How to Treat & Prevent Toxic Build Up

The Sanskrit word ama translates as toxic build up. This is a loose translation, as all English translations of Sanskrit words are. Often it takes 10 minutes of explanation to fully translate the meaning of a Sanskrit word.

From the Ayurvedic perspective, all toxin build up begins in the digestive tract because digestive fire is either weak, too high or variable, meaning it is sometimes high and sometimes weak. When digestive fire isn't burning properly, food does not digest properly - instead it is retained in one form or another in the digestive tract.

How Do I Know If I Have Toxins Built Up?
There are many signs that you have begun to build up toxins in the body.  If you have digestive concerns, there is certain to be some ama.  Other signs include:

- Heaviness, lethargy, low energy
- Dull mind, foggy thinking
- Constipation, gas, gurgling stomach
- Bad breath, bad taste in mouth
- Pain in lower abdomen and lower back
- White coated tongue
- Sour belching
- Burning in chest and throat
- Cloudy, white phlegm or sticky, thready mucus
- Lack of appetite, not getting hungry before meals

What Causes Ama?
Again, the root of ama is in the digestive tract.  The most common digestion condition in our culture is manda agni, or weak digestive fire.  There are many causes of weak digestion that most people are unaware of and, in fact, do each and every day.  Some of these are:

- Overeating
- Eating too often (not waiting at least 3-5 hours after the previous meal before eating again)
- Drinking ice cold water (this is one of the biggest and most common mistakes!)
- Eating too many foods that are heavy, cold and/or dry
- Eating irregularly (not maintaining regular meal times)
- Eating late at night
- Excessive fasting (Agni, or digestive fire, is nourished by the food we eat.  Too much fasting causes depleted agni because it is not getting nourished.)

How Can I Treat Ama?
The number one way to treat ama is to follow a simple but nourishing cleansing protocol for 5-14 days.  This is best done seasonally, but even a single cleanse is helpful.  This is also the fastest way to remove some of this build up.  Other important ways to treat ama (which should happen within a complete cleanse protocol) include using spices that stimulate digestive fire (cumin, black pepper, ginger and garlic), drinking warm water and eating liquid soups.

How Can I Prevent Further Build Up?
Obviously, the list of causes of ama gives great insight into what needs to change to avoid further build up.  However, there are also new, beneficial habits that you can integrate into your diet and lifestyle as well.  Here are ways to prevent build up:

- Avoid overeating or eating large quantities of heavy foods
- Avoid processed, canned and fast foods
- Avoid ice water or very cold food (don't eat food cold from the refrigerator)
- Eat mostly warm, gently cooked foods that are easy to digest
- Make lunch your largest meal because digestive fire is strongest at this time. (Eating too much food at times of the day when digestive fire is naturally not as strong will result in improperly digested food.)
- Calm the mind before eating by breathing, saying a prayer and relaxing the belly


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