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Ayurveda and the Build Up of Ama (Toxins) in the Body

Our health and wellbeing depend on our ability to digest everything we take in from food and liquids to emotions and weather. This is why it is important to have a strong agni. Agni is the Sanskrit term for digestive and metabolic fire. Agni maintains one’s life span, strength and vitality. It governs digestion, absorption, and assimilation. [1] Agni helps us digest food and emotions, assimilate what is important, and eliminate what is waste. If our agni or digestive fire is strong we can process food and emotions with ease and feel great! If our agni is weak we build up ama.

Ama is a Sanskrit word that translates to “uncooked”, “unripe”, “raw”, or “undigested.” [2] Ama is the build up of toxins, undigested food, or emotions that get stored in our fat cells. It is essentially un-metabolized waste that cannot be used by the body. Small amounts of ama in the body are a normal part of digestion. Yet, if it is not regularly eliminated it builds up in the body and can become problematic. Ama is said to be the root cause of all disease. [1] The underlying causes of weight issues, GI Symptoms, constipation, indigestion, bloating, gas, and heartburn are due to a weak agni (digestive fire), and the build up ama (toxins). Our agni and the amount of ama in the body can change with our diet. This is why gut health is central to optimizing your longevity and vibrancy in Ayurveda.

Signs of Ama:

Ama creates generalized symptoms such as [1]:

  1. Fatigue

  2. Clogging of channels

  3. Indigestion

  4. Mental confusion

  5. Stagnation of energy flow

  6. Abnormal flow of vata (some examples are heartburn or diarrhea

  7. Heaviness

  8. Poor appetite or lack of taste

  9. Feeling unclean

  10. Sexual debility

Other signs of ama are body ache, constipation, diarrhea, a thick coating on the tongue, fatigue, skin blemishes, fevers, excess weight, poor circulation, and stiffness. [1] There is also mental and emotional ama. This kind of ama leads to a lack of energy and enthusiasm, anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, worry, fear, unclear thinking, and a foggy mind. [2]

The Causes of Ama:

There are many reasons why there is a build up of ama in the body.  One of the main causes is a low agni (digestive and metabolic fire). And a high amount of Ama disrupts agni, so a chain reaction happens. [3]

  1. A poor diet like:

  2. Overeating or emotional eating

  3. Heavy foods

  4. Fried foods

  5. Highly processed or sugary foods

  6. Non-organic foods with chemicals or pesticides

  7. And excess of sweet and salt.

  8. Unbalanced lifestyle

  9. High stress

  10. Lack of excess of sleep

  11. No routine

  12. Improper or inadequate exercise

  13. Irregular eating habits like diets.

  14. Repressed or unresolved emotions or trauma.

The first step to treating ama, is removing causes of your imbalance through diet and lifestyle. If this is overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, don’t worry! An Ayurvedic practitioner can help you clean cleanse the intestinal tract and get rid of mental of ama, while boosting your agni (digestive fire). An Ayurvedic practitioner can work with you to find your dosha (your unique individual body constitution), which will help to identify the best foods, exercise, and lifestyle for optimal health and vitality!


[1] Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume II: A Complete Guide to Clinical Assessment.  Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2006. Print. 190, 199. .

[2] Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. London: Churchill Livingston, 2006. Print. 44-46, 103-105

[3] Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume II: A Complete Guide to Clinical Assessment.  Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2006. Print. 190, 199-202.

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