On the physical level, Ayurveda teaches us that the health of the digestive system is the single most important long term determinant of your health and well – being. Healthy digestion leads to a healthy life. Unhealthy digestion leads to an unhealthy life. Its often that simple.
Healthy digestion assures that all of the nutrients taken in through eating are assimilated in a healthy manor into the cells that become you. In other words, you are what you digest! If your digestion is healthy, your body can produce healthy tissues (dhatus). When digestion is weak, the tissues of your body such as muscle, blood and nerve become weak susceptible to disease.
The cause (Nidanam) of digestive disease lies in our actions. By indulging our sense of taste in an unhealthy manor we upset the balance of the bodily doshas. Vata is upset by cold, dry and light foods such as raw vegetables.
Pitta is upset by warm, oily, light foods such as deep fried vegetables and Kapha is upset by cold, heavy, moist foods such as cold ice cream and yogurt. In addition, taking foods in an improper manor can be even more harmful than choosing inappropriate foods. Healthy food taken in the wrong way will still cause digestive disease.
The symptoms of poor digestion include excessive gas, constipation, diarrhea, burping, burning, vomiting, indigestion, bloating and pain. In various forms, Western medicine has given them names such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, colitis and pancreatitis among many others. Through the eyes of Ayurveda, the practitioner comes to an understanding of the cause through examining one’s lifestyle. Faulty eating practices are the number one culprit, poor food choices and poor food combing are next in line. Together they make up the major causes of digestive disease.
The digestive tract is a twisting tube about 30 feet long. It starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. In between are the esophagus, stomach and bowels (intestines). The liver and pancreas aid digestion by producing bile and pancreatic juices which travel to the intestines. The gallbladder stores bile until the body needs it for digestion.
The digestive system breaks down food and fluids into much smaller nutrients. In this complex process, blood carries the nutrients throughout the body to nourish cells and provide energy. The GI tract is divided into two main sections: the upper GI tract and the lower GI tract.
Mouth ulcers, also called canker sores, aphthous stomata and recurrent aphthous stomatitis, mostly occur on the inner cheek, inner lip, tongue, soft palate, floor of the mouth, and sometimes the throat. They are usually about 3-5mm in diameter - though for those sufferring chronic mouth ulcers often significantly larger, and appear 2 or 3 at a time, or worse still there can be 10-20 or more.
They often seem start by themselves as a small bubble or blister (this stage is easy to not notice) which then becomes an open and ulcerated pit or crevass when the pain really starts. Alternatively they can be started by trauma to the lining of the mouth (e.g. by accidently biting onesself).
The worst thing about mouth ulcers is the pain that they cause, which is constant, excruciating and made worse by eating, drinking and talking. The picture of the homunculus that you may recall from schooldays shows how very sensitive the mouth and tongue are compared to most other parts of the body - which explains the amount of discomfort caused by something so small.
Severe ulcers cause sufferers to actively avoid eating, drinking, talking and kissing, which can be awkward socially. Speech is painful resulting in a loss of clarity or enunciation - and sometimes spitting, which doesn't help. Sufferers often get worn down by the pain and become fatigued and depressed, and so I have been told, irritable too.
No specific single cause has yet been isolated, though it seems they are not generally caused by infectious agents such as viruses or bacteria and are therefore not considered contagious.
Foul-smelling stools are stools with a very bad odor. They usually have to do with what you eat, but may be a sign of a medical condition. Stools normally have an unpleasant odor, but one that is recognized as fairly common.
Stools that have an extremely bad, unusual odor may be due to certain medical conditions. Foul-smelling stools also have normal causes, such as diet.
Bleeding gums is a serious problem. It is either indicating the beginning of the destructive process involving the supporting tissue around the tooth or some serious underlying systemic problems. Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria create toxins that damage the gums.
The adage "To keep your teeth, take care of your gums." has a basis in reality. Gingivitis is one of the most common forms of gum (periodontal) disease. Gingivitis affects the tissues that surround and support your teeth. The bacteria which cause gingivitis, can turn into tartar buildup, irritate your gums and lead to bleeding. Left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. This long-term infection can eventually cause loss of your teeth. Gum disease - not decay - is the #1 cause of tooth loss. Gum disease generally doesn’t hurt. You may have it for years before you feel discomfort. Don’t wait until you feel the pain.
Stomach acidity or hyperacidity conditions are a common problem. Ask the person sitting right beside you in a bus if he had experienced bouts of acidity attacks. Chances are great that he or she would answer you with a big YES. Why is this so? Our stomach produces acid to digest the food that we eat. This is a regular and natural process. Whenever we eat, cells within the lining of the stomach pump acid to liquefy your sumptuous dinner, from mash potatoes to a slab of steak. Problem occurs when these cells produce large amount of acid, more than your stomach needs. When this happens, you will suffer from stomach acidity. You would know if you were suffering from stomach acidity if you feel a burning sensation just above the stomach, or right below (the hollow part) your breastbone. This is the most classic sign of acidity. Other people experience acid regurgitation. This happens when you are lying horizontal on your bed. You may have a sour taste in your mouth, which resembles the taste of an orange puree that had gone stale. Acid regurgitation oftentimes results to heartburn, or that pain near the heart area.
Indigestion (say: in-dih-jes-chun) is just another name for an upset stomach. (It's also called dyspepsia (say: dis-pep-shuh.) Indigestion usually happens when people eat too much, too fast, or foods that don't "agree" with them. It's fair to say that big cheese steak sandwich didn't agree with Brandon! Brandon had a little heartburn with his indigestion. It doesn't mean there was anything wrong with his heart. Heartburn is a burning feeling that travels from a person's chest up to the neck and throat. It's caused by stomach acid, which isn't a problem unless it gets out of your stomach.
