Root Of All Healing - Digestion (Agni)

Ayurveda talks about the root of all healing a great deal because it challenges one to find out the cause, not just to treat the symptoms of our illnesses and misconceptions. We become the investigators of health for ourself then we take actions toward adjusting and creating greater wellbeing.

Creating wonderful meals are more than just a passion, It is to consider this time well spent, investing on the benefits of good digestion. Not only because it keeps my family well, We need less time in doctors offices or in the pharmacy. When we do get ill we enjoy plant based medicines which stimulate digestion and enkindle our vitality rather than suppressing the body.

The main integrant, that which is held in the highest regard in Ayurveda as it governs all healthy transformation from digestion, sense perception, mental assimilation, absorption, assimilation, metabolism, perception and taste - is known as Agni.

When we have strong agni - digestive fire, it is said we have a lustre for life in the whole body. It provides bright healthy eyesight and skin, good body temperature, vitality and energy. Agni brings courage cheerfulness and lucidity, optimism, enthusiasm and intelligence. So if Agni is low or blocked in any way those articles will be diminished.

Agni is said to be warm, bright and has similar qualities as the sun. Agni’s light can also be sharp and penetrating which is also quite devastating. The Vedic God Agni is said to have two heads one for its beneficial qualities and the other for the malefic qualities. There is the light that illuminates the pathways to self-knowledge and innermost light which shines within all that exists. And there is the light which burns so bright and sharp that it is destructive. Agni dwells within the human body and is closely associated with human life. Agni is the sustainer of human life, just like the sun is considered the sustainer of life This god is a guest dweller in the body, on earth.

Agni is the governor of the three doshas. When the doshas go out of balance they are said to go out of their seats and they are not going to be able to maintain themselves even if you address the doshic balance. Agni’s job is to keep the doshas in their seats. Pitta and agni are not the same things but most pitta constitution persons do have strong digestion, yet it can be beneficial or destructive.

The chief cause of diseases is connected with improper contact with the sense objects. For example, food can be eaten too much or too little of, or the wrong choice of food at the wrong times. When agni is balanced one will have the right attitude to food, eating the right amount, at the right time and that which is good for your constitution.

Agni Bala - the strength of the biological fire.

Our food contains life energy which can only be used when it passes through digestion to be transformed and utilized by the tissues. As unique humans, we have the digestive fire of varying degrees for each constitution in which we cook our food, and get our energy from. Some foods are already more easily digested and readily available to the body. Understanding which type of agni you have will tell you which types of food you should eat more of and which you should eat less.

Understanding your individual digestive fire

Samagni (sama + agni) - Balanced agni

Visamagni (vishama + agni) - Variable fire

Tiksnagni (tikshna + agni) - Sharpe fire

Mandagni (manda + agni) - Slow fire

Visamagni means the fire is changeable, rough, dry, irregular, erratic, sometimes too high or sometimes too low, and moving around. Someone who has this type of digestion often has food sensitivities, anxiety, a lack of focus, alternating high and low appetites, along with gas bloating and alternating constipation and diarrhoea. This tic tok between the other two types of agni is either (tiksnagni and mandagni) to fast and too slow. This person forgets to eat at mealtimes and then snacks frequently or forgets to eat all together. They eat at widely different times from day today. They may have food sensitivities, they may have insomnia, fearful dreams and phobias.

Tiksnagni means sharp, hot, hyperfunctioning, redness (face, eyes, etc.), inflammation, burning sensation in the digestive tract. Often associated with pitta types this type of agni burns through food and burns without assimulating leaving food undigested. This type of person with this type of agni cannot skip a meal and may eat more often than needed in a day. They often have the qualities of pitta, are highly driven and may suffer from anger, indigestion, burping frequently and loose or frequent bowel movements which contain visible undigested food particles. The mind of the person with this agni is highly reactive, they may have sleep issues with waking up at night, dreams are often intense and destructive.

Mandagni means slow and is often the type of digestion Kapha types are used too. It is said to be hypo-functioning, milky dull, dense and heavy. They often are not aware of what hunger feels like and are not sure if they are hungry. The person with mandagni may feel fatigued, their appetite and thirst is slow. They may eat once a day as they have no appetite. The mind of a person with this agni is slow, dull, and may lack motivation, feel bored or lethargic. They may feel sleepy after eating, or not want to wake in the morning or enjoy naps during the day too often.

The key to knowing if you have disturbed agni is to look at your appetite. Additionally, the way to approach this is to look at your skin, tongue. A further look into your agni type can be made in an Ayurvedic consultation to find out how your digestion could be helped and how we can support a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Samagni is a balanced healthy agni. The person who has balanced agni will not have any illnesses and will have a balanced normal state. The appetite will be normal, not voracious or diminished and so will digestion. They would not crave unhealthy substances or have any sensations of discomfort or lethargy after eating. The assimilation and digestion of nutrients from the food is healthy and you can tell this by a once a day bowel movement, first thing in the day is regulated. They have a normal immunity to colds and flu, with no nasty food reactions. They will have a steady weight for their body type. A calm and clear perception and state of mind, abundance relative to their karma. They will be able to engage in spiritual life in a natural and healthy way, able to discern behaviour and modify with awareness.

All doshas would do well to follow the sun, by regulating their meal times to eat the largest meal in the middle of the day. Eating when the sun is highest and align with this natural routine of cycles and the circadian rhythms as this establishes one into balanced digestion.

Avoiding processed food in the diet and avoiding overeating foods which are not correct for your dosha or avoiding poor food combinations, will adjust your digestion to samaagni. You can use the tools of Ayurveda for yourself and become your own best healer. If you do feel you need some further insights contact us for a discovery call to have an honest and open talk about how to find your optimal health.