digestion and health

There is an important relationship between agni, known in Ayurveda as the “digestive fire,” and ama, the byproduct of improper digestion, circulating toxins, and toxic buildup.  When digestion is balanced, food is digested properly and one dhatu (tissue layer) supports and nourishes the next, resulting in health.

When agni (the strength and function of the digestive system) is weak or disturbed, ama is the result of improper digestion.  Ama in the form of circulating toxins and toxic buildup in the GI tract (leading to dysbiosis), the blood stream (creating arterial plaques), and throughout the nervous system (causing neurological symptoms) is often implicated in conditions with systemic inflammation (indicating immune system involvement) at their root.(1)  Toxins are potent molecules used by various bacteria to interact with a host organism.(2)

The concept of ama is very important to Ayurvedic therapy, as many diseases have ama as a component or root cause.  Ama is the byproduct of improper digestion and, in a cyclical pattern, hampers digestion when it is present.  Improper digestion causes ama which further impedes digestion and creates more ama.

Health digestion and properly functioning agni (digestive fire) is of primary importance to health from an Ayurvedic perspective.


tongue diagnosis

To develop awareness about the level of ama buildup in your body, visually scan your tongue each morning and practice gentle tongue scraping to identify the quality of the coating on your tongue.  Nourishing and wholesome food and a healthy digestive system will not produce the sticky byproduct which coats the tongue and can be scraped off.


Your Ayurvedic Practitioner will determine the level of ama and will assess the resulting symptoms of toxic build up, such as fatigue, achy joints, headache, migraine, and stomach disturbances.

Ama is eliminated and agni improved with simple adjustments to how you eat, what you eat, and when you eat.  Your Ayurvedic Practitioner may recommend a formula containing agni deepan ama pachan (agni “kindling” and ama “destroying”) herbs when the therapeutic priority is detoxification and blood purification.

Additionally, panchakarma may be indicated in the spring and autumn seasons.  Schedule an appointment today if you are interested in panchakarma detoxification and deep cleansing this season.



1. Dantzer et al. From inflammation to sickness and depression: when the immune system subjugates the brain. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jan; 9(1): 46–56. Accessed August 2015. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919277/

2. Popoff1, M and Poulain, B. Bacterial Toxins and the Nervous System: Neurotoxins and Multipotential Toxins Interacting with Neuronal Cells. Toxins (Basel). 2010 Apr; 2(4): 683–737. Accessed August 2015.  Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153206/