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Jaundice Treatment in Ayurveda: A Comprehensive Guide

Jaundice is a medical condition characterized by a yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, primarily due to elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood. It is often indicative of underlying issues affecting the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas. Though jaundice itself is usually not a disease but a symptom, its occurrence warrants immediate medical attention to diagnose and treat the root cause. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the causes, symptoms and jaundice treatment in ayurveda and the underlying conditions that could lead to its manifestation.

What is Jaundice?

Jaundice, the other name is “icterus” is a yellowish or greenish pigmentation of the skin, mucous membranes, and sclera due to high bilirubin levels. In adults, jaundice is rare and occurs due to underlying diseases like liver dysfunction, biliary tract obstruction, and impaired heme metabolism. In neonates especially during the first week of life jaundice is common. Jaundice can occur in people of all age groups. 

Causes for Jaundice

Jaundice is caused due to various factors like liver diseases viz, cirrhosis of the liver alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis; the presence of gall stones, hemolytic anemia, gall bladder cancer, pancreatic tumor, medicines such as acetaminophen, penicillins, estrogenic or anabolic steroids, etc.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Jaundice:

Yellowing of Skin

One of the most distinct and widely recognized symptoms of jaundice is the yellowing of the skin. The change usually starts at the head and progresses downward.

Yellowing of Eyes

The whites of the eyes—also known as sclera—begin to take on a yellow hue. This can sometimes be noticed even before the skin starts to yellow and is often easier to detect in natural daylight.

Yellowing of Mucous Membranes

The mucous membranes in the mouth and nose may also exhibit a yellowish tint, which is generally more difficult to detect but is a symptom nonetheless.

Additional Symptoms

While yellowing is the most obvious symptom of jaundice, it can be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying cause. These may include:

Dark Urine

The presence of excess bilirubin may cause the urine to become much darker than usual, almost resembling the color of tea.

Pale-colored Stool

Due to the improper processing of bile, the stool may appear pale, clay-colored, or chalky.

Fatigue and Weakness

General malaise, fatigue, and weakness are commonly associated with jaundice, given its linkage to liver dysfunction.

Abdominal Pain

Patients may experience abdominal pain, particularly in the upper right side where the liver is located.

Unexplained Weight Loss

In some cases, jaundice is accompanied by unexplained weight loss which could signify a serious underlying condition such as cancer.

Nausea and Vomiting

These symptoms can occur due to the body’s impaired ability to digest food and manage waste substances.

Fever and Chills

A fever could indicate an infection or other inflammatory condition affecting the liver or bile ducts.

Symptoms include yellowish discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes, sclera dark colored urine and or dark or clay-colored stools, abdominal pain, itchiness, fever with rigors, weight loss, fatigue, vomiting, etc.

Types of jaundice

Types of jaundice can be explained as

  1. Pre-hepatic jaundice,
  2. Hepatic jaundice
  3. Post-hepatic jaundice.

Pre-hepatic jaundice: In pre-hepatic, bilirubin levels rise in the blood due to the breakdown of red blood cells before the blood reaches the liver

Hepatic jaundice: Hepatic jaundice occurs when the liver becomes ineffective in filtering the bilirubin levels from the blood 

Post-hepatic jaundice: When bilirubin is filtered from the blood can’t drain effectively into bile ducts or the digestive tract due to obstruction. 

Jaundice Tests

Blood tests like liver function tests, complete blood count; urine and stool analysis; and USG of the abdomen are the diagnostic tests advised.

Jaundice Treatment in Ayurveda

The disease Kamala in Ayurveda can be correlated with jaundice. Kamala occurs due to raktha dhatu (blood) and pitta dosha. It is also explained in Ayurvedic classics that the disease Kamala is the result of untreated Pandu roga (anemia).

The word “Kamala” is derived from the ‘Kamu’ which means Kanti with the suffix ‘Nhin. Thus, Kamala is a condition in which there is discoloration of the skin, nails, and sclera.

Etiology includes food habits and lifestyle that disturb pitta and raktha such as excessive intake of amla (sour), katu (pungent), and lavana (salt) food items, which are very ushna (hot), spicy, excess intake of non-vegetarian food, untimely food intake, eating too much of stale food, incompatible food, indulging in heavy exercise, controlling natural urges, psychology factors like anger, depression.

The disease Kamala can be classified into various types according to different pioneers of Ayurveda. To mention a few names of those types are koshthashakhashritha kamala, shakhashritha kamala, kumbhakamala, halimaka, etc.

The signs and symptoms explained are as follows: haridra netra (yellowish discoloration of sclera), haridra twacha (yellowish discoloration of skin), haridra mukha (yellowish discoloration of face), haridra nakha (yellowish discoloration of nails), haridravarna mala (yellowish discoloration of stools) haridravarna mutra (yellowish discoloration of urine), rakta-peeta mala (reddish-yellow discoloration of stools), rakta-peeta mutra (reddish-yellow discoloration of urine), daha (burning sensation), avipaka (indigestion), daurbalya (weakness), tandra (fatigue/stupor), trushna (excess thirst), bheka varnaha (frog-like body appearance), karshyata (emaciation) etc. 

