What is Ama / toxin in the body and what havoc can it cause for us?
In the healthy process of digestion the input of what we eat, think, feel is fully digested and either absorbed as nutrients or expelled out from the body. When our digestion is not strong enough, some of the inputs get digested and converted into nutrients, some get digested and expelled as waste product, but some remain in the body in a half digested condition. This undigested, unmetabolised food, thought, emotion becomes a toxin and starts to circulate in the body, causing disease.
As we can see, a healthy digestion is very important in staying healthy overall. This healthy digestion is based on the quality of our digestive fire. When the digestive fire is strong enough, we can digest things easily. If the digestive fire is sluggish than we struggle and end up with toxins in the body. A healthy and active digestive fire will result in a healthy and vibrant body. Longevity depends upon the quality of our digestive fire!
What causes the weakening of the digestive fire?
Eating the same foods all the time
Eating food which is hard to digest
Eating tasteless food
Eating at irregular times
Not eating according to our Dosha (Ayurvedic constitution)
Resisting the urge to eat
Drinking too much water with meals
Staying up late
Environmental toxins (pesticides, additives, lead)
Alcohol and tobacco
Stress, trauma and strain
Too much negative input from TV, newspapers
People with negative energy
Eating foods that are too heavy to digest, such as fried foods, hard cheeses, meats, leftovers, junk foods, processed foods, and rich desserts, these can overload the otherwise healthy digestion and cause weakening. Cold foods and drinks - such as ice cream, ice-cold water, and foods straight from the refrigerator - also are hard to digest, since cold temperatures put out the digestive fire.
How to increase the digestive fire and get rid of Ama?
Drinking warm water with lemon first thing in the morning
Drinking ginger tea before meals
Sipping warm water between meals
Eating according to our Dosha
Avoiding over eating (a good gauge is cupping the hands together with fingertips touching, forming a shape of a bowl, we can have about two handfuls of food)
Eating the largest meal of the day at lunch time
Yogic cleansing techniques like Agnisar, Nasya
Yoga postures like twists, abdominal postures, laying on tummy postures (for example Gate pose, Plank pose, Revolved Triangle pose, Revolved Supine twist, Tree pose, Boat pose, Marychi twists, Cobra pose, Bow pose)
In severe Ama condition even Pancha Karma (deep Ayurvedic cleansing)
Consuming herbs that are pungent and bitter in taste (Aloe Vera, black pepper, cardamon, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, fennel seeds and ginger root)
Not eating unless feeling hungry, and not drinking unless feeling thirsty
Not eating when feeling thirsty, and not drinking when feeling hungry
Chewing food thoroughly
Focusing the mind on and being aware of the taste of the food
Daily meditation, releasing negative emotions
Daily gentle exercise such as walking, Yoga, cycling, swimming
Signs and Symptoms of Ama in the Body:
Irregular appetite or reduced appetite
Generalized body and joint pains. This is noticed the day after eating certain heavy foods, like meat, cheeses, desserts and fried foods.
Skin is dull and lusterless with blemishes, acne etc
Bloated stomach, gases, flatulence
Metallic taste in the mouth
White coating on the tongue
Foul smelling breath and sweat
Constipation, foul smelling stools which may be sticky, heavy and sink.
Lack of mental clarity and energy.
A sense of heaviness in the abdomen, legs or body as a whole
Weary and unenthusiastic feeling
Blocked feeling anywhere in the body, including constipation, sinus congestion and difficulty in breathing
One wakes up tired even after a good night’s sleep
Lower immunity, frequent colds and flu
Some conditions that indicate the presence of toxins in the body are eczema, psoriasis, cysts, swellings, painful or swollen joints, high cholesterol, blocked arteries