Indigestion in plain words means a digestive disorder of upper abdomen where the person is unable to digest the food, and/or even when taken in less quantity the food takes hours to get digested resulting in pain/discomfort is termed as indigestion/dyspepsia. In Ayurveda. the condition of Indigestion is termed as agnimanda/ mandagni ( ‘अग्निमंद’/मंदाग्नि’ ) and is said to be caused due to low or weak digestive fire or Agni in Hindi Language (Agni – is responsible for good digestion and health of an individual), which if left untreated can result in the formation of AMA’ (undigested food which has not undergone proper digestion causing various other digestive problems, like gastric, acidity, stomach pain, etc.)

Also, it is rightly said in classic texts: ‘Sarve Roga Mandagni(सर्वे रोगा: मंदाग्नि) i.e. whenever there is weak digestion due to any cause it results in formation of AMA which if not treated in given time results in its circulation to different parts of human body thereby causing disease(s) and sometimes even death.

CAUSES:

Indigestion-Causes
  • Drinking excess water.
  • Consuming incompatible food.
  • Lack of blood [anemia] in human body.
  • Excess intake of tea/coffee.
  • Wearing tight garments at/near waist line.
  • Irregular sleep pattern [day time sleeping and night time awakening]: even if the food is balanced and taken in less quantity, but if sleep is irregular leads to AMA formation.
  • Addiction to nicotine/alcohol.
  • Mental causes like: excess of anger/grief/jealousy/anger/greed/enchantment/ anxiety.

SYMPTOMS:

Indigestion-Symptoms
  • Feeling of fullness of abdomen [after meals] or Bloating.
  • Sad/quiet/unhappy mind and face is dark and disappointed.
  • Feeling of nausea/giddiness/dizziness.
  • Either Constipation or Diarrhea. [i.e. changes in bowel habits]
  • Burning sensation in chest with sour eructations. [burping/belching]
  • Excess salivation and lethargy.
  • Coating [thin layer of scum] on the tongue.
  • In long-standing cases, this low digestive fire [low metabolism] does cause flatulence and unintentional weight loss problems.

DIETARY REGIME

WHOLESOME DIET [PATHYA]: fasting, high fibre diet, coconut water, oatmeal, licorice, coconut, asafetida, laghu ahaar [i.e. food that is easy to digest and increases the Agni], old brown rice, raw papaya, early morning walking, light exercises, green gram, pomegranate, ginger, raisins, black pepper, spinach, radish, methi,  ridge gourd, clove, apple, oranges, pears, cow’s milk, buttermilk, regular brushing and cleansing of tongue, gargles, lukewarm water to drink [after meals], mint, eat fresh and properly cooked food, use of either bitter/astringent/alkaline substance, chew food properly, eat a little less than demanded by appetite, eat slowly, avoid irregular-haste eating, limit sweet/heavy food which is/are difficult to digest and cause indigestion,Yogasanas, meditation, deep breathing exercises, wear loose clothing, maintain ideal body weight.

UNWHOLESOME DIET [APATHYA] : aerated drinks, dairy products, spicy food and condiments, spices, cucumber, protein rich diet, ghee, raw fruits, sour substances, smoking, tomato, onions, garlic, citrus fruits, peas, beans, oily food, daytime sleeping, avoiding eating in standing position, incompatible food, pain killers, iron supplements, chewing gum, mental stress, suppression of natural urges, butter, ice cream, cheese, meat, newly harvested rice, black gram, curd, potato, sweet potato,, cold water, overeating, green chili, heavy dinner, bakery products, artificial sweetners.

HOME REMEDIES

Indigestion-Remedies

Remedy I

Before meals: take either chutney of vinegar, Amla murabba [fruit preserve of Indian goose berry] or mint chutney.

Remedy II

With meals: one coiled piece of ginger mixed with rock salt.

Remedy III

After meals: 1 tablespoon of brandy mixed with plain water.

Remedy IV

Drink 10 ml holi basil leaves juice daily.

Remedy V

Fry small terminalia chebula (Myrobalan)fruit and add black salt to it and suck.

Jaiphal

Remedy VI

Mix jaiphal [nutmeg] in lemon juice and lick results in proper evacuation of bowels and relieves gas/flatulence.

Remedy VII

Take 3 pinch rock salt with 2 spoon ginger juice and 2 spoon lemon juice: mix them well and drink it before having food, alternatively one can take 1 tablespoon lemon and ginger juice with 2 tablespoon honey.

Remedy VIII

Glass of pineapple juice [after meals].

Remedy IX

Take cinnamon-dried ginger-cardamom in equal quantity and grind them well to make fine powder, use this powder in 1 gm dose with lukewarm water [before meals].

Remedy X

Boil water; add 2-3 cloves in it and ½ lime juice, cool it and drink lukewarm.

Remedy XI

Prepare dough mixed with flour plus sour grape juice, add a pinch of rock salt and make chapattis.

Remedy XII

Some of the common medicines which are safe and available in nearby grocery stores and can also be kept in the home is/are: Hinghvastak churna, draksharishta, gasex, lehsunadi vati, kaumaryassav, liv. 52, caspa drops [for infants/ children] ,himcocid.

SUMMARY

As this is one of the commonest symptom and most prevalent complaint among general population thus a simile is given for Indigestion: just like too much of ‘ghee ‘  if poured on fire results in it being getting extinguished likewise a person indulged in taking/eating too many SNIGDHA  [ which is either oily, sticky, slimy, mucilaginous] diet results in Mandagni and thereafter indigestion. It should be noted that indigestion is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying pathology/condition, thus if it fails to resolve by itself despite with lifestyle/dietary changes it is best to see your Doctor.

As said earlier, sometimes indigestion could be secondary to some other underlying condition like digestive disorder [acid peptic disease, inflammation of stomach, constipation], so if indigestion as symptom is persisting for more than two weeks. One should seek an opinion of Medicine Specialist and/or Gastroenterologist for further examination, investigation and evaluation. As Indigestion is a Psychosomatic ‘मनोदैहिक विकार’ disease thus calmness of mind is essential, as such Medhya Drugs [nootropic herbs] are useful.

As the age progresses older people do have lower vitamin B12 level and tend to produce less acid [HCl] called as hypochlorhydria resulting in impaired/slower digestion. So it is best to have a dietary regime which does not cause stomach upset, mainly lactose-free diet and maintaining a diet with a low glycemic index. If symptoms persist despite following the dietary regime/lifestyle modifications and remedies, have an appointment with your doctor since it can be symptoms of underlying illness or infection which require medical intervention. And finally, do some physical or Yoga exercise.

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Dr Munish Sood

Dr Munish Sood

B.A.M.S, MD (Ayu) Kayachikitsa
He is an Ayurveda Specialist with working experience of almost 18 years as: Sr. Consultant cum Physician (M.D.) & Sr. R.M.O, JNANI Hospital: (An Undertaking of Tibetan Craft Community, Tashijong, Kangra), Paprola. Consulting (M.D.) & Sr. R.M.O, DTIL Hospital, Chimbalhaar, Palampur. Sr. Medical Officer, Simla Sanitarium & Hospital, Himachal Pradesh. Assistant Professor & Medical Officer, SUDAC & Hospital, Hoshiarpur.