Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Friday, 11 March 2016

Do you have toxic "ama"?

Have you ever noticed that thick white coating on your tongue when you wake up?

According to Ayurveda, that coating is one of the many symptoms considered as ama - internal toxins.  Ama results from undigested and unabsorbed food that accumulates in the digestive tract, turning into a sticky substance with unpleasant odour. It is waste material that is neither excreted nor used by the body. Small amounts of ama are normal in the digestive tract - it becomes a concern when ama is not eliminated efficiently, building up in the system and spreading deeper into the tissues.

Symptoms of ama include:

  • tongue coating (can be different colours depending if Vata, Pitta, Kapha are imbalanced)
  • bad breath
  • body odour
  • congestion
  • flatulence
  • excess weight
  • joint stiffness
  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • mental fogginess
  • depression
  • dull or heavy pulse
  • and more
When ama accumulates in the body over time, it can become a breeding ground for colds, flu, chronic diseases and cancer. It is important to clear out am on a regular basis to maintain health.  There are many methods to support detoxification and clearing of am.  Which method depends on your constitution and requires assessment and customized treatment by your ayurvedic practitioner or naturopathic doctor.

Some tips to detoxify ama include:

  • Tongue cleaning
  • Proper food combining & diet for your constitution
  • Avoid overeating, excessive snacking or eating when upset
  • Herbal teas with spices such as cumin, ginger, coriander or herbs such as triphala
  • Sweating (saunas & exercise)
  • Meditation & yoga
  • Restful sleep
  • Abhyanga massage
Spring is the perfect time for detox though timings can be fine tuned for your constitution. Kapha types respond well to cleanses in early spring whereas Vata types respond better to cleanses in the later spring when the weather has warmed up or in the fall. When blood cleansing is needed for Pitta types, late summer is the ideal to detox excess Pitta in the blood before fall.

There is a lot of hype about detox these days.  How often to do you hear your friends talking about doing a detox or detoxing to lose weight? How often do you see ads of products for "liver detox"?  In spring, (or after holidays of indulgent eating) many people go to the health food store to pick up "detox kits".  Though these kits contain herbs & products that may contain herbs that detoxify the liver and other organs, you want to make sure you are doing the right kind of detox that you need. A liver detox in someone who has constipation will not be as effective as the toxins are not being eliminated properly.  A detox with laxatives could aggravate you if you have a sensitive digestive tract. If you are on medications, liver detoxification using herbs could impact the dose and effectiveness therefore, a detox with food or saunas may be advised.

According to ayurveda, toxic ama must be detoxified by making changes to our diet, lifestyle and supporting our channels of elimination (sweat, urination & defecation). The amount of ama increases as agni decreases.  Agni is a concept in Ayurveda which literally means "fire" and can be considered as the vitality of the body. When agni is balanced, am can easily be eliminated. When doing detoxifying, balancing the agni is central to detoxification according to ayurveda. Everyone has a different balance of am and agni, so determining what kind of detoxification for you with a qualified health practitioner is crucial for a healthy body & mind.

Tomorrow morning, as soon as you wake up, stick out your tongue in the mirror and observe. Notice if there is a coating at the back of the tongue - it may be grey, white or yellowish.  If you have that coating regularly, then you have am in your system, and it might be a time for a detox this spring!

If you have health concerns or would like to learn about what detoxification is suitable, you can book a consultation with Dr. Leena Athparia, ND or contact Naturopathic Foundations at 905-940-2727 (Markham) or Yuri's Village at 416-466-5773 (Danforth).  A complimentary 15 min meet n greet is available to learn more how Naturopathy and Ayurveda can help you.

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