Irritable bowel syndrome and Ayurvedic treatment
Dr. Violeta Pîrvu
Specialist in family medicine
Competence in aphytotherapy, ayurveda
What is irritable bowel?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional condition that occurs in both men and women, affecting the colon (large intestine), which no longer "works" normally and causes symptoms to appear, manifested by diffuse abdominal pain, cramps, discomfort, abdominal "bloating", abdominal meteorism (bloating), associated with chronic diarrhoea and/or constipation.
Ayurvedic causes of the condition:
In the fundamental Ayurvedic treatise Charaka Samhita, irritable bowel syndrome is described under the group of 'Grahani' disorders, the cause of which is a disorder of the digestive fire (Agni) that is based in the stomach and small intestine.
The Agni digestive fire is disturbed mostly due to the wrong eating habits that person maintains, namely:
- Eating when the previous meal has not been digested. This causes the food not to be fully digested generating a series of toxic residual compounds (Ama) which then circulate from the gut into the bloodstream reaching vulnerable tissues, causing various diseases;
- Overeating, prolonged fasting, irregular meals;
- Consumption of fast food, heavy, oily, semi-prepared, frozen foods, foods with food additives;
- Excessive or incorrect use of elimination techniques such as Vamana (therapeutic vomiting), Virechana (therapeutic purging) or Basti (therapeutic enemas);
What are the psycho- mental causes of the disease?
One of the fundamental causes of irritable bowel syndrome is the increased psychological stress to which that person is vulnerable.
Excessive worry, fear and insecurity, fear of not coping with competition and change, increasing demands of the environment in which the person lives, are factors that cause, maintain and aggravate this condition.
From an Ayurvedic point of view, the constant experience of these negative states, generates the aggravation of the Vata component (air and ether elements, represented mainly by the qualities of dry, cold and mobile) especially in the colon area.
That is why Ayurvedic treatment will also address the balancing of the mental and emotional aspects of the patient that caused the condition.
How is it diagnosed?
In general, constant abdominal pain aggravated during or after meals and diminishing after stool removal, constipation or diarrhoea or a combination of the two, the appearance of whitish mucoid deposits in the stool, a weathered (bloated) abdomen, are sufficient to establish the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome or Grahani disease (the Ayurvedic name for this condition).
What is the treatment?
The treatment of irritable clone is complex, requiring dietary changes, natural remedies and stress management techniques.
Ayurvedic diet therapy
It is introduced into the diet:
- Ghee- clarified butter used either in food or mixed with herbs, being an excellent rejuvenator of the Agni digestive fire.
- Fresh, slightly fermented sour cream, possibly diluted with small amounts of water, together with certain Ayurvedic preparations called Arishta (produced by fermentation) used after meals for 1 hour, give very good results.
- Drinking hot water with a little Pippali (Piper longum) in the morning on an empty stomach and 30 minutes before meals will 'rekindle' the Agni digestive fire and remove traces of Ama (toxins resulting from poor digestion) from the stomach and intestines.
- Eat small amounts of food organised in 4-5 meals a day, avoid large meals with hard-to-digest foods.
Avoid fatty foods, fried in oil, dairy products (fatty cheeses, ice cream), foods such as cabbage, dried beans, radishes, dried peas, cauliflower, soy (they produce excessive abdominal gas), chocolate and caffeine products (cocoa, green tea, black tea, coffee), carbonated drinks and commercial juices, alcohol and tobacco.
Patients' food tolerance can be different, so discussion with the doctor is very important.
The most commonly used herbs for irritable bowel syndrome are herbs that restore the function of Agni and bring the aggravated Vata (air, ether) component in the colon back to normal (sour, sweet and secondarily spicy tasting remedies).
- Medicinal plants used in ayuveda are Bilva (Aegle marmelos), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Trikatu (a mixture of pippali, black pepper and ginger), Ela (Elletaria cardamomum), Badara (Ziziphus mauritiana), Dadhima (Punica granatum), Triphala (a combination of three Indian fruits, widely used in ayurvedic medicine).
Traditional herbal medicine
- The most commonly used herbs are: carminative, astringent or laxative, antispasmodic of the colon muscles and sedative (calming).
- These include: coriander (Corriandrum sativum) , fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum), cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum), salsify (Lithrum salicaria), turmeric (Agrimonia eupatoria), cress (Achilea millefolium), crayfish tail (Achilea millefolium), rosemary (Mellisa officinalis), salcamis (Robinia pseudaccacia), marigold (Calendulla officinalis), lavender (Lavandula officinalis).
- All these herbal combinations will be done according to the constitutional type (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and the predominant disturbed dosha.
- Essential oils: aniseed, fennel, lavender - give very good results.
- Hydroalcoholic extracts (herbal tinctures) - are also indicated.
Medicinal herbs can be consumed as mixtures of fine herbal powders, 1 teaspoon 3-4 times a day, herbal capsules, macerates or tinctures.
Eliminating anxiety, restlessness, insecurity through stress control techniques: psychotherapy, meditation, relaxation, yoga postural therapy, regular exercise, give excellent results.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a medical recommendation for any health problems or conditions. In case of health problems it is recommended to consult a specialist.