Have you ever wished for a superpower? Your own transformative energy, your fire. What if I told you, it's sitting right where you are, inside you, working, burning, breaking molecules apart, and transforming to reunite them for your needs? Would that be hard to believe?
Agni, which directly translates to fire, refers to your internal power of digestion, a superpower that makes life as simple as an ant and as complex as humans possible.
Your digestion is an adventure, a unique journey your subconscious goes in daily while your conscience tangos with it. This journey twists and turns and adapts to whatever new foods, bacteria, and chemicals it encounters, provided it has the tools to care, and Indian Philosophies pay their due ode to this importance.
In the great Bhagvat Geeta, Lord Krishna says, "I, god of operation, reside in every being that has been and will be, in the form of Agni."
In ancient Indian civilization, spirituality and science went hand in hand. Our digestive fire was compared to the holy fire. This of course, also means that every offering you give to your agni should be as auspicious as the offerings you'd give the holy fire in a temple or yajya.
This is your very own holy fire 'agni' the foundation of you, the base that keeps your body going, the strength that keeps your mind running, the process that builds you to have this power of building our world.
How to Improve Digestion?
Digestion (Agni) as per Ayurveda is taking a foreign material (food) and making it a part of your body (tissues/dhatus). The better your Agni, the better this job is done. So, you need to make sure your fire is kindled properly, you need to charge your superpower.
Your Agni will be at the very highest whenever the sun is present, it is a huge part of why the time to be awake is with the sun! For further explanation please investigate the biological clock more of which will be explained later.
Identify your Agni, here are the signs and symptoms of different agnis
You require big meals and have no problem digesting them. You have no problem pooping; stools are loose and runny. You're medium built and have lighter hair and eyes. You have pitta dominance.
You require small meals and might still have issues digesting them. You often have difficulty pooping and have tight stools. Have larger eyes and darker hair. You have kapha dominance.
You sometimes have strong, other times weak Agni. Sometimes you eat a lot, other times less. Your stools are not consistent. You have a thin frame, scanty hair, and small eyes. You have vatta dominance.
Madyama/ balanced Agni
You have a balanced and regulated Agni. You eat a medium amount of food at the proper time. You have well-formed stools and no problem pooping. You have a tridosha balance.
Recommended treatments for each Agni
A strong agni burns the food out instead of slowly processing it, like putting a measly toast in an oven that's meant to bake clay. Which starts causing kshaya (weakness or emaciation if an adequate amount of food isn't available). It might even lead to ulcers, leaky gut syndrome, and other high heat disorders because again, agni is powerful and if you don't use your power, it will start trying to use up itself with what it's got around.
To treat this agni, you need dense and high-calorie foods that take longer to process so your body can extract adequate amounts of nutrients.
Milk, butter, cheese beeswax, jaggery, milk puddings, and sweets are all good, but make sure they are of good quality and unprocessed. Soaked Dry fruits, nut butter in porridge, and nut milk are great too.
This is a disease where small naps when you have anger bouts might just work out in your favor, try having an empty stomach when taking these 10 to 15 min naps
(Vaidya tip! Try having something cooling and light at the peak time of the sun, like rice milk, coconut milk, oat milk, cucumber juice, watermelon juice, etc.)
A weak Agni processes food partially and does not form dhatus (tissues) adequately, it fails to do its main job, which is to bring complex nutrients down to simple forms that can be easily absorbed and used by the body. This partially digested food is called ama (which can be formed at any stage of digestion/assimilation/absorption/excretion; it can make itself known at skin level, liver, or even muscle formation, amongst other spots).
Ama is a toxin produced by the body which causes hosts of problems from acne (skin) to organ damage (liver) to fever to cancer (muscle/all over) to migraine etc.
To treat this, you need to grow your superpower, and your energy and work with yourself to rekindle your fire. It can be done by eating hot, acidic, and spicy food.
Khichdi, sambar, pickle, soups, chia seeds, soaked raisins/dates, sour fruits like oranges, and pineapples all are great for you all are amazing for you.
Do NOT sleep during the day, not even an afternoon nap. Especially not if you are over 14 years of age. Remember to exercise as it will increase your Agni. If possible, wake up with the sun instead of after it.
(Vaidya tip! Try having some thinly sliced ginger with a little salt before every meal, it'll get you fired up!)
This is usually related by many rebound vaidyas to IBS or other serious issues. If you experience the same, I highly suggest you visit a good vaidya or doctor near you rather than trying to treat it yourself.
If your condition is not so severe, then your body is simply looking for balance and having a hard time finding one due to excess air in your body. You may want to look at your meal and sleep time and find a consistent routine that works for you. Balance cannot be found if you're always tipping your scales.
You may first have to increase your agni (with the treatment prescribed for low agni) and then decrease it (with the treatment described for high agni) so that your body can settle on its balance. Listen to your body and it will let you know your paths. Once again, if there is any confusion, go to a good Vaidya or Doctor.
Maintain what you are doing, you're doing great!
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Ayurvedic Herbs to Improve Digestion
There are some brilliant medicines/dravyas* that can help your process along as you make the above-mentioned changes to your diet and lifestyle. If you have heat in your body but low digestion anyway, it is due to vitiated/spoilt pitta.
These herbs can be used as excellent decoctions for fever treatment.
- Sariva - hemidesmus indicus
- Manjishtha - rubia cordifolia
- Haritaki - terminalia chebula
- Amalaka - emblika officinalis
- Musta - cyprus rotundus
- Parpataka - fumaria indica
- Chandana - santalum album
- Udeechya - andripagan vetivera
- Nagakeshara - mesua ferret
- Ativisha - aconitum heterophylum
- Katvanga - oroxylum indicum
If your body is of a cooler nature, doesn’t have a lot of internal heat, and has low digestion, it's due to increased Kapha.
These herbs can be used as excellent decoctions for increasing internal heat.
- Pippali - pepper lingua (fruit and root)
- Chavya - piper chaba
- Chitraka - plumago zeylanika
- Amlavetasa - garcinia pedunculata
- Maricha - pepper
- Ajamoda - celery fruit
- Bhallataka - semicarpud anacardium
- Arka - callatropis gigantea
- Agnimukhi - glorious Superba
Note - Use one or a combination of these dravyas to make a decoction by boiling 1 tsp of total medicine in 1 glass of water till it reduces to half and drinking upon cooling to a manageable temperature.
You are only as strong as your superpower and vice versa. Agni is your transformer! This fire transforms your fuel into a million other things from hair to nails, to the skin, to lymph, to blood, to bile. There is an insane amount of wonder and mystique to this very, very underrated aspect of you. It will take such brilliant care of you when you take the basic care of it.
I, Vd. Dr. Mohika Gupta (BAMS) has taken this ancient wisdom and applied it not only to myself but also to my patients to significantly improve their overall digestive health.
These are universal guidelines for people considered generally healthy, please consult an ayurvedic doctor before consumption of any recommended medicine and patch test every new type of application, keep your allergens in mind.
These guidelines are not meant for Obese people. A separate post will be made at later date for the same.
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