The prognosis of the disease depends upon the severity. The initial stages of kamala are curable while the long standing is difficult to treat. The disease then gets complicated with symptoms like krshna-peeta mala and mutra (blackish-yellow discoloration of stools and urine), rakta mutra (haematuria), shotha (edema), chardi (vomiting), daha (burning sensation), aruchi (anorexia), trishna (excess thirst) etc become incurable.

Snehana (oleation with an internal intake of medicated ghee preparations), vamana (emesis therapy), virechana (purgation therapy) are the adapted purificatory treatment principles followed by internal medications.

Ayurvedic Medicine for Jaundice

  1. Amruthothara Kashayam
  2. Drakshadi Kashayam
  3. Guluchyadi Kashayam
  4. Kaidaryadi Kashayam
  5. Mahatiktakam Kashayam
  6. Nimbadi Kashayam
  7. Patoladi gana Kashayam
  8. Punarnavadi Kashayam
  9. Vasa guluchyadi Kashayam
  10. Avipathi choorna
  11. Mandura Vataka
  12. Dadimadi Ghruta
  13. Guluchyadi Ghrita

Diet and Lifestyle

  • An old variety of rice, an old variety of barley, an old variety of wheat, soups made of green gram, pigeon pea, lentils, pointed gourd, buttermilk, sugarcane, a fiber-rich diet like barley, oats, radish, tomato, goat milk, plenty of water, whole grains, nuts and legumes, etc., citrus fruits, fruits rich in vitamin A are the food items to be consumed as a part of dietary regimen
  • Lifestyle modifications include exposure to sunlight, timely sleep, simple breathing exercises, etc.
  • Avoid salt, alcohol, liver-toxic drugs, high fats, fried food items, and spicy eatables.

Home remedies for jaundice 

  • Radish:
    • Juice of radish and basil detoxifies the blood in jaundice (One teaspoon of paste of basil leaves is added to a glass of radish juice and should be consumed on an empty stomach).
  • Indian gooseberry: fruits of Indian gooseberry are boiled in a pan and the pulp is mixed with remaining water. Allow it to cool and then add a little honey to the mixture and take two to three times a day 
  • Sugarcane: Fresh sugarcane juice with a few drops of lemon juice 
  • Lemon:
    • Crushed lemon leaves into a cup of boiling water and consumed every day
    • The juice of lemon is mixed with the juice of gooseberry and taken to help restore the functioning of the liver
  • Papaya: paste of papaya leaves taken along with honey 
  • Barley:
    • Barley water prepared by boiling a cup of barley in water is beneficial for jaundice
    • One teaspoon each of barley powder and honey is mixed together and taken along with a glass of water  
  • Bitter gourd: Juice of bitter gourd in the dosage of one-fourth cup taken on an empty stomach every morning
  • Aloe vera: One teaspoon of aloe vera juice along with black salt and dry ginger every morning helps reduce jaundice.

When to see a doctor

Whenever an individual notices the symptoms of jaundice like yellowish discoloration of the skin, sclera, and nails it is essential to seek a doctor to determine the underlying cause of it.

Conclusion

Jaundice is due to hyperbilirubinemia and must be treated in the initial stages to avoid further complications. Restoring liver function is of prime importance in treating jaundice. A healthy, light diet with no salt and oil helps to reduce symptoms of jaundice. Ayurveda focuses on treating the pathology of jaundice in the gastrointestinal tract where deranged liver function needs to be corrected. Purgation and emesis therapies are helpful in energizing the hepatobiliary system.


Frequently Asked Questions About Jaundice

  1. What is jaundice?
    • Jaundice is a medical condition characterized by yellowing of the skin and eyes due to elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood. This occurs when the liver is unable to properly process red blood cells.
  2. What causes jaundice?
    • Jaundice can be caused by various factors such as liver disease, hepatitis, alcohol abuse, and certain medications. It may also occur in newborns due to immature liver function.
  3. What are the symptoms of jaundice?
    • Common symptoms include yellowing of the skin and eyes, fatigue, abdominal pain, weight loss, dark urine, and pale-colored stools.
  4. How is jaundice diagnosed?
    • Diagnosis usually involves a physical examination and blood tests to check bilirubin levels. Additional tests like liver function tests, ultrasound, or a liver biopsy may be required in some cases.
  5. What is the conventional treatment for jaundice?
    • Treatment depends on the underlying cause. For liver diseases, medications, and lifestyle changes are often prescribed. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required.
  6. How effective is Jaundice Treatment in Ayurveda?
    • Ayurveda offers natural remedies aimed at cleansing the liver and balancing the bodily systems. While many have found relief through Ayurvedic treatments, it’s essential to consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner for a customized treatment plan.
  7. Can jaundice be prevented?
    • While not all causes can be prevented, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and staying updated on vaccinations can lower the risk.
  8. Is jaundice contagious?
    • Jaundice itself is not contagious. However, if it is caused by an infectious agent like hepatitis, then the disease can be transmitted through contaminated food, water, or bodily fluids.
  9. When should I see a doctor?
    • If you experience symptoms like yellowing of the skin or eyes, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
  10. Can jaundice be life-threatening?
    • While jaundice is usually a symptom of an underlying issue, it can lead to complications like liver failure if left untreated, which can be life-threatening.
NOTE: “This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call or visit your doctor.” 
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