Ajirna is the Ayurvedic term for indigestion or dyspepsia and functional dyspepsia. This is a very common condition in all people of the world. In fact every single person in the world must have suffered from ajirna at one time or other in their lives. Some people suffer from chronic dyspepsia in which their digestive systems are totally unable to digest food. This situation may require urgent medication and even hospitalization. However, Ayurveda has some simple techniques which can prevent the condition of ajirna. In order to know the treatment of ajirna, it is essential to first know what the causes are.
Another term for ajirna is agnimandhya. This term is derived from two Sanskrit words – ‘agni’ which means ‘fire’ and ‘mandhya’ which means ‘reduction’. Hence, ajirna or agnimandhya is a reduction of the agni, especially jatharagni, which leads to a decrease in the digestive capacity of the individual. Ajirna is one of those few disorders that are caused by a vitiation of all three of the doshas, i.e. vata, pitta and kapha.
Jirna in Sanskrit means ‘digestion’. The ‘a’ added before ‘jirna’ makes it negative, and hence the meaning of the word is ‘indigestion’. Ajirna is an umbrella term that is used to describe any of the following kinds of digestive problems:-
The main cause of ajirna is a faulty balance between the right and the wrong kinds of food. Right foods are almost all the natural foods which suit the climatic conditions and the physiological constitution of the person. Wrong foods are those which are unsuitable to the climate and made up of artificial ingredients. Junk foods with a lot of synthetic preservatives such as monosodium glutamate come under this category.
The following are some of the prominent causes of ajirna or functional dyspepsia in people:-
(i) Some people, especially office-goers, are quite erratic in their meal timetable. A difference of over an hour in the lunch and dinner times every day is a leading cause of ajirna.
(ii) People who travel a lot have to eat different types of cuisines. This makes the taste and digestive senses of the person quite confused, leading to ajirna.
(iii) Going to bed immediately after eating retards the digestive process of the body. This may cause ajirna the next morning. If the person routinely goes the bed immediately after a heavy meal, then it can cause severe permanent digestive problems with the persons.
(iv) Some people have gluttonous modes of eating. These people binge on several kinds of foods at once. They may overeat, i.e. continue eating even after their stomachs are full. This leads to severe ajirna problems such as constipation, flatulence, gastritis, nausea, etc.
(v) Some foods like potatoes, chickpeas and other legumes, lentils and many flesh foods do not get properly digested within the body. They can cause gastritis. Most of the cases of ajirna are caused due to the consumption of such sensitive foods. Similarly, foods with lots of spices and oils also cause ajirna.
(vi) There are also some psychological causes that Ayurveda describes for ajirna. People who do not eat food wholeheartedly, or those who eat with tensions and other worries on their minds, will suffer indigestion. People who are generally described as ‘hot-tempered’ are more prone to suffer from ajirna than people who maintain a peaceful state of mind.
(vii) Microorganisms that live within the stomach lining can cause irritation, which can interfere with the digestion process. Chief among these is the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which lives within the inner mucus lining of the stomach.
(viii) Alcohol and smoking also are a major cause of ajirna.
According to Ayurvedic theories, all the three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha – are responsible for ajirna. An increase in any of the vata, pitta and kapha can cause different kinds of ajirna complications.
Since ajirna is not a single disease but a generic name given to a host of stomach complications its symptoms are also many. It is very important to look into the correct symptoms and then to decide what medications to take. Hence ajirna is a problem that is solvable only with a proper study of its symptoms.
The following symptoms indicate the presence of an ajirna complication:-
(i) Heavy feeling in the stomach
(ii) Nausea and an excessive urge to vomit
(iv) Passing wind
(v) Improper texture of stools
(vi) Stools with very offensive odors
(vii) A continuous uneasy sinking feeling in the stomach
(viii) Belching with a bitter taste
(ix) Aches in the stomach
(x) Loss of craving for food.
Preventing ajirna is a continuous activity. It requires the development of a healthy food regimen in the person. In order to keep ajirna at bay, the person must obey the following dietary dos and don’ts.
(i) Eat meals at fixed times every day.
(ii) Keep at least three hours gaps between meals.
(iii) Do not eat incompatible foods together, such as fruits and cream or milk and fish.
(iv) Do not eat and drink at the same time. Water should be drunk only after the meal is finished.
(v) Do not eat excessive oily and spicy food, especially in the summer season. In the summer season, the diet should contain mainly fresh vegetables and fruits.
(vi) Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol if you have continuous digestive problems.
(vii) Keep healthy sleeping times. Insomnia can cause indigestion. Stick to the adage – Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
(viii) Women should take care of what they eat during pregnancy. This is the period when the digestive system is extremely sensitive.
(ix) Maintain a healthy exercise routine. This helps in the digestion of food.(x) Continual tensions and worries in the mind also interferes with the proper digestion of food
There is a host of herbs and remedies that can help to resolve ajirna problems in people. A list of these herbs with their biological actions is given below.
The above ingredients are mixed in proper proportions to form effective medicines for treating ajirna. Some of these Ayurvedic formulations are given below:-
There are some extremely simple remedies developed by Ayurveda to treat ajirna. Some of the better ones are mentioned below:-
(i) One part of tulsi is mixed with two parts of ginger and two parts of jaggery. This is broken down into small pellets. Consuming one of these pellets each every morning and evening helps in proper digestion and also creates a good appetite.
(ii) Warm water is the simplest remedy to help in the proper movement of the gastric digestive juices. Having a glass of warm water every morning helps in proper movement of bowels.
(iii) Yellow bananas or plantains improve digestion and help in the formation of proper stools.
(iv) Ajwain helps to digest foods with greater water content. Even if the indigestion is caused due to excessive amount of water, taking a few ajwain seeds over it will help in clearing the stomach congestion.
(v) Indigestion caused due to the intake of protein-rich food such as lentils and legumes can be solved by taking in a few seeds of datura.