An Āyurvedic Approach to Toxins
Our health depends on our bodies digestive fire or ‘agni’ to break down food into nourishment for the cells and to eliminate waste properly. As undigested food lingers in the body, it leads to the formation of ama. Ama is essentially the toxic residue of undigested or partially digested food. This residue can accumulate, stagnate, ferment and is the beginning of the disease process. An unhealthy diet as well as physical and emotional stress, poor lifestyle choices and not living in natural rhythm with seasonal changes all contribute to the build up of ‘ama.’ If ama is not cleared from the body and continues to build up, after some time it can leave the digestive tract and start circulating throughout the body.
How do you know if you have ama?
If you have a heavy feeling in your body, or you wake up feely puffy or groggy, if your joints are stiff, if your tongue is coated, especially upon rising, if you have an unpleasant body odor, if you feel dull and sleepy after eating, if your mind is foggy…these are all symptoms of ama in the body. Diarrhea, constipation, joint pain, sadness, dullness, lowered immunity, frequent colds and flu are all health problems that can be caused by ama. These symptoms are caused because ama clogs both large and microscopic channels in the body. It prevents nutrients from flowing to the cells, and blocks cellular communication, resulting in disease.
If a person has ama, it’s possible to remove it from the body by increasing or balancing agni, your digestive fire. It becomes important to begin an ama - reducing diet, that includes warm, freshly-cooked whole foods that are light, easy to digest, with spices that are suitable for the person’s body type and season. The ama - reducing diet includes fresh, organic vegetables, sweet, juicy fruits, whole grains, and easily digested proteins such as mung dhal or lentil soup. Cooked leafy greens such as chard and kale are especially good for improving elimination and helping to detoxify the body.
Detoxifying Spice Mixture
1 part turmeric
2 parts ground cumin
3 parts ground coriander
4 parts ground fennel
Alternately, you can try one of our spice mixes for Vata (Earth Spice), Pitta (Moon Spice) or Kapha (Sun Spice).
Sauté 1 teaspoon of spices in ghee until the aroma is released. Add steamed vegetables, mix lightly for one minute. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Avoid fried foods, heavy foods such as aged cheese, meat, rich desserts, anything that is difficult to digest including poor food combinations. Avoid eating or drinking anything cold. Drinking warm water throughout the day is a good way to flush out ama and toxins of all kinds, especially if you add detoxifying spices to make a tea.
Boil two quarts of water in the morning.
Add 1⁄4 t. whole cumin, 1⁄2 t. whole coriander, 1⁄2 t. whole fennel
Let steep for ten minutes with the lid on.
Strain out the spices and pour water into a thermos and sip throughout the day.
Article published in Mantra Magazine June 2019.
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