Improper digestion of food usually results from over eating, frequent eating without having the feeling to eat, untimely eating, emotional outbursts and improper sleep. Decreased secretion of digestive juices is a relatively less common cause of indigestion. Usually there is a relative deficiency of digestive enzymes, an imbalance of gastrointestinal environment and impaired movement of the intestines. In order to facilitate proper digestion, food should be taken on time, in the right amount and should be of proper contents.
Severe and prolonged indigestion, however, always needs medication and can be effectively managed with simple digestive herbal formulations such as Chaturbhadra decoction. Its ingredients are individually described in the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia and are reported to have therapeutic properties useful for management of bowel disorders including impaired digestion, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite and protozoal infection. The formulation is carminative and astringent and it improves the digestive and gastro-intestinal functions.
Chaturbhadra decoction is made from the following four ingredients in equal parts.
- Ativisha (Indian Atis) Root
- Guduchi (Tinospora) Stem
- Mustaka (Nut grass) Rhizome
- Shunthi (Ginger) Rhizome
Method of preparation
- First dry and clean all the four ingredients.
- Make coarse powder of each ingredient.
- Take the coarse powder of all the four drugs in equal quantity and mix properly.
- The mixture should be stored in an air-tight container for use within one year, after which its potency is reduced.
- Boil 10 grams of the mixture in 160 millilitres of water till one fourth water remains.
- Filter the liquid.
- Add 1-2 grams of fine powder of ginger and cumin seeds in the decoction just before taking, to make it more effective.
Dose and mode of administration
The dose of Chaturbhadra decoction for adults is 40 millilitres of freshly prepared warm decoction and 5-10 ml for children, to be administered twice a day before meals. It is advisable to sip the decoction instead of swallowing it in one lot.
Indications and uses
- The decoction is mainly used for the management of indigestion resulting from overeating, untimely meals and consumption of heavy food items and from liver dysfunction.
- Other indications include poor appetite, vomiting, flatulence, nausea and indigestion associated with diarrhoea and dysentery.
- Gastro-intestinal upsets due to giardia and amoebic infections can also be managed with Chaturbhadra decoction.
Precautions and safety aspects
- Freshly prepared decoction should be used always. Stale decoction may not be useful.
- Individuals not liking the taste of the formulation can add sugar or honey.
- To facilitate recovery, patients should consume soft, light and semisolid or liquid diet and avoid cold and heavy foods and raw vegetables.
- If indigestion is induced or aggravated due to stress, mental relaxation must be achieved.
- The formulation is traditionally considered to be safe in the recommended doses and side effects are mostly unlikely. However, due to presence of Ativisha and Shunthi in the formulation, an overdose may cause symptoms like dryness of mouth, tremor, nervous depression, etc.
- Pregnant women should use the formulation under medical supervision.
- It is safe for the baby if the nursing mother is taking this medication.
Reference – Traditional Herbal Remedies for Primary Health Care