Digestion, Toxins and health by Ayurveda

What is Ama?

This is a very complex concept that is fundamental in an Ayurvedic consultation.

Ayurveda always look at the whole person, even if somebody might look healthy, could potentially still be unhealthy and have Ama.

Ama is loosely translated into toxines, and often people ask, if they are toxines, where do they come from? If there are toxines, we must bring toxins from outside our body into our body, like poison, toxines, chemicals, right?

That is just one type of toxin.

What is Ama?

Ama is a result of improper digestion, it is a form of un-metabolized waste that cannot be used by the body, not eliminated and instead accumulates. Poison, chemicals indeed the body cannot digest it or metabolize it and will cause quite some damage, but Ayurveda define AMA as EVERYTHING we cannot digest (food, chemicals, environmental pollution and toxines, chemicals, and mental experiences).

The undigested food cannot be used to nurture the body (tissues, cells, etc.) and is unable to eliminate it instead it accumulates inside our body.

Ama is a Sanskrit word that translates literally to mean things like “unripe,” “uncooked,” “raw,” “immature,” or “undigested.”

A small amount of ama, is a normal part of the digestive process and can be easily eliminated with a little help (seasonal cleansing is one way, see my other articles). However, when Ama is not regularly clear, it starts to accumulate and as it accumulate and grows so do the problems associated with it.

Because ama is undigested food, this brings our attention to digestion and the digestive fire, Agni.

Agni is the digestive fire, the ability to digest all kind of food. A strong fire can digest and process all food, however, a weak imbalanced Agni will cause unprocessed food which Ayurveda call Ama.

‘Agni is responsible for life span, complexion, strength, health, enthusiasm, corpulence, luster, immunity, energy, heat process, Ojas, Tejas, and Prana. Agni is the root cause of both health and disease. ‘ Charaka Samhita

How do we identify ama, as always we look at the qualities:

Agni is Hot, Sharp, Light, Dry, Subtle, clear, spreading, Fragrant

Ama has the opposite qualities to Agni: Cold, Dull, Sticky and Slimy, Dull, Heavy, Oily, Wet, Gross, Stagnant/stable, Foul Smelling.

The signs of ama will correspond to the qualities of Ama:

Sticky Stools, foul smell in urine, feces and body odor, heavy stools that sink, feeling of heaviness and lethargy, heavy brain (headache and migraines), Dull, feeling tired after waking up in the morning, fatigue, depression, lack of luster in eyes and skin, poor appetite, bloating and smelly winds, etc.

The accumulation of Ama can block the channels {Srotas} and symptoms can varies from sinus congestion, lymph congestion, constipation. The blockage can cause indigestion, stagnation, abnormal taste, poor appetite, sexual disability, mental confusion, feeling unclean, it can affect body and mind.

Depending on where Ama is in the body, it can cause specific signs and symptoms such as thick coating in the tongue, loss of strength, fevers, excess weight, edema, poor circulation, and generalized aches and pain.

Many diseases are the result of Ama accumulation: Elevated blood sugar, Gout, Kidney Stones, Candida overgrowths, Glaucoma, Increased Liver Enzymes, Tumors, Bacterial infections, etc.

The causes of Ama are exactly the opposite of the Ayurvedic recommendations to good health:

irregular routine, overeating or emotional eating, eating the wrong food combination, suppress natural urges, excess cold food, and drinks, detrimental lifestyle (stress, lack of sleep, inadequate exercise, etc.), irregular eating habits, repressed and unresolved emotions.

First step is to have a good daily routine with regular meals, exercise, reduce stress, have a balanced lifestyle. This together with a healthy diet will support an overall wellbeing and health.

You can scroll through my other articles, like this one on detox.

Resources: Banyan and Ayurveda by Geeta Vara.