Concept of Digestion and Overall health in perspective of Ayurveda

Healthy digestion is the most fundamental aspect of overall wellness in Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, “Agni”  is considered as an important factor of digestion and metabolism in our body. If Agni of a person is vitiated, the whole metabolism of the body would be disturbed, resulting in ill health and disease. Hence, Agni is said to be the base of life. Agni has been divided into 13 types according to the function and site of action.

Agni or bioenergy present in the Jathara (stomach and duodenum) called Jatharagni  is classified into four categories according to its performance of digestion in the human,

  1. Samagni - The Samagni digests and assimilates food properly at the proper time. This thus increases the quality of the Dhatus (supportive tissues of the body). Persons having Samagni are always strong and healthy.
  2. Vishamagni - This type of Agni changes between digesting food quickly and slowly. When this Agni is affected by the Vata Dosha, it creates different types of udargata roga (Abdominal diseases).
  3. Tikshna Agni - Tikshna Agni is a state of very quick digestion of food, regardless of the type of food. 

When the power of digestion is increased from normal to above normal, food digests very quickly and produces hunger or the desire for food. When food is digested, the throat, the mouth cavity and the lips become dry with a burning sensation. This condition is known as “Bhasmak Roga” according to Ayurveda.

  1. Mandagni - is slow digestive power or digestive capacity or Agni that digests the least amount of food in the greatest amount of time. Those who are having Mandagni eat very little and are unable to digest the smallest amount of food. According to Ayurveda, the three biological elements present in our body; vata, pitta and kapha, which should be in balance. Mandagni is a condition in which there is an excess amount of kapha in the digestive system.

Manda agni and Kapha lead to: 

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Weight gain
  3. Feeling dull /Tiredness
  4. Fatigue /Tiredness / Lack of energy / Feeling of weakness
  5. Depression
  6. Constipation
  7. Muscle stiffness, weakness
  8. Sensitivity to cold / Cold intolerance
  9. Heaviness of the body

5 Bhutagnis: Bhutagni is the one that is present in a basic element (Bhutas). There are five Agnis in each of the five basic elements, namely – Parthiva (earth), Apya (water), Tejas (Agni), Vayavya (vayu) and Nabhasa (akash). Each and every cell in our body is composed of the five mahabhutas or five basic elements.

Dhatu Agni

Our body is made up of 7 dhatus (tissue element). All the seven Dhatus (tissue elements of the body) contain their own Agni to metabolize the nutrient materials supplied to them through their own channel.

  1. Rasagni is present in the Rasa Dhatu - Plasma
  2. Raktagni is present in the Rakta Dhatu - Blood tissue
  3. Mamsagni is present in the Mamsa Dhatu - Muscle tissue
  4. Medagni is present in the Meda Dhatu - Fat tissue
  5. Asthyagni is present in the Asthi Dhatu - Bone
  6. Majjagni is present in the Majja Dhatu - Nervous tissue
  7. Shukragni is present in the Shukra Dhatu - Male & Female Reproductive Tissues

Each Dhatu Agni or the bio-energy present in each Dhatu synthesizes and transforms the essential Rasa Dhatu required for that particular Dhatu or cell from the basic nutrients present in the Anna rasa (essence of the diet) that we consume.

Jatharagni is directly related to Dhatvagni or bioenergy in the cells and their metabolic processes, with ultimate tissue metabolism or Dhatu-Paka process. All the Dhatu Agni depend on the normal, healthy state of Jatharagni. If the Jatharagni is hyperactive (Tikshna) or hypoactive (Manda), it will cause an excessive or retarded action of the Dhatvagni. This disturbed action ultimately leads to various disorders. 

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