Siddha Medicine and treatment for GERD or Acid Reflux or Acidity.
GERD is the abbreviation of gastro esophageal reflux disease. GERD is more common than a lot of ailments. Other names of GERD include gastric reflux disease, Acid Reflux, Heartburn – chronic, Dyspepsia, Reflux esophagitis, Peptic esophagitis etc.
In Siddha Medicine, GERD comes under the digestive diseases called “குன்மம்” KUNMAM. Again kunmam is classified into to various types, based on the symptoms, region of occurrence and severity of diseases.
Types of Kunmam in Siddha Medicine:
Basically Kunmam is classified into 8 types by Siddhar Yugimuni, father of pathology in Siddha medicine.
They are as follows :-
- வளி குன்மம் Vali kunmam (வளி means vaatham or vata thosha)
- அழல் குன்மம் Azhal kunmam
- ஐய குன்மம் Aiya Kunamam
- முக்குற்ற குன்மம் Mukkutra kunmam
- வாயு குன்மம் Vayu Kunmam
- எரி குன்மம் Aeri kunmam
- வாந்தி குன்மம் Vanthi kunmam
- வலி குன்மம் Vali kunmam (வலி means Pain)
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder, in which acids from the stomach flow back up into the esophagus (an action called reflux). Reflux occurs if the muscular actions in the esophagus or other protective mechanisms fail.
The hallmark symptoms of GERD are:
- Heartburn: நெஞ்சு எரிச்சல் a burning sensation in the chest and throat.
- Regurgitation: எதுக்கலித்தல் a sensation of acid backed up in the esophagus.
Although acid is a primary factor in damage caused by GERD, other products of the digestive tract, including pepsin and bile, can also be harmful.
What causes GERD?
The Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) is an elastic constriction between the esophagus and the stomach. This sphincter acts a barrier between the food-pipe and the stomach and prevents food from going back into the esophagus. It is very important that this barrier works effectively because the wall of the esophagus is not as resistant to acid as the wall of the stomach.
If the strong acids of the stomach leak into the esophagus its wall gets damaged resulting in GERD. “In some people the LES becomes lax and there is acid reflux.
There are many reasons for LES to malfunction.
According to microbiologist Dr. Norm Robillard,
“Bacterial overgrowth and maldigested carbohydrate gives increased Inter Abdominal Pressure. It is well accepted in the Medical literature that GERD is caused by an increase in intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). Acid reflux occurs when pressure causes gastric distention (stomach bloating) that pushes the stomach contents, including acid, through the LES into the esophagus.”
Symptoms of GERD:
Among the above said types of kunmam, Aeri kunmam (எரி குன்மம்) is the disease more correlated to acid reflux or dyspepsia. Saint Yugimuni describes “எரி குன்மம்” Aeri Kunmam as follows:-
திடுக்குமாம் எரிகுன்மச் செயலைக் கேளாய்
சிருவயிற்றில் எரிந்துமே குடல் குமுரும்
வடுக்கும்வாய் நீர்சுரக்குந் தலை வலிக்கும்
வயிறுப்பிக் கிறுகிறுத்தே ஏப்ப மாகும்
வெடிக்குமயிர் கால்தோறும் வியர்வை யாகும்
மிகப்பொருமி வயிறுகழிந் திரைச்ச லாகும்
ஏடுக்குமே குடலிளைக்கு மிரங்கா தன்மை
ஏரியுமே யுடலெங்கு மிரும லாமே. “
உணவு கொண்ட சிறிது நேரத்திற்கெல்லாம் வயிற்றில் தாங்க முடியாத ஏரிச்சலை உண்டாக்கி வயிற்றை முருக்கியது போன்ற வலியைத் தரும். வாயில் நீர் சுரத்தல், தலை வலித்தல்,புளித்தேப்பம் உண்டாதல், வயிறு ஊதி இரைந்து கழிதல். மயிர்க்கால் தோறும் வியர்த்தல் ஏன்னும் இத்துணைத் துன்பங்களை விளைவித்து, உடலை இளைக்கச் செய்யும்.
We have tried to provide the essence of the Siddhars poem by interpreting meaning of the text in English through research & investigation. We have used the modern terminologies & technical words of the latest science to give the readers a better understanding and assimilation. If found any errors, kindly bear with us & help us rectify.
