The Road to Good Gut is Through Ayurveda
By Sheela Rani Chunkath | Published: 24th August 2014 06:00 AM |
Good health is predicated by two important activities of ours—the food we eat and the air we breathe. Annam and prana determine the quality of our lives. We need to pay close attention to the two organ systems—the digestive and the respiratory systems. Many of my articles have focused on keeping the respiratory system free of disease, coughs, colds and phlegm. I have also written extensively about keeping the digestive system function smoothly, without acidity or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) problems, and normal bowel movements.
We need to take a proactive approach to our health and not leave it to doctors, especially allopathic doctors whose main focus is treatment of disease rather than maintenance of health. This is the focus of the system and one cannot blame the doctors. Preventive health care, and diet are not their forte.
Many people I talk to complain about acidity, burning sensation in the stomach and in the food pipe. Kamaduga Rasa, an ayurvedic medicine I had written about earlier, is an effective remedy which neutralises the excess hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Please refer to my blog for details.
In this article I am writing about a popular Siddha medicine which Siddha Vaidyars prescribe for acidity, ulcers etc., called Yelaathi Churanam. It is available in powder or tablet form. It is made with one part of cloves, two parts of black pepper, four parts of cinnamon buds, eight parts of yew leaves (a coniferous tree), 16 parts of arrowroot starch, 32 parts of dry ginger, 64 parts of cardamom and 128 parts of sugar. All the ingredients are powdered separately and then mixed with the sugar.
If taking churanam, the dose is 1-2 gm twice daily, if taking tablets, the dose is 1-2 tablets twice daily. Some people find that dried ginger does not agree with their constitution; for them Kamaduga rasa is an effective alternative. While taking the churanam one should practice mindful eating. Since the food we eat could be the ‘villain of the piece’, one should be aware of every morsel that enters our mouth. I am not saying that you can always eat what is good for you, but the first thing is to be aware. The store-bought potato chips is tasty but it has numerous additives which will certainly ruin your stomach and your health. If you must eat chips, make it at home, probably you may then feel it is not worth the bother. A good rule of thumb to keep your digestive system strong is to eat only home-cooked foods.
In Ayurveda, there is the concept of “Viruddha ahaara”—foods that should be avoided and also as to how foods should be eaten (about which I will write in detail in my next article). Eat foods that you are used to and as you age eat less quantity, less pungent and lighter foods. Salads are not easy to digest as many believe it to be. Steamed and cooked foods are easier on the stomach. For people with acidity, rice-based foods are good. However, eat what you are generally used to so that you make this your way of life. Since you are going to eat with awareness, you will soon realise what foods aggravate the burning or the pain. Avoid such food till your stomach is completely cured.
Milk is sweet by rasa and is good for lessening acidity. Sweet foods are in general good for those with ulcer problems but if you are a diabetic go easy on sweets. A judicious combination of medication and mindful eating should help solve the problem. If you can deal with the stresses in your life in a more detached manner (easier said than done), it will help. This is where some pranayama will be helpful.
The writer was earlier Health Secretary, Tamil Nadu, and is currently Additional Chief Secretary, and Chairman and MD, Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation. She can be reached at Sheelarani.
Earlier articles can be accessed at www.arogyamantra.blogspot.com