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Ama: Toxicity

24 Jan 2016   Shanti Gowans

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).
While there are many different types of ama, most are easy to eliminate. Some toxins however, tend to get stuck. The plaque on your teeth is an example. If left unchecked it becomes tartar which then further develops into infection and decay. The toxins in your blood form a plaque-like paste, congesting your lymphatic system, and clogging your arteries. If left unchecked, toxins cause myriad health problems, depending upon where they are lodged. The toxins that tend to get stuck in your body have special properties. They are usually sticky, heavy, gooey, and cold in nature. Hot toxins are too stimulating to get stuck - these irritating toxins are quickly purged. Toxins have a peculiar resemblance to sewage, also known as gray water. It is similar in appearance and smell, with often similar chemical properties as well.

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.

Presence of these symptoms may be a sign of Ama (toxicity) is aggravated in your body.
Gray sclera (white part of eye) V
Blurry Vision P
Contact lenses / prescription glasses P
Dilated Pupil P
Eye twitching V
Puffy/bags under eyes  P K
Sensitivity to bright light P
Shadow under eyes V
Tension in eyes P
Wake up with sleep in eye K
Thick coating tongue P K
Trembling Tongue V
White tongue coating K
Dry Mouth / Tongue V K
Yellow coating on tongue P
Bad breath P K
Gray teeth V
Gum inflammation P K
Sores inside mouth V P
Tooth ache V P K
Tooth Infection P K
Yellow teeth P
Foul taste on tongue K
Skin (Sweda)
Acne - blackhead P K
Acne - general K
Acne - painful P K 
Flushes Easily P
Oily t-zone only P
Psoriasis V P
Puffy / swollen skin P K
Rashes P
Red/flushed skin P K
Rosaceae P K
Ruddy complexion V P 
Skin problems in cheeks P
Skin problems on back P K
Skin problems on Chest P K
Skin problems on chin K
Skin problems on elbows V P
Skin problems on genitals P
Skin problems on nose P K
Skin red after mild abrasion P
Sour sweat P K 
Sweat often P K
Sweat rarely V
Sweaty palms P K
Strong body odour P
Sweat often P K
Sweat rarely V
Sweaty palms P KOily face / dry extremities P K
Thick skin K
Dietary aggravations
Alcohol P
Coffee V
Dairy/milk/cheese/ice-cream K
Fast food more than 2x/week V K
Frequent Leftovers V
Iced/cold drinks V K
Meat every day K
Pizza P K
Poor diet V P K 
Rarely cook V K 
Red meat K
Refined sugar V K
Restaurants 3+ per week V K
Taking Western pharmaceuticals P
Wheat V K
Aches & Pains - General V P K
Can’t touch toes V P
Cramping back of leg V K 
Dislocated shoulder / ribs / etc K
Fibromyalgia V P
Hip pain V P
Joint pain after eating P
Joint pain in fingers V K
Migraines V P
Muscle cramps V K
Muscles heavy / tired V K
Pain left lower abdomen V
Pain left upper abdomen K
Sciatica V
Swollen joints P
Tendinitis P
Tight muscles V P
Weak muscles V P
Feel disgusting K
Lymph (Rasa vaha srota)
Breasts Lumpy P K
Cellulite K
Clots in menstrual blood K
Dark menstrual blood V K
Painful menstruation V
Swollen lymph nodes P K
Swollen lymph nodes - arm pits P K
Swollen lymph nodes - neck P K
Blood (rakta vaha srota)
dark in colour P
thick / Congested lymph P
Chest Pain V K
Fast Heartbeat V
Heart Attack K
Heart Murmur V
High Cholesterol K
High Triglycerides K
Hot in torso/chest area K
Bladder infection P K
Candida / Yeast Infection / Thrush P K
Chronic Fungus infection P K 
Chronic Infection V P K
H pylori infection V P
Herpes - Mouth / Facial V P
Staph infection P K
Digestive (anna vaha srota)
Acid Reflux P
Bloating / distension V
Burping V K
Diverticulosis / Diverticulitis V
Dull ache in abdomen K
Food allergy P K
Gas, irregular digestion V
Fructose malabsorption V
Fullness below belly buttonV
Large portions P K
Low metabolism K
Malabsorption V
Slow, heavy digestion V K
Smelly Gas P
Tired in morning K
Worms / Tropical / Parasites V P
Burning/painful urination P
Clear urine V
Cloudy urine P K
Kidney Stones K
Urinary Tract Infection P K
Anal Spasm V
Constipation V K
Foul odorous stool P
Headache V P
Impacted Fecal Matter V
Leaky Gut Syndrome V P
Mucus on stool K
Shiny / oily / fatty stools P K
Sometimes < 1 elimination a day V
Stool thick mud P
Anger, irritable, ambitious, analytical P
Depressed K
Distress when sweets unavailable K
Emotional eating K
Epilepsy V
Feel rejected / unliked / unappreciated P
Frequent Dreams V
Hoarse Voice V
Overeat more than 2x/week K
Overwhelmed by responsibilities V K
Pear shape P K
Psychiatric Treatment V
Seizures V
Self-loathing P
Shaky V
Stomach fat V K
Strong body odour P
Trying to lose weight K
Uncontrollable compulsion to eat P K
Other Aggravations
Living on a main road V P K
2+ pets in home V P
Stress V P
Abdominal swelling during menses V K
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) K
Tender breasts near menses P K
White vaginal discharge K
Prana vaha srota
Clear mucus V K
Cough with mucus / wet cough P K
Croup P K
Ear pain/infection P K
Lump in throat P K
Lung Inflammation P K
Mould allergy K
Mucus Congestion K
Mucus/congestion in mornings K
Pneumonia K
Post nasal drip V
Pressure / popping ears K
Ringing ears V
Runny nose V
Sore throat P K
Stuffed nose (can't breathe) V K
Swallowing mucus K
Thick mucus K
Thin mucus V
Waxy clogged ears K
White mucus K
Scanty dry hair V
Scanty oil hair P
Nail / Toe Fungus P K
Autoimmune Disorders P
Cancer V P K
Diabetes P K
Enlarged Spleen V P K
Gallstones / Attack P K
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis V P K 
Insulin Resistance K
Lumps/Bumps K
Lumps on Surface of Belly K
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) P
Palpable Mass V


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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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