More important than what we eat is how we digest what we eat. Agni is the fire of Life which transforms food into energy. If Agni gets out of balance, many problems arise.
Digestion is a main aspect in Ayurvedic medicine
We pay big emphasis on the process of your digestion whereas the allopathic medicine (our modern medicine) doesn’t.
Enzymes or organs are not as important as in modern medicine. The organs are seen as one system, not as separate things.
What matters most in Ayurveda is that the biodynamic energies (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) are in a state of balance and that your digestive fire „Agni“ is strong and balanced.
Before taking any other steps, we work on regulating the digestion. Ayurveda is very straight with this. This is the first step, no matter what imbalance is present. Most problems often simply dissolve by fixing the digestive issues.
In Ayurveda, the cause of a disease is treated, not the symptom
A bad digestion causes many different imbalances, that’s why it is so important to pay attention to your digestion before considering any other therapies.
So, what is Agni?
Agni is the digestive fire, that all digestion depends on. You can imagine a flame burning in your belly. And all the food that goes through your digestive tract passes through this fire and gets broken down to absorbable elements. Of course there isn’t a real flame burning inside of you: This metaphor just makes it easier for you to understand.
Agni is responsible for the breakdown of food. It sits in different sections of the digestive tract, taking the food apart into its elements and preparing it for further utilization. The digestive fire is composed of many individual fires.
The most important, however, is the Jathar-Agni (royal fire), which is located in the upper small intestine and breaks down the food to a mush, which can then be processed further.
The Jatharagni is the foundation of Life and it controls all the other Agnis.
If this Jathargni is erased, it means death; if it is impaired, it leads to illnesses. (Caraka Samhita).
There are three pathological conditions of the Agnis
– Manda Agni: too weak digestive fire
– Vishama Agni: alternating (fluctuating) digestive fire
– Tikshna agni: sharp (too strong) digestive fire
Weak digestive fire (Kapha related imbalance; earth and water element)
A weak Agni usually originates in Kapha and leads to constipation. The food stays cold, does not split and can not be digested. Kapha is the Dosa (bioenergy) of stability, but also inertia.
Thus, the associated Agni is too slow to work. Agni can also be weakened by too much food or too frequent food intake. When the stomach and intestines are constantly full, the food is not digested, because Agni is suffocated. Same as a camp fire your Agni needs space and air to burn.
Alternating digestive fire (Vata related imbalance; air and space element)
The changing Agni originates in Vata and leads to irregular digestion. Vata is the energy of movement and can also be translated as wind. And just as the wind, Vata has no hold, no resistance. One constantly fluctuates between constipation and diarrhea, as well as between craving for food and forgetting to eat. A little wind kindles the fire while too much wind blows it out.
The sharp digestive fire (Pitta related imbalance; fire element)
This leads to diarrhea. The food is almost burned and thereby liquefied. A good amount of fire breaks down the food slowly, while too much fire burns the food too fast. The nutrients in the food can no longer be used.
In Vata pain and flatulence prevail, in Pitta burning and possibly fever, in Kapha nausea, vomiting and heaviness in the stomach.
In all three cases, the nutrients can not be processed optimally and are lost. This is very harming to the tissue structure. Food is our starting material. And if it is not been digested properly, all the tissues that depend on this material are negatively affected.
Toxins – Ama
Not well digested food leads to the formation of Ama (toxins). Ama settles throughout the body and leads to all kinds of diseases. Ama is an undigested, toxic, morbid metabolic waste product.
Ama has the qualities: damp, cold, heavy, sticky. When Ama is present in the body, the whole person feels damp, cold, heavy, sticky. This can manifest itself as a congealing cold, but also as rheumatic joint complaints. Ama is accumulated mainly by a weak Agni, thus a bad digestion.