Agni is the Ayurvedic word for digestive fire and is a powerful transformative factor responsible for digesting and metabolizing food. It is also known as the biological fire and is a very important component for metabolic physiology and pathology. Essentially, agni determines our longevity, vitality, life force, strength, energy and clarity of mind.
When agni or digestive fire is balanced we will have symptom-free digestion, circulation, strong immunity, healthy tissues and glowing skin. Agni is responsible for transforming all food, assimilating nutrients, and revitalizing the body.
Almost all diseases are caused by agni that is malfunctioning. Food that is not properly digested and metabolized is known as ama or undigested food particles that act like toxins. Ama that is caused by eating the wrong type of food over a long period of time is responsible for many types of diseases. If agni or the digestive fire is weak then it leads to poor digestion, circulation, immunity, less energy, and poor complexion. Addressing the root cause of disease means correcting the persons agni or digestive fire.
The ancient Ayurvedic text, Caraka Samhita, explains there are 13 different types of agni.
The Most Important Agni is Jatharagni
Jatharagni is the king of all the agni. It is located in the stomach and duodenum area. It plays a key role in digesting food by converting it into micro form which is assimilated by the body tissues and cells. Jatharagni separates the digestible material from the waste material.
Jatharagni is classified into four categories according to how well it digests and assimilates nutrients and is always influenced by tridosha (vata-pitta-kapha).
Herbal Supplements to Strengthen Agni or Digestive fire
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The Ayurvedic text lists four types of fats with medicinal healing qualities. They are ghritam (ghee), oil (sesame), vasa (muscle), and majja (marrow). Each one has its own unique properties, however ghritam has several special qualities that are unmatched. Ghritam will maintain its own healing qualities even when combined with herbs with different qualities.