Ama: Toxins in Ayurveda

The status of agni is the focal point for diagnosis and treatment in
Ayurveda. Its deficiency or impairment is the cause for the creation of ama , which literally interpreted means “undigested food stuff.” In a broader context however, ama is the impairment of one’s ability to derive nourishment from life, be it physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.

A correctly functioning agni confers a harmonious benefit to the whole organism, with proper discrimination of the body, mind, and senses. As the
by-product of poor digestion, ama is opposite in nature to agni, displaying qualities such as guru (‘heavy’), shita (‘cold’), snigdha (‘oily’),sthira (‘stable’), picchila (‘slimy’), and manda (‘slow’). Note that these qualities are basically the same as kapha. The difference is that these qualities, instead of reducing vata, block and inhibit its function.

When agni is weak, ama is formed instead of ojas, and as a result, ojas becomes deficient. And, because ojas feeds agni, a deficiency of ojas results in a further diminution of agni. In the dichotomy between ojas and
agni, ama represents an entropic tendency in the metabolic cycle. It is the accumulation of ama over years that eventually robs ojas and agni of their
power, naturally facilitating degeneration and death.

Although the qualities of ama are similar to kapha, ama can associate with any of the doshas. In such a state, a dosha is said to be sama, or ‘with ama.’ In the absence of ama, a dosha is said to be nirama, or ‘without ama.
The first treatment of any condition in Ayurvedic medicine is the
elimination of ama and enhancement of agni. If the condition persists
beyond the use of these measures, a specific treatment is administered to
the vitiated dosha(s). The following table describes the differences
between sama and nirama conditions:

Sama conditions 

Nirama conditions 



Circulatory congestion,     feeling of   coldness     

Circulation normal 

Loss of strength 

Normal strength 

Lethargy and lassitude after eating 

Energized and revitalized after eating 

Poor appetite

Good appetite


Good digestion


At least 2 bowel movements daily   

Sinking stools with  mucus congestion 

Normal stools ( yellowish brown floating)     

Increased urination

Normal urination   

Joint swelling and  inflammation

Absence of joint  swelling and inflammation      


No Headache

Thick tongue coating

Clear or thin white coating   

Orbital edema, eyes appear dull

Eyes bright, shining

The above conditions made worse with cold and damp weather or climates, and worse at night 

Health unaffected by changes in weather or climate 


Dr Darius H Umrigar MD(AM)

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