The Trouble with Digestion

The Trouble with Digestion

by Susan Pack

Many of us take digestive problems as a normal way of life. Gas, bloating, belching, over-eating, nausea….well, we’ve all been there. We see it as a sign of getting older, eating too much of the wrong thing, or just plain indigestion. I have a friend who thinks nothing about eating Rolaids all day long. He won’t leave home without them.

Ayurveda views digestive problems as the first stage of disease. Another way to look at it is that all diseases start in the digestive system No two people have the same nutritional needs. That’s what makes “diets” so confusing and difficult. Ayurveda believes you eat to pacify your imbalances. So, my imbalances are not the same as yours. So, what I may eat to pacify my health problems could make yours more imbalanced.


Think about it. Don’t you have friends who are cold all the time, no matter what? Or others who seem hot all the time? If they were both visiting at the same time and you offered them a drink, do you think they both would want hot tea? No, of course not.

Why can my friends drink copious amounts of milk and I can’t drink a sip without getting terrible digestive problems? No two of us are alike.

Sometimes it is hard to know what is digestible and what is not. Preparation, digestive spices added to your food, state of your stomach; they all play a part in how well you can digest your meal.

Let’s discuss this “state of our stomach”. Ayurveda says there is a digestive fire, known as agni, and it is similar to a camp fire. If it’s strong, our digestion will be strong and it will properly burn our food. If the “fire” or agni, is not burning strong, we will be not be able to properly digest our food.

If you throw cold water on a camp fire, the fire will just smolder and won’t burn well. Same thing with our agni. Drink a glass of cold water and it will dampen your digestive fire.

So, back to digestive problems. We have all experienced trying to be careful about what we eat and still experience problems with digestion. So, what can you do? You can dip into your spice jars.

The amazing thing for me is that so many of the spices I use every day for cooking all contain healing properties. Because I cook mostly Indian food, I have these healing spices at my fingertips and consider myself very lucky.

Coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds are excellent for digestion. They are cooling spices so they are an added benefit for heated indigestion. You often find them sitting in dishes when you pay the cashier at an Indian restaurant –you know, instead of the usual mints.

If I have eaten something that I don’t think will sit well in my stomach, I reach for my coriander, cumin and fennel seeds. I have them preroasted and sitting in a glass jar in my kitchen. They are ready to go any time I need them.


Below is a recipe that I frequently use called Digestive Tea. It’s tasty and will help alleviate your digestive problems. 


2 tablespoons each: 
Coriander Seed
Cumin Seed
Fennel Seed


  1. Dry roast the seeds until toasted.

  2. Once cooled, place in a jar to store for use when needed. 



  1. Heat water in a pot on the stove. Add one teaspoon of your seed mixture per one cup of water.

  2. Boil for 5 minutes.

  3. Strain the seeds and sip throughout the day.

This tea is pacifying for all doshas.

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