Breaking Down and Transforming Food and Experience

In Ayurveda Agni describes your body’s ability to break down and assimilate food and drink into energy. It describes your digestive fire, and the fire of metabolism. Just as fire in nature transforms wood into heat energy, fire in your body transforms the earth and water of food into caloric heat and the ability to work.

Agni’s Close Association with Pitta

The fire of Agni is closely associated with the fire inherent to Pitta dosha.  Pitta dominant types tend to have strong digestion and lots of fire throughout their body. The have the greatest latitude when it comes to eating cold and heavy things, but have to be careful with too much food like chile and alcohol that create pathological heat in excess.

Vata and Kapha, sadly, tend toward weak Agni, because Vata is cold and dry and Pitta is cold and wet. This is why each of these doshas need plenty of warming spices that stimulate Agni digestive fire. In the case of nervous Vata, though, these spices should not be too stimulating. Kapha, on the other hand, solid and heavy, needs stimulation.

The Fiery Liquids of Physical Transformation

While Agni describes the ability of the fiery liquids of the gut to break food down in the stomach and intestines, creating warm waste products in the process, it also describes the role of the liver enzymes, and the blood, both associated with Pitta dosha, in further breaking down the essence of food into its small molecular form.

Agni at the Molecular Level

Indeed, Agni describes the ability of the body to function well at the molecular level, in terms of all the transformations the body is doing constantly, from the creation of new substances from saliva to sweat, to the breakdown of old substances, like the dead red blood cells that give feces their color.

Mental Agni

Agni also describes mental qualities, the ability to digest experience into knowledge, and hopefully wisdom.

more coming soon…..


Ama is the opposite of Agni. While Agni is beautiful hot fire, Ama is smelly repulsive mud.  Ama is the toxic by-product of incompletely digested food and is one of the key sources of disease in Ayurveda. This is why Ayurvedic medicine, like Chinese Medicine, emphasizes the central role of diet appropriate to the individual and to the seasons.

What is Ama and How Does It Accumulate?

Ama is a kind toxic sludge that clogs the Shrotas/channels and Nadis in Ayurveda. When we eat foods inappropriate to our dosha, or to the season, we will get Ama as a by product. The same thing happens when we eat food in a hurry, when upset, or even in unpleasant surroundings.

Anything that inhibits good digestion, whether the food itself or our nervous system while eating the food,  will create Ama. This Ama will then slowly accumulate over time in your gut. Its like the slime and sludge in the drain, or the gunk in the block of your engine when you never change the oil. Its like bad soil in a garden that is so moist fungus grows, or so dry nothing grows.

Where Ama Collects

While Ama accumulates anywhere in your gut, it will tend to collect in the dosha that is associated with your primary and secondary doshas the most. Ama will collect in the Large Intestine for Vata, the Small Intestine for Pitta, and the Stomach for Kapha.

This is important, because when your lifestyle and diet cause your doshas to elevate, they elevate first in the part of the gut where they predominate. But, there are tissues in the body associated with each of the three doshas, too.

For example Vata is associated with the nervous system and joints, Pitta with the blood and tendons, and Kapha with the muscles and fascia.

The way much disease begins is that when your dosha elevates in the guts, eventually it migrates out of the gut as a kind of energetic force taking the Ama with it as a passenger on this bad train. And where does this bad train go, but to the tissues associated with dosha that has elevated.

So Ama from the large intestine migrates with elevated dosha to tissues like the nervous system. This is how Vata diseases form. Its the beginning of arthritis and disease of the nervous system.

Ama from the small intestine migrates with elevated dosha to tissues like the blood to develop Pitta disorders like Acne and Folliculitis. Finally Ama from the stomach migrates to tissues associated with Kapha, like the flesh, creating obesity.

to be continued…in progress as of Feb 7, 2020

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