Proper digestion of food depends upon the normal state of digestive fire which includes all the digestive juices, enzymes, hormones etc. concerned with the digestion and absorption of the ingested food and drinks and somewhat concerned with the metabolism of the end products of digestion too. If this digestive fire becomes abnormal due to certain factors, it causes indigestion which, in ayurveda, is known as Ajeerna. There are four stages of the digestive fire due to the aggravation of the doshas or due to any disturbance in their equilibrium.
- Hypo functioning (Mand Agni)
- Hyperfunctioning (Teekshan agni)
- Inconstant (Visham agni)
- Normal (Sam Agni)
Effects of Abnormal digestive fire: The inconstant digestive fire give rise to vaataj diseases, hyper functioning one to pittaj diseases and hypo functioning stage produces kaphaj ailments.
Features of the Digestive fire:
- If the appropriate amount of ingested food gets properly digested, that would be call normal digestive fire or sam agni.
- If a person is not able to digest even a small amount of food, the state of his digestive fire would be called as hypofunctioning or mand agni.
- On the other hand, when the digestive fire is in hyper functioning stage, food is digested very soon and the person starts feeling hungry immediately.
- Whereas the patients with an inconstant digestive fire are able to digest the food sometimes and not all the times.
Types of Indigestion: There are four types of indigestion:
- Amajeerna: Due to vitiated kappa dosh.
- Vidagdhajeerna: Due to vitiated pita dosh.
- Vishtabdhajeerna: Due to vitiated vaat dosh.
- Ras Sheshajeerna: Due to delayed absorption.
Aetiological factors of Indigestion:
- Due to excessive drinking of water along with food.
- Taking incompatible meals.
- Suppression of the natural evacuatary urges.
- Reversal of sleeping habits.
- Emotional Disturbances like fear, sorrow, anger, jealousy or greed.
Clinical features of Indigestion:
- a) A feeling of heaviness of the body all the time.
- b) Nausea
- c) Swelling in the cheeks and around the eyes as food is not properly digested.
- d) Eructations.
- Smoky and acidic eructations
- Burning Sensation
- Flatulence and various vaataj symptoms
- Faeces and flatus are not passed
- Body stiffness and pain
- Mental confusion
- Ras Sheshajeerna:
- Precordial discomfort
- Aversion to food.
- Heaviness all over the body.
Complications of Indigestion:
- Death due to acute indigestion.
Indiscriminate eating as a cause of indigestion: Those who don’t have self control on their eating habits and hence eat indiscriminately without any consideration of quantity develop indigestion which has been considered as the root cause of various diseases.
Undesirable sequel of Indigestion: The three types of the acute indigestion i.e. amajeerna, vidagdhajeerna and vishtabdhajeerna, have already been discussed. They may also lead to Visoochika which is Gastroenteritis, Alsak i.e. Mechanical Intestinal Obstruction and Vilambika which means Paralytic Ileus.
- Visoochika or Gastroenteritis:
If the patient suffering from indigestion develops pricking pain all over his body due to the excessive vitiation of vaat dosh, then the condition is known as visoochika which refers to the gastroenteritis. The persons who take regulated and maintained quantity of food do not develop this disease. Only the people who overeat the food and don’t have good exercise in their routine get afflicted by visoochika.
Clinical features of visoochika:
- Excessive Thirst
- Colicky pain in abdomen
- Burning sensation
- Discoloration of the body
- Precordial pain
- Alsak or Mechanical Intestinal Obstruction:
In case of alsak, there is a marked distension of the abdomen and flanks, a sinking feeling, obstructed flatus which leads to the reversed peristalsis, absolute obstruction to the passage of flatus and faeces along with thirst and eructations.
- Vilambika: This is the condition in which the ingested food becomes contaminated due to kapha dash and presence of vatu. As a result of which the intestinal contents neither move upwards nor downwards. Such condition is known as vilambika. The experienced and learned physicians consider it difficult to treat.
Clinical Features of diseases due to ama dosha: When the ama gets localized along with the vitiated doshas in a particular part of the body, it leads to the development of the disease which is characterized by the symptoms of ama as well as of the involved dosha.
Prognosis: The patient having cyanosed teeth, lips and the nails, who is in a semi-coma state, who had excessive vomiting episodes, one who has sunken eyes, weak voice and flaccidity of all the joints, that patient should be understood to have no hopes of recovery from the disease. Ayurveda considers such patient to be asaadhya i.e. incurable.
Complications of Gastroenteritis or Visoochika:
- Anuria and
- Coma, these are five very serious and dangerous complications of visoochika.
Indigestion as a cause of other diseases: Indigestion is usually produced in the human beings due to improper dietary habits and it is the root cause of the various diseases. Hence, by controlling indigestion, other diseases would automatically be prevented.
General Clinical features of acute Indigestion:
- A feeling of depression and heaviness in the body
- Fullness in the abdomen
- Stoppage of intra-abdominal gaseous movements
- Either constipation or diarrhoea are the usual clinical features of acute clinical features of acute indigestion.
Features after complete digestion of food: Following are the manifestations after proper and complete digestion of food.
- Normal Eructations
- A sense of activeness
- Proper evacuations of all the natural urges
- A feeling of lightness in the body
- Normal appetite and thirst.