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What Is Ama in Ayurveda? And 7 Home Remedies to Clear Ama and Improve Your Life

Updated: Jan 4

What is Ama in Ayurveda?


What is ama in Ayurveda? Ama is defined as food particles that have not been properly digested by the digestive fire (agni) in the gut. This undigested food stuff putrefies and spreads through the channels of the body to the tissues as subpar nutrition. This ama, a cloudy, sticky substance, will then lodge in weak spots in the body (khavaigunya), creating havoc and disease. We all have weak spots, which show up in different locations in the body for each of us. Examples of ama would be arthritis in the joints, plaque in the arteries, cholesterol in the blood and cells of your body, etc.


ama: undigested food particles that putrefy and spread out to the tissues as subpar nutrition

Clearing ama from the tissues of the body will help prevent diseases from manifesting.


The Learn Sanskrit Dictionary defines ama as undigested, raw, immature, unripe, or grain not yet free of chaff (I love this poetic description of ama which shows how Sanskrit words may have multiple meanings that are all related).


We could also translate ama as toxins.


Ama can also come from external toxins that the body cannot digest. These will also lodge in the tissues of the body and create havoc and disease.


Ama Symptoms in the Body


Dr. Lad in his Textbook of Ayurveda tells us that some symptoms of ama in the body are:

  • fatigue

  • a feeling of heaviness

  • constipation

  • indigestion

  • gas

  • diarrhea

  • bad breath

  • perverted taste

  • mental confusion

  • body aches and stiffness

  • a thick coating on the tongue1


indigestion

Ama can be combined with the doshas (read more about the doshas), which will change how it manifests in the body, giving more specific ama symptoms.


Sebastian Pole in his book Ayurvedic Medicine tells us that ama combined with doshas looks a little different depending on the dosha:


  • Ama mixed with kapha

    • congestion

    • thick, sticky white phlegm

    • indigestion

    • tongue coating that is white and thick

    • blocked sinuses

    • tight and congested chest

    • mucus in bowel movements, urine, or menstrual flow

    • salty or sour taste in the mouth


  • Ama mixed with pitta

    • hyperacidity

    • diarrhea

    • indigestion

    • fever

    • skin rashes

    • toxins in the blood

    • loss of appetite and/or thirst

    • tongue coating that is greasy and yellow

    • bad breath

    • bitter or sour taste in the mouth

    • mild burning in the body

    • tight abdomen

    • yellow stool and urine


hyperacidity as a sign of ama

  • Ama mixed with vata

    • bad breath

    • irregular appetite

    • a brown coating on the tongue (some would say grey coating)

    • gas

    • constipation

    • abdominal pain

    • abdominal bloating

    • flaky, dry skin

    • joints that crack and have pain2


Sebastian Pole goes on to tell us that the above ama symptoms manifest as common diseases when not cleared out of the body:

  • late-onset diabetes or even high blood sugar levels

  • high triglycerides (raises the risk of heart disease and stroke)

  • atherosclerosis (a hardening or thickening of the arteries caused by plaque build-up)

  • rheumatoid factor (proteins made by the immune system that attack the body internally)

  • deficient or excess white blood cells

  • Candida albicans--yeast in the gut or uterus

  • gallstones (pebble-like pieces of material that form in the gallbladder)

  • kidney stones (pebble-like pieces of material that form in the kidneys)

  • excess liver enzymes (possibly showing hepatitis or liver disease)

  • glaucoma (excess fluid in the eye that damages the optic nerve)

  • bacterial infections

  • fevers

  • tumors

  • some forms of depression3



7 Home Remedies to Clear Ama and Improve Your Life


Now that you know what ama is in Ayurveda, here is a list of 7 home remedies to clear ama and improve your life. Most of this list of home remedies is from the manual by the Kripalu School of Ayurveda.4


1. Skip a meal or eat fruit

Because ama is created by undigested food particles in the gut, taking a break from food is a great way to begin to clear ama. If you over-indulge one day and wake up without hunger the next morning, it's better to skip breakfast to allow your digestion to catch up and clear any undigested food matter in the gut so that it doesn't become ama. If you have a lot of pitta in your constitution, you may need to eat fruit rather than skip breakfast altogether. And if you have a lot of vata in your constitution, you may want to eat a simple mono-diet of kitchari for a day to help clear the undigested food matter.




2. Use herbs that support digestion

Ginger, black pepper, pippali, and cumin are a few culinary herbs that help stimulate digestion. You can make tea out of these herbs or add them to your food while cooking.


Two recipes for herbal tea blends that are excellent for burning ama are Digestive Tea: Cumin Coriander Fennel and Anti-Ama Formula.





3. Drink warm water

Warm water helps to clear ama from the gut and the channels of the body. The heat of the water helps to liquefy ama. According to Ayurveda there are 20 Gunas (Qualities) that come in 10 pairs. One of the pairs is clear vs cloudy, sticky. Ama is exceptionally cloudy and sticky, so doing anything, like drinking warm water, that is clear or clearing will help to melt ama.


4. Drink clear, liquid soups

Clear, liquid soups will also help to liquefy the ama and remove it from your system. Miso soup or a thin soup of greens (add a little extra water to this recipe to make it thinner) will help to clear ama.





