Gastritis, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease are all complications of pitta dosha within the gastrointestinal tract which can certainly be managed with ayurvedic disciplines. Though distinctively different, each pathology can generally be approached within the scope of ayurvedic treatment resulting in fewer symptomatic problems. Some western or allopathic approaches might involve surgery and unnecessary pharmaceutical medications which can possibly be avoided through ayurvedic practices. Within a proposed protocol it’s wise to integrate both eastern and western approaches in order to achieve the most optimal outcome. The more severe the issue the more need there will be to integrate eastern and western approaches as to intelligently heal primary concerns.
Initially, these imbalances should be managed with diet and supportive herbs, which are energetically cooling and soothing to the intestinal flora. The first step in managing these inflammatory conditions is eliminating pitta-genic foods from the diet. Tomatoes tend to be prevalent in the diets of many struggling with inflammatory conditions which exacerbate negative symptoms and should be avoided at all cost. Other foods which should be eliminated are bell peppers, garlic, spicy condiments (mustard, hot sauces, excessive salt) eggplant, arugula, raw onion, and red meats (beef and pork). In addition to removing acid foods from the diet it’s also helpful to avoid meals or drinks such as coffee that are too hot in temperature or fried.
Favoring a diet that is energetically cooling will help assist the treatment modality by not perpetuating inflammation and allow the body to reestablish itself. Leafy greens are most supportive for creating healthy pitta dosha and will help alleviate inflammatory issues. Kale, chard, cilantro, bak chou, sweet potato and brown rice should be regular foods in the diet, which are cooling and pitta pacifying. Furthermore, coconut water, yogurt, pureed soups, and ghee (clarified butter) help maintain a calm gut and will prevent potential flare ups. White fish and lean meats such as chicken and turkey are permissible.
In addition to eating a pitta pacifying diet it’s important to commit to a proper herbal regimen. Initially with issues of gastritis, colitis, IBS, and Crohn’s it’s wise to start with lower doses of an herbal protocol and gradually increase over time as digestive capability improves. Though not a traditional ayurvedic herb, marshmallow root is by far one of the most beneficial herbs for addressing pitta inflammation. Marshmallow contains a high amount of good quality mucilage which coats lesions or infected areas and restores the flora to normal health. This can be taken as a cold infusion in the mornings and afternoon on an empty stomach. In addition to this plan, licorice root is another herb that helps diminish stomach acid levels and has been used to heal ulcers within the GI tract. It can be taken as a decoction and drank as a tea three times a day. Lastly is guduchi, which is a great anti-inflammatory and support for pitta dosha. Guduchi has famously been used to treat issues of the liver which is an important site for pitta and works to regularize and purify the bile entering the small intestine. Being such a great anti-inflammatory agent, guduchi aids in the overall treatment of pitta issues. Guduchi can be taken in capsulated form or as a decoction which can be drank throughout the day.
Completing treatment is the use of oils. Considering an enormous amount of one’s nervous system is embedded within the GI tract, addressing nervous stress is key in alleviating symptoms. This is best done through an ayurvedic self-massage known as abhyanga, which is the gentle application of warm oil to the body. Before showering one should apply oil from head to toe with gentle strokes much like rubbing in lotion. Important focus should be given to the abdomen and scalp which will help keep the entire organism calm. The best oils for calming pitta are coconut and sunflower which are energetically cooling and soothing to the skin. This practice should be done 3-7 times a week and will dramatically improve one’s relationship with the forces that create stress.
Ultimately one should consult with a qualified ayurvedic practitioner in order to construct an appropriate ayurvedic treatment plan. This tailored approach will take into consideration one’s personal concerns and can develop the treatment plan considering what is capable of the client. With patients and devoted practice, these painful symptoms can be alleviated and health will prevail.