Ayurvedic treatment for Gastrointestinal system- concept of agni

Gastrointestinal system- concept of agni

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Gastrointestinal system- concept of agni Ayurvedic treatment


The Gastrointestinal (GI) system is also called as the digestive system and includes the various organs of the human digestive tract from the mouth to the anal opening, plus the liver, pancreas and gallbladder.1

The digestive system with sections labeled: mouth, esophagus, liver, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus.

Fig 1: The GI tract in humans 1

The organs that are a part of the GI tract include the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, the rectum and anus. These organs all play an important role in digestion of food and release of energy and nutrients. 1

According to Ayurveda, digestion and metabolism are governed by the Jathar agni (gastric fire). In the Ayurvedic physiology, vital breath (Prana), immunity (Ojas) and cellular memory (Tejas) are all considered expressions of nutrition via the means of Agni. 2

Ayurveda places high importance on the concept of Ahar (diet) and Anna (food) as principally the tenets of Ayurveda observe that a healthy nutrition nourishes the mind, body and soul. Ayurveda emphasizes on the various factors that can influence food and its organic properties. These include the place of origin, external environmental factors, method of preparation, etc and offers a systematic reasoning to follow food as per the dosha and physical needs.2

The GI system as per Ayurveda:

Ayurvedic texts have described the anatomy and physiology of the major organs in Human body. They outline the Amashaya (Stomach),Pakwashaya (Duodenum), Antra (Intestines) and Guda (rectum/sigmoid colon) as the organs involved in activities of digestion. 4

The concept of Agni is a major basic concept inAyurveda. It is considered to be the cause of life, skin color, strength, health, nourishment and energy.5

  • Jatharagni is the Agni or bioenergy present in the Jathara (stomach and duodenum). It stays in Small intestine (duodenum). It withholds the food for a certain time inside the Amasaya (stomach) to facilitate digestion.
  • Jatharagni is considered to be the most important because each and every nutrient that one ingests first comes to the Jathara (stomach) and is subjected to the action of Jatharagni.
  • Jatharagni digests the food materials that consist of the five basic elements and transforms it for utilization by the respective tissues (Dhatus paramanus).
  • Jatharagni is also responsible for separation of the food material into the nutrients (Prasad) and the waste products (kitta) in our body. 7

The strength of the small intestine depends on the jatharagni and strength o jatharagni depends on small intestine. When the Agni undergoes imbalance, small intestine gets disturbed and produces diseases.6


Gastrointestinal system- concept of agni


Inappropriate eating habits accompanied with certain poor lifestyle choices are responsible for creating digestive disorders. Additionally, increasing age, certain infections, and other diseases of the GI tract (like tumors, absorption problems) are also responsible for gastrointestinal diseases.1


Gastrointestinal system- concept of agni


The symptoms of any GI disorder resonate with the involvement of the organs and their functions. Common symptoms are Nausea, Vomiting, pain in abdomen, cramps, Diarrhea, blood in stools etc.


Gastrointestinal system- concept of agni


Diagnosis of any GI disorder is based on the symptoms and subsequent physical examinations. In addition, tests that include blood tests, urine examination and stool tests are required.

Apart from these, imaging techniques such as a X ray test, CT/MRI scan and a USG are done routinely. In many cases the specialist will test the inside of the GI tract with an instrument called as endoscope.1


Gastrointestinal system- concept of agni


Ayurveda has laid down doctrines that help maintain GI health and ensures healthy digestion for good health. These cover many food and lifestyle habits.

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Always eat warm food for easy digestion.
  • Always eat in proper quantity.
  • Always eat only when the previous meal is digested.

· Always consume food that consists of the items that are complimenting and not conflicting in nature.

  • Never eat too fast or too slow.

Exercise for improving digestion:


The Vajrasana . Doing this asana immediately after meals, improves blood flow to the stomach and intestines and supports digestion. It should be followed for 10-15 minutes after meals.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)


Gastrointestinal system- concept of agni
  1. What is GERD?

Acid reflux disease - also commonly known as Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is condition in which acid from the stomach regurgitates or moves up into the esophagus (gullet).

  1. How are fissures caused?

An anal fissure may occur when due to passing of hard or large stools during a bowel movement. Anal fissures typically cause pain and bleeding with bowel movements. One may experience spasms in the ring of muscle at the end of the anus (anal sphincter).

  1. Can a fissure heal completely?

With appropriate treatment and following of pathya apathya, a fissure can heal completely. Although care should be taken not to be constipated and have high amount of fiber in food.

