AMA: THE SEED OF DISEASE
When the body’s digestive fire is not adequate, foods remain undigested and unabsorbed in the intestinal tract, and ama is the result. Foul-odour and sticky, ama clogs the intestines and other channels of the body, including its blood vessels. Ama prevents the colon in its attempt to carry out its primary functions like extracting the vital force, or prana, from the digested foods. Ama undergoes a multitude of chemical changes, gradually creating toxins, which are released into the bloodstream. As mentioned earlier if the main digestive fire vitiates, so do the seven other fires (dhatwagni) on the cellular (tissue) level, thus creating ama in the tissues. Excess dosha and toxins (from ama) form a sinister team as they travel through different channels (as mentioned in the next topic) with great rapidity to a weakened (disease prone/vulnerable) part of the body. Through its toxicity, ama elicits a negative immune reaction in the body’s tissues until, finally, disease manifests in these organs.
All internal diseases begin with ama’s presence in the body, and all externally created diseases eventually produce ama. In addition to obstructing the body’s channels, ama causes a deterioration in our strength and energy levels. It reduces rasa, inducing lethargy and fatigue. Equally crippling to the system is mental ama, gathered through misperception and disturbed emotions. Greed, selfishness, possessiveness, stubbornness, anger, and excessive desires become mental pollutants, are also ama.
An early sign of ama in the body is a sticky coating on the tongue. In Kapha types*, the coating is usually thick, sweetish, and whitish in colour. Pitta types* tend to have a slimy, sourish, yellowish coating and Vata types* have a dryish, bitter, grayish coating. When these early symptoms occur, fasting may readily alleviate ama and/or the pancha karma therapies administered according to the body type and in the appropriate season.
* Described in the chapter on body types (prakruti)