Ascites, also known as Jalodara in Ayurveda is a gastro-enterological condition of the abdomen that mainly refers to the accumulation of toxic fluid in the peritoneal cavity which chiefly leads to abdominal distension or swelling. The term ‘Jalodara’ comes from two Sanskrit words, where ‘Jalo’ means ‘water’ and ‘Udara’ refers to the abdomen. According to Ayurveda, ‘Jalodara’ is a type of ‘Udara Roga’, i.e., abdominal disease which stems from the accumulation of malas (waste products) like faeces, urine and sweat in the body. This accumulated waste in turn leads to a disbalance of the various Doshas within the body; mainly Prana Vata (the primary energy force of the body), Agni (the fire component or digestive fire) and Apana Vata (the air component), resulting in poor digestion and slow metabolism. The main reason for accumulation of malas is constipation. Additionally, consumption of excessive water can worsen digestion and in turn result in the vitiation of doshas, thus continuing the cycle. The Vata (air element) in the duodenum and the lower left stomach gets blocked by Kapha, ultimately leading towards accumulation of fluid in the peritoneum and distension of the stomach and abdomen.Also Read: Ascites: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Physiologically, abdominal distension mainly happens when the liver fails to function effectively within the body, causing blockage of bile secretions from the liver, ultimately resulting in liver enlargement. The fluid retention in the abdomen can occur due to several reasons including liver cirrhosis, liver disease, kidney failure, heart failure, or congestive heart failure. Ascites primarily does not have any characteristic symptoms if it is diagnosed in the early stages but if it is moderate or advanced then the patient may experience bouts of abdominal heaviness and stiffness, bloating, excessive thirst, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, wheezing, edema of feet, dilated veins and discharge from the anus. Care should be taken that condition is treated in the earlier stage as time worsens the condition causing accumulation of fluid in the peritoneum which in turn liquifies the Doshas and causes stickiness in the joints. From the outside, the retention of fluid causes the belly to become round and network of blood vessels like capillaries appear on the abdomen accompanied by oedema generally on the lower proximities. Chronic condition of ascites if left untreated can eventually lead to colon cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer and even organ failure.
Although, chronic condition may require prompt medical intervention, if ascites is diagnosed at an early stage, do have faith on the age-old science of Ayurveda as it brings as absolute remedy for this painful condition sans any side effects The Ayurvedic treatment mainly focusses on Sodhana karma (purification therapies) that includes Deepana (increasing hunger), Pachana (promoting digestion), Swedana (sudation) and Nitya mridu Virechana (regular mild removal of toxins) as a part of Panchakarma alongside intake of powerful herbs that helps to overcome the symptoms of ascites.
Some of the procedures suggested by Ayurveda to manage Ascites includes:
Swedana (Oleation): Swedana therapy mainly consists of massaging the body with different ayurvedic oils for 30-35 minutes to pacify the Vata Doshas. Oils like Narayana taila and Dashamoola taila are chiefly employed for treating ascites.
Swedana (Sudation): In this therapy, perspiration is induced with the help of steam and medicated vapours of herbal decoctions. It mainly helps to remove the toxins that get accumulated due to the blockage of the body orifices and channels.
Virechana (Purgation): It is a process of inducing purgation to remove toxins from the body. For the management of ascites, mild purgation using oils like castor oil, oil of danti and sea salt, kutki etc. are used to empty the contents of the stomach. This panchakarma therapy also helps in case of constipation.
Shashtra Karma (Surgical Procedure): It is the last option that is employed to treat ascites if ayurvedic herbs and medications do not work. In this case, using a surgical instrument called vrihimukha, a small incision is made on the left side of the abdomen, just below the umbilicus. Through the puncture site, a metallic tube is inserted and the accumulated fluid is slowly drawn out in 2-3 seatings. The puncture site is the lubricated and bandaged to speed up healing.
Spectacular Herbs That Manage Ascites Naturally
Thanks to the abundance of diuretic quality and laxative nature, Punarnava is the ultimate remedy for ascites. It is also sanctified with strong anti-inflammatory properties that relaxes the liver walls and also flushes out toxins from the abdominal cavity by increasing the flow of urine in the body. It is extremely effective in controlling the swelling and fluid retention in the abdomen.
The Tikshna Guna of the powdered fruit of pippali is well-known for promoting agni (digestive fire) within the stomach which in turn improves digestion, stimulates hunger and pacifies the vitiated Kapha doshas that causes ascites. The hepatoprotective activity of the fruit also prevents liver cirrhosis, thus managing accumulation of fluid.
The mild laxative nature of dried haritaki fruits helps in virechana and expels malas out of the body. It also regulates the bowel movement and relaxes the liver muscles. Not only does it prevent problems pertaining to the liver but also prevents accumulation of fluid throughout the body, thus relieving conditions like oedema.
Call it Puncture spine or Gokhru, it is one of the best natural remedies for ascites. Blessed with powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it ardently reduces swelling of the abdomen. Additionally, its diuretic nature, increases urine secretion from the body that in turn helps flush out the toxic fluid accumulated in the abdominal cavity.