Hyperacidity, as the name implies, is a buildup of acid in the stomach. The stomach utilizes hydrochloric acid to digest food, and when in balance produces just enough acid to successfully prepare the food for the next phase of the digestive process. Hyperacidity is closely associated with the foods a person consumes and problematic choices in lifestyle.
Symptoms associated with hyperacidity include belching up a sour taste and experiencing an aftertaste of the foods recently consumed.The incidence of hyperacidity is increased when the sufferer has a gastric ulcer, acid reflux disease, or even cancer of the stomach.
It is estimated that a quarter of all Americans suffer from some form of hyperacidity. Hyperacidity is also known as acid dyspepsia.
In Western medicine, hyperacidity is often treated with antacid medications such as calcium carbonate (TUMS) and sodium bicarbonate (Alka-Seltzer). Other therapies include reducing the intake of fatty and/or spicy foods, reducing the intake of alcohol and caffeine, and ceasing smoking.
Ayurveda considers hyperacidity to be an excessive buildup of Pitta energy. Pitta is the energy responsible for heating and sustaining the body’s metabolic fire in the stomach, and an excessive heat will often lead to hyperacidity. Ayurveda considers the main cause of hyperacidity to be too many heated thoughts of desire, competition, and anger. It is also a result of eating excessive amounts of hot, greasy, and spicy foods as well as overeating, having too many sweets, and the consumption of alcohol.
Much of the Ayurvedic treatment of hyperacidity centers on regulating and changing the diet. Sufferers of hyperacidity are encouraged to consume milk, ghee, and other antacid foods as well as take certain antacid-based herbal therapies. It is also important to make yoga postures a part of your daily routine, as this helps to slow down the thoughts that are creating more heat and acid in the system.
When we neglect to establish the root cause of one illness, it can turn into another, stronger illness in the future. The first step in resolving a specific ailment or disease in the body is to assess the nature of our lifestyle and make general modifications. Living our day-to-day life with a deliberate intention to improve our health will help us to both resolve the disease we are suffering from and prevent further incidence of it and other diseases in the future.
Ayurveda teaches us that disease and sickness are derived from poor digestion and inappropriate food choices. We then have the opportunity to make deliberate and more conscious decisions as to what foods we do and do not put in our body which increases the chance of resolving the body’s imbalance.
Food needs to be in season, in moderate combinations of one or two food groups, not too hot or cold, in a modest enough quantity to allow for room in the stomach later, consumed without too much liquid which hinders digestive power, and should be fresh and not left over for more than a few hours. The following foods can both reduce acidity in the stomach and balance the Pitta dosha in general:
Legumes (not lentils)
Rice (white basmati)
While some foods can help to balance an aggravated dosha, other foods can cause further imbalance. Dry and cold foods as well as pungent, bitter and astringent tastes will dry out the body and aggravate the Vata dosha.Sour, salty and pungent tastes as well as spicy foods will add more heat to the body and aggravate the Pitta dosha.Sweet, sour and salty tasting foods will add heaviness to the body and aggravate the Kapha dosha. The following foods can contribute to acidity of the stomach and aggravate Pitta energy, so it is recommended that they be avoided:
Cold foods like ice cream and smoothies
Sour foods (like yogurt, sour cream, and pickles)
Generally, Ayurveda discourages the consumption of too many cold beverages, as doing so hinders the strength of the body’s digestive fire. Instead, favors room temperature or hot beverages to encourage the strength of the digestive fire.
Herbs are used in the Ayurvedic system much like Western medicine utilizes drugs and vitamins and can be taken like tea 2 to 3 times a day. Herbs aid in the digestion of food, the breakdown and elimination of toxins, and help to strengthen the cellular structure of our system for greater vitality. Herbs become more potent once mixed with other herbs of similar properties. Mix together 2 to 4 different herbs from the below list by adding a quarter to a half teaspoon full of each, for a total of 1 teaspoon. Drink these in half cup of hot water.
When applied therapeutically to specific ailments, yoga postures provide an opportunity to strengthen the body, rid it of toxic matter, and restore balance. The postures included in this section can be practiced as part of a more general sequence or can be focused on in short sessions. When first exploring yoga postures, it is best to only practice them for twenty minutes or so per day and buildup from there once the body becomes more flexible.
Legs up the wall
Knee to chest
Seated Forward Bend
Aromatherapy utilizes the fragrances of essential oils when applied to the skin. Essential oils can burn the skin and therefore must be diluted with a base oil such as sesame, coconut, sunflower, canola, or mustard oil. Mix 1 fluid ounce of base oil with about 12 drops of essential oil before applying to skin. You can also just mix 5 drops of base oil to one drop of essential oil if using on one spot.
Ayurvedic tradition suggests that repeating certain words or sounds can help a person suffering from an ailment to restore subtle balance to nerve tissue and enhance one’s mental clarity. Different sounds are prescribed to either repeat mentally or chant outwardly. These sounds are also used and repeated in the mind for the purpose of spiritual growth.
Controlling the breath is a central practice toward developing peace and stillness in the mind and body. When the breath is under our control, we are no longer at the mercy of the senses that are stimulated by everything and lead to greater fluctuations of the mind. When applied to the context of resolving specific ailments, the breath is used as a tool for developing lung capacity, heating and cooling the body and resolving mental afflictions like anxiety and stress. Like with the yoga postures above, breathing exercises are likely to be of significant benefit to those who suffer from considerable amounts of stress.
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