Understanding Ama and Detoxification

How to rid your body of the toxins that cause dangerous disease

What is Ama in Ayurveda? Why is it making me sick?

In the classic scriptures of Ayurveda, “ama” is described as the underlying root cause of many – if not all – health issues.

In essence, it is the toxins that build up in our bodies from pollution, chemicals, food, alcohol, stress and medication – and also undigested food in the stomach, which has not been processed by the digestive system.

Our liver works wonders to keep our bodies functioning at their best, but an overload of ama can leave us feeling tired, sluggish, overwhelmed, in pain and generally just feeling sick and unwell.

Ama plays a huge part in the ancient principles of Ayurveda and so we’ve dedicated a whole blog post to it.

This is the story of ama.

Have you ever wondered why certain health problems never seem to be treated or cured? They never go away. There is no amount of medicine, remedies, massages or anything else that will budge them, right?

We’ve all been there.

In our busy practice, I see many clients suffering from conditions like chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), certain auto-immune conditions, various types of acne and arthritis, who tell me they have tried “everything” and are often taking 1-5 different types of medication.

Their doctors have been fantastic in working hard to find the cause – often when people see me, they are still working with their doctor and we work with their doctor too – but modern medicine may not have the answer. They say nothing is working and the problem is constantly there causing them grief and they are at their wit’s end.

This is where Ayurveda medicine may be able to help. It will certainly have an explanation.

What is ama?

Normally, in a healthy body, the food we eat should be fully digested. The ratio we go by is: Half is absorbed into the body as nutrients and the other half is flushed out as waste.

However, in today’s reality, that is not the case. These days we have more stress, chemicals and processed food in our lives, and so all that we eat isn’t digested properly.

The ratio in today’s world is: One-third is digested as nutrients, one-third is waste and the other third is actually food that’s not digested properly.

When food isn’t digested properly it turns into toxins – aka ama – and floats around in your body until it settles in an area that is weak and starts to cause havoc – namely dangerous diseases.

FAST FACT: Ama is a Sanskrit word that means undigested or uncooked. Ama also refers to the first stage of any disease and poor digestion causes this problem.

This ama is dangerous to your health because it blocks medication, hence why you may feel like nothing is working. That’s why Ayurvedic medicine often works when nothing else will – because we are able to use ancient practices and principles to rid these nasty toxins from your body.

4 Frequently Asked Questions About Ama

1. What does ama look like?

It is a sticky, smelly and toxic substance found in the body. It’s like the texture of peanut butter. You can often see this on your tongue first thing in the morning. This is where daily detoxing rituals can help (download the top 3 ways to express detox here). 

2. What are the signs of ama?

  • Lack of strength, tired or fatigued
  •  Achy and sore legs
  • Feeling heavy or sluggish
  • Disinterested, no enthusiasm
  • Gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea
  • Excess mucous
  •  Depression
  •  Generalised body and joint pains
  •  White coating on the tongue
  •  Lack of mental clarity and energy
  • Bad breath
  •  Irregular appetite or reduced appetite

FAST FACT: If you have an overload of toxins in your system, when an Ayurvedic practitioner takes your pulse, it is hard for them to get information because there is no clarity. The pulse lacks vitality; just like you feel heavy and weak, so does your pulse. It is almost always that your digestion (that is, agni – see the story of agni here) and metabolism are weak.

3. How do you get rid of it?

When ama is present there is an imbalance in your body type – that is vata, pitta and kapha. Bringing these doshas back into alignment will reap the reward of great health. Regular detoxing is the key to getting rid of ama.

But prevention is always at the heart and soul of Ayurveda. If you have mold or dirt in your house, then you take measures to clean it as you know you will feel better when you can’t see it. It is the same with your body. We can’t see ama, so we need to cleanse our bodies every day to prevent ama from forming.

4. How will I feel after I rid ama from my body?

  • Rested when you wake up
  • Tongue is clear and pink
  • Feel light, fresh and have a healthy glow
  • Strong digestion, no bloating
  • Energised and enthusiastic
  • Clear mind, clarity
  • No aches and pains

Ama is often the cause of poor health. Regular detoxing will help eliminate it from your body and prevent it from forming in the future. However, part of the prevention is having a strong digestion. In Ayurveda, we call this agni (or digestive fire).

MUST READ: What is agni? We’ve got the low-down here.