Loss of appetite: Anorexia: Ayurvedic Understanding And Treatment

Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu) Ph.D (Ayu)
Anorexia is the technical term for the condition where the individual suffers loss of taste in food and loss of appetite. He dislikes food. The modern science does not recognize this condition as an individual disease, it is commonly felt in many diseased conditions as symptom. In few of the incidences, tastelessness is felt as an undesired effect of the medicines such as acetaminophen, Carbidopa etc.,
Whereas Ayurveda possesses detailed description regarding this particular illness.

loss of taste

According to Indian system of medicine, anorexia is a condition manifested due to the affliction of gastro intestinal tract (Annavaha srotas) in association with circulatory system (Rasa vahas rotas). Tongue is the main site of its manifestation. The cardinal features of this condition are loss of desire for food or absence of inclination (distaste) for food, even which may be of one’s own liking.
In Ayurvedic terms, the condition is called as Aruchi. A means absence Ruchi means taste (in food).

Normal mechanism of hunger

Normal mechanism of hunger as per Ayurveda –
To put it in simpler terms, fire and air are required for the process of burning. Similarly, Pitta (in the form of digestive fire  / digestion strength) and air (normal wind in stomach plus process of peristalsis (digestive strength – digestive fire) should co ordinate well to maintain good digestion strength. Good digestion strength means, good hunger, means, interest in food. Person finds good taste in his food. (taste perception is aided by Kapha Dosha).

Impaired Vata and Pitta at the level of stomach  leads to depleted digestion strength, in turn leads to tastelessness in tongue and hatred towards food.

In Pro Ayurvedic analysis, Prana – Udana and Samana type of Vata Dosha, in association with Pachaka Pitta play vital role in bringing about hunger. Hunger stimulates proper perception of taste. For the normal perception of taste, Bodhaka kapha (existing in mouth), Prana Vata (existing in head and neck) and Samana Vata (persisting in stomach) should have proper co-ordination. If the relation is hampered or disturbed, anorexia is caused.

Reasons for loss of taste

1. Excess intake of heavy and unctuous (oily) food
2. Indigestion and loss of digestive fire (digestion strength)
3. Psychological causes like grief, fear, stress, dissatisfaction etc.
4. Secondary to worm infestation, anemia, jaundice, Kaphaja disorders etc.
5. Long persisting illness
6. Food poisoning
7. Incompatible food, unwholesome or polluted food intake etc.

Types and features

1. Vataja Aruchi
Distress, pain in various body parts, cardiac pain, hypersensitivity of teeth, astringent taste in mouth etc. are found here.

2. Paittik Aruchi (pitta origin) 
Thirst, burning sensation, cutting pain, bitter – sour mixed pungent taste in the mouth and bad odour of the mouth are the features of this condition.

3. Kaphaja Aruchi
Sweet mixed salty taste in the mouth, sliminess, heaviness, coldness and nausea are the features of Kaphaja aruchi.

4. Tridoshic Aruchi
Mixed features of all the Doshas are found.

5. Agantuja Aruchi
This kind of anorexia is caused due to grief, fear, anger, greediness etc.

Ayurvedic remedies to improve digestion

Ayurvedic remedies to improve digestion strength and to relieve anorexia: (By Dr Mahesh Annapure)

Natural home remedy using garlic and lemon juice

  • Take 200 ml of water
  • Crush 2-3 garlic cloves and make paste
  • Add ½ tsp of paste to water and bring to boil
  • Strain the water
  • Add 2 tbsp lemon juice to it
  • Mix well
  • Drink 2 times a day for 1 week

Other remedies:
Fresh piece of ginger sprinkled with some lemon drops and pinch of black salt.
The juice of fresh pomegranate with a pinch of black salt to be taken twice.
Jal Jeera’(tasty roasted cumin seeds drink) is to be taken 3 to 4 times.
Prepare a decoction by boiling mint leaves, basil leaves, ginger, large cardamom, a pinch of asafoetida(hingu)  and some crushed black pepper. 20 to 30 ml of the same can be taken 2 to 3 times with some mishri or honey added to it.
Chewing of Sesame seeds before the meals is also recommended in the ailment of loss of appetite.
A small quantity of Black pipper – Kali Mirch may be taken with some buttermilk will give quick relief.
Another easy remedy I would suggest is to sprinkle some lemon juice on a piece of fresh ginger and take it preceding a meal.

The leaves of mint either in raw form or prepared into chutney is extremely beneficial if you are suffering from loss of hunger.
Natural home remedy using ginger and rock salt
Take 1 teaspoon garlic paste
Add ½ tsp of rock salt
Mix well
Consume the paste once everyday
Ginger will help increase appetite

Management of anorexia

Management of anorexia as per Ayurveda – 
Kavala – Gandusha (mouth retainers and gargling),
Dhoomapana  – herbal smoking,
Mukha dhaavana (repeated mouth wash),
Manojna Annapana (wholesome food and drinks),
Harshana (measures to keep with pleasure) and
Aashwasana (assurance to boost the self-confidence) are considered to be the line of treatments followed with digestive and carminative medicaments.

