Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Concept of Ama

Ama, which can be translated as ´raw´ or ´unripe´,  is undigested food, thoughts or emotions, leading to toxicity. Physical and mental confusion is the result of intake not being processed, broken down and separated into the useful, to be assimilated, and waste elements, to be expelled. When agni is not working properly, there is bound to be ama. 
Ama could also be called toxins, sludge or bad kapha. It has a sticky quality (pichila) and once it enters cells or clogs strota  it's hard to remove. It circulates in the body  and passes through any strota looking for a weak place to lodge and can block the strota themselves. Injury or wear and tear can also create the conditions for ama in the form of inflammation. Although inflammation may be an immune response to attack it always causes some damage itself and the more chronic the inflammation, the greater the damage. 

Everywhere in the body in the dhatu, is either nirama or ama, well made dhatu or weak and toxic dhatu. Ama can collect in different places, causing blockage or inflammation which prevents nutrition reaching the dhatu or organs to nourish or repair them. (Although ice can be applied in new injuries (where calor, dolor, rubor, tumor (heat, pain, redness, swellinng) exist) heat should be given to reduce ´cold´ chronic injuries, increasing blood supply so that nutrition can arrive. Heat opens the strota and blood washes inflammatory ama from the tissues.) 

According to Ayurveda, ama while in the GI tract can be treated and discharged with detoxification and cleansing treatments, ie therapeutic vomiting, purgation or enemas. However in later stages of imbalance, an overload of ama will overflow from its orginal site, blocking strota and impeding the pass of nutrients, and lodging in weakened, damaged or badly made dhatu. Ghee, taken internally, as well as massage and fomentation is used to aggravate the dosha, dislodge fat soluble toxins and bring them back to the digestive tract from where they can be expelled. 

Symptoms of ama

  • heaviness, lethargy in body or mind
  • lack of energy, apathy
  • lack of appetite, slow digestion, cravings
  • white coating on tongue
  • mucus in the stool, sinking stool, offensive smell
  • bad breath
  • nausea
  • ama has a blocking effect on body
  • blocks channels of nutrition, even mental channels, ie thinking clearly
  • eating well but still feel tired, because nutrition is not arriving to dhatus
  • cravings due to fake appetite (fake agni) usually for carbohydrates

Qualities of ama

Avipakvam incompletely digested
Asamyuktam non homogenous
Durgandham foul smelling
Picchila sticky, slimy
Strotorodha blocking of the channels
Gaurava heavy
Sadana fatiguing
Anila mudhata disturbance of physiological state of Vata

Aggravating factors:

Early morning, night
Rainy season

What supports agni?

  • rest, exercise.
  • hot water and fasting once a week
  • ginger tea with honey
  • steaming 
  • light foods, soups
  • if sedentary, a little exercise
  • hot sand detox, salt water, hot springs
  • best herb - dry ginger
  • ''shuntee'' amapanchana - digests ama
  • eat slowly, chewing 32 times
  • mostly vegetarian food, esp if working with knowledge
  • trikatu power – equal parts dry ginger, black pepper and long pepper

When ama increases, agni decreases: when agni is balanced, ama decreases.

However, proper advice from an Ayurvedic doctor should always be taken. Ama combines with Vata, Pitta or Kapha dosha. Some of the actions which promote agni may aggravate Pitta or Vata when taken out of context or without proper diagnosis. The approach should always be gentle and moderate, taking into account rogi pariksha, diagnosis of the specific person.

The Ayurvedic approach to nutrition is also holistic – with a focus on spiritual, mental, social, and physical nutrition rather than on the specific macronutrient  content of food. It is good to follow the simplest routines above, such as adequate rest and light exercise, before panchakarma and for those people who are too weak to do panchakarma. Ama has a blocking effect on the body's strotas and can block even thoughts and feelings.