On the physical level, Ayurveda teaches us that the health of the digestive system is the single most important long term determinant of your health and well – being. Healthy digestion leads to a healthy life. Unhealthy digestion leads to an unhealthy life. Its often that simple.
Healthy digestion assures that all of the nutrients taken in through eating are assimilated in a healthy manor into the cells that become you. In other words, you are what you digest! If your digestion is healthy, your body can produce healthy tissues (dhatus). When digestion is weak, the tissues of your body such as muscle, blood and nerve become weak susceptible to disease.
The cause (Nidanam) of digestive disease lies in our actions. By indulging our sense of taste in an unhealthy manor we upset the balance of the bodily doshas. Vata is upset by cold, dry and light foods such as raw vegetables. Pitta is upset by warm, oily, light foods such as deep fried vegetables and Kapha is upset by cold, heavy, moist foods such as cold ice cream and yogurt. In addition, taking foods in an improper manor can be even more harmful than choosing inappropriate foods. Healthy food taken in the wrong way will still cause digestive disease.
The symptoms of poor digestion include excessive gas, constipation, diarrhea, burping, burning, vomiting, indigestion, bloating and pain. In various forms, Western medicine has given them names such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, colitis and pancreatitis among many others. Through the eyes of Ayurveda, the practitioner comes to an understanding of the cause through examining one’s lifestyle. Faulty eating practices are the number one culprit, poor food choices and poor food combing are next in line. Together they make up the major causes of digestive disease.
The Ayurvedic Specialist examines the patient and also comes to an understanding the pathogenesis (Samprapti) of the disease or how the disease unfolded within the body of the patient. By understanding the pathogenesis, the Clinician can develop a treatment plan to reserve the condition. This treatment plan includes both constitutional treatments to address the patients lifestyle and direct treatment to target the compromised area of the body.
The key players in the Ayurvedic pathogenesis of digestive disease are as follows. The nature of their imbalance and how they are interacting determines the presentation of the disease.