Single herbs

Single herbs used in treating Anorexia – Aruchi – 
1. Maricha – Pepper – Piper nigrum
2. Jatiphala – Nutmeg – Myristica fragrans
3. Draksha – Raisin – Vitis vinifera
4. Vrikshamla – Garcinia indica
5. Chincha – Tamarind – Tamarindus indica
6. Pippali – Long pepper – Piper longum
7. Shunti – Zinger – Zingiber officinale
8. Matulunga – Citrus medica
9. Amalaki – Emblica officinalis
10. Talisa – Abies webbiana
11. Vacha – Acorus calamus
12. Saindhava lavana – Rock salt etc.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic Medicines To Treat Loss Of Taste: 
1. Lavanabhaskara choorna – helps to improve digestion strength, improves taste in food.
2. Hinguashtaka choorna – treats ama (impaired digestion and metabolism process), corrects Vata Dosha.
3. Talisadi choorna – stimulates tongue and hunger
4. Sitopaladi choorna – stimulates tongue and hunger
5. Chinchadi lehya – useful in treating indigestion
6. Chyavanaprasha – improves digestion, clears body toxins.
7. Karpooradi choorna – improves digestion strength,
8. Matulunga lehya- balances Vata and Pitta Dosha
9. Lashunadi vati – treats indigestion
10. Chitrakadi vati – treats indigestion

Wholesome diet and habits

1. Easily digestible food
2. Buttermilk
3. Kichdi
4. Shali (red rice)
5. Mudga yusha (green gram soup)
6. Shobhanjana (drumstick)
7. Dadima (pomegranate)
8. Draksha (raisins)
9. Ardraka (zinger)
10. Flesh of rabbit

According to Yogaratnakara

Wheat, Greengram, Red rice, Rice harvested in sixty days, Meat of Boar, Goat, Rabbit, Black buck, Fish egg, Proshthee fish, Khalesha fish, Kabari fisha, Rohita fish, Water melon, Tender radish, Brinjol, Drumstick, Banana, Pomegranate, Star fruit, Pointed gourd, Ruchala salt, Milk, Ghee, Baby radish, Garlic, Elephant foot yam, Grape vine, Water boiled with vetiver water, Sour gruel, Jujube fruit, Curd, Buttermilk, Ginger, Sweet, sour and bitter substances, Substances that which cleanse the body etc.

Unwholesome diet and habits

1. Polluted food
2. Incompatible food
3. Heavy food intake
4. Curds
5. Milk and milk derivatives
6. Suppression of natural urges
7. Fear, anger, grief, greediness etc.
8. Cold water etc.

According to Yogaratnakara

Suppressing the urges of Thirst, belching, hunger and tear, unpleasing foods, blood letting, anger, entice, fear, grief, smelling unpleasant odors, having bad smelling food, meat of animals living in marshy lands etc.

Aruchi or loss of taste is surely not an incurable deadly health complaint. But, intake of the necessary food of daily requirements per the day to day energy, in anorexia conditions, makes the moment miserable. When we take food, we should appreciate its taste, smell, colour and consistency and then only it gives us pleasure.

Addition by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

Effective Decoctions For Tastelessness From Sahasrayogam

1. Aruchihara Amra Kashaya

Ref – Sahasrayogam, Kashaya Prakaranam, 29

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
Tender leaf / bud / sprout & stalk of mango Mangifera indicaThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served freshTastelessness    
Bilwa patraLeaves of Aegle marmelos
LajaParched grains
GingerZingiber officinale
IkshuSaccharum officinarum
Matulunga kesaraFilament of Citrus medica

2. Bala Kuvuladi Kashayam

Ref – Sahasrayogam, Parishishta Prakarana, 24

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
BalaSida cordifoliaThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh at bedtime1. Dyspnea 2. Cough 3. Tastelessness
KuvalamRoots of Aegle marmelos
Green gramVigna radiata
GingerZingiber officinale
AjajiCuminum cyminum
VasaAdhatoda vasica
LajaParched grains
Amra vrintaStalk of mango
IkshuSaccharum officinarum

3. Shleshmajwarahara Kashaya

Ref – Sahasrayogam, Kashaya Prakaranam, 4

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
HaritakiTerminalia chebulaThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh with honey and asafetida  1. Fever of kapha origin associated with colic, dyspnea, loss of appetite, tastelessness and dryness of mouth    
KatphalaMyrica esculenta
GingerZingiber officinale
MustaCyperus rotundus
VachaAcorus calamus
BhunimbaAndrographis paniculata
CoriandrumCoriandrum sativum
BharangiClerodendron serratum
ParpatakaFumaria officinalis

