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  Article: Concept of 'AMA' in Ayurveda - by Dr.Shashikant Patwardhan  

Ama is a peculiar concept in Ayurveda (for which modern chemistry has no correlate). It is an important factor in a cause of disease and in modification of disease process. Role of Ama - Ama originates from improperly digested toxic particles that clog the channels in your body. Some of these channels are physical and include the intestines, lymphatic system, arteries and veins, capillaries, and genitourinary tract. Others are nonphysical channels called nadis through which your energy flows. 


Ama toxicity accumulates wherever there is a weakness in the body, and this will result in disease Causes of 'Ama' production : Agnimandya -Low digestive fire Normal activity of digestive fire is essential for the complete and proper digestion of food. But due to low digestive fire the food is not properly digested, and toxic product is formed. 


Therefore its absorption becomes sluggish and it gets retained in the intestine for a longer time. Due to this retention it becomes fermented or even putrefied. This toxic product remains unabsorbed in the intestine because of its incomplete digestion and it is the root cause of all diseases. ( Ash. Su. 13 /23) Dhatu-agnimandya - Low tissue fire Tissue fire plays an important role in the process of formation of tissues from the nutrient substances (of the particular dhatu). Hence when the power of the tissue fire of a particular tissue is diminished, either in the liver or in a particular channel, the formation or utilization of that tissue becomes incomplete and ama is produced. Such tissues containing ama are called Sama tissues-tissues with ama. This type of pathology is seen in various diseases. 


In diabetes, fat and muscle tissues are formed as "Sama tissues" because of the low tissue fire of the fat and muscle tissues. Hence the normal functional activities of these tissues are hampered. In obesity a similar type of fat tissue is produced due to low tissue fire of fat tissue. A peculiar thing observed in these two conditions is that, though there is low tissue fire, there is no associated low digestive fire; on the contrary digestive fire becomes sharper. In all other types of low tissue fire there is an associated low digestive fire. (Ch. Ni. 4/7 Chakrapani) Mala Sanchaya - Accumulation of waste products Agni is the energy responsible for transformation of food substances into body tissues. In the first stage it produces nutritious substance, which is converted to tissues in the second phase of digestion, which is called secondary or tissue digestion. 


Here the action of tissue fire takes place on nutrient food substances, and different tissues are produced. This is the anabolic activity of tissue fire. (M.N.) The tissues produced by this process are utilized for the liberation of energy required for each and every activity of the body. During this process the tissue substances are again digested, disintegrated, and utilized for the liberation of heat and energy by the tissue fire. This is the catabolic process.


During this activity of disintegration of tissues certain minute waste products are formed. They are called subtle waste products or kleda. Up to a certain limit the existence of these is essential for the body, and the excess is excreted from the body. When this excretion becomes inadequate due to excessive production or its defective excretion, it gets accumulated in the body-which results in the formation of toxic substance- Ama. Dosha sammurcchana - Interaction or amalgamation between vitiated doshas Every dosha has certain qualities, which are antagonistic to the qualities of other doshas-e.g. the dry and light qualities of Vata are antagonistic to the oily and heavy qualities of Kapha. Similarly the hot quality of Pitta is antagonistic to the cold quality of Kapha and Vata. 


Therefore when two or three doshas become severely vitiated and combined, they produce interaction between them. In such conditions opposite qualities, instead of nullifying each other interact and produce a toxic substance. ( Ash. Su. 13 /26) Krimi visha -Bacterial toxins When an infection is caused by the pathogenic organisms, they liberate a toxic substance. Properties of ama : It is always in the form of incompletely digested substance Hence it is non-homogenous, has a very bad or foul odor which can be experienced only when it is combined with excretory products such as sweat, urine, and feces, or when products such as sputum, vomit, etc., are expelled from the body. It is very sticky. it produces lethargy in the body. Symptoms of ama : Srotorodha -Obstruction- This can occur in any large, small, or minute channel, when it is indicated by stagnation and disturbance in transport, and metabolism can occur even at the cellular level. The commonly observed obstructions are in the liver (affecting the passage of bile), the urinary tract, the fallopian tubes, the blood vessels, the respiratory tract, etc. Weakness or reduced working power in any part or organ is due to the difficulty produced by ama in the contraction and relaxation of the musculature of the part, even when the organic structure of the muscle is normal. 


