Ayurveda And Antacids

Antacids are drugs taken through the mouth to get relief from indigestion and heartburn. The antacid neutralizes the stomach acid to relieve hyperactivity. To reduce the acidity in the stomach they raise the pH by buffering the gastric acid.  The gastric hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach comes in contact with the gastronomical mucosa, the nerves carry the pain signal to the central nervous system causing the feeling of discomfort. Though hydrochloric acid and other enzymes are helpful in the process of digestion of food, there may be hyperacidity due to the reflex of hydrochloric acid inside the stomach.  The hormones such as gastrin and somatostatin induce the secretion and suppression of hydrochloric acid and control the digestion process. Thus antacids are effective in relieving indigestion, sour stomach, heartburn and upset stomach.

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Antacids containing magnesium hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate dissolve in the stomach quickly and provide fast relief. Others that contain calcium carbonate or aluminum dissolve rather slowly and can take about 30 minutes to work.   Taking an antacid after food is found to give long-lasting relief. Antacids may also interact with any other medicine that the patient may be taking. They can also affect medical test results so it is advisable to consult the physician in these circumstances before taking antacids before the test.

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Ayurveda and Antacids

Indigestion and heartburn and related diseases are known as amla pitta in Ayurveda. The Ayurveda texts describe similar signs and symptoms of modern medical science in this case.   The main cause of this condition is irregular dietary habits and intake of excessive spicy and fried food, hormonal imbalance, stress, disturbed sleep, and loss of appetite.  Certain other causes include smoking and taking alcohol as they create mechanical disorders resulting in indigestion. 

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Difference in treatment style

Ayurveda describes the causes of this disease as an improper lifestyle. The pitta gets mixed up with the rasa dhatu gets into the digestive tract namely annavaha strota causing heartburn.  Ayurveda treatment for this condition is just the opposite of the treatment given in modern medical science.   Antacids work to neutralize the agents responsible for hyperactivity in the stomach. Ayurveda treatment treats the disease by removing the undigested food from the stomach using purgative drugs. This is known as virechan karma.

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Side Effects

In the case of antacids, there are side effects like headaches and abdominal pain. In Ayurveda drugs used are Amaltas, Amalaki, Haritaki, Aloe vera, madhuyashti, pippali, turmeric, and shatavari.  Drugs containing madhur rasa, tikta, and snigdha guru have antacid like properties. They are also known to have vata pitta shamak property. Herbs like patol, chandana, murva, patha, and gaduchi are used as pitta chamak.  Shatavari is highly effective and is used in the treatment of amla pitta.   The patients are given a liquid diet named yavagu while taking the above Ayurvedic drugs.  Appetizers called deepan and digestives known as pachan are also used.   Mineral preparations such as Pravaal pishti containing calcium salts are also used in treating hyper acidic conditions. Multidrug combinations like Avapittikar choorna, Madhuyashtyadi choorna, dhatri rasayana and mercuric preparations such as Kamdudha rasa and sutskher rasa, etc are used in treating hyperacidity.

Ayurvedic medicines are enriched with healing ingredients to provide quick and effective relief from conditions like acidity and gas without any side effects while antacids cause side

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