Pitta Life Stage: Acid Reflux

The Pitta stage of life is also one of the most stressful.  People are in the process of developing their careers and dealing with the struggles of financial independence as well as starting business or ending a business venture.  This stage of life can also mark the changes in family structures with divorce, loss of parents and birth of children of your own. 

It is not surprising that in Ayurveda it is believed that the majority of imbalances which can end up persisting through the remainder of your adult life and affecting the final Vata stage of your life, start here. 

With the Pitta stage of life Acid Reflux is an all too common problem.  A few years ago I came across an article which I am reposting to assist anyone who might be suffering from this ailment.  Please review any findings with your family doctor. ~ KB (Shakti Shaman)

Managing Hyperacidity

According to Ayurveda, the root cause of all disease stems from impaired digestion. Many of the recommendations that Ayurveda suggests help to enkindle and balance the digestive fires or agni. With balanced agni, everything taken into the body, from perceived experience of our external environment to the food we ingest, can be properly assimilated and absorbed. These nutrients can then nourish all the tissues, increasing cellular intelligence to restore health. Many common digestive problems, including hyperacidity, can be alleviated by following an ayurvedic approach to health, by cultivating balanced agni and most importantly, honoring the body.

Hyperacidity is a condition of excess acid secretion that causes irritation and burning of the mucosal lining of the stomach. In Vedic scripture, this condition is a result of derangement of one of the sub-types of Pitta dosha, Pachak. Pachak contributes to the digestive fire through the release of gastric juices. Excess secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach is described as Amlapitta, a disorder of the sour (acid) and liquid quality of Pitta. The main symptoms tend to appear between one to two hours after eating. This is the time when gastric juices have sufficiently processed the ingested food and the excess acid begins to irritate the mucosal membrane in the stomach. This causes burning sensations in the stomach, nausea, occasional vomiting, sour belching or burping, indigestion, loss of appetite and restlessness. Excess acid can splash up into the esophagus creating a burning sensation in the chest known as acid reflux or heartburn. If left untreated, the protective mucous lining may burn away allowing the strong digestive juices to form a sore in the stomach wall. Many of the causes contributing to the condition of hyperacidity are excessive in nature. Overeating is one of the most common causes, especially in America where the super-sized portions served in restaurants easily provide enough food for two or three meals. Indulging excessively in foods that are sour, acidic or foods that promote acid secretion, like sweets and meats, will directly influence this condition. Excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee also play a significant role in aggravating pitta and exacerbating acid conditions in the body. Improper food combining and eating too many leftovers contribute to chronic indigestion. Weak digestion speeds the aging process, lowers immunity and can create imbalance in the body. If the body is not sufficiently nourished, deficiency may occur. Without the proper assimilation of essential amino acids, vitamins, and mineral, the body cannot effectively regulate secretion of digestive juices. Psychologically, excessive worry, stress and severe mental exertion stimulate acid secretion in the stomach. Hormones released from the adrenals during stress response irritate the nerve tissue in the body causing an increase in gastric acid secretion. Hyperacidity is one of the many disorders that may occur as a result of prolonged arousal of the nervous system.

Understanding the probable cause of hyperacidity and how dietary and lifestyle factors play a role in the disease process can be an extraordinarily empowering experience. Commitment to healing and bringing awareness to the disorder is fundamental to restoring balance. The Ayurvedic treatment plan includes a pitta-pacifying diet, herbal remedies, yoga postures, and meditation. It is a holistic approach that promotes genuine health.

In treating any Pitta disorder, attention to diet is paramount. Avoid all hot, sour, oily, fried and fermented foods, alcohol and tobacco. These will stimulate an acid response in the body and create excess heat. Favor foods that are light, fresh and easy to digest. Include foods with qualities of sweet, cool and preferably alkaline. Wise choices are organic barley, whole wheat, basmati rice, steamed dark leafy greens, pomegranate or cranberry juice. Other mucilaginous foods include banana, avocado and cucumber. Aloe vera juice taken a half hour before or after meals can help to soothe the entire gastro-intestinal tract. Tea made from coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds is cooling to the system and is an effective digestive aid.

When using diet as a therapeutic treatment for hyperacidity, it is not only the qualities of the foods that should be taken into consideration. The quantity of food ingested and the level of awareness that one brings to each meal are of equal importance. According to Ayurveda, one should only fill one third of the stomach’s capacity with food. Leave one third for water and digestive juices. The last third, left empty, provides the space needed to properly churn and digest the food. Mindfulness while eating provides a multitude of benefits toward better digestion and general well-being. Focusing your attention on each and every bite, noticing texture and flavor of the food helps ensure proper mastication. Chew your food well! Pay attention to your hunger and take your time. This will help prevent over-eating. Eat in a calm, peaceful environment. Remember to take a deep breath before moving on to your next activity. Making a ritual of your eating experience sends a message of nourishment to the body, and ultimately establishes a sense of reverence towards life.

Herbal remedies that are sweet and cooling in nature are especially balancing for pitta. Banyan Botanicals’ Digest Ease contains cooling herbs to help moderate digestive fire, balance the hydrochloric acid output and help support a healthy mucosal lining of the stomach. Avipattikar is a traditional ayurvedic formula that includes rock candy, nishoth, cardamom, clove and ginger. It is used to relieve excess pitta from the stomach and small intestine, helping to alleviate hyperacidity, heartburn and indigestion. Stress Ease, another Banyan formula, can be especially useful when the cause is stress-related. It contains herbs that are adaptogenic, improving the body’s ability to cope and process stress. Passion flower, a nervine and anti-spasmodic, helps to calm a worried mind. Yoga and meditation are an integral part of treating hyperacidity. Bring qualities of calm and softness to your practice. Breathing should be slow and deep, focusing on the areas of the navel and the solar plexus. Making time to practice a few asanas will help to disperse heat and tension from the stomach, small intestine, liver, spleen area, all places pitta tends to accumulate. Practice these postures with equal parts effort and surrender, leaving behind the competitive tendencies inherent in pitta individuals. Vajrasana, kneeling Hero pose, practiced five to ten minutes after every meal will greatly improve digestion. Matsyasana, fish pose, is cooling and calming, particularly good for releasing heat from the solar plexus. Setu Bandha, bridge pose, is a little deeper backbend that will lift the diaphragm, expand the abdomen and help to cool the agni. Focus should be on softening and cooling the inner fire. In cases of severe hyperacidity, one should avoid most forward bends. These will compress the abdominal area and create more heat. The result of yoga is inner harmony. Yoga, aside from having an immediate cleansing effect on the body, provides the calm space to make healing choices about diet and lifestyle.

Meditation can be the ultimate tool to bring focus to the commitment to healing. If our minds are clear and self-reflective, it will help us to choose ideal food, activity and other life patterns. Meditation opens and purifies the mind, and strengthens the spirit. Ayurveda is a holistic system of health that addresses the unity of mind, body and spirit. Bringing attention to the multiple levels of the disorder of hyperacidity through consistent awareness practices is the most efficient way to begin the healing journey.


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