What Is Ama?
The word ‘ama’ is the combination of ‘am’ dhatu (tissue) with ‘nich’ pratyaya1. Ama is a Sanskrit term for ahaar (food) that is absorbed into the system without being properly digested.
The word ama found in Ayurvedic medical literature basically means incompletely fermented and unripened substances.2
The main factor behind the formation of ama is the disrupted functions of agni (digestive fire).
If stays in the amashaya (digestive tract) for longer, it becomes like amarasa (concentrate of undigested food considered to be almost poisonous to the body) and is termed as amavisha.
The symptoms and complications arising due to ama depend on the degree of amavisha, which decides the prognosis of diseases.
The undigested food accumulations and their harmful effects due to dietetic indiscretions and emotional stress impair the effective functioning of the neurohumoral mechanisms.
The concept of ama in Ayurveda is the most important fundamental principle in understanding the physio-pathology of the diseases.
Our sedentary lifestyles have created several disharmonies in our biological systems.
Adhya rasa (product of food after assimilation) becomes immature and improperly metabolized in amasaya (digestive tract) due to agnimandya (poor digestive fire), .2
Classical Ayurvedic medical texts give detailed descriptions of the concept of ama which is the product of a metabolic defect.
It is formed due to improperly metabolized food at the macro level, bhutagni level (micro-level), and at the dhatvagni level (at the level of seven dhatus or tissues).
Ama is not a single entity but a generalized term that is applied to describe many malformed substances in the body.
Due to poor strength of agni (digestive fire), initial rasa dhatu (blood tissue) becomes prematurely and improperly metabolized.
This unmetabolized substance i.e. annarasa is still left which undergoes dushtata (fermentation) being retained in the amashaya (stomach and small intestine) and is called amarasa. 3
The main etiological factors responsible for the formation of ama are categorized as the following.
Aharaja – Food Ama
- Abhojana: Fasting
- Atibhojana: Overeating
- Ajirnabhojana: In a state of indigestion.
- Vishamashana: Irregular unhygienic food habits.
- Asatmyabhojana and Virudhhabhojana: Indulgence in a diet not homologous to the body.
- Food qualities like guru (heavy), sheeta (cold), shuska (dry), ruksha (fat deficient food), vidahi (acidic).
- Viruddha ahara: Incompatible diet.
Viharaja – Lifestyle Ama
- Sandharnata: Suppression of natural urges.
- Svapna viparyaya: Being awake in the night and sleeping in the daytime.
- Dukhashayya: Uncomfortable menstrual bleeding.
- Atyambupana: Drinking water in excessive amounts.
- Misguided administration of panchakarma vidhi, virechana, basti karma, or sneha karma.
Manasika – Mental Ama
- Consumption of food while afflicted with strong emotions caused by kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (temptation), irshaya (jealousy), shoka (grief), bhaya (fear), lajja (shame), chinta (worry).
- Desha, kala, rhitu vaishmya: Adverse seasons, habitats, and time.
- Vyadhikarshana: Emaciation due to chronic disease.
Prodromal Symptoms Of Ama (Poorvaroop) 4
- Excessive sleep.
- Loss of taste.
- Continuous aversion from physical activity, food, and sleep.
General Symptoms of Ama (Roop)
- Srotorodha: Obstruction of channels.
- Balabhransha: Loss of strength.
- Gaurava: Feeling of heaviness.
- Anilmudhata: Obstruction of vayu.
- Alasya: Laziness
- Apakti: Indigestion
- Nisthiva: Excessive salivation.
- Malasanga: Constipation
- Aruchi: Loss of taste.
- Klama: Fatigue
Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned in this article.
- Amarkosha, Shri. Pandit Hargovinda Shashri, Chaukhambha Sanskrit Series, Seventh Edi.2005, II kand, IV Varga, Verse no 16, Page no.519.
- Bhojraj Arun Chaudhari. “CRITICAL EVALUATION OF AMA” International Ayurvedic Medical Journal, Review Article, IAMJ: Volume 3; Issue 2; February- 2015
- Charaka Samhita, Sutasthana, By Vd. R. K. Sharma and Vd. Bhagwan dash, Translation of text and critical exposition of Cakrapanidatt’s Ayurved Dipika. Chaukhambha Sanskrit Series Pub, Varanasi, Sixth Edi. Vol. I, Verse no. 25/33, 34 Page no. 420.
- Babnrao Chavan, *Avinash, and D. K. Jadhav. “A CONCEPT OF AMA IN AYURVEDIC SYSTEM OF MEDICINE AN OVERVIEW”. International Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research, Vol. 5, no. 1, Feb. 2017, https://ijapr.in/index.php/ijapr/article/view/568.