Ama: The Antithesis of Agni

According to Ayurveda, more importance is given to the concept of fire (Agni). The strength of Agni in the body is the most vital factor in finding overall health conditions. The fire element’s weakness will lead to the production of Ama – a toxic substance that is a reason for various diseases and further destroys fire (Agni). 

The accumulation of Ama causes harmful effects to our body health. It can lead to imbalances in dosha. This is a reason for many diseases. Therefore, Ama is an antithesis of fire (Agni), and you have to have a clear idea about what Ama is exactly, how to identify Ama, how to remove Ama from the body, and how to set Agni in its position. This will be helpful in achieving good health. 

What is Ama?

In Sanskrit, Ama means unripe, uncooked, raw, or unprocessed. Ama is a toxic substance that is produced due to undigested food which your body cannot use. Ama is produced due to either weak digestion or bad dietary habits. Nowadays, the food habit we follow does not have a correct balance of all six tastes and leads to improper digestion.

The formation of a small quantity of Ama is normal in the digestive process, and it should be efficiently eliminated. However, when it is not removed regularly, ama accumulation becomes problematic because Ama is the root cause for all diseases.

Ama and the disease process’s relation is perfect because the ama quantities and fire (Agni) are in opposition. Initially, we have seen that powerful Agni is significant to maintain proper health. When Agni gets suppressed and Ama accumulates, then our health condition gets to suffer.

Ama blocks the body’s channels, decreases the digestion process, and leads to imbalances of the Doshas and that rises to disease. For example, In Ayurveda, Rheumatoid Arthritis is the accumulation of Ama (with Vata) in the joints.

The below table shows the opposite qualities of Agni and Ama

AgniAma
Hot Cold
SharpDull
LightHeavy
DryOily and Wet
SubtleGross
ClearSticky
SpreadingStable
FragrantFoul Smelling

Why is Ama Bad?

Ama can be removed or cleared easily in the digestive tract, but once it penetrates deep into the tissue membrane of the body, then it is difficult to remove toxins. Ama accumulation blocks the channels of the body and prevents the supply of nutrition to the tissues. Ama also disturbs body metabolism at the cellular level. When Ama enters into the deeper tissues, it blocks the cell membranes by preventing cellular communication and thus weakening the immune system. This will lead to serious diseases such as autoimmune disorders or cancer.

Symptoms of Ama accumulation

  • Sinus congestion
  • Lymph congestion
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Heaviness
  • Abnormal flow of Vata
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Stagnation
  • Abnormal taste
  • Poor appetite
  • Sexual debility
  • Mental confusion
  • Feeling unclean

Based on the location of Ama present in our body, it can cause specific signs such as a thick coating on the tongue, congestion, dull eyes, skin blemishes, fevers, excess weight, poor circulation, swelling, stiffness, or soreness at the hair, or aches and pains.

In the digestive tract, ama can cause changes in taste, loss of appetite, indigestion, malabsorption, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, sticky stools, or itchiness at the anus. Ama also causes foul-smelling in the breath, mucus, urine, and stools.

Mentally, ama causes lack of energy, low self-esteem, anxiety, worry, depression, fear, a foggy mind, and unclear thinking.

Modern diseases as a result of ama accumulation are

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Blood urea
  • Candida albicans
  • Depression
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Elevated Immunoglobulin E
  • Excess red blood cell count
  • Excess platelet count
  • Gallstones
  • Glaucoma
  • Gout
  • Increased liver enzymes
  • Kidney stones
  • Late-onset diabetes
  • Leukocytosis
  • Rheumatoid factor
  • Tumors

Causes of Ama

Impaired Agni is the main cause of Ama. The lifestyle that disturbs Agni contributes to the formation of Ama. Here are some habits which causes the formation of Ama are

  • Over-eating 
  • Irregular eating habits
  • Improper food combinations
  • Heavy and fried food
  • Excess consumption of cold or raw foods items
  • Highly processed foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Sweet, sour, or salty taste foods
  • High stress
  • Excess or inadequate sleep
  • Excessive or inadequate exercise
  • Sleeping or eating before food 
  • Sleeping during the day 
  • Unresolved emotions

Proper Food Diet to Inhibit Ama

A proper diet is powerful in removing Ama. Here are some of the food items that can be added or removed from your life to eliminate Ama

  1. Tastes: add pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes; avoid sweet, sour, and salty tastes
  2. Fruit: Eat sour fruits like cranberries; better avoid sweet fruits
  3. Vegetables: Go with lots of vegetables and greens; Don’t prefer mushrooms, root vegetables, and sweet or heavy items.
  4. Grains: whole grains like barley, quinoa, millet, rye, and basmati rice is the best choice; don’t eat processed and starchy grains like bread, pastries, wheat, and oats.
  5. Legumes: Add mung beans in your diet list
  6. Nuts & Seeds: Prefer consuming small quantities of pumpkin seeds; don’t eat nuts
  7. Oils: Better avoid oils other than ghee, mustard oil, or flaxseed oil
  8. Dairy: Avoid dairy products
  9. Animal Foods: All animal foods such as red meat, shellfish, fish, and pork should be avoided.
  10. Sweeteners: use natural sweetener honey; don’t use sugar and other sweeteners
  11. Drinks: Consume teas made from ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, or fennel, and dandelion root; Avoid iced or cool drinks

Note: Better take a short walk after having food or lay down towards your left for a few minutes. This can be helpful to increase Agni and digest Ama.

