Agni & Ama

Updated: Apr 14


The concept of Agni (fire) is of great importance in Ayurveda because its strength is among the most critical factors in determining overall health. By contrast, Ama is a toxic, disease-causing substance that forms as a result of diminished Agni and poor lifestyle practices.


In Sanskrit Ama translates to unripe, uncooked, raw, immature or undigested, and is essentially un-metabolized waste that cannot be utilized by the body. The formation of small amounts of ama is a normal part of the digestive process, provided it is efficiently removed. But when it is not regularly cleared and eliminated, it is believed to be the root cause of all disease.


The qualities of Agni and Ama illustrate their perfect opposition to one another which you can see in the box to the right.


Ama is relatively easy to clear from the digestive tract, but once it spreads into the deeper tissues, it becomes much more challenging to eliminate because it coats and clogs individual cell membranes inhibiting cellular communication and weakening the immune response. This eventually leads to a loss of intelligence at the cellular level, which can contribute to diseases such as autoimmune disorders.


General signs and symptoms of ama accumulation can include coating on the tongue, sinus congestion, lymph congestion, constipation, fibrocystic changes, fatigue, heaviness, indigestion, abnormal taste in the mouth, poor appetite, mental confusion and feeling unclean.


There are many reasons why ama starts to accumulate in the body, but improper agni is always part of the problem. The main culprits are overeating or emotional eating, improper food combining, eating heavy foods, fried food, excess amounts of cold and raw foods, and excess sweets or processed foods. Other factors are a life of stress, anxiety, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, irregular eating habits, including sleeping with undigested food in the stomach.


Ayurveda uses the five sense therapies to bring balance and harmony including taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight. In the case of ama reduction it can include detoxification, steam therapy, increasing prana doing yoga, meditation, and pranayama, and aromatherapy, massage modalities and of course food, herbs and spices.


In the case of herbs they might be ones you are using now but not at the dosages needed to affect ama reduction. Special care should be taken in cases of high pitta or severe inflammatory conditions (e.g. ulcers) because herbs that digest ama also tend to be quite hot and can further aggravate the situation.


There are many reasons why ama starts to accumulate in the body, but improper Agni is always part of the problem. The main culprits are overeating or emotional eating, improper food combining, eating heavy foods, fried food, excess amounts of cold and raw foods, and excess sweets or processed foods.


Other factors are a life of stress, anxiety, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, irregular eating habits, including sleeping with undigested food in the stomach.


Below are some of the specific spices and herbs used for Ama reduction by Dosha:

Vata Ama:

Hingvastak, trikatu, fresh ginger, coriander, pippali, fennel, Hing, Ajwan and mustard.

Pitta Ama

Avipattikara powder, coriander, neem, fresh ginger, cinnamon, lime and tamarind.

Kapha Ama

Trikatu, dried ginger, black pepper, pippali, cumin, garlic, nutmeg, mustard, Hing, and Ajwan.




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