Symptoms of GERD Explained In Siddha Medicine:
- A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to your throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth. நெஞ்சு எரிச்சல்
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Dry cough.
- Hoarseness or sore throat.
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux) எதுக்கலித்தல்.
- Sensation of a lump in your throat.
Why GERD patients may not get complete relief from Antacids or PPI or H2 blockers:
The first line of treatment in Modern Medicine for GERD is antacids or H2 Receptor Blockers which decrease the production of acid in the stomach. The antacids are followed by proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) which are the most potent inhibitors of acid secretion available. But it may only give symptomatic relief, as the antacids and PPI’s are not working towards stopping the causative factors of GERD. Also, Antacids reduce the acid secretion to give the relief, but various studies and experts reveal that reducing Acid Secretion in stomach is dangerous.
According to Heathwyze report,
“There are two main consequences of low stomach acid:
1. you become protein malnourished. When your stomach acid is low, you are not able to digest protein. Improper digestion of protein creates toxins in your intestines that can set the stage for illness and disease. Improper digestion of protein also creates acidic blood, since protein is by nature acidic.
2. You become mineral deficient. As your blood becomes more acidic, it will look for minerals from anywhere in your body, in order to get your blood to its more ideal alkaline state. Acidic blood robs your body of minerals, even taking minerals from your bones (which are important to know if you want to prevent osteoporosis).”
There are four primary consequences of acid stopping drugs:
- Increased bacterial overgrowth.
- Impaired nutrient absorption
- Decreased resistance to infection
- Increased risk of cancer and other diseases
Siddha Treatment for GERD:
In Siddha System of Medicine, GERD is first diagnosed through the comprehensive approach of
- Pulse reading (Nadi parisothanai),
- Eightfold diagnostic procedures (Envagai thervu),
- Addressing the mind & behavior (Antha karanam),
- body constituents (Udarkattugal)
- Environment (Thinai).
Various siddha formulations are available in the Siddha Medical Literature for digestive disordered like Kunmam.
Unlike antacids, siddha medicines are not focused on relieving the symptoms, but a holistic approach towards the elimination of root cause and mental well being.
Chooranam of poly herbal mix are prescribed for GERD. The mix contains Herbs, which are gastro protective and anti-ulcerative. The herbs are also anti bacterial and anti-helminthic.
Apart from treating diseases, Siddha system of medicine, emphasizes prevention and health promotion. And also introduce dietary and lifestyle recommendations to the patients.
Tips to avoid GERD:
Known reasons or causes for imbalances are
- Intake of processed food which includes food preservatives like BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) a common additive used to prevent oxidation in a wide variety of foods. Other harmful ingredient would be taste enhancers like MSG (Mono sodium Glutamate) e.g. food from KFC, Maggi etc.
- Old food (food which is advanced in age, where bacteria would have created acids and other by products.)
- Fatty food (foods rich in fat)
- Oil fried food (especially oil used for frying food should be replaced frequently else it will be charred, which in turn creates digestive issues.)
- Spicy foods (Over load of spices, kindly understand spices are also treated with pesticides and fumigated for preservation)
- Bad lifestyle (Improper diet schedule and junk foods)
- Alcohol & other unknown reasons
Natural cures for acid reflux
A lifetime of poor diet such as eating processed food would have suppressed the digestive enzymes. Easy way would be to replenish it to the normal state by taking up enough fruits, veggies, whole grains, fiber rich foods etc.
Ginger: Stimulates digestion helps in relieving and preventing belching.
Cardamom: Reduces muscle spasm in stomach, calms the stomach.
Licorice: It is a natural neutralizing agent .It protects the lining of esophagus and stomach from ulcers in case of frequent heart burn.
- Book : Bill Gottlieb’s “Alternative cures” Pg.88, 352
All the Tamil explanations and definitions made are based on the Siddha literature. We have used terminologies and definitions from modern medicine in order to help the readers absorb the right essence. Siddha literature’s are thousands of years old that were postulated, based on then existed scenarios. The postulates framed then, may or may not be in coherence to today’s world, because as humans have traveled a long path of evolution. Such evaluations have rendered immense changes to humans mentally and physically. So we kindly request readers not to be in the prejudicial mindset while reading the postulates.