Working With Fire: Ayurveda & Digestion


The Sanskrit word agni means fire. It is commonly understood in Ayurveda as “digestive fire” implying its correlation with the various digestive juices of the stomach, small intestines and related exocrine glands. Agni maintains the integrity of the body by converting foods, via bio-chemical processes, into cells, tissue, structure, intelligence, energy.

“Agni is responsible for life span, complexion, strength, health, enthusiasm, corpulence, luster, immunity, energy, heat processes and prana. One dies if agni is extinguished, lives long free from disease if it functions properly, and suffers illness if it becomes deranged. Agni is the root cause of health, disease and life.”
~ Charak Samhita, 15:3-4

“We are what we digest.”
~ Sushruta Samhita 

“The fire burning within the individual is divine in its subtle essence and divine attributes of atom-like invisibility, weightlessness, as well as digesting all foods.”
~ Sushruta Samhita 35:26

States of Agni

“All diseases are related to the weakening of Agni (digestive fire), Or by their intense and excessive activity. ” ~ Charaka Samhita

The factors that lead to the weakening of Agni:
Cold food abuse; Use of ice, especially in cold climates
Excessive heavy foods, fried foods, meats
Eat before the main meal
Inadequate combination of food
Sleep disturbances
Eating at inappropriate times
Mental imbalances such as; Fear, anguish, guilt.


All Ayurveda is personal. Often it is difficult to diagnose ourselves, and experimenting can imbalance Vata. So please consult an Ayurvedic practitioner, especially if your Agni is impaired, doshas are imbalanced or you have a chronic condition. These are simply suggestions, offered for everyday ease.

Light Your Fire

When Agni is irregular, lemon and ginger help rev digestive juices. Try this with a pinch of rock salt to stimulate appetite. Take 15 minutes before your meal.

Soothe The Fire

When the digestive fire feels like it’s burning you up, try throwing a litle earth to quench the flames. The Triphala is optional. Enjoy warm before bed.

Fan the Flames

When digestion is sluggish, trikatu can help. This is the traditional blend, or you can make it with ginger, black pepper, clove. Sip with hot water and honey.

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