Ayurveda treatment of Gallstones (Pittashmari) by prescribing illness specific medicinal herbs and dietary recommendations
Gallbladder is an organ of the digestive tract which is placed underneath the liver and all its physiology is directly related with the liver in terms of storing / secreting the bile for digestion of fats. Whenever gallbladder, it secretes bile juice into the intestines and the process of digestion of fats are initiated. The condition of gallstones are also referred as cholelithiasis which means – stone(s) can be present either in the gall bladder or the common bile duct. The presence of stone(s) in the gallbladder can block the normal passage of bile juice and in particular if the stones are present in the common bile duct. These ducts are named as hepatic duct, cystic duct and common bile duct.
In ayurveda terminology, its referred as “Pittashmari” and its a very common disease of the biliary tract. There is a famous theory of famous 4 “F”s – females, forties, fatty, fertile. Which means its always a higher possibility in the above stated cases. Pittashmari refers to gallstones / billiary calculi. In ayurveda texts, “pitta” refers to bile, body heat, metabolism while “ashmari” refers to stone. Bile released by the gall bladder can be related with “accha pitta” in ayurveda and the pathophysiology of this disease arises as a result of vitiated kapha behavior during digestion and also accompanied by an imbalance in the vata dosha.
The pigments of bile, bilirubin and biliverdin are important components of the blood tissue complex, while pittta is regarded as a vikriti or byproduct of rakta in ayurveda literature. Though all “ashmari” in our body are due to tridosha imbalance and the names viz vataj, pittaj, kaphaj etc are given based only on the dominance of the doshas involved and the signs reported so a much accountable illness specific medicinal herbs be recommended and patient can achieve good health benefits at soonest.
In Ayurveda, gallstones are referred to as “Pittashmari” or “Gallashmari,” where “Pitta” denotes the dosha related to bile and metabolism, and “Shmari” or “Ashmari” means stone. According to Ayurvedic principles, gallstones are believed to be associated with an imbalance in the Pitta dosha, leading to the formation of hardened deposits in the gallbladder. Here’s an overview of the Ayurvedic understanding of gallstones:
1. Dosha Imbalance:
- Ayurveda recognizes three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Gallstones are primarily attributed to an aggravated Pitta dosha, which is associated with the fire element and plays a crucial role in digestion and metabolism.
2. Pitta Imbalance Causes:
- The aggravation of Pitta can occur due to various factors such as improper diet, sedentary lifestyle, excessive intake of spicy, oily, and fried foods, chronic stress, and irregular eating habits. These factors contribute to the formation of toxins and imbalances in the body.
3. Ama Formation:
- Ayurveda describes the concept of “Ama,” which refers to undigested or improperly metabolized food particles that turn into toxins. The accumulation of Ama in the body, particularly in the gallbladder, is thought to contribute to the formation of gallstones.
4. Impaired Digestive Fire (Agni):
- Pitta dosha governs the digestive fire or Agni. When Agni is weak or impaired, it can lead to poor digestion, incomplete metabolism, and the creation of Ama. This compromised Agni is considered a significant factor in the Ayurvedic understanding of gallstone formation.
5. Dietary Factors:
- Certain dietary factors are believed to contribute to Pitta imbalance and gallstone formation. These include the excessive consumption of hot and spicy foods, oily and fried foods, refined sugars, and an inadequate intake of fiber.
6. Lifestyle Factors:
- Sedentary lifestyle choices, lack of physical activity, and prolonged periods of sitting can aggravate Pitta and contribute to the accumulation of toxins in the body.
7. Ayurvedic Approach to Prevention:
- Ayurveda emphasizes a holistic approach to prevent and manage gallstones. This includes adopting a Pitta-pacifying diet that favors cooling and calming foods, regular physical activity to stimulate digestion, managing stress through practices like yoga and meditation, and ensuring proper hydration.
8. Ayurvedic Herbs and Remedies:
- Ayurvedic practitioners may recommend the use of specific herbs and formulations to balance Pitta, enhance digestion, and support the healthy functioning of the gallbladder. These may include herbs like Aloe Vera, Kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa), and Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia).
9. Panchakarma Therapy:
- Panchakarma, a detoxification and purification therapy in Ayurveda, may be recommended to eliminate Ama and balance the doshas. This may involve procedures like Virechana (therapeutic purgation) to cleanse the digestive tract.
It’s crucial to note that Ayurvedic approaches are individualized, and treatments may vary based on a person’s constitution, imbalances, and overall health. Ayurveda focuses not only on managing symptoms but also on addressing the root causes of the condition for long-term well-being. Individuals with gallstones should consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner for personalized advice and guidance tailored to their specific needs.
Here are some detailed home remedies for gallstones in Ayurveda:
Lemon Juice and Olive Oil:
- Use: The combination of lemon juice and olive oil may help soften gallstones and facilitate their passage.
- How to Use: Mix the juice of one lemon with an equal amount of olive oil and consume it in the morning on an empty stomach. Follow with a glass of water.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa):
- Use: Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and may help in preventing the formation of gallstones.
- How to Use: Add turmeric to your daily cooking or mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder in warm water and drink it regularly.
Dandelion Root Tea:
- Use: Dandelion root is believed to support liver function and promote bile flow, potentially aiding in the prevention of gallstones.
- How to Use: Steep dandelion root in hot water to make a tea and drink it regularly.
Artichoke (Cynara scolymus):
- Use: Artichoke is known to promote liver health and stimulate bile production, potentially preventing gallstone formation.
- How to Use: Include artichokes in your diet or take artichoke extract supplements as recommended.
Apple Cider Vinegar:
- Use: Apple cider vinegar may help in breaking down gallstones and improving digestion.
- How to Use: Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water and consume it before meals.
Castor Oil Pack:
- Use: Castor oil packs applied to the abdominal area are believed to support liver health and help alleviate gallstone symptoms.
- How to Use: Soak a piece of cloth in castor oil, place it on the abdomen, cover with plastic, and apply heat for 30-60 minutes.
Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa):
- Use: Punarnava is an Ayurvedic herb known for its liver-protective properties.
- How to Use: Consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner for the appropriate form and dosage of Punarnava for your condition.
- Use: Barley water is believed to promote digestion and support liver health.
- How to Use: Boil barley in water and drink the barley water regularly.
Ajwain (Carom Seeds):
- Use: Ajwain has digestive properties and may help alleviate symptoms associated with gallstones.
- How to Use: Chew a small amount of ajwain seeds after meals or mix them with a pinch of black salt.
Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris):
- Use: Gokshura is an Ayurvedic herb known for its diuretic properties and may support kidney and gallbladder health.
- How to Use: Consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner for the appropriate form and dosage of Gokshura.
Maintain a Low-Fat Diet:
- Use: Adopting a low-fat diet can reduce the workload on the gallbladder and may help prevent the formation of new gallstones.
- How to Use: Limit the intake of high-fat and fried foods, opting for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
It’s essential to consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner for personalized guidance based on your specific condition and constitution. Additionally, individuals with gallstones should seek advice from a healthcare professional to ensure comprehensive and safe management of the condition. Ayurvedic remedies for gallstones are intended to be part of a holistic approach to support overall health and well-being.