Ama – Minimize Accumulation & Improve Removal

There are various effective ways to remove Ama from the body. Some of them explained below will enhance the digestive capacity, improve tissue nutrition absorption, and eliminate Ama through urine, stool, and sweat.

Herbs:
When Agni is vital to produce an appetite but not to digest the food completely, then it leads to the formation of Ama. The bitter and astringent tastes are powerful in eliminating Ama, and the pungent taste digests Ama. In Ayurveda, this flavored herbal combination is used to remove Ama.

Sun Bathing:
While exposing skin to direct sunlight will increase lightness, provoke Agni, and it is best for eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, depression, and water retention.

Prana:
Prana (breath) is essential for the life force infused in every cell and tissue of our body. Inhaling a sufficient amount of prana is helpful in eliminating Ama. There are effective ways to provide fresh prana to our tissues. It is best for people with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, anxiety, fear, nervous system, and the mind. To get sufficient prana, you have to spend time with nature and take deep, relaxed breaths.

Yoga:
Doing Yoga regularly will raise prana throughout your body. It heats the body, induces sweat, relaxes your mind, and aids to stretch tissues which accumulate Ama.

Fasting:
Fasting is an effective way to eliminate Ama, but it should be done with extra care because various dosha-type people have different tolerating limits.

  • Vata types will do best on short fasting that includes liquidy soups.
  • Pitta type people can tolerate juice fasts.
  • Kapha types can tolerate water fasting.
  • Here drinking hot water or spice teas with black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom aids to clear toxins with a hungry stomach.

Cleansing Therapies

Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic cleaning therapy that will aid in removing toxins, and excess Vata, Pitta, Kapha from the deeper tissues. Various panchakarma techniques are there to remove toxins. It will move the toxins to the digestive tract and eliminate them from the body.

Specific Types of Ama

Ama is mixed with Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, and each dosha is related to Ama in a unique way. Specific issues in the body indicate the type of dosha to which Ama gets mixed.

  • Vata Ama

When Ama is combined with Vata, Ama gets accumulated in the lower abdominal area and pelvic cavity and disturbs the colon and the joints.

Vata ama causes a dry or astringent taste in the mouth. This type of Ama can cause constipation, dry skin, congestion, bloating, and pain. Vata ama also leads to severe disorders like diverticulitis, arthritis, and sciatica.

How to balance Vata Ama
Intake herbs or formulas like Vata digest tablets, Hingvastak, Trikatu, and Aloe vera gel. Herbs for digesting Vata ama are ajwain, fresh ginger, pepper, pippali, fennel, guggulu, chitrak, cinnamon, hing, mustard, castor oil, and rock salt.

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing technique) is used in balancing pranayama for Vata type ama. Vata Pacifying Yoga will also be helpful.

  • Pitta Ama

Ama accumulates in the central abdominal region when Ama is combined with pitta and causes stagnation in the small intestine, liver, and gallbladder. This kind of Ama also has the ability to circulate in the bloodstream. It can smell fleshy, sour, or acidic, and it also causes a bitter or sour taste in mouth. It lowers the digestive fire strength, creates heartburn, blood infections, acid indigestion, ulcer, nausea, diarrhea, feverishness, and skin disorder.

How to balance Pitta Ama
Herbs or formulas for digesting pitta ama are Pitta Digest tablets, rhubarb, aloe vera gel, avipattikar powder, coriander, neem, musta, fresh ginger, cinnamon, lime, and tamarind. Sheetali (Cooling Breath) is the best balancing pranayama for pitta ama. Pitta Pacifying Yoga can also be helpful.

  • Kapha Ama

When Ama is combined with Kapha, Ama gets accumulated in the stomach, chest, lungs, and sinuses. It is thick, sticky, cloudy, and foul-smelling and produces a salty or sweet taste in the mouth. Kapha ama leads to loss of appetite, copious mucus, colds, coughs, sinus congestion, and lymphatic congestion.

How to balance Kapha Ama

Herbs and formulas that digest Kapha Ama are Kapha Digest tablets, trikatu, dried ginger, black pepper, pippali, cumin, punarnava, chitrak, guggulu, garlic, kutki, vidanga, tulsi, mustard, hing, ajwain, and rock salt. Bhastrika (Bellows Breath) is balancing pranayama for this type of Ama, and Kapha Pacifying Yoga can also help.

Conclusion

Ama can be removed from the body with a proper diet, yoga, and breathing exercise related to dosha. We have to deal with our bodies with their natural ability to digest and remove Ama. And, Ama cannot be developed in the presence of balanced fire (Agni). So Agni is essential in removing Ama or inhibiting Ama formation.

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