5. Exercise

Exercise that makes you sweat is an excellent way to clear ama from your body. Here again, you will be liquefying the toxins from your body through the exercise. Ayurveda says to exercise to 1/2 of your capacity during cold seasons and spring if you are strong, and exercise less if you are weak. There should be sweat on your forehead, nose, armpits, and joints of the limbs, if you sweat more than that you may be exercising too much.5


woman exercising to liquefy ama


6. Dry, hot sauna

While a dry, hot sauna can be aggravating to vata normally, it is beneficial when ama is present because it helps to liquefy ama and clear it from the body. Spend 5-15 minutes in the sauna depending on your level of sweat.


woman in a sauna melting away ama

7. Take Triphala

Triphala is a combination of three dried and powdered fruits that help to clear ama. Triphala gently and gradually works to remove ama from the tissues of the body.5


The dosage for each person is slightly different, but you can experiment with 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of triphaladi powder in warm water before bed.


Triphalaldi powder

Or take 1-2 Triphala tablets before bed with warm water.

Triphala tablets


7 Ways to Prevent the Formation of Ama in the Future


Now that it is clear what ama is in Ayurveda, here are 7 ways to prevent ama from forming in the first place. Use these recommendations to reduce the accumulation of ama in your body. This list of preventative measures is from the manual by the Kripalu School of Ayurveda.6


1. Avoid overeating

The general rule in Ayurveda is that the food you consume at each meal should be no larger than the amount of space in your hands when they are cupped and open in front of you. Another rule of thumb in Ayurveda is that your stomach should be filled a third with food, a third with liquid, and a third with space so that the stomach can churn the food properly. You may also hear people say to fill the stomach half with food, a quarter with liquid, and a quarter with space.


hands showing the amount of food to be eaten at each meal

2. Avoid eating large quantities of heavy food

Try to balance eating foods that are lighter with foods that are heavier rather than eating a completely heavy meal. For example, if you're having meat, have some lighter, cooked veggies like greens or asparagus to accompany the meat.


asparagus


3. Eat three meals per day without snacking in between meals

Leave 4-6 hours between meals without snacking. When food is in the process of digesting, and other foods (like snacks) are added in on top of that food, ama can be formed. The analogy that I like to use is cooking rice. When rice is already cooking on the stove and additional rice is added, you end up with rice that is overcooked and undercooked, but none of it is perfectly cooked. This same thing happens in the gut when we eat snacks before the previous meal is digested. The food will turn into ama because it doesn't digest properly.



adding uncooked rice to rice that is already cooking


4. Avoid fast foods, processed foods, leftovers, canned foods, foods with additives and coloring and instead eat freshly cooked whole foods

Foods that are fast foods, processed foods, leftovers, canned foods, and foods with additives and coloring added can create ama in the system. If you eat these foods on occasion, it is less problematic than if they are a staple in your life. The body can usually easily recover from one bad meal, but several in a day or in a week can cause issues for us.


Leftover foods are discouraged, but eating something that you made with love the day before is much better than eating something from a fast-food restaurant. Try to avoid leftover foods that are more than two days old.


eat freshly cooked whole foods to help prevent ama

5. Avoid drinking cold beverages and eating cold foods

Cold drinks and foods can create ama and clog the channels of the body. Drink warm, or at least room temperature, water and other beverages and eat warm, cooked foods to prevent the buildup of ama.


drink warm water and beverages

6. Make the noon meal the largest meal

Eat a larger lunch and smaller breakfast and dinner. The digestive strength is stronger during the pitta time of day from 10 am to 2 pm, and Ayurveda says this is when we should eat larger, heavier meals. Breakfast should be enough to sustain you until lunch, when your hunger should be present before eating lunch. Dinner should be enough food to get you through the night, but it should be mostly digested before you go to bed to promote good sleep and allow the body time to naturally detox overnight.


7. Calm the mind before eating

Eating while stressed can prevent your body from digesting your food properly which will lead to the accumulation of ama. During times of stress, the fight or flight, or sympathetic nervous system turns on which shuts down your digestive system, sending the energy to your limbs instead. Taking time to meditate before eating and eating in a calm environment can completely change the way your body digests your food and prevent ama from being produced.


calm the mind before eating; meditation


What Is Ama in Ayurveda? And 7 Home Remedies to Clear Ama and Improve Your Life

Now that you understand what ama is and have 7 home remedies to clear ama and improve your life, I would love to hear how these remedies work for you. Please leave a comment in the comments section and share this post with friends and family on social media or by email.




  1. Vasant Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles, Albuquerque, NM, The Ayurvedic Press, 2002, 90.

  2. Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. 2nd ed., Singing Dragon, 2013. pp. 45.

  3. Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. 2nd ed., Singing Dragon, 2013. pp. 45.

  4. Foundations of Āyurveda. Kripalu Schools, 2019, 7.32.

  5. Svoboda, Robert. "Balance". Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Consitution e-book, Kindle, Sadhana Publications, 1998, chapter 6.

  6. Murthy, Prof. K. R. Srikantha. Astanga Hrdayam. 5th ed., vol. 1, Krishnadas Academy, 2001. p. 25.

  7. Foundations of Āyurveda. Kripalu Schools, 2019, 7.32.

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