Do I Have a Problem with Ama?

Violations of the laws of nature can cause disease via imbalance or damage to the Doshas, via disturbance of Agni (the digestive fire) or the Srotas (channels), or via injury. Faulty digestion and metabolism of food results in the formation of toxins known as Ama. Environmental toxins (pollutants, pesticides, preservatives, synthetic fabrics, cleaners, etc.) also promote Ama and accelerate its conversion to Amavisha, its most damaging form.

Ama results from faulty eating habits, poor food choices/combinations, and/or disturbed digestion. The formation of Ama can by itself unsettle digestion potentially leading to more Ama buildup. Ama clogs the body and interferes with healthy functioning. Not surprisingly, as levels of Ama increase, one tends to feel clogged, unnaturally heavy and lethargic.

Ama is sticky and will accumulate preferentially in locations where the Srotas have been vitiated and thereby attracts a localized imbalance of the Doshas. If the situation persists, one or more Doshas will become aggravated and eventually spread. This sequence may be asymptomatic, but is detectable in the pulse. With further progression, the pathologic Dosha will vitiate the Dhatu (tissue) leading to overt symptoms of disease.

The cholesterol plaques of atherosclerosis are a gross example of Ama. Rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's disease are examples of diseases due to Ama accumulation at a more subtle level.

I routinely ask all clients to complete this brief questionnaire.

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Ama
Item   Please indicate the degree to which the following statements apply to you Rarely
1
2 3 4 Almost
Always
5
1. I feel a sense of blockage or obstruction in the body (constipation, head congestion, lack of mental clarity, etc.)
2. In the morning, I do not feel clear - it takes me quite some time to feel really awake
3. I feel tired or exhausted mentally and physically
4. I easily catch colds, sinus infections, bronchitis, etc.
5. I feel heaviness in the body
6. I feel that something is not working right in my body (e.g., my breathing, digestion, or bowel movements)
7. I feel lazy, without inclination to work, even though I am capable
8. I suffer from indigestion
9. I have a need to spit
10. I have no real appetite or taste for food
11. My tongue is coated, especially in the morning

Amavisha
Item   Please indicate the degree to which the following statements apply to you Rarely
1
2 3 4 Almost
Always
5
1. I feel nauseated for no particular reason
2. I have hyper-acidity or a burning sensation in my stomach
3. My skin suffers from breakouts
4. I feel pain or weakness in my legs or calves
5. I have acquired sensitivity and intolerance to foods, flowers, pets or other new things in my environment
6. I lack mental and emotional energy
7. I feel feverish or physically fatigued in the evening

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Questionnaire adapted with permission from Maharishi Ayurveda Products International, Inc.