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Jaundice

The classical ayurvedic text, Charaka-samhitha, describes jaundice as an increase in the vitiated dosha called pitta. The main symptoms of this condition are yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes. In Ayurveda, Jaundice is said to be aggravated by over indulgences such as alcohol consumption or using stimulants like tobacco and coffee. When it progresses into a more serious disease then it may lead to liver damage that can only be cured with medical attention.

Which disease is similar to Jaundice in Ayurveda?

As the main symptoms of Jaundice are yellowish discoloration of skin and whites of eye, Ayurveda states that Pittapitta (pitta + pitta) or more specifically "Kaamla" (yellow) pitta is the disease that gives these kinds of symptoms. It has been mentioned in Charaka Samhita. This Ayurvedic disease can be identified by its three characteristics as follows:

1. Yellowish discoloration of skin and whites of eyes: Pitta (fire)

2. Liver enlargement: Pitta is supposed to reside in the liver. In Amavata pitta it gets aggravated giving rise to liver enlargement syndrome called Simhata roga(Liver swelling). This is a classical ayurvedic disease that describes this condition very nicely. One can easily link this with jaundice as well as hepatitis because yellowish discoloration cannot happen without an increase in the production of bile or secretion by the liver cells.In Ayurveda,pitta pitta increases vikruthi or derangement in body tissues and functions which is another cause of jaundice.

3. Burning sensation in the body: Pitta is supposed to be responsible for burning sensations of the body according to Ayurvedic texts such as Charaka Samhitha and Sushrutha Samhitha.

These three characteristics are present together in this disease called Pittapitta or Amavata pitta(jaundice) which can also lead to liver damage and even death if not cured with timely medical care. In Jaundice, the deranged vikruthi that is created by Amavata pittapittamay cause diseases like hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver etc. all due to an increase in bile secretion.During the Ayurvedic treatment of Jaundice,the aim is to strengthen the liver by pacifying and decreasing bile secretion.Saka (reducing) drugs are used during ayurvedic treatments for jaundice whereas Pittapittamay give Rasa dhatu aggravation symptoms like fever, asthenia etc.

Ayurveda also describes a similar disease called Prakopa(discoloration) which is caused due to vitiation of kapha dosha with the main symptoms of discoloration of skin and whites of eyes .Primary causes include consumption of sour food products such as alcohol or foods that contain fungus. Secondary causes result from over indulgences in sexual activity or consumption of tobacco or coffee products etc. 

Jaundice is a yellowish discoloration of the skin, eyes and mucus membranes that occurs when bilirubin builds up in the bloodstream. Bilirubin is a byproduct of old red blood cells being broken down in the liver. The breakdown produces bile pigment which passes through the emulsifying system into the intestine to be eliminated from the body. If there are problems with this process (for example if there isn't enough bile pigment due to dehydration) then excess amounts of bilirubin can begin to build up in certain tissues or organs - most notably skin, eyes and brain/central nervous system (CNS). This may cause a jaundiced appearance..

What Causes Jaundice?

There are several causes of biliary obstruction. 

Jaundice may result from congestion or blockage in the bile ducts, usually due to an infarcted liver; a large number of tiny stones in the bile ducts (cholelithiasis); gallstones; cancerous tumors within the liver which obstruct the flow of blood and bile; or a malignant tumor outside the liver that presses against it and blocks its blood supply. 

Many metabolic, genetic, and infectious diseases can also lead to the jaundiced coloration of skin, eyes, and mucus membranes. These include conditions like Hemolytic Anemia, Wilson's Disease, Tyrosinemia, Glycogen Storage Diseases, Gilbert's Syndrome, Gilbert's Disease, Dubin-Johnson Syndrome, and Rotor's Syndrome.

Jaundice Symptoms

The most common symptoms of jaundice include 

  • yellowish discoloration of the skin, eyes and mucus membranes;
  • darkening of urine to a clay-yellow color;
  • pale stools that smell like urine;
  • headache;
  • lethargy or fatigue;
  • muscle weakness.

It should be noted, however, that someone with jaundice can also appear normal in appearance (i.e., "icteric"). The reason why this is possible is that bilirubin - the cause of jaundice - is measured by taking "serum bilirubin" levels in blood samples rather than looking directly at skin coloration. If someone has a high level of serum bilirubin it means that they have excess amounts of bilirubin in their blood. They may or may not be jaundiced "clinically" depending on how much liver damage they have suffered during the build-up of excess bilirubin.