In the world of Ayurveda, there is not much more important of concepts than the health and strength of your Agni, or digestive fire. The Agni is the governor of everything from the breakdown of food; the transformation of thought and emotion; the level of ambition, motivation and energy; and the power of the circulation and immunity.
When one has a strong, robust Agni (digestive fire), they are able to take in just about any type of food and break it down with minimal signs of indigestion. They do not experience symptoms of gas and bloating or fatigue after meals. They instead feel light and energized after food intake and are able to absorb the broken down nutrients readily.
On the contrary, if the digestive fire is off balance, one will get noticeable symptoms of indigestion, whether it manifests as acid reflux, gas, colic, cramping, or just sleepy, sluggishness after meals. The food that they ingest may be quite healthy, but due to the lack of digestive force, it is not broken down or absorbed properly leading to indigestion, toxic build-up in the body (known as Ama), malabsorption of nutrients, lowered immunity and a general lack of vitality.
The concept of a healthy Agni (digestive fire) is so important, a weakened fire is said to be the root cause of ALL disease. This is everything from flus, colds, and allergies to more chronic diseases of diabetes, arthritis, cancer, autoimmune diseases and mental illness. If you are scratching your head right now and wondering how this is possible, I’ll tell you. If the Agni is strong, it is able to process ANYTHING that it comes in contact with. When it is in a debilitated state, the toxins begin to accumulate, further weakening the fire, decreasing the metabolism, clogging the channels and eventually causing confusion on a cellular level.
So how do you know if your Agni is in good health? There are many psychological and physiological factors that can give us clues to find out.
Classic Signs of an Imbalanced Agni
- A coating on the tongue (indicating toxins in the system)
- Teeth marks around the perimeter of the tongue (indicating malabsorption)
- Bad breath
- An unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Indigestion symptoms (gas, bloating, etc)
- Sluggishness after food
- General feelings of heaviness and lethargy
- Erratic or imbalanced emotions
- Difficulty of concentration
- Memory issues
- Dull, foggy mind
- Aches and pains throughout the body or at the root of the hair
- Weakened immunity
- Lack of appetite OR excessive hunger
- Constipation OR diarrhea
- Poor circulation
So there’s a quick list for you to keep in mind. Nobody’s perfect, so we are bound to have some of these signs on occasion; however, if you have checked many of these boxes, it is of vital importance to your health that you begin to focus on strengthening your Agni. Remember, a healthy Agni is the key to preserving your youth, energy, vitality and creating an overall great quality of life.
“You are only as old as your Agni.” Dr Vasant Lad
Im new to this but am very interested. Thank you.
Hi Chris! I am so happy to hear you have discovered Ayurveda. It can be a lot to take in at first, but easier as you continue to learn. Please contact us anytime with questions:)
So how do we increase our agni?
This is a great question that Ayurveda has countless answers to. Here is one article that has 11 tips for promoting digestion from an Ayurvedic perspective. They are some of the most important in my opinion.
As I said, there are numerous answers to your question, so beginning one step at a time with the tips listed in the article could be an easeful start. If you get too much information, you may be subject to feeling overwhelmed by where to begin. So keep it simple, move slowly, but keep persistent and consistent with what works for you.
Let me know if any questions come up!