Indigestion and heartburn are common problems for both kids and grownups. That's why you see all those commercials for heartburn and indigestion medicines on TV! But don't take any medicine for indigestion unless your parents or doctor says it's OK. Most of the ones that are advertised on TV are meant for adults, not kids.
Constipation means different things to different people. For many people, it simply means infrequent stools. For others, however, constipation means hard stools, difficulty passing stools (straining), or a sense of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement. The cause of each of these "types" of constipation probably is different, and the approach to each should be tailored to the specific type of constipation.
Constipation also can alternate with diarrhea. This pattern commonly occurs as part of the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). At the extreme end of the constipation spectrum is fecal impaction, a condition in which stool hardens in the rectum and prevents the passage of any stool.
The number of bowel movements generally decreases with age. Ninety-five percent of adults have bowel movements between three and 21 times per week, and this would be considered normal. The most common pattern is one bowel movement a day, but this pattern is seen in less than 50% of people. Moreover, most people are irregular and do not have bowel movements every day or the same number of bowel movements each day.
Everyone has gas and eliminates it by burping or passing it through the rectum. However, many people think they have too much gas when they really have normal amounts. Most people produce about 1 to 3 pints a day and pass gas about 14 times a day.
Gas is made primarily of odorless vapors--carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. The unpleasant odor of gas comes from bacteria in the large intestine that release small amounts of gases that contain sulfur.
Although having gas is common, it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Understanding causes, ways to reduce symptoms and treatment will help most people find relief.
Nausea is the sensation that there is a need to vomit. Nausea can be acute and short-lived, or it can be prolonged. When prolonged, it is a debilitating symptom. Nausea (and vomiting) can be psychological or physical in origin. It can originate from problems in the brain or organs of the upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, small intestine, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder). It also may be caused by pain, motion, medications and diseases of many non-gastrointestinal organs of the body. Therefore, the diagnosis of the cause of prolonged nausea may not be easy. All stimuli that cause nausea work via the vomiting center in the brain which gives rise to the sensation of nausea and coordinates the physical act of vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting are symptoms of an underlying disease and not a specific illness. Nausea is the sensation that the stomach wants to empty itself, while vomiting (emesis) or throwing up, is the act of forcible emptying of the stomach.
Vomiting is a violent act in which the stomach has to overcome the pressures that are normally in place to keep food and secretions within the stomach. The stomach almost turns itself inside out - forcing itself into the lower portion of the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) during a vomiting episode.
Dysentery is an infection of the intestine (gut) caused by an amoeba called Entamoeba histolytica. Dysentary is caused by ingestion of food containing this amoeba, causing a disease in which inflammation of the intestines affect the body significantly. It is associated with colicky pain in the abdomen, and liquid or semi-solid stools mixed with mucus and blood. If you have dysentery for long periods of time, it may very distressing and you may feel very weak and tired.
Dysentery is a condition characterized by inflammation of the bowels. The inflammation results in severe stomach pains. Dysentery also involves severe diarrhea that is often associated with bood in the feces. Diarrhea can be fatal too if the body dehydrates completely
It has been already brought out that people having symptoms causing amebiasis are infected with a special microorganism called Entamoeba histolytica, and those patients who exhibit no symptoms are in reality, infected with almost very-looking amoeba known as Entamoeba dispar. During their life cycles, the amoebas live in two very different classes: the infective cyst or capsule form that is not mobile but can survive outside the human body as it has its protective covering and the disease-developing form, the trophozoite that though capable of to move, cannot survive once passed in the feces and, thus, cannot infect any other individuals.
The condition is most commonly transmitted when a person starts eating food or drinking water that contains E. histolytica cysts from human feces. In the alimentary canal, the cysts get transported to the intestine where the outer layers of the cysts are broken and gets exposed by digestive secretions and thus, there releases the mobile trophozoites. Once secreted within the intestine, the trophozoites start multiplication by feeding on intestinal bacteria or by occupying the lining of the large intestine
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the large intestine (colon). The colon is the part of the digestive system where waste material is stored. The rectum is the end of the colon adjacent to the anus. In patients with ulcerative colitis, ulcers and inflammation of the inner lining of the colon lead to symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.
Ulcerative colitis is closely related to another condition of inflammation of the intestines called Crohn's disease. Together, they are frequently referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's diseases are chronic conditions that can last years to decades. They affect approximately 500,000 to 2 million people In the United States. Men and women are affected equally. They most commonly begin during adolescence and early adulthood, but they also can begin during childhood and later in life.
It is found worldwide, but is most common in the United States, England, and northern Europe. It is especially common in people of Jewish descent. Ulcerative colitis is rarely seen in Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America, and is rare in the black population. For unknown reasons, an increased frequency of this condition has been recently observed in developing nations.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized most commonly by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress, but it does not permanently harm the intestines and does not lead to a serious disease, such as cancer. Most people can control their symptoms with diet, stress management, and prescribed medications. For some people, however, IBS can be disabling. They may be unable to work, attend social events, or even travel short distances.
As many as 20 percent of the adult population, or one in five Americans, have symptoms of IBS, making it one of the most common disorders diagnosed by doctors. It occurs more often in women than in men, and it begins before the age of 35 in about 50 percent of people.