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Acidity or heartburn is a common condition caused due to excessive production of stomach acids and irritation of gastric lining or food pipe due to this acid. It is usually experienced in the form of a burning sensation in the chest and stomach area after lying down, after eating, overeating, consuming alcohol or due to stress. It can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Health conditions like hiatal hernia (a state in which a part of the stomach is pushed upwards towards the chest), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and peptic ulcers also cause acidity.

Ayurveda terms acidity as amlapitta. As per Ayurveda, amlapitta is a disease of annavaha strotas (channels that transport, digest and absorb food). Ayurvedic doctors use shodhana (cleansing) methods such as virechana (purgation) and vamana (medical emesis) and shamana (pacification) methods such as langhana (fasting) and pachana (herbs to improve digestion) to treat acidity. Ayurvedic herbs like shunthi (dried ginger), yashtimadhu (mulethi) and amalaki (Indian gooseberry) help reduce acidity. Ayurvedic formulations of pravala panchamrita rasa, sutashekara rasa and avipattikar churna taken before or after meals promote better management of acidity. Addition of godhuma (wheat), mudga yusha (green gram soup) and exclusion of spicy foods, along with a limiting alcohol intake helps manage acidity.

  1. Ayurvedic view of acidity
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for acidity
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for acidity
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for acidity patient as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for acidity
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for acidity
  7. Takeaway
Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for Acidity

The main characteristics of amlapitta are tikta amla udgara (bitter-sour belching), urodaha (burning sensation in the chest) and avipaka (indigestion). These conditions may further cause skin diseases such as itching and rashes. Depending on  the dosha involved, amlapitta can be of three types:

  • Vatakaphaja (caused by vata and kapha)
  • Kaphaja (caused by kapha)
  • Vataja (caused by vata)

Depending on the direction, amlapatta can be classified as:

Other  symptoms of amlapitta burning sensation, poor digestion, thirst, perspiration, nausea, sour or bitter belching, fevers due to vitiated pitta and kapha and heaviness. Chardi (vomiting), pittaja gulma (hard mass in the abdomen caused due to vitiated pitta), parinamshoola (duodenal ulcer), pittashmari (stones formed due to vitiated pitta) and annadravashoola (gastritis/peptic ulcer) are the most commonly seen symptoms in people with acidity.

Ayurveda recommends nidana parivarjana as the primary line of treatment for acidity. Vamana and virechana using Ayurvedic medicines and herbs help provide relief from acidity. Dietary and lifestyle pathya (do’s) and apathya (don’ts) such as avoiding heavy, fermented, fried and spicy foods; limiting alcohol intake; and quitting smoking help manage acidity effectively.

  • Nidana parivarjana
    • The therapy of nidana parivarjana aims at avoiding the causes of disease. It is recommended as the primary treatment for many diseases. Nidana parivarjana helps stop the progression of a disease and avoids relapse.
    • Ruksha annapana (consuming dry foods), langhana (fasting) and vatika annapana (consuming a diet that aggravates vata in the body) are some of the causes that should be avoided in case of acidity.
    • Faulty dietary habits, excessive sexual indulgence, excess mental and physical work, consuming alcoholic beverages and consuming excessive amounts of rice and beans are some of the nidanas (causes) of amlapitta.
    • Adhyasana (eating too soon after a meal) should also be avoided to prevent acidity.

Shodhana
Ayurveda uses the following shodhana therapies for acidity treatment:

  • Vamana
    • Vamana is a cleansing therapy that helps gets rid of ama (toxins) and mucus from the body via emesis.
    • The herbs and herbal formulations used in Ayurveda for vamana therapy help improve digestion and reduce kapha in the body, thereby, managing acidity. It is useful in treating other diseases including obesity, allergies, sinus diseases, anorexia, piles, epilepsy and sore throat.
    • Vacha (calamus), patola (pointed gourd), nimba kalka (extracted paste or juice of neem leaves), madanaphala (fruit of the myna tree), saindhava lavana jala (rock salt in water) and yashtimadhu phanta are used for vamana therapy in people with acidity.
  • Virechana
    • Virechana therapy helps treat diseases by drawing out ama from the blood and getting rid of it through faeces.
    • The herbs used for virechana therapy eliminate excess pitta from the small intestine, liver and gall bladder. It also reduces nausea and vomiting.
    • Virechana is helpful in treating diarrhoea, kidney stones, food poisoning, dysentery and ulcers.
    • Trivritta leha, eranda bhrishta haritaki and panchasakara churna are used for virechana therapy in people diagnosed with acidity after performing snehapana (consuming ghee [clarified butter] or oil) using dadimadi ghrita (ghee), plain cow ghrita and vidaryadi ghrita.

