What is Ama in Ayurveda?

The other day, a client asked me about, ama, a unique concept in Ayurveda. “Ms. Vikram, what is ama? What does it do? Why does it ammeter?” In Sanskrit, ama means toxin or undigested metabolic waste. Ama translates literally to mean things like “unripe,” “uncooked,” “raw,” “immature,” or “undigested.”[1]

What causes ama?

There are any number of reasons that ama can begin to accumulate in the body, but impaired agni is always high on the list. Ama in Ayurveda accumulates in the digestive system from undigested or poorly broken-down food, overeating, emotional eating, poor diet choices, highly processed foods, raw and cold foods, fried foods, and heavy to digest foods. Improper food combining also leads to ama formation. Then there is lack of exercise, eating before the previous meal is digested, irregular eating habits, sleeping after eating, disturbed sleep pattern, hectic work schedule, sleeping during the day, an imbalanced digestive system, environmental pollutants, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices including imbalanced mental cognition.

What are the qualities of ama?

The ama’s stubborn nature causes it to stick to the gastrointestinal tract, clogs arteries, seep under the skin, and creep upwards to the mind’s subtle channels. One of my teachers and Ayurveda legend, Dr. Vasant Lad, once said, “Oh dear, peanut butter looks just like ama. Don’t mean to be rude, but it has the same gunas.” Ama is dull, cold, heavy, oily, viscous, gross, sticky, slimy, stable, stagnant, and foul smelling…the opposite qualities of agni. To fully grasp the concept of ama in Ayurveda, look at a jar of peanut butter. Now, can you see the similarities in the qualities between the two sludges (Ama and peanut butter) for the sake of context and concept?

What happens if you don’t clear ama?

Strong agni, as we know, is essential to the maintenance of good health and vitality. Small amount of formation of ama in Ayurveda is a normal part of the digestive process. Of course, it must be efficiently cleared. Problem happens when this ama isn’t cleared and eliminated, and it becomes the root cause of all diseases. In other words, when agni is compromised, ama accumulates, and as a result, our health suffers.

Signs and symptoms of ama in Ayurveda

We had a house guest over recently. Every time that he used the bathroom for elimination, he stank up the place. He had smelly stool, foul breath, heavy coating on the tongue, clammy hands, and lots of gas. These are all warning signs of ama. I want you to know that ama can also look as stagnation, lethargy, weight gain, indigestion, bloating, gas, heartburn, loss of appetite, skin issues, breakouts, inflammation, boils, mental fog, lack of sleep, extreme fatigue, headaches, drowsiness, lack of motivation, wake up feeling dull, achy joints, stiffness in the body, mind clutter, racing thoughts, memory lapse are some other signs of ama.

How do you know if you have ama build-up in your mind and body?

Our house guest, a wonderful man, believes he leads a healthy life. He is attached to the idea of wellness being about eating organic and exercising daily. But he is irritable by nature, drinks excessively, survives on very little sleep, and has an erratic schedule. Ama in Ayurveda can look like this man’s signs and symptoms. He is also a person who eats anything and everything that’s in front of him, no matter the time of the day or the intensity of his hunger. He takes pride in his “flexible attitude” towards diet and lifestyle without realizing that they sow the seeds of poor health. Instead of being attached to your idea of what wellness should look like, check in with yourself if you are showing any signs or symptoms of ama.

Conclusion about ama in Ayurveda

In conclusion, understanding what ama is in Ayurveda helps us live more intentionally, mindfully and holistically. It ensures that one eats, sleeps, lives, and moves consciously while maintaining a healthy digestive fire, agni.


After reading this blog post, do you understand what ama in Ayurveda means? Want to learn simple, Ayurvedic ways how to eliminate this unwanted ama from your body? Contact me.


Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained Ayurvedic coach, contact me.

[1] Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. London: Churchill Livingston, 2006. Print. 44-46, 103-105.