Jaundice – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurvedic Treatment for Jaundice
Today we are going to discuss jaundice on our show. It is a very common problem and even children become a victim of this disease. If your skin complexion begins to assume yellowish tinge or the white portion of eyes starts to look yellowish then probably you could be a patient of jaundice and thus, you should immediately contact your doctor.
Generally this condition is believed to arise due to presence of excessive bilirubin in our body. It results in yellowness in eyes. Jaundice is of three types: Hepatocellular jaundice, hemolytic jaundice and obstructive jaundice.
We have with us Dr. Parmeshwar Arora, who is our Ayurvedic expert. Today he is going to tell us about how is jaundice defined according to Ayurveda and what could be the reasons behind occurrence of this condition. First of all let’s welcome him on our show. Welcome to the show doctor.
Q. I have explained to our viewers that when our skin complexion begins to assume yellowish tinge or the white portion of our eyes starts to appear yellowish then it could be a symptom of jaundice. But, how would you define this condition of jaundice in terms of Ayurveda?
As far as the definition is concerned, I would like to tell you that though jaundice can be an independent disease but at the same time, it can also occur as a symptom of some other underlying diseases. As you have already explained, its symptoms include yellowness of skin, eyes and urine. So, if you notice these symptoms in a person then that could be an indication of jaundice. This condition arises in a person due to increase in a pigment called bilirubin. Thus, for any reasons if the concentration of bilirubin rises in your blood then you will observe yellowish discoloration of sclera i.e. yellowness in eyes, yellowness in urine and also, your skin will begin to appear yellow. In other words, these symptoms in a person point towards the possibility of jaundice . I would like to repeat it once again that though jaundice is an independent disease in itself but it can be an indicator of some other underlying diseases as well.
Q. You just told us about various symptoms of jaundice but I would like to understand this disease in terms of Ayurveda. As we know, in Ayurveda every disease is defined in terms of the three doshas i.e. ‘vata’,’ pitta’ and ‘kapha’. So, decrease or increase of which particular dosha is responsible for jaundice?
It is very clearly mentioned in Ayurveda that ‘kamla bahu pittesha’ which means increased pitta causes kamla rog i.e. jaundice. It is also mentioned that any disorder in koshtha (i.e. liver) can be a reason for jaundice. Shakha which means obstructive jaundice comes under this category. Thirdly it is mentioned that jaundice can be accompanied with anemia and this is what we refer to as hemolytic jaundice. So in broader sense, there are three type of jaundice which I have just named. The first one is ‘koshtha ashrit kamla’ which is known as hepatocellular jaundice. The second one is ‘shakha ashrit kamla’ which is known as obstructive jaundice. And the third one is ‘kamla with pandu’ i.e. jaundice accompanied with anemia which is known as hemolytic jaundice. All these three types have been described in Ayurveda. So, what modern science tells us today about jaundice, an exactly similar description has been mentioned in our age-old Ayurvedic science.
Q. That’s absolutely correct! As we see sometimes, one disease leads to another disease. So, please tell us which all diseases can have jaundice as their indication? Also tell us that if jaundice is suggestive of an upcoming disease or it is an indicator of some already existing disease?
I have mentioned three types of jaundice here. In simple language, hepatocellular jaundice refers to a condition of jaundice caused by a liver disorder. Thus any infection which is causing disturbance in the liver cells or any disease which is disturbing the functioning of liver can become a reason for hepatocellular jaundice. I would like to tell you that bilirubin which is a component of bile, is produced in the liver by haeme component of hemoglobin. It comes in the liver in unconjugated form. The process of conjugation of bilirubin takes place in the liver. Any such condition which disrupt the process of conjugation of bilirubin, whether it is some infective condition or some serotic changes in the liver or formation of fibrous bands or any disease which disturbs the functioning of liver, will result into hepatocellular jaundice.
Similarly, when we talk about obstructive jaundice, it is caused by an interruption to the drainage of bile in the biliary system. The bile is released from liver into bile ducts towards hepatic ducts and then the common hepatic duct combines with the cystic duct (from gall bladder) to form common bile duct which opens into the intestine. I am sure all our viewers are familiar with the term ‘gall bladder’. Gall bladder is a bag like structure which hangs below the liver. And the bile which is formed in the liver reaches gall bladder through different hepatic ducts and get stored there. Any condition which causes obstruction in the passage of bile, can become a reason for obstructive jaundice. This obstruction can be caused due to stone or pancreatic cyst, or condition of carcinoma or tumor or a growth which blocks this passage. Due to this condition, the bile which should normally reach gall bladder does not reach there and instead starts retrograde flow i.e. it starts flowing from liver into the blood and thus the condition of jaundice develops. This type of jaundice is called obstructive jaundice or surgical jaundice. In this case, as we saw, there was a tumor in pancreas. This tumor caused obstruction in the flow of bilirubin to gall bladder, as a result of which the bilirubin started flowing into the blood through hepatic vein. So what we just noticed is that the condition of jaundice has resulted from pancreatic tumor. Similarly, when you develop a stone in bile duct, then though the disease is that stone but the symptom which we noticed was jaundice. In both these cases, jaundice is just a symptom of another disease and not a disease in itself.
