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THE YOGA OF HERBS

tract, are used mainly for obstructed Vata. Nervine and antispasmodic
herbs, herbs that help relieve muscle tension, stop spasms and nervous
tremors, are also therapeutic for obstructed Vata.
Laxative and purgative therapies are used to dispel the constipation
that so often goes with a Vata condition. They are used mainly for
obstructed Vata, but diey can gready aggravate Vata if over-used. Laxatives
which are moistening and increase bulk, like flaxseed or psyllium seeds,
are better for deficient Vata. Strong purgatives, such as rhubarb or senna,
may be necessary on a temporary basis in dealing with obstructed Vata.
But they must be used with care.
Stimulant therapies that promote digestion, appetite and the neutralization of Ama are very helpful in Vata conditions. In obstructed Vata they
remove blockages of Ama and Kapha. In deficient Vata they promote the
appetite and digestion to help rebuild the body.
Deficient Vata is treated using tonic, nutritive and rejuvenative herbal
therapy and diet. Bitter tonics of western herbology, as they possess the
same attributes of Vata, are contraindicated. Sweet demulcent and emollient herbs like licorice, slippery elm and comfrey root are the closest to
tonic, nutritive herbs in the Ayurvedic sense.
Ayurveda considers enema therapy (basti) to be the strongest therapy
for eliminating excess Vata from die body and thereby getting to the root
of all Vata disorders. In this treatment, various medicated herbal and oil
enemas are prepared under knowledgeable administration.
Ayurvedic formulas to reduce Vata often contain salt, particularly rock
salt, which is lighter than sea salt, and a very good digestive stimulant for
Vata- types.
DETOXIFICATION/MANAGEMENT OF AMA
Ama, die accumulation of toxins, undigested food or waste-materials,
complicates the treatment of the three Doshas. In general, Ama possesses
the same characteristics as Kapha; it is heavy, dense, cold and slimy, consisting largely of mucoid accretions. Yet it can be aligned with any of the
Doshas.
Doshas aligned with Ama are called "Sama" ("so" means "with" and
combined with "ama" becomes "Sama" in Sanskrit). Vata can accumulate
as gas in the large intestine and spread to the small intestine, blocking the
power of digestion, Agni, and give rise to Ama. Kapha can accumulate in

Management of Individual Constitution

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die stomach as mucus, spread into the small intestine, block Agni and also
create Ama. Pitta can accumulate as bile in the small intestine, which
though hot, can block Agni by its liquidity or oiliness, which similarly
gives rise to Ama. Such conditions are called respectively Sama Vata, Sama
Kapha and Sama Pitta.
Ama and Agni are opposite in properties. Ama is cold, wet, heavy,
cloudy, malodorous and impure. Agni is hot, dry, light, clear, fragrant (aromatic) and pure. To treat Ama, it is necessary to increase Agni.
Psychologically, Ama arises from the holding of negative emotions.
Negative emotions quench die mental Agtti or clarity of mind. As a result,
die physical Agni is also reduced. Undigested experiences become toxic like
undigested food.
Symptoms of Ama include loss of taste and appetite, indigestion,
tongue-coating, bad breath, loss of strength, heaviness, lethargy, and
obstructions of channels and vessels. Other symptoms are accumulation
of waste-materials, bad odor of body, urine or feces, deep, heavy or dull
pulse, lack of attention, loss of clarity, depression, irritability and obstruction of other Doshas.
Ama is the root of most colds, fevers and flus, as well as the chronic
diseases of a weak auto-immune systemthese range from allergies and
hay fever to asthma, arthritis and cancer.
Wherever there is such evidence of Ama, treatment must first aim at
its elimination. It is not possible to treat two Doshas simply and directly
when they are mixed with Ama. For example, tonification and rejuvenation therapies are only possible once the body is cleared of Ama.
Ama is decreased by herbs that are bitter or pungent in taste. Bitter
taste, composed of air and ether, helps separate Ama, whose quality is
heavy, from the tissues and organs wherein it is lodged. It catalyzes and
thereby relieves the fever due to this invasion of Ama into the tissues. It
stimulates the catabolic processes of the body wherein foreign material
is broken down. Like dry ice, it can help destroy Ama.
Pungent taste, composed of fire and air, burns up and eradicates Ama.
It has the same properties as Agni, and through strengthening Agni, it
digests Ama. Usually bitter taste is used first to halt the development of
Ama. Then pungent taste is used to revive the metabolism to consume the
Ama and prevent it from redeveloping. Bitter taste by itself may not be
sufficient to completely destroy Ama or adequately restore Agni.