4. Trijatadi Kashayam

Ref – Sahasrayogam, Kashaya Prakaranam, 28c

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
TrijataCinnamomum zeylanicum Elettaria cardamomum Cinnamomum tamalaThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh with honey for seven days1. Hoarseness of voice of kapha origin 2. Tastelessness 3. Nausea 4. Excessive salivation    
TrikatuPiper longum Piper nigrum Zingiber officinale
KantakariSolanum xanthocarpum
BharangiClerodendron serratum

5. Twag Nagapushpadi Kashayam

Ref – Sahasrayogam, Parishishta Prakaranam, 40

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
TwakCinnamomum zeylanicumThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh with sugar, camphor and juice of Feronia linonia1. Tastelessness 2. Loss of appetite 3. Alcoholic intoxication
NagakesaraMesua ferrea
Long pepperPiper longum
PepperPiper nigrum
AjajiCuminum cyminum
CoriandrumCoriandrum sativum
ParushakaGrewia asiatica
MadhookaMadhuca longifolia
CardmomumElettaria cardamomum
DevadaruCedrus deodara

6. Vari Karimbadi Kashayam

Ref – Sahasrayogam, Parishishta Prakaranam, 34

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
ShatavariAsparagus racemosusThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served freshTastelessness
IkshuSaccharum officinarum
AmalakaEmblica officinalis
VidariPueraria tuberosa
ChangeriOxalis corniculata
GingerZingiber officinale, wet

7. Triparnyadi Kashayam

Ref – Sahasrayogam, Parishishta Prakaranam, 34b

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
ShaliparniDesmodium gangeticumThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served freshTastelessness
ApamargaAchyranthes aspera
YavasaAlhagi camelorum
ChitrakaPlumbago zeylanica

8. Gandharvahastadi Kashayam (Vatahara Kashayam)

Bhaktadweshahara Kashayam

Ref – Sahasrayogam, Kashaya Prakaranam, 30

Bhaktadwesha means aversion towards food. The decoctions used in this condition are also said to cure tastelessness.

a. Viswadi Kashayam

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
GingerZingiber officinaleThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh with Pluchea lanceolata, powder of Piper longum and honey1. Aversion towards food    
MustaCyperus rotundus
LakshaLaccifer lacca
AtibalaAbutilon indicum
BalaSida cordifolia

b. Baladi Kashayam

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
BalaSida cordifoliaThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh1. Aversion towards food  
ShatavariAsparagus racemosus
RaisinsVitis vinifera
Bilwa mulaRoots of Aegle marmelos
TrikantakaTribulus terrestris
PomegranatePunica granatum

c. Pancha Panchamula Kashaya

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
Pancha Pancha mula5 roots each of five group of medicines, 25 rootsThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be processed with goat’s milk, added with honey and sugar and served fresh1. Aversion towards food    

d. Baladi Kashayam

IngredientsBotanical NameMethod of usingIndications
BalaSida cordifoliaThe decoction prepared with these ingredients should be used to prepare gruel with rice and goat’s milk and served fresh.1. Hoarseness of voice of kapha origin 2. Tastelessness 3. Nausea 4. Excessive salivation
PunarnavaBoerhavia diffusa
CastorRicinus communis
GingerZingiber officinale
GokshuraTribulus terrestris

Other Yogas for Aruchi From Sahasra Yoga Text Book
Swarabhedahara Kashaya
Vatahara Kashaya
Panchatiktaka Guggulu Ghrita
Dasanga Ghrita
Tugadi Choorna
Patoladi Choorna
Yavanyadi Choorna
Talisapatradi Choorna
Eladi Choorna
Karpooradi Choorna
Abhraka Gandhadi Choorna
Hingu Vachadi Choorna
Yogaraja Choorna
Hutasana Choorna
Bilwadi Lehya
Kushmanda Rasayana
Madhusnuhi Rasayana
Agasthya Rasayana
Danti Haritakyavaleha
Churnasara (Veppalakatti)
Amragandhadi Ghrita

Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Skype

One comment on “Loss of appetite: Anorexia: Ayurvedic Understanding And Treatment

  • Ewa Anna Naszarkowska

    01/07/2014 - 5:13 pm

    My Friend’s Daughter has propabilly that problem, so I will send her that prezious articles.But I see in some other diseages these notices should be taken in focus, for example in electrosensivity (ever with chemisensivity),some problems should be analysied with You Doctor (You have big knowlege, good intuition and wisdom…gratulation to Your Mother ever and You)

    Reply to comment

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