Shamana
The following shamana therapies are used for the treatment of acidity:

  • Langhana
    • Langhana therapy brings lightness in the body as it creates a balance between the doshas and dhatus.
    • Langhana is mentioned as the first line of treatment for diseases originating in the stomach and caused by vitiation of the rasa dhatu. Nirahara (abstaining from food) and phalahara (consuming only fruits) are two types of fasting methods practised in langhana therapy.
    • Langhana therapy provides relief from chardi, atisara (diarrhoea) and arochaka (indigestion); therefore, it is beneficial in treating acidity. It improves the digestive fire and provides nourishment to the body.
    • Langhana also reduces constipation and is beneficial in treating skin and urinary disorders, stiffness in the thighs, and abscess.
  • Pachana
    • According to Ayurveda, administering pachana medicines makes the body light.
    • Pachana has been used to treat many conditions with moderate vitiation of doshas like udgara, alasaka (suppression of stool and flatus with pain in the abdomen), gaurava (heaviness), indigestion, acidity and heart diseases. It is mainly  used for correcting vitiated pitta and kapha.
  • Deepana (hunger-increasing)
    • Various herbs and formulations used for deepana therapy increase the agni (digestive fire) and are useful in providing relief from atisara, grahani (irritable bowel syndrome), acidity and fever.
    • Deepana therapy helps correct agni in the body by reducing ama, and it also increases the dhatwagni (metabolic fire of the dhatus).

Ayurvedic herbs for acidity

  • Shunthi
    • Shunthi has aphrodisiac (increases libido) and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. Being a natural stimulant and digestive, it is an excellent herb for reducing acidity. It also provides relief from vomiting and constipation.
    • Shunthi reduces kapha in the body and enhances the digestive fire. It helps cure many diseases including asthma, incontinence, rheumatic pain and eye diseases.
    • When shunthi is given with ghee, it improves indigestion and treats stomach pain.
    • Shunthi is available in the form of pastes, infusions, fresh juices, pills and decoctions. You can take shunthi churna (powder) with warm water or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Amalaki
    • Amalaki is known to be a rich source of vitamin C. It increases ojas in the body and acts as a tonic and rejuvenative.
    • It is useful for treating diseases caused due to vitiation of pitta including piles, diabetes, anaemia, osteoporosis, vertigo and mental disorders.
    • Amalaki cleanses the mouth and intestines. It reduces inflammation in the colon and stomach; thereby treating acidity.
    • Amalaki is available in the form of decoctions, sweets and powders. You can take amalaki churna with warm water or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Yashtimadhu
    • Yashtimadhu acts on the nervous, digestive, excretory and respiratory systems. It is known to be very beneficial in people with acidity when given with warm milk.
    • Yashtimadhu reduces muscle spasms, ulcers, cough, and mucus in the body. It has natural healing properties, which make it useful for healing ulcers.
    • It cleanses the lungs and provides relief from flu and cold. Yashtimadhu helps improve vision and complexion as well.
    • Yashtimadhu is available in the form of milk decoctions, powders and decoctions. You can take yashtimadhu churna with warm water or as per your physician’s direction.

Ayurvedic medicines for acidity

  • Pravala bhasma
    • Pravala bhasma is an Ayurvedic formulation, which includes processed red coral.
    • It is used in treating many health conditions including dysuria, dropsy, osteomyelitis and acidity.
    • It is also used in treating heart conditions like palpitations and tachycardia.
    • The therapeutic effects of pravala bhasma vary based on the form it is taken.
    • You can take pravala bhasma with ghee, rice water, warm water or honey.
  • Kapardika bhasma
    • Kapardika bhasma is known as a valuable Ayurvedic formulation. It is prepared using kapardika (cowry) powder.
    • Kapardika bhasma has antacid properties, which make it useful for those with acidity.
    • It has oxygen, carbon and calcium as its chemical constituents.
    • You can take kapardika bhasma with buttermilk or warm water.
  • Patoladi kwatha
    • Patoladi kwatha contains triphala, patola, punarnava (red hogweed), kanak beej (thorn apple), vasa (Malabar nut) and bharangi (blue-flowered glory) as its main ingredients.
    • It is mainly indicated for acidity and is useful in treating fevers caused due to kapha and pitta.
    • This medicine is also used for treating heart diseases, shula (pain), kamala (jaundice), sannipata roga (diseases caused due to all three doshas), anaemia, obesity and dysentery.
  • Pravala panchamrita rasa
    • The formulation of pravala panchamrita rasa consists of five ingredients including pravala bhasma, mauktik bhasma (calcined preparation of pearl), shauktik bhasma (calcined preparation of pearl shell), shankha bhasma (calcined preparation of conch) and kapardika bhasma.
    • It is indicated for acidity, ascites and pain caused due to pitta.
    • You can take pravala panchamrita rasa vati (tablet) with warm water or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Sutashekhara rasa
    • Sutashekhara rasa has an antacid and anticholinergic effect in the body and is commonly used for the treatment of acidity in Ayurveda.
    • It is prepared from shunthi, ela (cardamom), dalchini (cinnamon), pippali (long pepper), gandhak (brimstone), tankan (borax), karchura (white turmeric) and other ingredients.
    • It primarily acts on pitta dosha and provides relief from many symptoms including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, epigastric tenderness, heartburn, fevers, headaches and breathing troubles.
    • You can take sutashekhara rasa vati with warm water or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Avipattikar churna
    • Avipattikar churna is an Ayurvedic formulation including musta (nutgrass), vidanga (false black pepper), ela, lavanga (clove), trikatu (a combination of the three acrids – pippali, shunthi, and maricha) and other ingredients.
    • It is mainly indicated for acidity treatment in Ayurveda.
    • You can take avipattikar churna with honey, warm water or as per your physician’s direction.

