Listen in this order
- Ayurveda Series 2: Agni – Your Digestive Fire
- Ayurveda Series 2: Agni – Rekindling Your Digestive Fire
- This episode
Welcome back to the show, I’m your host Nick Broadhurst. And in the previous episode we learned all about the gatekeeper of good health, Agni, also known as Digestive Fire. But today we are going to look at the antithesis of Agni, which is called Ama, also known as toxins. Ama can accumulate in the body when we don’t digest our foods or our emotions properly. The good news is that Ama is relatively easy to clear form the body, if you catch it before it is forced deeper into the tissues of your body. So, let’s dive in and take a look at what Ama is and how we can implement some simple strategies to keep it at bay.
That song you were listening to was my latest single Always You which just came out last week. I wrote that song in a moment of inspiration mixed with frustration. Melissa and I had been together for around 4 months and we were experiencing some pretty fierce resistance to our speedy two week engagement. Now what was totally natural in flow for us, had become a trigger for others. So when I sing “maybe, maybe you’re gonna call me crazy. A feeling I know it can’t be wrong”, you now know what I am referring to. I also sing “I’ll walk you through the sunshine and the rain I believe that second chances come again”, which really is what marriage is all about. You see this opportunity to grow together as long as you honour the sacred nature of what it means to be in relationship. You acknowledge that there will be sunshine and rain. And for me my second chance really was finding Melissa after being married once before. I can clearly remember having this deep intuitive feeling that there was someone in this world who would really see me. I could feel her out there, and then we met. “Everybody run for cover, the ceilings coming down”, which at the time was me expressing how I knew this relationship was going to take me through any self imposed limitations, any glass ceilings. You can hear the full song simply by searching for my name in iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify… wherever you listen to music.
Ok, onto the third episode in this Ayurveda Series 2. If you haven’t heard listened to Series 1, hit the pause button and go back to episode 21 through to 24. Starting there will give you an understanding of your body type and make this series much more relevant to you as you are listening. And of course, listen to this series in order, starting with episode 77: Agni – Your Digestive Fire and episode 78: Agni – Rekindling Your Digestive Fire.
Today our focus is on Ama. Ama are toxins that are formed as a result of an imbalanced Agni or digestive fire. Coming back to the fire analogy; when you have a fire that has been made with care, being careful to build it up with paper, then kindling, then bigger kindling, then small logs, then larger logs, what do you end up with once at the bottom of this balanced fire? Fine, soft ash. But if I was to go and grab some big logs that were clearly too big for this fire, and I threw them on, what is going to be left? Big chunks of charcoal or unburnt timber. Those chunks are ama. The fins ash is also known as rasa which in science would be called plasma. It’s the juice of life that nourishes all the layers of our tissues. Rasa = health. Ama = dis-ease.
When we burn or digest our food properly, this rasa floods our body and nourishes the 7 layers of tissue which are called Dhatus. Ayurveda thousands of years ago identified these 7 layers and today in modern science they are strikingly similar to the major tissues identified in modern science. But Ayurveda takes it a step further by also including tissues that are in liquid form.
The 7 layers known as Dhatus are:
- Plasma (Rasa)
- Blood (Rakta)
- Muscle (Mamsa)
- Fat (Meda)
- Bone (Asthi)
- Bone marrow and nerve (Majja)
- Reproductive fluid (Shukra)
When we have balanced agni, the rasa is able to nourish all layers and the tissues form sequentially starting with plasma. Healthy plasma results in all layers being nourished which in turn creates at each layer what is called Ojas, which we are going to discuss in the next episode.
The qualities of ama are:
- Foul smelling
Think of ama as ‘sludge’ that blocks the channels of our body. If we want to have clear detoxification channels, which is so important in the modern world, we want to have a body with minimal ama.
So how do you know if you have accumulated ama in your body? Have a think about these questions:
- Do you catch frequent colds?
