Relationship Between Doshas And Digestive Fire

By Dr Raghuram Y. S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B. A. M. S

Digestive organs and its functions are monitored by balanced doshas. Each of Vata, Pitta and Kapha has different type of impact on agni i. e. digestive fire. 

4 types of digestive fires

Depending on influence of predominant dosha on fire, fire is of four types. They are –

  • Mandagni – due to predominant influence of kapha dosha on digestion strength
  • Teekshnagni – influence of pitta dosha on digestive fire
  • Vishamagni – predominant influence of vata dosha
  • Samagni – due to influence and impact of balanced doshas on digestive strength

Read – Understanding Agni: Concept, Definition, Functions, Types

Mandagni

Manda = mild, Agni = fire

Authority of kapha over fire Mandagni means mild fire. Digestive power here is mild and will not be capable enough to digest food properly. In fact fire would digest food in an inappropriate way. This happens due to influence of kapha on fire. Kapha is rich in water and earth elements while fire is predominant in fire and water elements. When kapha is aggravated out of proportions it would put off fire and make it weak owing to richness of water component in it, just as excessive water puts off fire.

Characteristic feature of Mandagni – Fire having mild strength would not be capable of digesting even small quantity of food properly.
Read – Koshta: Understanding Gut Behaviour And Gut Reactivity

Effect of Mandagni– Mandagni leads to manifestation of many kapha disorders. Kapha is naturally produced in stomach on regular basis during first phase of digestion. When digestive power is good, it would balance kapha. When fire becomes weak, more kapha produced in stomach is not balanced and it goes out of proportions. Owing to its water content it creates excessive wetness in stomach and intestines and further puts off fire. This sets in indigestion and anorexia. Since food is not digested properly it would not provide needed nutrition to body. Undigested food causes formation of ama and causes multiple blocks in body due to stagnation. This in turn provides a suitable backdrop for manifestation of many diseases, especially of kapha origin.
Read – Activities And Diet For Kapha Balance

Amajeerna

Amajeerna is a type of indigestion caused due to high kapha influencing digestion strength. Thus, mandagni causes amajeerna. Due to deficit digestion of food in stomach as an effect of ‘kapha influenced fire’, ama is formed. Ama is immature essence of digestion which owing to sticky nature tends to cause blocks in cells and tissues. This leads to sluggish metabolism, blockage of toxins and excreta in body, lowering of immunity, insufficient nutrition to body components and manifestation of many kapha related diseases.
Read – Qualities And Symptoms Of Ama – Ama Guna Lakshana

Probable modern correlation 
Dyspepsia or Dyspepsia related disorders

Remedy for mandagni

Kapha balancing diets, good physical activities, light digestible foods and avoidance of day sleep would bring kapha to balance and also set right mandagni. Medicines and compounds which would kindle digestive fire and enhance digestion may be needed. In severe mandagni, best remedy for expelling excess kapha would be administration of therapeutic emesis. These measures are also remedies for amajeerna caused by mandagni.
Read – 120 Remedies For Indigestion Caused By Specific Foods

Teekshnagni

Teekshna = intense, Agni = fire

Authority of pitta over fire

Teekshnagni means intense fire. Fire in this instance will be severe and digest food quickly causing frequent hunger. We can tell that fire burns food rather than digesting it. Since food is digested very quickly, byproduct is not converted into nutritional juices (ahara rasa). Even in this case there is deficit nutrition to body parts as very less nutritional juices are formed. As a result excreta also if formed in small quantities. As a result of quick digestion person suffers from frequent hunger and is not satisfied in spite of eating for multiple times.

This happens due to strong influence and impact of pitta on digestive fire. Actually digestive pitta itself is pitta (pachaka pitta). Pitta represents anatomical and physiological fire in body. When this pitta is balanced, fire contributes towards digestion, segregation of digested food, formation of nutrition, absorption, assimilation, distribution and utilization of nutrition by body. When this pitta attains pathological increase it causes inflammation and burnouts. 

When it gets reduced, it causes indigestion, low temperature and other digestive disorders. All these can be considered as symptoms of balanced, increased and decreased fire as well.
Read – Pachaka Pitta Location, Functions, Imbalance, Treatment 

Pitta is rich in fire and water elements. Water element balances excessive heat and acts as a buffer for pitta and doesn’t allow it to get out of sorts. But when fire component gets increased, protection is gone and pitta behaves berserk and causes inflammation and other destructive activities in body. When water element of pitta gets increased, fire component becomes low and fire in form of pitta will not be able to digest food. This leads to digestive disorders.

Characteristic feature of Teekshnagnidigest food taken even excessive quantity in quick time. 

Effect of Teekshnagni

manifestation of many pitta disorders.

