A substance that causes toxicity in the body must eventually be eliminated, or it wll cause harm.
Is your blood toxic? Toxins come from many sources: your body, food, bacteria, your mood and the environment. Cells in your body constantly produce waste that must be filtered and drained from your body. When your lymphatic system is congested or your circulation poor, the natural process of eliminating toxins may be compromised. Similarly, if you are constipated, have trouble sweating, are dehydrated, or your kidneys don't produce enough urine, toxins may accumulate.
Certain foods may contain toxins in them, just like the air we breath. More often the biggest source of toxins from food is indigestion. Undigested food lingers and rots in your intestines due to fermentation by bacteria and gut flora such as cloistridia. These bacteria produce waste products such as phenols, indols, and ammonia, from digestion of proteins specifically. The 20th century Russian scientist and Nobel laureate Elie Metchnikoff proposed this process of "intestinal auto-intoxication", was responsible for the aging process. The volume of toxins created from indigestion puts it at the center of an unwell body and mind.
Bacteria, wherever they reside in your body, create toxins. A sinus infection, yeast infection, toe fungus, or vaginal itch may each and all be responsible for an abundance of toxins in your blood stream. Eating too much fats, sugar, salt, or of any one type of food can also cause an excess of a particular nutrient in the blood, which is also considered toxic in Ayurveda. Even your own hormones, if they remain unprocessed, can represent a toxic buildup. Ayurveda has a special name for all these different types of toxins. They are known as ama.
Ama is the analogy of the production of poison by fermented fluids. If the power of the factors responsible for digestion and metabolism is subdued, the first tissue (dhatu), known as rasa (plasma and chye) does not get properly digested. Being vitiated, the plasma enters into the stomach and small intestine, in the form of ama. In other words, ama is produced as a result of internal action among the exceedingly vitiated doshas (one from another).
Types of Ama
- Sometimes, ama is heavy and oily. This type of ama is Kapha ama and is often caused by rich, heavy foods and low metabolism. When you have an excess of Kapha ama, you feel tired, sluggish, and have a foggy mind. (Kapha is a combination of Earth and Water. It is balanced by Dry).
- Sometimes ama is hot and fiery. This type of ama is Pitta ama and is caused by liver excess, infection, Candida, and fermentation in the gut. This type of ama makes you feel irritated, swollen, inflamed, hot, and itchy. (The fire element in Pitta is balanced by Light)
- Other times ama can make you feel jittery, scattered, and hyper. This type of ama is Vata ama and is also caused by fermentation in the gut, caffeine, or a rough, scattered lifestyle. (The air element in Vata is balanced by Hot).
What does ama look like?If you see a thick white coating on your tongue in the morning before you brush your teeth, that white film is ama itself. Kapha ama tends to be white and thick in appearance. Sometimes, kapha ama becomes so heavy it causes lymphatic congestion. In that case, you will notice your skin appears red and puffy. Pitta ama tends to be yellowish in nature, easily seen in the corner of the eyes, the back of the tongue, the teeth, and the hands. Vata ama tends to be brown or gray in colour, most easily noticed in the hue of the skin or the coating of the tongue.
The common early signs of ama in the body include:
- Thick coating on the tongue
- Sluggish, bloated and sleepy feelings, especially after a meal even though you may have slept well
- Strong cravings for fast foods or junk foods
- Skin breakouts and/or foul breath, sweat, gas and stools
- Gray or luster-less skin, whites of the eyes, or yellow teeth.
- Clouded thoughts, feeling unable to focus, or generally unmotivated in life
Learning to catch the signs of this plaque early before it begins to build up and knowing how to remove it properly is often the very first step that an Ayurveda practitioner takes in guiding a patient back towards health. Begin by identifying what forms of ama you are experiencing and modifying your diet according to dosha. Drinking water that has been stored in a well cleaned copper vessel has been considered healthy for a long time and is now scientifically proven to purify and detoxify water. Then follow the steps outlined in the article on Agni.
Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.
Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography
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