Indigestion is called as Agnimandya in Ayurveda. In fact, indigestion is not a disease in itself, but it is a manifestation of some problem with the gastrointestinal tract. The agni is responsible for the proper digestion of food in the body. When there is an imbalance of the agni – which means digestive fire – then the digestion process is disrupted. This is when indigestion occurs. Agni can be vitiated due to several reasons. Eating the wrong foods, eating at wrong times, having negative thoughts in the mind, excessive stress and even physical problems with the gastrointestinal tract can cause indigestion. Indigestion must be cured quickly, or it will build up toxins in the body, which are called as ama.
There are differences in the indigestion caused in people due to vata, pitta and kapha doshas. In people with vata dosha, indigestion is felt as a painful cramping of the abdomen. In people with pitta dosha, there is a burning or searing kind of pain in the abdomen. Indigestion in people with kapha dosha is the most violent. In them, it is characterized by nausea and vomiting along with the abdominal pains.
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Indigestion
1. Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum)
Aniseed is an excellent remedy for gurgling in the abdomen, which is an indication of the presence of excessive gas. It can retard the fermentation of undigested food in the stomach and the bowels.
2. Belleric Myrobalan (Terminalia belerica)
Belleric myrobalan is the extremely potent component of Triphala choorna, which is known as bahera. This is a wonderful carminative. It solves problems of diarrhea and indigestion. It can also be taken in case of intestinal worms, which could be a reason for indigestion.
3. Bishop’s Weed (Trachyspermum ammi)
Bishop’s weed is used in the treatment of a large number of problems related to digestion, such as indigestion, diarrhea, dysentery, atonic dyspepsia, colic and flatulence. It is an important ingredient of most Indian dishes. It helps in the digestion of heavy oily and spicy food.
4. Bloodwort (Achillea millefolium)
Bloodwort is a very simple traditional remedy used for the treatment of indigestion. Just a spoonful of the fresh juice of this herb thrice a day helps in the treatment of indigestion and other gastric disorders.
5. Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
Cardamom is a cooling agent. It helps the stomach and the intestines to soothe down after a heavy meal and perform the digestion better. It helps in expelling the wind that is caused due to undigested food material.
6. Chicory (Chicorium intybus)
Chicory is a natural laxative. The use of this herb helps in the treatment of chronic constipation and aids in proper digestion.
7. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
The astringent action of the clove on the stomach stimulates the production of the dietary enzymes. This facilitates faster digestion.
8. Dill (Anethum sowa)
Dill is used in the treatment of constipation. Due to its mild nature, it can be effectively used for children.
9. Fennel (Fenneliculum vulgare)
Fennel is the most effective herb in the prevention of indigestion. Traditionally, some seeds of fennel sweetened with sugar are provided after every meal. This is known to help digestion and also take care of bad odors from the mouth and flatulence.
10. Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic helps in the faster production of the digestive enzymes and also eliminates the waste matters from the digestive system. Due to its antiseptic properties, garlic can also help in the prevention of gastrointestinal diseases, which may cause indigestion. Garlic expels any intestinal worms if present.
11. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is very effective in the treatment of all kinds of gastrointestinal ailments. It can treat colic, flatulence, diarrhea, dysentery, abdominal pains and dyspepsia.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Indigestion
Having a proper dietary regimen is the best way to keep indigestion at bay. Obey the following guidelines:-
1. Do not consume a heavy diet when having an indigestion problem. Stick to a vegetarian diet, and consume more fibers. Fasting for a day will help a lot. On this day of fasting, you may consume liquids like fresh fruit juices. Do not consume any liquids that contain synthetic ingredients.
2. Indians believe in the properties of buttermilk and curds in aiding digestion. During indigestion, mix some curds in rice, sweeten it with sugar and eat it. This is the most ideal meal for indigestion.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatments for Indigestion
Generally indigestion can be cured and controlled by the proper diet as described above and medications are not needed. But in some severe cases, Hingavashtaka choorna (a preparation made with asafetida as the main ingredient) can be given in powder form with ghee.
(4) Home Remedies for Indigestion
1. Prepare an infusion of aniseed, ginger, cumin seeds and pepper in water by boiling it. These are all digestives. Consume this whenever there is an indigestion problem. There will be motions and relief will be immediate.
2. Prepare a paan (leaf enveloped over an edible substance) of betel leaf over seeds of Bishop’s weed. You can add a little rock salt to the paan for flavoring. Chew on this paan whenever you have indigestion problems.
3. Soak the teaspoonful quantity of the seeds of celery in a glassful of buttermilk. Keep this for five to six hours. Consuming this mixture helps in relieving the indigestion quickly.
4. After a heavy meal, put two to three pieces of clove in the mouth or a piece of garlic and let them remain there till all the juices are extracted. This will help the digestion take place faster. Alternatively, fennel seeds can also be put in the mouth.