The idea of toxicity has a long history and in Ayurveda toxicity represents one of the key elements. Its causes and effects have been described in Ayurvedic literature in detail. Ama is a Sanskrit word that translates literally to mean things like ‘unripe’, ‘undigested’,’ unprocessed’ or ‘raw’. There are many reasons for the formation of Ama in our body and the most important one is the impairment of the principle called Agni. When Agni is too weak, it cannot adequately process the food. However, the formation of Ama is not necessarily related to our digestive tract. Ama can be formed in tissues if Agni is too weak there. We can say that Ama is unmetabolised waste that our body cannot eliminate and it therefore accumulates in our organism. Consequently, Ama is formed either on the digestive tract level or on the tissue level. Ama that accumulates in the tissue can first cause the disorder in its function and if it is not eliminated it can lead to structural changes. Ayurveda recognises specific symptoms related not only to accumulation of Ama in our body, but it also recognises the signs that tissue metabolism is not functioning properly, which points to the accumulation of Ama.

Ama is a disease causing substance and according to Ayurveda even the external (infectious) diseases can manifest only if Ama is present in the body. Among other things, it is confirmed by the fact that some people do not become ill when in contact with pathogens. There is also a reverse situation when a person is exposed to pathogens and at that moment does not have strong Agni, they develop Ama and such Ama is called Krimi Visha. Here we are actually talking about toxins released by different microorganisms (bacteria and mold).

Symptoms of Ama in the body:

  • Coating on the tongue

Specific areas and colour of the coating indicate where in our body Ama has accumulated, as well as its connection to doshas

  • Clogging of different channels in the body

It refers to the blood flowing through our organism, from our digestive tract to the cell level

  • Lack of strength

It refers to lower capacity of particular tissues, organs or organ systems

  • Low energy levels
  • Feeling of heaviness, exhaustion and lethargy
  • Abnormal flow of vata dosha
  • Indigestion
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Abnormal taste in the mouth and /or poor appetite
  • Feeling of stagnation and impurity
  • Mental confusion and brain fog

The main causes of Ama accumulation in the body:

  • Weak Agni
  • Overeating
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating before going to bed
  • Eating while walking, in front of the TV or when emotionally upset
  • Eating before the meal previously taken has been digested
  • Cold drinks
  • Eating cold, heavy, fried, stale and warmed-over food
  • Eating sugary foods and processed carbon-hydrates
  • Eating processed and convenience food
  • Improper food combinations
  • Lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle

In order to eliminate Ama from our body, one can use the following methods:

  • Fasting (Langhana)

Fasting to eliminate Ama from the body is prescribed depending on one’s body constitution and season while fasting

  • Drinking hot water and ginger tea

It is a simple homemade means for slow, but thorough elimination of Ama from the body

  • Sweating (Svedana)

    It can be done at home or as a part of Panchakarma

  • Strengthening Agni (Agni dipana)

Taking medicines for strengthening Agni stops the formation of Ama and strong Agni facilitates elimination of Ama

  • Metabolising Ama (Ama pachana)

Taking medicines to metabolise Ama and turn it to liquid so that it can be more easily eliminated from the body

  • Using specific spices in one’s diet

Main spices for eliminating Ama from the body are: ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, fennel, ajwain, fenugreek and curcuma

  • Cleansing (Shodhana)

It can be done at home by following Ayurvedic practitioner’s instructions or at Ayurvedic centres through the method of Panchakarma

It is important to point out that the concept of Ama has undergone change or, to be more precise, that it has expanded. The principles explained in the Ayurvedic literature in detail are still applicable, but we have to take into consideration a whole range of new circumstances that are present today. Large amounts of toxins in our environment coming from plastic, pesticides, herbicides, industrial waste, heavy metals etc. are a very important factor for evaluating the state of Ama in every individual. Furthermore, there are large quantities of food substances used to prolong shelf-life, add flavour etc. The cumulative effect of such substances that we take into our organism, either directly or from the environment, is such that it creates a new form of Ama in our bodies. It can be seen at an almost epidemic level of certain diseases of modern society and the awareness of harmful effects of such substances is increasing.