Obstruction of the movement of Vata- Ama on one side causes disturbance in the action of the musculature of the part or organ, and on the other side it causes disturbances in the conduction of nerve impulses, and ultimately the activity of the concerned part becomes reduced or stopped.You will lack mental clarity and energy and feel weary and unenthusiastic Heaviness and Lethargy. tongue is coated especially upon awaking in the morning Metabolic disturbance. 


Due to various diseases such as obesity, diabetes, etc., metabolic disturbance is produced. ( Ash. Su. 13 /23) Signs of Ama : Feeling heavy, muzzy headed, unclear thinking, aches and pains, bloating, gas, skin blemishes, fever, lack of energy, stickiness, foul smells (breath, sweat, urine, stools, phlegm), sinking stool, mucous in stool, turbid urine, lack of appetite or taste, indigestion, sticky/sweet taste in the mouth, copious phlegm. Pulse; deep, dull, slippery Tongue; thick, greasy coating. Modern signs of ama: High triglycerides, atherosclerosis, late-onset diabetes, high blood sugar levels, some forms of depression, rheumatoid factor, the presence of H. pylori bacteria, leukocytosis or leukocytopenia (deficient and excess white blood cells), excess anti-bodies, Candida albicans in the gut and uterus, blood urea, gout, excess platelet count, High IgE levels from allergic reactions, excess red blood cells, gall stones as a sign of excess bile, kidney stones as a sign of un-metabolised calcium and oxalates, high liver enzymes (ALT, AST), intra-occular pressure (glaucoma), bacterial infection, high temperature, tumours. 


Effects of ama : When such toxins come in contact with dosha, tissues, or waste product, it produces sama dosha, sama tissues and sama mala. In Ayurvedic texts symptoms of the sama and nirama stage of the doshas, tissues, and waste products are described for all the diseases. Ayurveda attributes cause of any disease to an imbalance in one or all of the doshas and for successful treatment of a particular disease physician has to determine, weather the imbalanced dosha is 'Sam' or 'Niram' Treatment of ama : Herbs: Anti-vata: Fresh Ginger, Linseed, Nutmeg, Garlic, Asafoetida, Cumin, Black Pepper, Fennel, Castor oil. Also try Asafoetida Formula, which is very useful for clearing wind, bloating and spasms from the intestines. Anti-pitta: Kalmegh, Aloe Vera, Fennel, Coriander, Guduchi, Neem. Also try Amalaki formula that contains cooling herbs to clear heat toxins from the system. Anti-kapha: Ginger, Cumin, Black pepper, Pushkaramoola, Punarnava, Tulsi, Vacha, Guggul. Also try the famous Ayurvedic formula called Trikatu, renowned for its heating properties that can literally digest toxins. Specific Therapies: - Sweating, fasting, hot water, wind and sun therapy, vigorous exercise, Panchakarma. Anti-ama Diet: Emphasise pungent, bitter, astringent flavours Fruit: No sweet fruit, only sour - cranberry, lemon, lime, grapefruit Vegtables: Steamed sprouts, steamed vegetables some raw is good for pitta. Lots of greens; microalgae especially chlorella. 


No root/sweet vegetables or mushrooms Grains: No bread/ pastries. Less wheat and oats. Kicharee; barley, quinoa, millet, rye, rice Beans: Mung Nuts: None, some pumpkin seeds Dairy: None. Goats' milk is slightly astringent and is less Kapha forming Meat: No shellfish, fish, fats, red meat, pork, eggs Oils: None. Ghee okay in small quantities as are mustard or linseed oils, which are drying Sweetners: None. Sugar is ama forming. Honey is okay (2 tsp/day). Drinks: Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, dandelion root coffee.


Dr.Shashikant Patwardhan is practicing as 'Ayurvedic Consultant' for last 25 years at the city -Sangli , Maharashtra -India. He has done his graduation in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery [B.A.M&S] and post graduate Fellowship of Faculty of Ayurvedic Medicine [F.F.A.M.] From Tilak Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Pune University , India, during the years 1970-1976. He is a chief editor and Ayurvedic Consultant of a 'Comprehensive website on Ayurveda - http://www.ayurveda-foryou.com He is an author of many books on Ayurveda and is first to publish them in ebook format. He has written ebooks like - Ayurvedic Cure of Diabetes , Home Remedies in Ayurveda , Treat Common Diseases with Ayurveda & Yoga , Ayurvedic Principles Revealed. He regularly writes articles on various topics in Ayurveda in Ayurvedic health magazines and alternative medicine sites.


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