  1. What is a kshar karma? How is it different from other surgery

Kshar karma is a specialized Ayurvedic surgical procedure that involves minimal blood loss and provides excellent relief in hemorrhoids and fistulas. It involves the applying of a sclerosing agent, such as apamarg kshar snuhi kshar etc.

It differs from conventional surgery as in it does not require anaesthesia, shows minimal blood loss and need not require inpatient admissions.

  1. What are the risk factors of developing bowel incontinence?

A number of factors can increase the risk of developing fecal incontinence. These include:

  • Age: It is more common in middle-aged and older adults.
  • Female gender: Fecal incontinence is slightly more common in women. One reason may be that fecal incontinence can be a complication of childbirth.
  • Nerve damage: People who have long-standing diabetes or multiple sclerosis — conditions that can damage nerves that help control defecation — may be at risk of fecal incontinence.
  • Dementia: Fecal incontinence is often present in late-stage Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
  • Physical disability: Being physically disabled may make it difficult to reach a toilet in time. An injury that caused a physical disability also may cause rectal nerve damage, leading to fecal incontinence. Also, inactivity can lead to constipation, resulting in fecal incontinence.
  1. What exercises can be done to have better control on the motions?

Certain asanas that help strengthen the pelvic floor (muscles around the anal opening) are recommended for better control over the anorectal area. These are -

Utkatasana                   Virabhadrasana                 Ananda Balasana             Shlabhasana


  1. Can celiac disease lead to anything serious?

Untreated, celiac disease can cause the following complications:

  • Malnutrition: The damage to your small intestine means it can't absorb enough nutrients. Malnutrition can lead to anemia and weight loss. In children, malnutrition can cause slow growth and short stature.
  • Calcium loss of calcium and low bone density: Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D may lead to a softening of the bone (osteomalacia or rickets) in children and a loss of bone density (osteoporosis) in adults.
  • Infertility and miscarriage: Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D can contribute to reproductive issues.
  • Lactose intolerance: Damage to your small intestine may cause you to experience abdominal pain and diarrhea after eating lactose-containing dairy products, even though they don't contain gluten. Once your intestine has healed, you may be able to tolerate dairy products again. However, some people continue to experience lactose intolerance despite successful management of celiac disease.
  • Cancer: People with celiac disease who don't maintain a gluten-free diet have a greater risk of developing several forms of cancer, including intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer.
  • Neurological problems: Some people with celiac disease may develop neurological problems such as seizures or peripheral neuropathy (disease of the nerves that lead to the hands and feet).

In children, celiac disease can also lead to failure to thrive, delayed puberty, weight loss, irritability and dental enamel defects, anemia, arthritis, and epilepsy.

  1. Who gets affected by pancreatitis?

Acute pancreatitis is more common in middle-aged and elderly people, but it can affect people of any age. Men are more likely to develop alcohol-related pancreatitis, while women are more likely to develop it as a result of gallstones.

  1. What are the common causes of developing ulcers in stomach?

Common causes of peptic ulcers include -

  • Long-term use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • An infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • Rare cancerous and/or noncancerous tumors in the stomach, duodenum, or pancreas

Addtionally, intake of alcohol and smoking also increase the chances of having a gastric ulcer.

  1. What causes hemorrhoids?

Swelling in the anal or rectal veins causes hemorrhoids. Several factors may cause this swelling, including -

  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
  • A lack of fiber in the diet

Another cause of hemorrhoids is the weakening of the connective tissue in the rectum and anus that occurs with age.

Pregnancy can cause hemorrhoids by increasing pressure in the abdomen, which may enlarge the veins in the lower rectum and anus. For most women, hemorrhoids caused by pregnancy disappear after childbirth.



Gastrointestinal system- concept of agni
  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive diseases. Your Digestive System and How It Works. US Dept of Health & Human Services. Available at https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Anatomy/your-digestive-system/Pages/anatomy.aspx accessed on August 19th 2016.
  2. Guha A. Ayurvedic Concept of Food and Nutrition. SoM Articles 2006. Paper 25. Available at http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/som_articles/25 accessed Aug 19th 2016
  3. Agrawal AK, Yadav CR, Meena MS. Physiological aspects of Agni. Ayu. 2010; 31(3): 395–398.
  4. Singh AK. Ayurvedic Concept of Agnimandya. J Pharm Sci Innov. 2012; 1(2):5-8
  5. Charak Samhita – Chikitsasthana: 15/3.
  6. Ashtang Hruday – Sharirsthana Ch.3 /5054.
  7. Ashtang Hruday – Sutrasthana 12/8.
  8. Charak Samhita – Chikitsasthana: 15/3940.

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