WHAT IS ACIDITY?
Acidity or Acid Reflux is a chronic digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the lining of the food pipe (esophagus). This condition is commonly linked to heavy consumption of oily and spicy foods and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
The occurrence of acidity is associated with a burning sensation just below the breastbone (the hollow part) or just above the stomach. The feeling of heartburn around the lower chest area is a result of the flowing back of the stomach acid up into the food pipe. The stomach acid is produced by the gastric glands in the stomach, to help in the digestion of the food and to kill germs. However, excessive secretion of the acid in the stomach can have a corrosive effect and lead to acidity, intestinal gas, and ulcer.
Some of the main causes of acidity includes unhealthy eating habits, consumption of certain foods in excess, an existing medical condition, side effect of medicines, stress, lack of sleep, and etc. Acidity can also occur because of a long gap between meals, empty stomach, or excessive intake of tea, coffee or alcohol.
The main symptoms of acidity are chest pain, indigestion, flatulence, constipation, burning sensation in the stomach, the problem in swallowing food, nausea, belching, vomiting, respiratory problems, regurgitation, restlessness, bad breath, prolonged sour taste in the mouth, and irritation in the rectal region.
Acidity can lead to some serious health complications which may include gastric ulcers, severe pain in the chest/abdomen, swallowing difficulties, excessive vomiting, and even cancer.
ACIDITY AND AYURVEDA
According to Ayurveda, acidity is caused due to an imbalance of the heat energy — called ‘Pitta’ — within the body cells. This condition, is caused due to excessive heat in the body, and is generally referred to as ‘Amalpitta’ in Ayurveda.
Pitta energy, which is located in the stomach, is considered to be sharp, hot, intense and acidic energy. It can get aggravated and cause heartburn when certain foods — like vinegar, citrus juices, chilies, tomatoes, onions, garlic, alcohol, and fried foods — are consumed. In addition, Pitta can also get aggravated due to the intake of caffeine and sodas, and because of lack of sleep, stress, painkillers, and antibiotics, all of which can increase the production of heat toxins.
Ayurvedic experts believe that the symptoms of acidity can be alleviated with the help of simple home remedies which basically involves the consumption of ‘cooling and soothing’ foods, as well as the use of some effective herbs or herbal formulations.
WHAT ARE THE BEST HOME REMEDIES FOR ACIDITY?
Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar is considered one of the most effective home remedies for treating acidity. Though Apple Cider Vinegar is acidic in nature, it has got an alkalizing effect which can be very beneficial in getting rid of acidity.
To get benefit from this remedy, people suffering from acidity should mix 1-2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it before meals, once or twice a day.
The use of cold milk is beneficial in treating acidity — in people who are not lactose intolerant — because cold milk has the ability to neutralize gastric acids in the stomach. According to some nutritionists, the rich calcium content in milk prevents the acid build-up in the stomach.
People suffering from acidity should drink a glass of cold milk when they experience the symptoms of the problem. Besides cold milk, a cup of ice cream can also be beneficial in acidity, provided that a person is not prone to cough and cold.
Buttermilk is categorized as a ‘sattvic’ food in Ayurveda because the intake of buttermilk, after eating a heavy or spicy meal, can prevent acidity. Buttermilk can neutralize acidity in the stomach because of the presence of lactic acid.
For relief in acidity, plain buttermilk can be taken several times a day, with some black pepper added to it for the better results.
Banana or Apple
Eating a banana or apple can also relieve acidity and the discomfort associated with it. Bananas contain natural antacids which can act as a barrier against acidity and heartburn. Besides bananas, another fruit which is beneficial in getting rid of acidity is apples. A few slices of apple can be taken at bedtime to check acidity.
Jaggery or Gur contains magnesium in abundance, because of which it has the ability to strengthen the intestines and promote digestive health. Jaggery can reduce acidity by making the digestive system more alkaline in nature. In addition, it can also cool the stomach by maintaining normal body temperature.
To get rid of acidity, it is beneficial to suck a small piece of gur after a meal.
The use of 3-4 almonds after meals can relieve heartburn and acidity because almonds have the capability to neutralize the juices in the stomach. Moreover, eating a few almonds is also beneficial in preventing acidity resulting from long time gaps between meals.
Fennel Seeds (Saunf)
Chewing a spoonful of fennel seeds after meals can also help to relieve the problem of acidity. The use of fennel tea is also considered an excellent home remedy for acidity because of its proven gastrointestinal benefits, especially since the oils in fennel seeds can treat indigestion and bloating.
Fennel tea can be prepared by boiling one teaspoonful of fennel seeds in one cup of water for 5-10 minutes.
Cinnamon is believed to be a natural antacid as it is abundant in nutrients, and can neutralize stomach acids and treat acidity. The use of Cinnamon — or tea prepared from the spice — can treat infections in the gastrointestinal tract, improve the digestive process, and help in the absorption of nutrients from food.
Use Of Herbs
To get rid of acidity, the use of certain herbs is also very beneficial because of their antacid and anti-ulcerogenic properties, and Pitta-pacifying actions. Some of the herbs known for their ability to relieve acidity and heartburn are Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra), Clove (Syzygium Aromaticum), Cardamom (Eletaria Cardamomum), Amla (Phyllanthus Emblica), Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus), and Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis).
The home remedies to get rid of Acidity are simple, natural and effective treatments. Along with these home remedies, acidity can also be cured by increasing the intake of water and other fluids, getting adequate sleep, having a healthy lifestyle by following the practice of regular exercise, and by avoiding smoking/alcohol.
Although the home remedies for treating acidity are safe to use, it is advisable to consult a renowned Ayurveda practitioner in order to follow the remedies effectively under expert guidance.