Detailed Digestion in Ayurveda and digestive additions
Food is how we replenish the 5 elements that compose the universe in our bodies. We eat the food and we try to convert to the five elements in our body.
The food we eat has all 5 elements – prithvi, teja, aap, akasha, vayu – and convert into the body elements with the help of agni. That process is called digestion. Different systems of medicine have different theories about digestion.
Ayurveda- all 3 doshas are responsible and present in digestion
Saliva is bodha kapha and gets mixed with the food in mastication = bodha kapha senses the rasas
The particles of food get disintegrated and mixed with bodha kapha – rasanendriya/tongue has capacity to taste, but only with addition of bodha kapha. The signals are carried by prana vayu from the tongue to the brain. There are other constituents involved in process of digestion. When certain tastes are given to mind. When we eat something and we like it, appetite increases. Bodha Kapha gets mixed with it, we understand the taste, then the mind understands what to do to digest it, agni flares up and we start digesting.
So first we chew, swallow, the bolus travels down to the amashaya (stomach and abdomen).
Bodhak Kapha at mouth
Kledaka Kapha at Amashaya – always present in stomach but more amount of kledaka kapha is present at time of eating so that it can mix with food and move through to the pachaka pitta. Kledaka Kapha is essentially the mucosal lining of the stomach that protects the body from the Pachaka Pitta (stomach acids). But more is present when we get hungry – the mind activates the accumulation of Kledaka Kapha for the process of digestion. For every other dhatu there are srotas for channels but for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha they are everywhere and don’t have channels to be carried throughout the body. Kledaka Kapha is more watery than other types of Kapha.
Fundus of stomach/top of stomach – Prana Vayu air is present there, and according to the rules of diet, the ideal way of eating of 2/4 solid, ¼ liquid and ¼ air is to keep this area with Vayu so that it can move the food around and mix Kledaka Kapha with the food. This area can be increased by monitoring and very gradually increasing amounts of food. Then more amount of hunger will increase. By slowly reducing intake of food with proper understanding of the body and proper health, we can healthfully reduce the stomach size and therefore reduce hunger. In case of obesity for example we can slowly reduce and decrease hunger as well.
After Kledaka Kapha mixes with the bolus of food, food moves on to the Grahani (duodenum, jejunum, bottom of the stomach) where Pachaka Pitta is present and active. This is area where Samana Vayu is active (main part of stomach to Grahani/bottom of stomach). This activates agni and starts to digest the food. The food must be in contact with Pachaka Pitta for an amount of time as determined by Samana Vayu. If not properly functioning, the amount of time food may stay in the grahani varies and this can cause indigestion. (once again think about what juicing and smoothies do here, there is a imbalance that is made by drinking meals not only from the point of lack of bodaka kapha but then also for the time it travels thru the digestion, more nutrition in a liquid being shuttled thru the system without being digested… and you think it is being absorbed?) Jatragni stays inside Pachaka Pitta. Rough idea of time for whole time of digestion is 2.5-3 hours (depending individually) after eating should pass grahani and site of pachaka pitta and down to small intestine.
Food taken by Samana Vayu and held for digestion by Pachaka Pitta, then most important role of Samana Vayu takes place. Pachaka Pitta has formed nutrients and waste from the Jatragni process, but Samana Vayu separates the food into two parts – Saara: the nutrients responsible for forming dhatus, the other forms the Kitta: or waste products which form feces and urine mala.
Apana Vayu then takes Kitta and begins to process for elimination. Kitta is both solid and liquid and then Apana Vayu moves through. Then Purishva Srotas become activated to separate into mala.
Samana Vayu then takes Saara/nutrients up to the heart (because an action of Vayu, no srotas for that). Saara (meaning Aahara Rasa) goes up to the heart because the heart is the main site of the Rasavaha Srotas (taste channels). Aahara Rasa will be taken to every dhatu. This is why the heart is the first main site of Srotas.
Samana Vayu moves the Aahara Rasa to the heart and then Vyana Vayu is activated. Gross Digestion (Sthoola Pachana) and then Vyana Vayu moves through Saara to begin process of Subtle Digestion (Sukshma Pachana)
Aahara Rasa—>—–Rasa Dhatu/Rasavaha Srotas(heart)——Rakta——Mamsa——Meda——Asthi——-Majja—–Shukra
Kitta – water from Kitta is collected in the bladder through kidneys and taken in via the large intestines/Pakwashaya. Then the solids remaining in the large intestine is then moved forward. Different from modern interpretation (modern allopathic medicine believes that the kidneys are responsible for urine formation But according to Ayurvedic philosophy though this is how the urine is formed.) For people who have problems with kidney and renal failure, the formation of urine is much less, consistency is different, kidneys not working. Therefore urine formed is much less. Renal failure ensues. According to like increasing like, we can use large intestine of animals in form of soup for such patients. Large intestine of goat is cleaned, then a soup is prepared and this is given to the patient to activate the large intestine in the human to help activate it so that it can help the kidneys work. This soup helps to generate more volume and better quality urine.