Intense fire quickly digests any type of food consumed, be it raw or cooked, light or heavy. Food gets burnt quickly instead of getting digested. This condition is also called as Bhasmaka Roga i.e. a disease in which food is converted into ash after being burnt. Since food is burnt and not digested, nutritional juices are not formed. Neither nutrition nor excreta are formed as end products of such type of digestion. As a result tissues and organs of body will not get proper nutrition. This leads to depletion of tissues.
Read – How To Balance Pitta Vata Dosha? 6 Points To Consider

Since fire is high, water system of body should disintegrate in condition of teekshnagni. Water system of body is kapha. With high pitta and subsequent high fire in teekshnagni state, kapha will get decreased. Thus, there is less protection and buffer for digestive system in particular and for entire body in general. With deterioration of kapha, pitta further gets aggravated and gaining association with vata becomes ‘all destructing and all consuming’ just like forest fire burns whole forest when spread by swiftly blowing wind.

Decrease of kapha also produces excessive dryness in body. On this backdrop aggravated pitta and vata burns and destroys entire body system. All tissues are destroyed by intensity of pitta and vata.

Intensity of fire associated with pitta no doubt digests food in quick time but doesn’t produce any nutrition as already said. There is frequent hunger which cannot be satiated. When food is not available, aggravated fire starts feasting on body tissues and destroys them. Consequentially person becomes weak and depleted day by day. 

Strength and endurance takes a severe beating. When this condition of teekshnagni is not addressed in proper time it may cause death of person.

These people with teekshnagni get satisfied after eating food but within short duration become restless because there is further demand for food in quick time due to quick digestion of food. With time, this fire becomes insatiable.

Teekshnagni can result in symptoms like severe thirst, severe dyspnea, severe burning sensation, giddiness, fainting etc.

VidagdhajeernaVidagdhajeerna is a type of indigestion caused due to high pitta or pitta influencing digestive fire. Thus, teekshnagni causes vidagdhaajeerna. Vidagdha means burnt. Due to excessive and quick digestion of food in stomach and intestines as an effect of ‘pitta influenced fire’, consumed food gets burnt instead of getting digested. There is high amount of acidity in stomach which leads to acidic regurgitation, acidity, ulcers, frequent hunger pangs, burnouts, corrosion and inflammation in body. Since food is quickly digested, there is frequent urge to eat; still person suffers from indigestion. There is no satiety even after taking frequent food and in large quantities. This also leads to manifestation of many pitta related diseases.
Read – Charaka Grahani Dosha Chikitsa 15th Chapter

Probable modern correlation 
Acid dyspepsia and bulimia

Remedy for teekshnagni

Tikshnagni should be effectively handled with pitta balancing remedies which include pitta balancing diet and lifestyle changes and treatments, especially therapeutic purgation to remove excess pitta from system. Charaka has advised repeated administration of heavy to digest food in larger quantities to combat intense fire condition. Such type of food protocol will help in increasing kapha and also will provide fuel to intense pitta at regular intervals. This will avoid destruction of tissues. Gradually, as kapha increases and pitta and vata get controlled, condition of intense fire will get controlled.
Read – Brimhana Therapy – Nourishing Ayurvedic Treatment Principle

Vishamagni

Vishama = unpredictable
Agni = fire

 Other meanings of vishama are – Odd, Abrupt, Inconsistent, Irregular/

All above mentioned meanings of vishama are applicable for misbehavior of fire affected and influenced predominantly by vata.
Read – Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Vata Dosha Body Type 

Authority of vata over fire


Digestive fire in vishamagni is highly unpredictable. Food sometimes gets digested properly and sometimes not. This happens due to influence of vata on fire. Unpredictability and inconsistence is one of characteristic features of vata. When vata influences function of agni, fire too behaves in an unpredictable way.

Characteristic feature of Vishamagni
Digestive fire which is unpredictable and inconsistent would sometimes digest food properly and sometimes it doesn’t digest. Person suffers being stuck between episodes of proper digestion and improper digestion of food. Read – Understand Vata Dosha By Its Functions

Effect of Vishamagni

Leads to manifestation of many vata disorders.

Vata is formed at end part of digestion, during absorption of remaining nutrients and water in colon, during and after formation of stools. Thus, vata is formed in colon which also happens to be its primary seat or ‘control station of vata’.

In fact, vata itself is controlling force of entire body, along with mind and senses. No activity occurs without control of vata. 

Even pitta and kapha are said to be pangu i. e. controlled and manipulated by balanced vata, because like other elements of body i. e. tissues and excreta, pitta and kapha also move and work only after being propelled and motivated by vata.

Among many functions of vata, control of digestive fire and also digestive functions caused by that fire is also chief one. 

Samana vata, one of subtypes of vata is said to be located very near to seat of digestive fire. Samana Vata is thus located in stomach and upper part of small intestine wherein most of digestion of food takes place. Just like fire increases in form and intensity when it comes in contact with air, digestive fire too becomes more when it comes into contact with vata, which is a representative of air in body.

If this samana vata is balanced, fire too will be balanced. This will effect in proper digestion of food and absorption, assimilation and utilization of nutrients derived from digested food.

