Jaundice (Kamala)
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Kamala is a very common disease that is characterized by the yellowness of the skin. It is known as jaundice or icterus in English. Sometimes it is also known as yellow jaundice

Definition of Jaundice (Kamala)


Jaundice or kamala is the condition of yellowing of the skin due to a liver or a gallbladder problem. This yellowing is caused due to a high content of the pigment bilirubin in the bloodstream of the individual. The yellow coloration is also present in the sclera of the eye.

Jaundice is very common in newborns. This is because the liver of the newborn may not be able to process the bilirubin quickly enough into bile. This causes a buildup of bilirubin under the skin and in the sclera of the baby’s eyes causing the yellowing condition known as kamala.

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Causes of Jaundice (Kamala) or Yellow Jaundice

In fact, jaundice is not itself a disease, but it is a symptom of some other disease. Jaundice indicates the malfunctioning of the liver or the gallbladder due to some other underlying problem. The diseases that can cause jaundice in a person are:-

  • Hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Tumors in the liver or gallbladder
  • Gallstones

Jaundice can also be caused due to proliferation of the liver due to excessive drug intake, alcohol consumption or smoking. Sometimes, jaundice is a result of wrong techniques adopted during blood transfusion.

Etiologically speaking, jaundice occurs when the bile cannot be ejected from the body of a person. In a normal human body, the red blood corpuscles in the body continuously break down after some time. When this happens, the heme of the hemoglobin undergoes two important conversions. In the spleen, heme is converted to a greenish yellow substance known as bilirubin and in the liver, heme is converted to hepatocytes. Bilirubin goes to the liver where it is processed into bile. Bile is necessary for digestion. The excess bilirubin is discarded with fecal matter. However, if this bilirubin cannot be discarded, then it remains in the bloodstream causing yellowness of the skin. This is the onset of jaundice.

According to the beliefs of Ayurveda, the following are the causes of jaundice:-

Jaundice is a pitta dosha disease. Paachaka pitta is responsible for the proper canalization of the digestive enzymes in the body. Hence, vitiation in the paachaka pitta causes jaundice.

Jaundice can also be classified as a kapha disease. Kledaka kapha is responsible for the digestive secretions of the mouth, stomach, intestines, liver and gallbladder. Hence vitiation in the kledaka kapha can also cause jaundice.

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Types of Jaundice (Kamala)

Depending on the cause, jaundice is classified into the following types:-

(i) Surgical Jaundice (Sakhaasrita Kamala)This is a jaundice that is caused due to some obstruction in the liver or the gallbladder. Obstructions can be in the form of gallstones or cancerous tumor. The obstruction could also be present in the ducts that carry the bilirubin pigments from the liver to the intestine. This type of jaundice can be cured only by surgical removal of the obstruction.

(ii) Hemolytic Jaundice – Hemolytic jaundice is caused due to hepatitis. An increased production of bile is the cause of this type of jaundice. The excess bile damages the red blood corpuscles. Hemolytic jaundice can also be caused due to mismatched blood transfusion.

(iii) Hepatocellular Jaundice – Hepatocellular jaundice occurs when there is a damage to the cells of the liver due to excessive consumption of alcohol.

(iv) Newborn Jaundice or Hyperbilirubinemia – Hyperbilirubinemia is a jaundice that occurs in newborn babies. This is due to a defect in the baby which converts the bile into excretal form. Some genetic disorders can cause hyperbilirubinemia in newborns. They are:-

Gilbert’s Syndrome, in which the liver contains inadequate cells to convert the bilirubin into bile. This syndrome does not need special treatment as it corrects itself as the child’s age progresses. It is present in 5% of the total population.

Dubin-Johnson Syndrome, in which the infant is born with increased bilirubin content. The livers of such infants are yellowish in color. There is no treatment necessary as the condition corrects itself.

Rotor Syndrome, in which the infant is born with increased bilirubin content. The livers of such infants are not yellow in color. There is no treatment necessary as the condition corrects itself.

Crigler-Najjar Syndrome, in which the infant has increased bilirubin levels but the pigmentation may or may not show on the skin. If unchecked, this jaundice can persist for life. Hence, this syndrome requires treatment.

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Symptoms of Jaundice (Kamala) or Yellow Jaundice

The symptoms of jaundice depend on its causative agent. The following are some of the symptoms:-

(i) The most common symptom is the appearance of yellowish color on the skin. The yellow color is also present in the sclera (whites) of the eyes and the nails. In some cases, the color could be brown due to presence of excessive bilirubin pigment.

(ii) There will be a bitter taste in the mouth and a bad breath. There is a possibility that the color of the teeth becomes darkened to yellow or brown.

(iii) Jaundice is usually accompanied by flu-like symptoms, such as fever, anorexia, tired or depressed feeling, nausea and vomiting.

(iv) Muscle cramps can occur, causing spasms and convulsions.

(v) The person may feel an itchy sensation all over the body.

