In Ayurveda Ama is derived from 2 words Aa which means Near or Towards and Ma which means Poison Hence the word Aama denotes a substance or a group of substances which is “near to poison” or “act like a poison”. Aama means an entity existing in a state of incomplete transformation. Aama is considered a physical toxin but its presence also affects the mental & spiritual quotient by corrupting the Doshas The genesis of life as explained by Ayurveda on metaphysical planes culminates briefly as one which progresses towards complete merger with the supreme consciousness.
The physical body with its mental attributes serve as a vehicle to achieve the goal, The body is constantly degenerating and hence it has to be stabilized in its healthy state as long as possible to active the ultimate goal. Life through physical body feeds itself on food and thoughts. Both of them are processed by a supreme entity called “Agni” which manifests itself through the body in various forms of Pitta. It is ably supported by Vata and Kapha to carry out these transformations of food to the desired end products suitable to the body.
These end products are individual specific. Any discrepancy or deviation from this process leads to undesirable products which cause “grief” and hindrance in the path of an individuals towards his ultimate goal. This grief or undesirable products can be termed as “Aama”. From medicine point of view Aama is considered with physical toxins created as a result of improper digestion, absorption and excretion at macro and micro levels of the body. Hence the gross body is always evaluated from two stages. One when prescence of Aama is detected it is called Sa-Aama or “with Aama” and one when Aama gets digested or transformed as result of treatment This stage is called Nir-Aama or “without Aama” Though Aama is present in all disorders as a contributing factor it is not necessary that it may always be the causative factor. This is very important rule a physician must consider before commencing a treatment. Ayurveda considers that the degeneration of Physical body is brought about by the very Doshas who create and sustain it. Aama hastens these process and bring about immense grief. Hence the two stages of Sa-Aama and Nir-Aama are explicitly discussed Ayurveda concepts divide the complete process of digestion into 3 stages Acharya Vagbhatt concludes that Aama is very similar to the residue of food in the first stage of Digestion and hence Aama is initially formed in the “Aam aashay” or a cavity that holds Aama.
Here the first stage of digestion takes place and is known as “Aam avastha” or the stage where the food is collected in the Aamashaya The specific anatomical structure & location of Aamashaya through Ayurved Literature is not clearly defined but by many scholars co-related Aamashaya with Stomach. For simplicity of understanding with discretion let us represent it as stomach. From Aamashaya the food passes to a tract called Grahani whose location and structure is ill defined in Ayurveda texts. Many scholars of Ayurveda co-relate the process of digestion mentioned in Ayurveda text with modern process of digestion and hence co-relate Grahani with the tract comprising of duodenum and jejunum since major digestive juices are secreted there.
For simplicity of understanding let us represent this tract as a place where 2nd stage of Ayurveda digestion or “Pachya Aaam avastha” takes place In this stage Pachak Pitta which can be collectively referred to various juices and enzymes mix with the food and digest it to a stage identifiable by the body as nutrition. This nutritional juice is known as “Aharasa” and is of specific constitution respective to each individual. The Aaharasa moves from the Grahani to a third tract called “Pakvaashaya”, a tract where again a general consensus about its exact location and structure is not reached amongst Ayurveda scholars.
Taking cues from certain similarities in modern knowledge we can loosely co-relate Pakva-aashay to the intestines. Here the absorption of nutrition from Aharasa takes place with the help of Saman Vayu and the remaining material is moved forward as waste to the large intestine and urinary apparatus by Apan vayu for excretion. The absorbed nutrition is transported to the 7 tissues for micro metabolism This entire process constitutes as “Pakva Avastha” or 3rd stage of digestion The nature of Aharrasa formed determines its stimuli to the intestines as favorable or non favorable. If favorable the juice is absorbed as nutrition and waste material excreted. If not favorable there is partial or no absorption leading to toxic residue either complete or partial in the intestine. This residue can be termed as “Aama”. The Aama so formed causes functional and structural discrepancies and progress the body on verge of disease. Aama creation is attributed to “Agnivishamta” or disruption of “Agni” Agni in broader sense refers to an entity which transforms or digest all manifestations in the universe. It can only be comprehended with its actions and cannot be visualized.
Fire is a manifestation of Agni, but Agni is beyond fire. Hence it exists in various forms. Whenever we see any transformation whether it be food, thoughts seasons etc it occurs under the influence of Agni For understanding Aama in simple terms let us hypothetically co-relate AGNI to one of its manifestations called Pachak Pitta in form of digestive juices in in micro and macro form through the body in the present context. In brief the causes of Aama production can be listed as follows Agnivishamta or Corrupt digestive fire Agnivishamta can be taken as disrupted enzymes & digestive juices at macro and micro level which inhibit complete transformation of food to desired end product. This leads to Aama. Once formed it slows down the absorption process, clogs the system & creates wastes which cannot be excreted leading to disease Dhatu Agnivishamta Though a direct reference to nature of Agni at each tissue level is not found explicitly , by reasoning we can arrive that tissues in Ayurveda cannot be formed without process of digestion at that level.
Hence again for simplicity of understanding & borrowing from similarties of modern knowledge we can relate Dhatu-Agni Vishamta to micro metabolism at tissue level where the circulating digestive juice either healthy or unhealthy as it is absorbed and moves through various channels of the human body to be assimilated by 7 tissues [Dhatus] experiences metabolic roadblocks due to the disrupted or weak metabolic fires at that particular tissue level. When Aama is formed in a particular tissue and it becomes disrupted it is identified as “Sa-Aama” stage of that tissue and when the Aama is rectified the tissue again achieves the Nir-Aama stage Mala Sanchaya or Accumulation of waste products Digestive discrepancies most of the times create untransformed products which get accumulated in various channel both at macro level and tissue levels. These waste are a source of Aama. Ayurveda considers the waste products of body termed as Ahara Mala created at macro level and Dhatu Mala created at tissue level to be in a healthy state to maintain the body. It has described the healthy constitution of each waste product formed when the digestion is optimum.
Creation of Aama naturally hampers the healthy creation & excretion process of these wastes leading to build up toxins and hence disease The three doshas , Vata, Pitta and Kapha acts at different levels in the body through their subtypes. They bring about the absorption, assimilation and excretion of food through their various properties at different levels. For example As food enters the mouth, Bodhak Kapha located there understands the taste and informs the body about the probable juices and enzymes required to digest it. Pachak Pitta helps in assimilation while Samana and Apana help in absorption and excretion Any discrepancies in this entities will result in Aama.
The Aama so formed creates a vicious cycle by disrupting the already corrupted Doshas leading to Sa-Aama avastha of the Doshas Properties of Aama can be listed in brief as follows Aama is always in the form of incompletely digested substance It is non-homogenous, has a very bad or foul odor which can be experienced only when it is combined with excretory products such as sweat, urine, and feces, or when products such as sputum, vomit; are expelled from the body. It is very sticky & it Creates complete slow down of body processes I hope this video was informative and made the subject clear.