Podcast Episode 097: The Best Ayurvedic Physical and Emotional Detox

In this podcast, Dr. John discusses how to detox physical and mental ama.

February 25, 2020 | 48 minutes, 53 seconds
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Podcast Show Notes

According to Ayurveda, the lymphatic system should be evaluated first, as it is the largest and arguably most important circulatory system. In an attempt to simplify this complex system, I will say it primarily carries the immune system, delivers fats to every cell for energy production, and acts as the body’s cellular garbage can and drainage systems for metabolic waste. One could make the case that for just these reasons alone, study of lymph (called rasayana) is study of human longevity.

At LifeSpa, all of our cleanses, The 14-day Colorado Cleanse, the 4-day Short Home Cleanse, and the advanced Kaya Kalpa Cleanse all put a primary focus on restoring lymphatic function and digestive strength resetting. Remember, the lymphatic system starts inside the digestive tract, where it may play its most major role: protecting the delicate intestinal lining and gut immunity. It is hard to imagine a health concern that does not involve one or both of these factors.

Detox Physical + Mental Ama

Sadly, a recent survey found 74% of Americans experience digestive health concerns.1 Are you one of them? Digestive concerns may be more important that you think. Ayurveda says 85% of health concerns originate as digestive imbalance.

Analyze + Treat Physical Ama

According to Ayurveda, the result of poor digestion is something called ama, which in Sanskrit means rawundigested, or uncooked. Health concerns caused by accumulation of digestive ama are called amaya, which account for 85% of all health concerns.

Everyone has experienced ama at one point in their lives. It can come from eating too much, too fast, or too late or from eating old, fried, processed, or refined foods or food you personally have trouble digesting.

After an ama-producing dining experience, look at the coating on your tongue the next morning. A thick white coating is ama, a reflection of undigested food lingering in your stomach all night.

See also DIY Ayurvedic Tongue Diagnosis: What Your Tongue Says about Your Health

Trouble with Wheat + Dairy?

Wheat and dairy, for example, sport harder-to-digest proteins, which have been blamed for causing a host of digestion symptoms, from bloat to brain fog to fatigue and excess fat! I propose that these foods are not the cause of these concerns, rather it is the inability to digest them due to a weak digestive fire (agni).

When proteins (like gluten and casein in dairy) are incompletely digested, they become ama. Undigested ama will eventually enter the small intestine. Because the proteins are not broken down, they will be too big to enter the bloodstream as they should. Instead, they enter into lymphatic collecting ducts surrounding the intestinal tract.2

When ama from the digestive tract enters lymphatic circulation (rasa vaha srotas), breakdown of the body begins. Once ama enters the srotas, undigested foods will slowly accumulate and aggravate the body’s natural state of well-being, causing symptoms of amaya.

See also Agni: Diagnose and Ignite your Digestive Fire

Symptoms of Amaya

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Brain fog
  • Hypersensitivities
  • Swelling
  • Skin concerns
  • PMS
  • Bowel + elimination concerns
  • Indigestion
  • Bloat + gas
  • Breath odor
  • Coated tongue

Srotas can carry ama to most any tissue and wreak havoc there. There are also lymphatics in the brain, which can become congested and accumulate mental and emotional ama. New research links congestion of bring lymphatics from weak or poor digestion to cognitive decline and mood concerns. This is called mental ama in Ayurveda.5

Download my free Lymphatic System eBook and learn the secrets of lymph.

Turn Up the Digestive Fire

Detoxifying ama is a critical step in returning balance to the body. However, just removing ama from the tissues is only part of the process. We must address the underlying digestive imbalance that allowed ama to form and accumulate in the first place. This is why Ayurveda is never about detox alone. We must first reset digestive strength, turning back on the agni of digestive fire that cooks the food and protects the body from ama and amaya.

Our 14-day Ayurveda-based Colorado Cleanse is designed to first reboot the coordinated function of the stomach’s agni, the liver’s production of bile, and the duodenal and pancreatic enzyme flow. If these are not coordinated and you preemptively detox without addressing the reason the body became toxic in the first place, we risk just moving ama (toxins) around from one fat cell to another and setting the body up to depend on cleaning!

Learn more about LifeSpa’s Ayurvedic cleanse here.

Now Let’s Address Mental-Emotional Ama

The relationship between gut and mind was well understood thousands of years ago as a fundamental concept of Ayurveda. In fact, the seat of vata (the mind) was said to be in the large intestines, which is now called the second brain in Western medicine.

We now know 95% of serotonin production happens in the gut,3 which, along with the discovery of the microbiome, creates a bidirectional pathway between gut and brain.4

Modern science now knows that impressions such as joy, love, stress, or violence alter the microbiome and elicit a host of mental and emotional changes in the brain. These stress reactions trigger further reactions in the gut, which, over time, affect the ability to digest, assimilate, and eliminate as we were designed to. According to Ayurveda, physical ama accumulates and the disease process begins, potentially with a powerful impact on the mind and emotions.

With the discovery of the brain’s lymphatic (glymphatic) system dumping three pounds of toxins every year during sleep, a new understanding of how the brain washes itself of toxins and emotions has emerged.

According to Ayurveda, we feel emotional impressions (mental ama) in the emotional heart. This is called sadaka pitta—the aspect of pitta that feels everything. These impressions are then transported to the brain through the carrying channels of prana vata—the emotional aspect of vata.

Emotional impressions felt by sadaka pitta are carried and written into the memory by prana vata. Memories, impressions, and emotional constrictions are held by tarpaka kapha—the emotional aspect of kapha.6

Memories are written onto the fatty myelin sheaths surrounding neurons in the brain’s white matter, giving rise to the name tarpaka, which means to retain or record. According to Ayurveda, tarpaka records every human experience, from blissful to traumatic. Even impressions from our ancestors are stored in tarpaka kapha.6

See also Cleanse Emotional Trauma with Ayurveda

Removing Mental Ama

Ayurveda understands mental stress can negatively impact our health for a lifetime. Fortunately, emotional impressions recorded in our white matter can be rewritten with cleansing techniques of Ayurveda. In our Colorado Cleanse, LINK fat cells (myelin sheaths / tarpaka kapha) that store mental ama and have recorded old traumas can be rewritten!

Ayurvedic cleansing is designed not only to reset digestive function, repair the digestive tract lining, and detox the lymphatic system, but also to remove mental and emotional ama with self-inquiry techniques. Yoga, breathing, and meditation have also been shown to boost neuroplasticity, change brainwave patterning, and allow the cleanser to drop unwanted patterns of behavior that have locked them into negative mindsets.

Addressing these issues is in fact the premise of Ayurveda. Yes, the body and digestion must be balanced, but it is the mind that holds us hostage and (through the gut-brain axis) causes the body to break down mentally, physically, and emotionally.

This spring, join me for our Colorado Cleanse, where I guide you each day, step by step, through a complete mental, emotional, and physical reset.

Join thousands of others for my favorite biyearly Ayurvedic cleanse here.

Additional Resources for Detox Physical + Mental Ama

Ayurveda Meets Modern Science is hosted by Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP, founder of LifeSpa and author of seven health books (including bestselling Eat Wheat and The 3-Season Diet), seven online courses (including Yoga Journal courses Ayurveda 101 and 201), and numerous free eBooks.

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