Welcome back fellow Wellness Seekers! In the final segment of this 4-part series on Ayurveda, we’ll be covering an integral part of Ayurveda known as Ama. In the first 3 segments, we dedicated our focus to covering the three doshas: Kapha, Vata, and Pitta. With these fundamental pieces covered, it’s time we take a closer look at the powerful concept of Ama.
What is Ama
Ama is derived from a Sanskrit word which loosely translates to undigested or uncooked. Essentially, Ama is considered toxins in the body which are the underlying cause of sickness in Ayurveda. When considering the thought of something undigested and how that equates to sickness, we can easily look at the importance of proper digestion.
With so much of today’s cutting-edge health research being conducted on gut microbiome and the benefits of a healthy digestive system, the concept of Ama in this ancient medicine clearly illustrates the depth of knowledge surrounding human anatomy and physiology possessed by our forefathers.
The provocative thought that our great ancestors understood forces that modern technological advancements are just starting to reveal, gives great hope to the possibility of widespread acceptance and validation from western medicine on the principles of Ayurveda. In turn, this new research will hopefully trigger an extensive restructuring of the methods used to treat illness in Western Medicine.
When we think about good digestion, we think about a fully functioning digestive system that properly absorbs, assimilates and distributes the proper nutrients and eliminates all the excess waste (toxins). What happens when our food is improperly digested? We have partially undigested food moving through us that isn’t broken down and used as nutrients but it also can’t always be expelled as waste. So essentially, a portion of our consumed meal is simply floating around the digestive system as toxins—or Ama.
Did you know that the digestive tract of an adult is typically around 30 feet? This is approximately 5 to 6 times the average height of an adult male or female. Can you imagine the amount of undigested food which has been accumulated and trapped in the digestive tract throughout the years of an adult in this day-and-age?
Just to provide some visualization to this thought (because you need that, right?), here is a quick story of a conversation I had with someone I met recently.
This person and I were discussing a fasting program they had been trying for the past few months, all-in-all this particular system consisted of fasting in excess of 3 months. (We do not endorse or recommend these types of systems, by the way.)
The individual had not consumed solid food in nearly 75 days but was still having large coiled bowel movements…. Again, just to reiterate this person had not eaten food in 75 days!
It’s harrowing, really.
Ama presence in the body?
There are various signs which indicate the presence of Ama within the body. These are symptoms like:
- Skin Disorders (Rashes, Eczema, Psoriasis, dermatitis, etc.)
- Inflammation / Swelling (joints, bones, body pains)
- High Cholesterol
- White Tongue
- Digestive discomfort (bloating, gas, etc.)
- Dull Skin tone
- Bad breath, body odor
- Lethargy and lack of motivation
These are just signs & symptoms that indicate the presence of Ama in the body but are often times treated as a distinct and unconnected issues by Western Medicine. The first step of claiming your own health is to to listen to your body.
The beautiful nature of the human body is that it will distinctly provide the signs needed if you’re willing to acknowledge them. Ignorance is bliss, but if you want to take your health back into your own hands, you must first commit to learning and understanding the body housing your soul.
Stages of Ama
There are 3 types of Ama recognized by Ayurveda:
Ama: Heavy and Sticky / Shaped by unsavory dietary habits.
Amavisha: Chronic issues
Garvisha: Environmental Toxins
As discussed in our previous segments, poor diet and bad eating habits are what lead to the aggravation of the 3 doshas, fundamentally pushing the individual into an unbalanced state. During this imbalance, the dulling of the digestive fire occurs, and this is when Ama is created within.
With prolonged levels of Ama present in the body, these issues become more severe and potentially chronic in the Amavisha stage. As in most forms of medicine, chronic issues become far more challenging to address in Ayurveda.
Due to the level of toxicity in today’s world, Ayurvedic practitioners are now realizing the importance and challenges surrounding Garvisha more so than our ancestors of the past. It goes without question that our Earth has become far more toxic than when the original principles of Ayurveda were initially developed thousands of years ago.
The introduction of fillers, preservatives, GMOs, and synthetic chemicals added to our everyday food and beauty items are proving to be a detriment not only to mankind, but to all the other species of animals on Earth as well.
A vast number of unethical, immoral, and unsustainable production methods are heavily utilized in the global food and beauty industry and the dissemination and open knowledge of these methods have made it overly apparent why there is so much Ama present amongst our society.
The potential impact these substances are having upon us on a cellular and DNA level may be profound. It is only with further studies, open discussion, public acknowledgement and education surrounding farming practices and food production methods that we can hopefully decontaminate this beautiful planet we’ve been gifted to protect and enjoy.
The removal or elimination of Ama is more easily accomplished when addressed in the early stages of overall imbalance. Like with most medicinal philosophies, if you catch the problem early enough, the odds of solving it increase significantly. Long story short, trust your intuition… If it leads you to believe that there is a level of Ama present in your body, seek the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner to help design an individual plan which will address your unique situation.
Basic methods to eliminate Ama can be as simple as common sense, which can potentially lead us to self-consciously reducing the activities which create Ama. The simple answer is to acknowledge and then immediately address the following:
- Overindulgence of food and portion sizes.
- Irregular eating habits.
- Consumption of packaged, processed, sugary, or fried foods.
- Lack of physical activity
- Unbalanced lifestyle
- Lack of sleep
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this mini-series on Ayurveda! Please feel free to leave comments or message us with questions you may have. If you see an area we can improve on, please also feel free to reach out to us at info@Sanandi.com.
Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine by Marc Halpern