Acidity, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and gastritis are groups of diseases caused by excess secretions from gastric glands of the stomach; these include hydrochloric acid, bile juice, and various other enzymes.
Acidity refers to the heartburn and formation of gas in the stomach resulting from the excess secretions. The acid may irritate and enter the lower esophagus or the food pipe causing acid reflux (also known as urdhva gati amalpitta in Ayurveda). Another problem that may be caused or aggravated by the acid may be Gastritis or the inflammation of the lining of the stomach.
Understanding the right treatment at right time and causes of any disease, like acidity or acid reflux, is very helpful for effective treatments. In Ayurveda ailments such as acidity, heartburn, indigestion, and reflux are considered to be caused by the aggravation of pitta dosha or pitta imbalance. Pitta may be loosely defined as the heat energy within the body with a high concentration centered in the stomach area.
Read more about Pitta dosha
Acidity Causes and Symptoms
There may be various reasons for pitta aggravation, the most common being an excessive intake of foods that produce heat, these foods may lead to the digestive tract overreacting and an increase in acid production. Such foods include:
- Extra Hot and spicy foods
- Foods rich in fats like chocolates
- Excessively fried food or junk food
Excessive intake of alcohol and caffeine (tea/coffee) are also well-known reasons for acidity. Skipping meals especially breakfast is another common cause along with pregnancy, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and irregular eating habits which lead to an acidic body with burning sensation in the stomach and chest.
Being stressed, angry, impatient and nervous are also detrimental to the system and will lead to aggravation of pitta and acidity.
The symptoms of the disease may include
- Stomach ache
- Bad breath
- Bloating of the body
- Inflammation in chest
- Gastroesophageal Reflux
- Ulcers in the mouth or in the food pipe
- Weight loss in an abnormal way
- Difficulty in swallowing foods.
In Ayurveda, there are many simple home remedies for acidity along with more complex formulations for more serious patients. Though the remedies are useful in alleviating the problem and giving relief, it is important to understand the source of the problem and bring the Pitta into balance for an effective digestive system and for greater peace of body and mind.
Ayurvedic Home Remedies as relief from Acidity, Reflux, Gastritis
1. Buttermilk (Chach/छाछ)
One of the most common cures for acidity which is still widely used in India is buttermilk. Buttermilk contains lactic acid that neutralizes the acidity in the stomach. The lactic acid further soothes the stomach by coating the stomach lining and reducing the irritation and acid reflux symptoms.
For better results grind half to one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds (मेथी के बीज) with a little water to make a paste, mix with the Chach and then consume to relieve stomach ache and gas caused by an acidic stomach. It is also recommended for people with chronic acidity to have buttermilk at room temperature after lunch every day. It helps digestion, soothes the stomach and helps reduce acidity.
2. Holy Basil (Tulsi/ तुलसी)
Tulsi has tremendous medicinal properties including relief from acidity. Consuming some basil leaves after chewing them thoroughly relieves acidic stomach. You may also boil a few (3 – 5) Tulsi leaves in water and consume it for relief.
3. Amla (आंवला/Indian Gooseberry)
Like Holy Basil, consumption of Amla has many medicinal properties and is also an effective herb for acidity treatment. Regular consumption of Amla in the morning on empty stomach can also help reduce acid refluxes.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar (सेब का सिरका)
Though acidic in nature, Apple Cider Vinegar has an alkalizing effect on the body. You may take two teaspoons of raw, apple cider vinegar in a cup of water for relieving acidity.
5. Ginger (Adrak/अदरक)
Ginger juice has anti-inflammatory properties and is helpful in neutralizing stomach acid. A few spoonfuls of ginger juice is helpful in lessening acidity.
6. Jaggery (Gur/गुड़)
Although Jaggery is warm in nature, it becomes alkaline in the digestive system and hence aids in healing an acidic stomach.
7. Cumin Seeds (Jeera/ जीरा)
Cumin seeds are helpful in digestion and relief from gas and acidity. Dry roast some cumin seeds, crush and grind them and drink the powder dissolved in water.
The above remedies may be tried the next time you suffer from acidity but it is advisable to seek professional help in case you do not experience relief. If a acidity is more of a chronic problem it is also advisable to consider some tips and advise.
Precautions and tips for the avoidance of Acidity
1. Warm Water
One of the simplest remedies for chronic acidity problems is drinking warm water. Drink a glass of lukewarm water every day before going to sleep and immediately after waking up in the morning to get relief. It is also important to mention that one must not intake water between and immediately after meals as it leads to indigestion and acidity.
2. Avoid pitta aggravating foods
Foods like tomatoes, onions, garlic, fried and junk food, chili peppers, sour citrus fruits, salsa, orange juice and alcohol among some others are known to aggravate pitta and must be avoided or eaten with restraint.
3. It is advisable to consume fruits like watermelon, papaya, cucumber, and banana.
4. Intake of cold milk, coconut water, almonds, mint, raw garlic, and coriander is also advisable.
5. Trying to keep the body and mind at ease and avoiding any depression, anxiety etc. would be optimal for health. There are several yogic practices that are designed for such purposes and may be followed to achieve the same.
6. Avoid eating protein and calcium rich foods at night
7. Avoid alcohol, smoking, and caffeine