Yoga Asana Therapy for Acidity & HeartBurn
The feeling as if your chest is on fire right after you’ve savored that gourmet chocolate or arrabiata spaghetti can leave a bad taste in your mouth, literally! Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is a digestive disorder that occurs when the food you eat, mixed with digestive juices, reverses direction and travels upwards through the esophagus tube, instead of continuing its downward journey to the intestines. Lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a small muscular valve at the base of the esophagus that closes shut as soon as food passes through it. However, due to irregular eating habits and over-consumption of fried, fatty and spicy foods it weakens and loses its sealing capacity, causing acid-reflux and heartburn. Mint flavored foods, caffeine, alcohol, chocolates, and cheese can all adversely affect the nerves around the esophageal sphincter muscle, causing it to relax at the wrong time.
Mild acidity is fairly common and affects about 20% of the population and the conventional medication to counter acidity is acid-blocker drugs. These drugs work by suppressing the acid-pumps inside our stomach instead of dealing with the root issue that is weak lower esophageal sphincter. This is where Yoga Asanas can really make a difference by working on specific muscles that connect to the stomach and esophagus.
Asanas to Strengthen the LES
The below set of Chikitsa Yoga Asana sequence works specifically on the organs of the digestive system. The back-bend of Bhujangasana and the twist of Ardha-Matsyendrasana work on strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter. Yoga asanas such as Virabhadrasana series, Parivrtta Trikonasana and Parivrtta Parsvakonasana help reduce weight, which is another common cause for acidity and heartburn.
Samkhya Yoga View:
GERD can manifest due to two types of imbalance a) Aggravated Water-Earth and Weak Fire b) Aggravated Fire & Weak Earth-Water. The symptom of the first type would be a high BMI and obesity, which puts additional pressure on the LES and leads to acid-reflux. Constant ambition or intensity leads to an aggravated Fire and burns the oesophagus from inside as a result of excessive stomach acids. Lack of physical vitality, mental irritation, and decreased physical strength are also indicators of the increasing severity of dyspeptic symptoms.
Yogic Lifestyle advice:
Those suffering from Acidity or dyspepsia must at no times consume spicy foods. Packaged chips, etc that are salty, spicy, etc must also be avoided. Larger volumes of natural spring water must be consumed on a daily basis. Natural work like farming must be undertaken or in absence of farming opportunities, sufferers of dyspepsia must go on weekend nature treks, of a demanding nature and should camp outdoors, sleeping on green earth under the stars. Chikitsa Yoga Asanas pertaining to Acidity should be practiced without delay so that the symptoms can be alleviated and LES strengthening take place, leading to the disease being overcome.
While exercise and weight loss are the primary means to strengthen the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, appropriate dietary changes can be adopted to alleviate hyperacidity by bringing balance to the stomach acids. Grueled rice mixed with fresh buttermilk is a simple yet effective ayurvedic preparation to alleviate the symptoms of acidity and heartburn. The gelatinous texture of rice protects the stomach lining while fresh buttermilk soothes the acidic stomach. One can also have a well ripe banana with milk as the serotonin rich banana helps counter further acidic secretions in the stomach.
Pomegranate and Indian Gooseberry are loaded with Vitamin A & Vitamin C respectively that help recovery from nausea and heal inflammation of the stomach by forming collagen.
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