance in the acid secretion is the major clinical manifestation. Failure of early diagnosis and treatment leads to further complications like- Peptic ulcers, GERD, constipation, Migraine, dyspepsia and so on. Hence right treatment at right time minimises the symptoms and combats hyperacidity. Classics offer innumerable treatment protocols for the same in terms of lifestyle modifications, Purificatory procedures(Panchakarma), formulations, single drugs and a few medical therapies. This serves as a long-term solution unlike the contemporary medicines which provide transient relief and unpredictable side effects!
It’s important to note that Ayurvedic treatment for any condition is based on individual body type and symptoms, Ayurveda practitioner will be able to make a better judgement on what will be the best treatment plan for the person. It’s also always recommend to Consult doctors before self-medication .