The third type of jaundice is hemolytic jaundice. As I mentioned earlier the haeme component of hemoglobin is responsible for production of bilirubin. If, due to some reasons (like toxicity of blood, or septicemic condition or some infection) there is a condition of hemolysis (i.e. the blood cells are being ruptured in much larger number than that in natural process,) then while we notice anemia on one hand, on the other hand we also notice over production of bilirubin i.e. jaundice. So, in case of hemolytic jaundice, jaundice is always associated with anemia. So somehow when we consume food items having properties of heat, or when we consume sour items or toxins, then it viciates the ‘pitta’ i.e. the fire (or agni component) and starts destroying large numbers of blood cells. Since bilirubin is formed as a result of breakdown of blood cells, when more blood cells rupture then there is a relative increase in the production of bilirubin, as well. But the liver is unable to consume that much bilirubin and as a result it gets deposited in the blood. This is when we say that the particular person is a patient of hemolytic jaundice.
Q. Although, jaundice is a very common problem and can be seen in every fourth house but sometimes we hear that the jaundice has deteriorated. So, when exactly do we say that the jaundice has deteriorated?
Here, I would like to say it very clearly that jaundice or liver disorders are such diseases, for which there are not much medicines available in allopathic science. Ayurvedic medicine is such a science in which there are very good medicines available for liver. But unfortunately, if someone has jaundice he generally approaches two classes of people i.e. either he seeks help from allopathic doctor or from tantriks. But in my opinion, neither of these categories will actually be able to help you much. In modern science, in case of any hepatitis, whether it is infective hepatitis, hepatits B or hepatitis C etc., the patient is convinced that he will be fine and is asked to take rest and proper nutrition, glucose etc..The patients are told that since virus infection is believed to be self limiting, they don’t need any medication. But in the same situation, if the patient approaches an Ayurvedic doctor, he is definitely given some hepato protective medicines.
Whenever a patient of jaundice come to us, the first thing that we do is, we prepare a proper diagnosis so as to ascertain that whether the jaundice in a particular case, is a disease in itself or a result of some other disease. Once that’s done, believe me if it is hepatocelluler jaundice, we have countless medicines through we which we provide immediate relief to our patients. And the statement which you had used that the jaundice gets deteriorated, that will never happen. In obstructive jaundice also, sometimes we see that there is a deposition of cholesterol or there is some minor obstruction, then for that too we have medicines like ‘arogyavardhini vati tamra’. Tamra (or copper) is known to be shrotosodhak i.e. it has a quality of clearing passage. So we use such medicines to perform shrotosodhan (i.e. cleansing of body channels). In case of hemolytic jaundice also, we have medicines which immediately stops the hemolysis. So, according to me, if jaundice or liver patients need help they should always approach an Ayurveda doctor. And believe me when an Ayurvedic doctor will try to resolve your problem by preparing a proper diagnosis then you will definitely get your problem solved.
Sometimes we see that if the patient does not receive proper treatment then he may get into a state of cirrhosis of liver or liver failure. I advise everyone to unhesitantly approach an Ayurvedic doctor, at least for a liver diseases.
Q. You are absolutely right, because as we see sometimes, the jaundice may be even life threatening specially when it deteriorates. Now if we talk about children, we notice that it is a very common occurrence in infants i.e. newborns very commonly suffer from jaundice. Rather, I would say that almost 85% of the infants essentially develop the condition of jaundice within a few days of birth. Why is it so?
First of all, I would like to inform you here that the jaundice in case of children is also of two types: physiological jaundice and pathological jaundice. Here, the doctor decides it , depending upon which day from birth the child( or infant) has developed this condition. Whether the child has developed jaundice on first day of his/her birth or between 2nd and 5th day of birth, depending upon that the doctor would decide the type of jaundice in a particular child. But there is nothing to worry about, because the condition of jaundice in infants is generally related to embryonic stage due to which there is a rise in the concentration of bilirubin. So, in such cases, if the child is given phototherapy or light- treatment from a good doctor and if the proper care is given to the child then I don’t think that it’s alarming. As it is, in most of the cases, such jaundice is physiological jaundice which is a very natural thing.
Yes , I have seen that the parents even give sun exposure to their infants.
As I said phototherapy is helpful but nowadays there are incubators and the infants are kept inside incubators and given phototherapy for better results