If vata is more, it will also increase pitta (fire) and there will be burnout of food leading to improper nutrition to body. Similarly if vata is deficit, it will not kindle fire. Food doesn’t get digested properly. Toxins are formed in body and accumulated in cells and would cause many blocks in body channels leading to depletion of nutrition and elements needed for tissue building throughout body. This will also prevent excretion of wastes from body. Sum effect would be many diseases which may become life threatening in due course of time.
Read –Sub Types Of Vata Dosha: Importance, Salient Features 

Imbalance between pitta and air will also lead to imbalance of kapha in digestive area. Higher vata, higher pitta and lower kapha. This will lead to less protection of digestive tract from violent action of vata and pitta, combination of wind and fire being very ruthless and all destructive sometimes.

As a result there are lot of burnouts in all tissues and organs of body, inflammation and high pitta symptoms. Lower vata, lower fire, more accumulation of kapha and watery elements. This will subsequently lead to stagnation and blocks in body leading to slowing down of many activities and sluggish functioning of many tissues and organs along with kapha increase symptoms.
Read – Peptic Ulcers: Causes, Ayurvedic Treatment, Herbs, Home Remedies

Thus balance of vata is very essential to keep pitta, kapha and fire balanced and for digestive activities to happen in an uninterrupted way.

Anyways, those having vata constitution or long standing disturbance of vata will have unpredictable digestive fire. As a result, digestion also will be unpredictable in these people. For vata constitution people to have vishamagni is quite natural, by birth. Therefore these people need to take extra caution to keep their vata under control in comparison to pitta and kapha constitution people.
Read – Dosha Body Type Features As Per Master Sushruta (Prakriti Lakshana)

As already said, with vata influencing fire, food will sometimes be digested properly and sometimes there will be weak and sluggish digestion. Person in whom fire is influenced by vata will therefore be unsure about his or her digestive health. They have frequent stomach upsets and digestive disorders which make them meet doctor often for these complaints.

Vata and pitta, always form a lethal combination. As long as they balance each other and themselves there is no problem but when they mutually afflict each other or aggravate each other, they burn entire body just like an intense fire burns and consumes everything.  

Vishtabdhajeerna

Vishtabdhajeerna is a type of indigestion caused due vata influencing digestive fire. Thus, vishamagni causes vishtabdhaajeerna. Due to unpredictable nature of vishamagni, food is either digested or not. Person suffers from episodes of digestion and indigestion.

Depending on nature of digestion, all activities of body including digestion, circulation, excretion, nutrition etc will take place in an erratic way. Due to influence of vata and association of pitta, dryness and depletion will be affected in cells and tissues. Many neurological disorders, constipation, weakness, loss of weight, mental disorders, disorders of circulation and breathing etc are manifested. Ultimately all these pathological variations will lead to manifestation of many vata disorders.  

Probable modern correlation – Vishamagni can be closely correlated to ‘atonic dyspepsia’ explained in modern medicine.  

Remedy for vishamagni 

Vata balancing foods, good physical and mental rest, keeping away worries and stress, light and easily digestible foods with unctuous substances like ghee,oil etc, vata balancing enemas, oil massages, comforting sudation treatments, meat soup, shirodhara and other oil treatments conducted on head and any other measures which balance vata should be used as per need and situation seeing degree of aggravation of vata.

Associated vitiation of pitta or kapha too should be simultaneously addressed. This will take care of unpredictable digestive fire. Similarly, medicines and formulations which would balance vata shall be used.  
Read – Effect of Stress, Anxiety on Stomach And Intestines: Remedies

Samagni

When all vata, pitta and kapha are in equilibrium, when they do not individually influence digestive fire, when they all contribute equally towards normalcy and balance of digestive fire, fire will be pleasant and would digest food properly without causing any problem. Such a balanced fire will be called samagni.

Such digestion will produce proper nutritional essence. This will be made available to all tissues and organs in a balanced way. Overall health of tissues, channels and organs would be perfectly good and all functions will take place in a balanced way. 

Excreta and toxins would be flushed on regular basis and body would enjoy comprehensive health and outstanding endurance and immunity. Mind and sense would be perfect and their perceptions will be perfectly synchronized. Person would be free of worries and stress and would enjoy a blissful life. Overall, balanced fire will contribute towards balanced digestion.

But it is very difficult to maintain fire in optimum balance. Since all diseases are said to be caused by mandagni or fluctuations and imbalances in digestive fire, perfect balance of fire would mean perfect health and such condition is hard to find because of our erratic and inconsistent food patterns and lifestyle practices.
Read – Kapha Decrease Symptoms, Analysis, Treatment

But with utmost discipline of life, following a drawn protocol, properly following daily and seasonal regimens, expelling impending urges and not creating artificial reflexes, keeping away from stress, following an idealistic behavior and leading a meaningful life would definitely help one to have balanced fire which is a secret of perfect health. Because a properly balanced fire would keep other entities i. e. doshas, tissues, excreta, mind and senses in perfect sync and balance.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y. S. MD (Ayu) – Email / Skype

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