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THE YOGA OF HERBS

Ama is increased by substances that are sweet, salty or sour in taste.


Sweet taste; like Ama, is cold, heavy and wet. Salty taste is also heavy and
wet. Salty and sour tastes by their hot and damp properties can aggravate
the fever and toxic heat of the blood that usually accompanies Ama.
Astringent taste is mixed in its action on Ama. Its constricting effect
upon the tissues and discharges may serve to hold Ama in the body. Yet
it can be used to help in the healing of membranes damaged by infections
due to Ama. So it must be used as a supplement to bitter or pungent
therapies.
As the main attribute of Ama is heaviness, it is treated primarily by
herbs and diet of a light nature. Often a fast is a good idea until the tongue
clears or the appetite returns. Ama as a primary factor in disease is behind
the value and extensive usage of fasting, mucus-free diets and detoxifying therapies for many different diseases. Such therapies may have benefit even when the exact constitution of the individual is not determined.
Because the properties of the Dosha are mixed with those of Ama,
herbs which may relieve a Dosha may not be effective in a Sama condition. Conversely, herbs which normally aggravate a Dosha may relieve it
in a Sama condition. We must discriminate not only the Dosha but
whether it is with or without Ama (Sama or Nirama, "nit" means
"without").
Vata, which is normally light and dry, becomes heavy and damp
when mixed with Ama. Pitta, which is hot and damp, becomes cooler and
more wet. Kapha becomes heavier, and while normally slow in motion,
may become stuck or immobile by Ama. The turbidity, stickiness and
density of Ama alters the attributes of the Doshas.
VATA, SAMA: Indications: constipation, foul breath and feces,
tongue coating, abdominal pain and distention (aggravated by palpation, massage or oil), intestinal gas and cramping pain, low appetite, heaviness, weakness, slow pulse, aggravated by cloudy weather.
Treatment: mainly pungent tasting herbs, stimulants and carminatives, along with some laxatives or purgatives to clear toxins.
VATA, NIRAMA: Indications: no constipation, no foul smell, pain
mild (relieved by touch), tongue clear, mouth dry with astringent
taste, body light, dry, with more emaciation, more tissue depletion,
less fatigue.

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Treatment: tonification and rejuvenation with mainly sweet and


pungent herbs to rebuild the body.
PITTA, SAMA: Indications: loss of appetite, little thirst, yellow
tongue-coating, urine, feces and mucus yellow or green, heaviness
in stomach, thick bilious vomiting, bad breath, bitter or sour taste
in mouth, mild burning sensation, skin rash, perception cloudy,
conditions may be aggravated by cold.
Treatment: mainly bitter and pungent tasting herbs, bitter tonics
and stimulants to clear toxins.
PITTA, NIRAMA: Indications: excessive appetite and thirst, red or
inflamed tongue without coating, urine and feces clear, reddish or
blackish, strong burning sensations, hot flashes, dizziness, giddiness, perception sharp.
Treatment: cooling and tonifying therapy with mainly sweet and
bitter tasting herbs.
KAPHA, SAMA. Indications: mucus cloudy, sticky or thick, does
not come out easily, blocks throat, coats tongue, threads form from
saliva, sour or salty taste in mouth, congestion, tightness in chest,
difficult breathing, mucus in stools and urine, low appetite, heaviness, dull aching, generalized pain, fatigue. Treatment: mainly
pungent and bitter herbs for stimulant and decongestant action to
clear toxins, cut mucus and fat. KAPHA, NIRAMA: Indications:
mucus watery, liquid or frothy, comes out easily, sweet taste in
mouth, normal appetite, tongue clear, no mucus in stools or urine,
no pain. Treatment: mainly pungent and sweet herbs, expectorants,
to clear out excess mucus and Kapha.
The usual approach of Ayurveda is to change the Sama condition of
a Dosha to a Nirama condition. After the Ama is cleared, the Dosha can be
worked on directly, removing the excesses and tonifying the deficiencies
it gives rise to.