(vi) Stools are of a clayey color, i.e. a chalky gray or white. Urine color darkens to brown.

(vii) There is a sensation of pain in the liver accompanied by a feeling of tenderness.

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Complications from Jaundice (Kamala)

Jaundice itself is not a serious condition as most jaundices treat themselves on their own. However a proper investigation into the cause of jaundice is required. It could be a very serious disease like hepatitis that is causing the jaundice.

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Transmission of Jaundice (Kamala)

Jaundice is a non-communicable disease as it is a metabolic disorder. Jaundice patients can be given all the care they require without worrying about any sort of infection.

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Prevention of Jaundice (Kamala)

Jaundice can be prevented with the following precautions:-

Always consume water that is filtered or, better, boiled.

Do not consume unsafe drinks like raw milk.

Do not consume sea foods, especially oysters, unless you are sure they have come from a reliable source.

Coconut water is a good drink if you need to quench your thirst when you are outside the house. Fruit juices could be contaminated.

When outside, ask for tea or coffee. These are safer drinks because the water used in them is boiled.

Be particular in restaurants about the foods you eat. The foods should be freshly prepared. Do not consume any products that seem stale.

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Diet During Jaundice (Kamala)

Jaundice requires proper diet care. The following points are to be strictly followed:-

(i) Completely avoid all kinds of non-vegetarian foods at least till the effects of the jaundice last on the skin. Avoid even heavy vegetarian foods. The reason is that the liver needs to produce more bile to digest these difficult foodstuffs and this could alleviate the pigmentation of the skin.

(ii) Say a definite no to all kinds of junk food such as chocolate, cakes, pastries, potato chips, ice-creams, colas and other aerated drinks, etc.

(iii) Simple food must be taken for the first three days of the jaundice affliction. Have a meal of porridge, especially rice gruel (kanji). You can flavor the kanji with jaggery syrup or honey.

(iv) To maintain the proper water content of the body, have tender coconut water and fruit juices. Citrus fruits are preferable as they will provide the much needed vitamin C. Ideal fruits are oranges, pineapples, lemons, cantaloupes, etc.

(v) There must be a complete abstinence of salt as it is a mineral and requires a difficult digestion process.

(vi) Gradually, from the fourth day onwards, the person can begin having toast, dry chapattis, khichdi (rice and pulses cooked together) and fruit jams.

(vii) From the fifth day, the person can have vegetables in the diet. Strong spices and oil is to be avoided in the cooking process

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Ayurvedic Treatment for Jaundice (Kamala)

Ayurvedic Name of the Herb

Biological Name of the Herb

Common English Name of the Herb

Action on the Human Body


Berberis vulgaris

Jaundice Berry

Jaundice berry is a bitter herb which is very effective against jaundice and other hepatic ailments.

Amboti ki patti

Oxalis corniculata

Indian Sorrel

This herb mixed with buttermilk treats the jaundice condition within a few days.


Phyllanthus niruri

Leaf Flower

A teaspoonful of the juice of this plant or its root in the form of a paste can be taken thrice a day mixed with honey to obtain relief from jaundice.


Trichosanthes cucumerina

Snake Gourd

An infusion of snake gourd leaves with a decoction of coriander seeds is beneficial for the treatment of jaundice.

Ghee kanvar

Aloe barbadensis

Indian Aloe

A pulp of a single leaf of ghee kanvar mixed with black salt and ginger consumed every morning for ten days cures jaundice by stimulating the liver to convert bilirubin to bile. It also checks the enlargement of the liver and the spleen.


Asteracantha longifolia


A decoction of the gokulakanta root helps in curing hepatic derangement.


Cichorium intybus


An extract of the chicory plant is effective in repairing liver (hepatic) damage. Its seeds are carminative and are potent in reducing bilious vomiting.


Picrorhiza kurroa


The root of picrorhiza is ground and mixed with honey. This mixture helps to treat liver ailments such as cirrhosis with cause jaundice. In fact, Ayurveda considers picrorhiza as one of the two primary herbs for the cure of jaundice. The other is turpeth (nisoth).


Operculina turpethum


Turpeth is prescribed by Ayurveda as a starting herb to be administered for the treatment of jaundice.


Petroselinum crispum


Parsley helps in treating the calculi of the kidney and the urinary bladder which assists in proper elimination of the bilious urine. Parsley also cures the bad taste in the mouth which is caused by jaundice.


Boerhaavia diffusa

Hog weed

Hog weed helps in bringing down the fever that can be caused due to jaundice.

The following are some more Ayurvedic preparations that can help in the treatment of jaundice:-

  • Avipattikara choorna
  • Aarogyavardhini vati
  • Punarnava mandoor
  • Kumaryasava
  • Lohasava
  • Punarnavasava

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#1 - khym - 01/06/2009 - 17:33
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#2 - yellow guy :p - 08/24/2011 - 06:54
Good advice thanks
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