‘How is it possible?’ ‘Very difficult’, ‘impossible’ are likely to be probable answers from majority of people. I am trying to stick my neck out and dare to say that it is possible to tackle acidity ‘disease’ for good. Let me make it clear that I am not a doctor and what I am writing is based on my experience and it is not an alternative to expert opinion.
I am in healthcare field at-least for last 15 years and I have been observing patients for long period of time. For last one year, we were running a program on acidity on radio. I was surprised at the number of questions we used to get and similarity of these questions. People irrespective of age, type of work, financial background were experiencing problems of acidity and wanted to get rid of it. Acidity has become all pervasive. It will be difficult to find a person who has not experienced acidity in last one or two weeks. Nielsen survey on OTC market for acidity states market size of around 1500 crores just for OTC market. This does not include acidity medicines prescribed by doctors almost in every prescription. So why is this problem become so rampant?
We know that burning sensation in stomach, throat, uneasy stomach, belching, sour taste, indigestion are common symptoms of acidity. Actually, hydrochloric acid which is secreted in stomach is an important component in our digestion system. Problem starts when the acid secretes more than required, creating trouble for lining of stomach. Why the acid secretes more than required? Ayurved normally looks at causative factors and then deals with remedy. It deals with this disease thru 3 angles i.e. Ahar (Diet), Vihar (day to day activities), Vichar (thoughts/ stress).
I think most of us know these reasons. (Ahar) Absence of diet control i.e. over eating spicy, oily food, overuse of non- veg food, bakery food, sweets, alcohol, excessive smoking result into heavy secretion of acids. (Vihar) Sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, irregularity of food timing, Sleep (excess or short) results in to imbalance of acid secretion or its use. We all know about ahar (diet), vihar (lifestyle) but I think most important and dominating factor will be vichar (stress). How stress affects acidity? These days, stress has become very common. Each one of us is stressed due to one reason or another. Each one of us want to achieve too much in too less time, we are in hurry. We want everything that too very fast. Everyone is in a race and therefore anxious, under pressure to beat competition. Basically, when we are stressed, our brain feels that there is some problem and activates ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. It results into secretion of chemicals like adrenaline, cortisol. These chemicals are essential to deal with stressful/ dangerous situations. When a perceived trouble is taken care, these chemicals subside and we come back to normal situation. Problem arises when we are always in stress, therefore brain presumes fight or flight situation and release these chemicals into system. However due to continuous stress, situation never becomes normal and there is over secretion of these chemicals. In chronic stress situations, our brain feels threatened all the time and it activates emergency control situations and neglects routine functions like digestion etc. This all results into excessive acid secretion and acidity.
After reading all this, do you still believe that we can get rid of acidity disease permanently? Let me share my take on this. Basically, I don’t think that acidity is a disease at initial stage. It is a symptom that indicates that there is some imbalance in the system. Instead of popping tablet or having antacid, we need to use a pause button and look back into our karmas for last few days. Normally acidity is instant result of some bad karma. Mostly it is some wrong doing in diet or lifestyle. Mostly we don’t take this step and try to use immediate solution of tablet or antacid. It may give temporary symptomatic relief but problem remains. We continue to do wrong karma aggravating the problem. Add to that ever-increasing stress. This makes dangerous cocktail. The vicious circle begins. We continue to take medicines, continue wrong doing and get frustrated because no medicine seems to be working. We change doctors but result is the same. I believe acidity is gateway to all lifestyle related diseases ranging from constipation, ulcer, piles to cardiac diseases.
How to deal with this? I think first two aspects of Ahar, Vihar are little easier to handle. We need to be little more aware about it. Need to make some conscious choices. I think it is matter of pain vs pleasure. As long as we don’t feel pain of acidity or forthcoming diseases more than pleasure of having uncontrolled diet/ lifestyle we will not change. It is our choice to change proactively or based on compulsory circumstances. Personally, I have seen massive change when I opted for alkaline forming food, while reducing acid forming food. Maximum weightage is on fruits, green vegetables while reducing bakery food, sugar, chocolate, alcohol. Lot of material is available on internet regarding the same.
How to deal with the last aspect of stress? There are lot of ways to manage stress. Mindfulness meditation, Pranayam, Regular exercises being most prominent one. I think using pause button (from our fast paced life) at-least once or twice daily to contemplate on priorities in life, having balanced approach towards life will go long way to deal with it. This topic requires a separate write up and will deal with later.
I feel that acidity is not disease but a symptom. If we correct our behaviour the symptom will automatically disappear.
I will end this by citing one interesting suggestion I read recently. It said that most of your problems will vanish the moment you will stop to influence behaviour of others. Just think about it and you will find it amazingly true. We always want our spouse, kids, parents, boss and others to behave in manner we like. Most of our stress is due to behaviour of others which is not in line with behaviour we want. Very interesting, isn’t it? It may be remedy to your long pending acidity problem.
Do you identify yourself with similar circumstances? Do you want to try this out? Please share your views, experiences on the same.