As treatments vary according to numerous factors and an individual’s prakriti (constitution), consult a qualified Ayurvedic doctor for the appropriate medications and treatments for your specific complaints.

Do’s

  • Consume foods like barley, patola, green gram, amalaki, bitter gourd, green veggies, kapittha (wood apple), wheat, pomegranate, honey, cane root, meat broth, cold water, banana, raw sugar and white gourd melon.
  • Drink cold water.
  • Perform therapeutic purgation, therapeutic enema, and therapeutic emesis under the guidance of an Ayurvedic physician.
  • Follow a healthy routine including a balanced diet and timely meals.
  • Perform yogasanas.

Don’ts

  • Don’t eat chickpea flour, rice, brinjals, black gram, potato, spicy and salty food, fast food, sour vinegar and rock salt.
  • Do not drink coffee, alcohol or tea.
  • Do not sleep during the day.
  • Do not suppress natural urges like urinating or bowel movement.
  • Do not eat incompatible food combinations.
  • Do not eat sesame seeds, kulattha (horsegram), black beans, wine, goat’s milk, curd, and oily foods.

Yashtimadhu was provided as a treatment in a study conducted among 40 patients with acidity. It was found that on regular administration in particular dosage, yashtimadhu reduced acidity symptoms such as sour and bitter taste, burning sensation in the throat and chest, and nausea.

In another study, the effect of amalaki churna was studied on 30 patients with acidity. The results stated that amalaki showed symptomatic improvement in all patients. It provided relief from vomiting and heaviness and reduced vata and pitta in the body.

Most ayurvedic medicines and treatments are safe and devoid of side effects. However, it is best to refer an ayurvedic doctor to know the right dosage and form of administration of a particular treatment or medicine since they depend on individual prakriti and doshas. For example:

  • Virechana may weaken the digestive fire. Therefore, it is not recommended for people with excess vata in their body.
  • Langhana should not be performed in people with vata dosha.
  • Shunthi may aggravate pitta in the body and cause inflammation, ulcers and bleeding.
  • Yashtimadhu should not be used during pregnancy.

Acidity is a common condition experienced by most people irrespective of their gender or age. However, the elderly and people who are on certain medications, experience this condition more often. If not treated on time, it can cause disturbances in the digestive system and create nausea, vomiting, uneasiness and other symptoms. Ayurvedic herbs and formulations aim at reducing acidity and the symptoms associated with it. Various treatment procedures such as deepana, pachana, vamana and virechana improve the digestive system and overall health.

Dr. Gurpreet Virmani

Dr. Gurpreet Virmani

Ayurveda
1 Years of Experience

Dr. Shradha Chaubey

Dr. Shradha Chaubey

Ayurveda
4 Years of Experience

Dr. Sunil Kilaniya

Dr. Sunil Kilaniya

Ayurveda
3 Years of Experience

Dr. Tanushri Yeole

Dr. Tanushri Yeole

Ayurveda

References

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  5. Dr. Praveenkumar H Bagali Dr. A.S.Prashanth. Clinical Application Of Langhana. Paryeshana International Journal of Ayurvedic Research. Volume-II/Issue –V/May-June-2018.
  6. Oushadhi. Bhasma Sindooram. Govt of Kerala. [Internet]
  7. V. Nageswar Rao And S.K Dixit. Standardisation Of Pravala Bhasma. Vol. No 17(3), January 1998.
  8. Sonali Dhamal, M.P.Wadekar, B.A.Kulkarni, V.V.Dhapte. Chemical Investigations of Some Commercial Samples of Calcium Based Ayurvedic Drug of Marine Origin: Kapardika Bhasma. Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 4 (May. – Jun. 2013).
  9. Rajiv Gandhi Government Post Graduate Ayurvedic College. Kayachikitsa. Paprola, Himachal Pradesh. [Internet].
  10. Ajay Kumar, Tina Singhal. Scientific Explanation Of Mode Of Action Of Sutshekhar Ras In Amlapitta With Special Reference To Acid Peptic Disorders: A Review. International Journal of Research IN, 9(5), 2018.
  11. Prof. G.S. Lavekar. Classical Ayurvedic Prescriptions for Common Diseases . Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha. Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
  12. National Institute of Indian Medical Heritage (NIIMH). Amlapitta. Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS); Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India.
  13. Shashikant M Prajapati, Bhupesh R Patel. A comparative clinical study of Jethimala (Taverniera nummularia Baker.) and Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra Linn.) in the management of Amlapitta. An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda, Volume : 3, 6 Issue : 2, 2015.
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