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Diseases of the Digestive System

We shall first take the disorders of the digestive system, firstly because of their frequency-which is more than any other set of diseases-and secondly, because of the importance that digestion has for the human body. Unless a person is able to digest what he eats he is not likely to keep good health because he will not be able to assimilate into his system the nutrition that food should give.

The Digestive Process

According to the Unani system of medicine, the stomach is one of the five major organs of the body (Azaye Rayeesa), the other four being the heart, the brain, the lungs and the kidneys. It is probably the most vital part of the body because its malfunctioning would lead to a gradual decay of the body and an increasing sense of unease. It is not only a storehouse of food during the process of digestion but also makes it more permeable through the juices that it exudes: the two ferments, pepsin and rennin, break down the food into smaller molecules with the aid of the hydrochloric acid. The stomach starts its food into smaller molecules with the aid of the hydrochloric acid. The stomach starts its peculiar churning motion the moment food enters it to mix it with the gastric juices. The softened food then goes into the intestines and is exposed to the action of (i) biles; (ii) pancreatic juice; (iii) intestinal juices and (iv) bacteria. It is then broken down into the various substances needed for the development of the body and the repairs to the wear and tear to which the body is exposed as one goes through life. Vital elements are absorbed into the system and assimilated -that is the end of the process of digestion. That is how the body replaces the energy that has been expended; if the amount of food ingested is more than the needs of the body, the extra energy that has been assimilated into the system contributes to the layers of fat over the various parts. And fat has a tendency to accumulate over those parts which are not properly exercised, e.g., the abdominal muscles and the buttocks.

We shall now deal with the various disorders of the digestive system in the order of their frequency.

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