If there is one thing that Ayurveda can teach that will transform your health, it is how to improve your digestion.
Agni, or digestive fire, is the key force that allows your body to function. When Agni is low, you feel weak, lacking in energy and vitality and you are prone to disease. When it is high, your immune system bcomes strong and you feel energised and full of enthusiasm.
Herbal preparations to improve digestion:
The following Maharishi Ayurveda herbal preparations will help your digestion:
Digest Plus regulates your digestive fire or Agni. It balances your appetite and supports your digestion. It also helps balance stomach acid, reduces gas and supports the liver and the pancreas. Digest Plus removes Ama from the body tissues. Particularly suitable after a heavy meal.
Trikatu with Clove is a stronger digestive than Digest plus and especially suitable after a heavy meal. Trikatu is three strongly pungent spices – ginger, black pepper and Indian long pepper and is one of Ayurveda’s most popular digestive aids.
If you have problems assimilating fats the Livercare supplements are recommended. Liver imbalances can lead to skin and digestive problems, fatigue, and many other ailments. LiverCare helps cleanse the liver and its microchannels to flush out undigested impurities. This clears the path for vital nutrients to reach the liver. It promotes the first step of digestion – breaking down food in the stomach and small intestine. By keeping your liver healthy, you can enjoy mental and physical energy, clear skin, and natural immunity.
Poor digestion is usually the result or a build-up of Ama as a result of poor digestion of previous meals. Triphala consists of three fruits, which work synergistically to detoxify your entire digestive tract. Cabbage Rose is added to support and enhance the other ingredients. Besides helping you detox, Triphala Rose helps in absorbing nutrients effectively and in restoring your health, immunity and energy.
Agni is the transformational power in the universe and of your body. It is Agni that transforms this physical world, in the form of food, liquids and air, into your cells and tissues. It also transforms and makes digestible information, that comes through your senses, into creative thoughts and ideas.
The 13 Agnis that transform the world into your body
There are a thirteen different Agni’s in your body:
Jathar Agni (fire in the belly) is your primary digestive fire. This Agni breaks down food and liquids that enter your stomach into simpler components. The result is a nutritive fluid called Ahara Rasa
Working along with Jathar Agni are the five Buta Agnis in the liver. Buta Agnis are associated with the five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Each Buta Agni extracts its associated element from the nutritive fluid so that element can be supplied to our body in just the amount that it needs.
Ayurveda counts seven tissues or Dhatus in your body (plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow and nerve, reproductive) and each tissue has its own Agni. These Dhatu Agnis supply each tissue with their building blocks and are also responsible for their metabolism.
Agni as the supplier of life force
Agni is more than just a material fire composed of a variety acids and enzymes. It is also has a pranic nature. Prana is the life force, or bioelectrical force, of our body and Agni helps to energise the flow of Prana and vitality throughout all the tissues and organs of our body.
Prana Agni needs fuel and this is supplied directly from the homogenous semi-liquid mass of Ahara Rasa, which is oily by nature. Like a flame in the abdomen Agni burns, using this oily food mass as its fuel.
Low Agni, high Ama
Balanced digestive fire burning at the right amount, neither too high nor too low, is the key to good health. When Agni is weak, due to overeating, snacking between meals, insufficient sleep, or illness, your power to digest the food coming into your stomach is weakened and Ama starts forming.
Ama is partially digested food that has not been fully processed, due to low Jathar Agni. When our primary digestive fire is weak, this toxic Ama starts to form in our digestive tract.
When Ama is allowed to build up it starts to invade our tissues and organs and the disease process is set into motion.
Increasing digestive fire is seen in Ayurveda as the best remedy for burning up Ama and thus nipping the disease process in the bud.
Our mind and senses are on fire
Each of our five senses (Indryas) have their own Agni. These Indrya Agnis help in the processing and recognition of information that come though our ears, eyes, touch, nose and tongue.
In a way, we eat the world through our senses. Agni is there to help us digest emotions, ideas and experiences.
Throughout each day and night our brain goes through innumerable processes where information fed to it by our senses has to be sorted. Useful information is integrated into our world-view and useless information has to be discarded.
When Agni is low even on the physical level, due to things like poor diet, such mental and emotional processing are impaired. We can feel dull, slow in our thinking and responses, emotionally unavailable to others.
Tips to develop a strong Agni:
Strong Agni is a key component in boosting good physical and mental health, and in maintaining emotional balance. Here are some tips to keep all your digestive processes in top condition:
- When you sit to eat, ask yourself, “am I really hungry?”. If not, delay your meal until you are.
- Don’t stuff your belly. Eat to the point of satisfaction, but leave some space in your stomach for successful digestion to take place.
- Avoid snacking between meals (unless you are really truly hungry – then snack on fruit rather than sweets)
- Always sit while you eat
- Eat in a settled environment and avoid watching TV at the same time
- To stimulate you appetite, eat a slice of fresh ginger with lemon juice sprinkled on it before a meal
- Drink lassi at lunch
- Avoid ice cold drinks and food
- Make lunch the biggest meal of the day
- Have a light meal in the evening
- A one-day-a-week Ayurvedic fast will give your Agni time to rest, recover and strengthen
- Panchakarma therapy is Ayurveda’s most powerful ways to remove Ama and restore good digestion