Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
When the digestive fire present in the stomach is weak it cannot digest the food which we consume. Incompletely digested essence of such food i.e. immature digestive juices (apakva ahara rasa) formed after incomplete digestion, left over in the stomach will be called ama.
When these immature digestive juices are stagnated for longer duration it acquires shukti bhava or sourness due to decay and fermentation.
This ama gets absorbed into the system and is put into circulation. It reaches the channels (srotas) and tissues and causes blocks. Due to these blocks the body components are depleted of nutrition and essential elements which cause severe tissue damage leading to various diseases, loss of strength and immunity.
This ama very quickly acquires the form of poison and troubles the body with wide array of diseases. Therefore it is called as amavisha.
Related Reading – Ama, derivation, meaning and definition
Ama Guna, Lakshanas – properties and symptoms of ama
Avipakvam – As the improperly digested food (avipakva) forms ama, ama is also in the avipakva (improperly digested or incompletely formed or immature form).
Asamyuktam – Ama is a non-homogenous compound of food. Due to its non-homogeneity, it is not accepted by the body cells. It is neither absorbed nor processed nor it becomes compatible to the body, in fact it becomes toxic and hazardous to the body.
Durgandham – ama is foul smelling in nature. This foul smell is because it is an unprocessed form of digestive juice. The retention of this unprocessed digestive juices in the stomach for long duration cause fermentation. This fermentation of unprocessed form of digestive juices gives ama the foul smell.
Pichchila / bahu pichcihlam – ama is sticky in nature. Due to this nature it adheres to the walls of the cells and channels of the body and causes blocks in them.
Dravam – Ama is in the form of liquid state. Ama is defined as improperly processed digested juices of the food. Since digestive juices is in the liquid state, the unprocessed digestive juices or ama too is in the form of liquid.
Guru – ama is heavy in nature. Generally the term heavy in terms of food or byproducts of food is explained in the meaning of it being difficult to digest. Since ama is heavy in nature, we shall consider that it cannot be taken into the cells (non-permeable) and even if they are taken or absorbed into the cells they are not transformed or digested. This happens due to the weakness of tissue fire. The ama has acquired heavness because the food is not properly digested due to the weakness of digestive fire.
Snigdha – ama is unctuous in nature and is very similar to fat and kapha in appearance.
Tantumad – ama has thready appearance just like kapha. The appearance of tantu and presence of slimy property also shows that ama is not totally a liquid but may have a consistency in between liquidity and semi-liquidity, somewhat gelatinous.
Aneka Varna / Nana varna – Ama has various colors. This occurs due to the association of ama with the doshas (sama doshas). Ama may get brownish or black color due to its association with vata, yellow or reddish color due to its association with pitta and white color due to its association with kapha. When ama is associated with two or three doshas, it will gain mixed colors (the term varna may also represent not only colors but many types of pathological manifestations of ama due to its admixture or vicious combination with doshas and other elements of the body).
Srotamsi abhishyandayati – when ama is contaminated and combined with vata, pitta and kapha, it blocks all the channels and ducts of the body and nutrition to the tissues and organs of the body due to interruption of transportation mechanism of the body (which takes place through the channels).
Sadanam sarva gatrani – ama causes severe debility in the entire body and body parts. This happens due to the multiple blocks caused by ama. Due to the blockage of the channels, the entire body gets depleted of nutrition and hence manifests debility.
Anubaddha shulam – wherever ama is stagnated it causes pain and discomfort. Therefore manifestation pain is one of the characteristic features and symptoms of the presence of ama.
Hetuh sarva roganam – ama is the causative factor of many systemic diseases. One of the synonyms of disease is amaya which means ‘that which is caused by ama’.
Visha sadrusha lingatvat (Cha.Vi.2/12) – ama has similar properties and manifestations as that of visha or poison. Over a period of time, ama becomes poison in the body, causing serious life threatening diseases and complications. Therefore ama is also called amavisha.
Ashu karitva (cha.vi.2/12) – ama is quick acting and quick spreading, therefore it quickly afflicts the body and causes serious ailments just like the quick action of poison.
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What are the similarities and relationship between the Ama and Kapha Dosha? They both seem very similar in qualities.
Dr JV Hebbar
Ama is formed, primarily due to erratic diet habits. Eating without control, disregarding one’s own digestion strength leads to weak digestion strength. Here, the weak digestive juices are unable to digest the incoming food overload. This leads to a complex amalgamation of undigested food and the weak digestive juices. This complex is called Ama. The effect of Ama can be seen on the digestive tract or in some cases, it mingles with the three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha and enters deep into body tissues to cause complex disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Ama and Kapha Dosha are different.
Kapha / Shleshma is a dosha. It means, when Kapha is normal, it supports health with healthy heart, lung functions, memory, joint cushioning and oiling etc. and when it is aggravated, it may cause diseases such as excessive salivation, lethargy, heaviness, itching, weak digestion strength etc. Whereas Ama is a disease causing factor. There is concept of healthy Ama, unlike healthy Kapha.
Qualities of Kapha are –
Oily – Snigdha
Cold – Sheeta
Heavy – Guru
Slow – Manda
Smooth – Shlakshna
Tender – Mrutsna
Stable – Sthira
Read: Qualities Of Vata, Pitta and Kapha Dosha
Qualities of Ama are –
Avipakvam – As the improperly digested food
Asamyuktam – Ama is a non-homogenous compound of food.
Durgandham – ama is foul smelling in nature.
Pichchila / bahu pichcihlam – ama is sticky in nature.
Dravam – Ama is in the form of liquid state.
Guru – ama is heavy in nature
Snigdha – ama is unctuous in nature
Tantumat – ama has thready appearance
Aneka Varna / Nana varna – Ama has various colors.
Srotamsi abhishyandayati – causes oozing and blockage in channels
Sadanam sarva gatrani – ama causes severe debility, heaviness
Ashukari – quick in spreading.
While some qualities such as heaviness and oiliness (unctuousness) are present both in Kapha and Ama, the rest of the qualities are different.
Ama can mix with Pitta, Vata, and Kapha Doshas to exhibit different sets of symptoms. Kapha Dosha increase or decrease is often linear.
Disease caused by Doshas and Ama:
There can be no disease that happens without the involvement of Doshas. Though Ama, by itself can cause a disease, eventually it mixes up with Doshas and only then a disease is caused.
Kapha increase symptoms:
Many of the symptoms of Kapha increase match with the symptoms of Ama affliction. For example,
sthaulya – obesity alasya lethargy
gaurava – heaviness
aṅgasāda – malaise, lassitude
srotaḥpidhā – pain and affliction of bod channels
tandrā, nidrā – sleepy, drowsy etc.
Read: Kapha Increase Symptoms – Kapha Vruddhi Lakshana
Even Pitta decrease symptoms mimic Kapha increase symptoms such as decreased digestion strength, sluggishness and lack of skin glow and luster. Just with Pitta dosha decrease cannot be equated to increase of Kapha Dosha.
Similarly, Ama cannot be equated with is increased Kapha Dosha. Ama is an entirely different pathological entity which specifically originates due to erratic diet and weak digestion.