- Do you feel depressed at times?
- Do you find it hard to get motivated?
- Do you feel foggy in the morning?
- Do you feel like your food doesn’t digest properly?
- Do you get congested or constipated?
- Do you feel weak for no reason?
- Are you susceptible to infections?
- Do you have bad breath and a coated tongue?
These are just a few things you can ask yourself to see where you sit on the ama scale right now. And I also want to briefly touch on the 6 stages of disease from an ayurvedic perspective. Please keep in mind that information is very powerful. Don’t let any of this become fear in your body. The purpose of this episode is to empower you, which is why in a minute we will talk about what to do about ama. This is also why I started this series talking about agni, and why tomorrow we will talk about ojas, the antidote to ageing. Because it’s all about balance right?
Ok, the 6 stages of disease flow like this…
Stage One: Accumulation
When we keep our three dosha, vata, pitta and kapha, in balance then we never start this first stage of accumulation. But when they are out of balance, we start to accumulate imbalances in the home of each dosha. So for vata it can accumulate in the nerves and colon, pitta in the digestive tract and skin, and kapha in the chest or circulatory system.
Stage Two: Aggravation
This is where that imbalance in the ‘seat’ of the dosha starts to have the qualities that can spread it through the body,
Stage Three: Dissemination
Now the dosha has accumulated and is aggravated, it starts to spread to other parts of the body, which can often be that general feeling that something’s a bit off. Like feeling tired or flat overall.
Stage Four: Localization
Now that that the imbalance has spread to other parts of the body, localization is when it starts to disrupt another part of the body like an organ, where it would not normally be present.
Stage Five: Manifestation
This is pretty obvious really. At stage 5 we start to see the actual manifestation of the imbalance. This could be something like allergies, a sore throat.
Stage Six: Disruption
At this stage, the dis-ease has disrupted the bodies natural mechanisms and now we have a more chronic imbalance.
But the good news is that it all starts with agni, which we have discussed, and you can clear your body of this sticky sludge called ama. Coming up in this series we will dive into how to balance or pacify each dosha, but for now, let’s look at just some simple things to help our body with ama. First of all you need healthy agni, so go back and listen to the previous episode on how to rekindle your digestive fire. This is where it all starts, sos getting that right is key. But one simple tip I want to leave you with today is about the water you drink. I mentioned in the last episode that we want to stay clear of cold water, unless you have a pitta imbalance, but the simple act of sipping warm water through the day supports your body to eliminate ama. What happens when you try to clean the dishes with cold water? You just kind of move any of the oils or anything sticky around. But as soon as the water warms up, the sticky oily stuff starts to slide away. Think of ama like that, the sludge that can be helped along with some warm water.
Now, if you want to take that to the next level you can make yourself a simple tea known as CCF tea. That simply stands for cumin, coriander, fennel tea.
Cumin supports sluggish digestion and helps with healthy elimination. It has an affinity for drawing energy downwards, towards the bowel and out the anus. Fennel is one of the best herbs for strengthening agni and digestion which is why you will often see fennels seeds covered in sugar at Indian restaurants at the end of a meal. And coriander much like cumin increases digestion and absorption. All three of these will not aggravate pitta which is epic. So if you are a dominant pitta body type, this bend will work perfectly for you. But for vata you may want to fire things up a bit with a pinch of dried ginger, cardamom or cinnamon. And for kapha a pinch of ginger or cloves can also be very supportive.
Just bring to the boil 1 tsp of CCF tea in 2 cups of water with your choice of kapha or vata spices. Simmering for 10 min will result in a stronger brew.
I would love to hear from you, so please tag me @iamnickbroadhurst on social media. Please also leave me a comment below (I read every single one!). And if you could take a minute to leave me a review on iTunes I would be very grateful. Tell me what you want more of! I am at your service.
P.S. Always listen to your intuition (and your doctor or practitioner) before trying any new health practice.