The process of Digestion:
A clear understanding of the digestive processes that go on in the human body is vital to the understanding of the disorders from which digestion suffers. The major disorder is week digestion, dyspepsia or slackness of digestive processes, which are known, in indigenous medicine as being caused by what is called mandagni.
A three-fold process of digestion, absorption and assimilation accomplishes incorporation of food in human body. Digestion begins the moment food enters the mouth. It mixes with the saliva and is made more permeable for the gastric juice, which exudes from the openings of the tiny glands of the stomach. The gastric juice consisting of pepsin and rennin breaks down the proteins into smaller molecules. The churning of the stomach mixes the food with the gastric juices and hydrochloric acid and when it becomes soluble it passes through the pylorus, an orifice at the lower end of the stomach, into the bowel. The more light the food, the easier it is digested.
After it passes into the intestine, the food is exposed to the action of bile, pancreatic juices, intestinal juice and the bacteria. These juices contain many elements, which break down the food into the final products like glycerin, which sustain the system. The only substance absorbed from the stomach to any extent is alcohol; all other substance must undergo the transformation that takes place in the intestines. Food materials are absorbed almost exclusively by the small intestine. The food is passed down the intestine by the contractions of its muscular coat. The indigestible residue, together with various substances, which are waste matter, excreted from the liver and the intestinal walls, is thrown out of the body in the stools.
Assimilation is a much slower process. The blood circulates through every organ and each takes from it what is necessary for its own growth and repair. The cells in the bones extract lime salts, muscles sugar and protein and so forth. The muscles assimilate the greater bulk.
Causes of Indigestion:
The fundamental digestive disorder is indigestion or dyspepsia, which may give rise to more acute or serious diseases. The basic cause of indigestion, besides weak digestive powers, is over eating or eating foods, which must be avoided. Stools of such persons contain large amounts of undigested matter. They suffer from flatulence arising from putrefying matter in the stomach or the intestines. Breaking wind or belching may provide temporary relief, but there is generally a feeling of fullness amounting to heaviness, loss of appetite and general discomfort. Sometimes hyperacidity -presence of more acid in the stomach that is normal-may cause a burning sensation and even eructation (sudden escape of gas from the mouth or coming up of the undersigned matter from the stomach). Overburdening of the stomach, the root cause of indigestion, has to be avoided in order to start the treatment.
The cardinal remedy for dyspepsia is light food; it would be matter if the patient takes to fasting for 24 hours and then takes to easily digestible, natural food. Fats and condiments must be avoided. Bland food, mostly vegetables cooked in water, juicy fruits and buttermilk (churned curd with water added) should be taken. Condiments and seasonings make food more palatable and there is the ever-present risk of over eating, which has, in the first instance, given birth to dyspepsia. This is why I recommended bland food. Excess of food, like everything else, is bad and a person suffering from indigestion must eat less than he can digest. That would be first step in the treatment of this disease.
Application of heat through hot compresses or a hot water bottle to the abdomen for 15 to 20 minutes twice in the day, either on an empty stomach or two or three hours after meals, can activate your digestive processes. The procedure could be alternated with cold compresses, applied for a minute or so in between hot compresses, could accelerate the pace of recovery.
The above procedure is merely a palliative. The patient can get permanent relief if he increases his body heat through vigorous exercise. Indigestion is the disease of the sedentary, active and brisk people generally do no suffer from the malady. You may not be able to withstand the temptation of a second helping, but you can expend your energy through exercise, which may be light in the beginning. Take a walk if you do not feel equal to vigorous exercise. Jog a long, if you can and if there is a grassy lawn around your house, walk on the dew covered grass.
Avoid rice if you can since in our country rice is associated with lentils, which are not easy to digest. Eat rice with vegetables. Take fruits in between the meals. Masticate your food properly so that it mixes well with the saliva. Take adequate quantities of water.
Alcohol and tobacco should be taken in the minimum possible quantities, if not altogether stopped. If meat is taken it should be scraped down and should be free from fat.
Dyspepsia of a nervous origin, which afflicts brain workers with sedentary habits, can be treated on the lines indicated above. Such patients should, in addition to following the directions given above, consciously avoid thinking about their condition and should try to be cheerful. A change of scene and climate may also be indicated in some cases.