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)… ~ 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.
Soothe The Fire
If your Agni feels like it’s burning you up, try throwing a little earth to quench the flames. Enjoy warm before bed. *Triphala is optional.