Aahara Rasa goes to every dhatu and gives nourishment to every level of body. Samana Vayu begins the process by carrying Saara to the Rasavaha Srotas in the heart. Aahara Rasa is the only thing that can give the Saara to the dhatus and without the proper food we can get the proper nutrients.
Rasa Dhatu – Rasavaha Srotas is the channel in which Rasa Dhatu is formed and the way that it is carried to the whole body. Aahara goes to the channel of rasa dhatu, gives its nutrients to the rasa dhatu and then continues to next dhatu. Aahara Rasa goes to Rasa Dhatu (different). Aahara actually means the food that has the 5 elements that is necessary for the formation of the body. The assimilable part of the Aahara is the Aahara Rasa which is easily assimilated by the body to give nourishment. Rasa is broad term which means taste, minerals, dhatu, mercury, so its not unique to taste. The Aahara Rasa is formed at the level of gross digestion and is part of the food – one part is Aahara Rasa/Saara, the other is Kitta. AaharRasa goes to the Rasavaha Strotas and if it is functioning properly the Rasavaha Strotas will take in the nourishment and then carry to the Rasa Dhatu which is located in the Rasavaha Strotas.
Every dhatu has an agni of its own. There are 7 dhatu agnis then. Dependent upon these agnis, is the amount of the nourishment that each dhatu takes in. Rasavaha Srotas carries the Aahara Rasa, takes nutrients from Aahara Rasa, replenishes the Rasa Dhatu due to the rasa agni, and that is a type of digestion – this is where Rasa Dhatu is formed, Kapha is formed as Mala, and the Upadhatus (sub-dhatus) of Stanya and Raja (breast milk and Menstrual fluid in women). If your aahara rasa is strong and full of nutrients, all the dhatus will be formed well. This all happens in a certain period of time – 7 days for whole Dhatu chain to occur – so a healed bone takes a minimum of 21 days. (although this knowledge is over 5000 years old, it is proven with allopathic medicine and the healing of different tissues, reproductive tissue taking the longest to rejuvenate) After giving birth, wait 30+ days for Shukra dhatu to replenish.
Then Aahara Rasa goes to Rakta Dhatu where the same process occurs – agni of rakta dhatu acts upon it, Rakta Dhatu is formed/replenished, Pitta is the Mala, Upadhatu – Sira (vessels) and Kandala(tendons). Muscle is snayu, Mamsa gets its nourishment from Meda dhatu. Rakta is responsible for the formation of Sira and flows through it as well. But in fetus, the rakta and blood forms the sira.
Mamsavaha Srotas ->Mamsa Agni->forms Mamsa Dhatu, and Khamala (Aakash/emptiness/ether as mala). For example the mala of the external ear, and the path of nose. That emptiness forms ear wax and crustiness in nose. Upadhatu – Tvak/Skin. Mamsadhatu is site of deep fascia, ligaments, muscle and tissue.
Meda/Medavaha Srotas->Meda Agni acts on the Aahara Rasa->forms Meda Dhatu and Mala is Sweda(sweat) and Upadhatu is Snayu/muscle – but the precursor for meda is mansa. Excess amount of meda is imbalance of meda agni = too little, can’t digest.
Asthivaha Srotas -> Asthi Agni acts on the Aahara Rasa -> forms Asthi Dhatu (strong asthi/young bone = cartilage and asthi/bone). The Mala is the Kesha (hair), Nakha (nails), Loma (body hair). Upadhatu is Danta/teeth. Excessive growth of nails and hair is a symptom of tuberculosis (differs from person to person, but correlates to the individual’s personal experience) – not always a sign of health. Even distorted form of hair and nails can mean source of bones may need nutrients, but also have to treat nails separately as well. Certain conditions like fungus, or swelling in nail bed could lead to blackening – doesn’t always connect to a bigger disease, may just be local. Ayurveda does not have all the different forms of nail diagnosis like Dr. Lad has led the world to believe in his books. That is not Ayurveda but from some other system maybe or just made up by him.
Majjavaha Srotas – Aahara Rasa goes to Majjavaha Srotas, Agni of Majja acts on it, Majja Dhatu is built, NO UPADHATU, only Sharangdhar Samhita says hair is the upadhatu of majjavaha, but not consistent. Mala is eye crustiness, Majja Saara – eyes reflect the quantity of majja, so therefore the crustiness is the waste product of mala. Akshivitsneha – unctuousness of the eye crust. Vitsneha – unctuous present in the colon which assists in passage of feces. For patients who are taking prolonged antipsychotic/antidepressant drugs, they develop dryness in colon which can cause constipation. Very common because majja is used in excess amounts, and mala of majja is disturbed. Eye crustiness increases with stress, reading a lot, thinking too much – majja mala.
*Oil basti is helpful for the mind then, helps majja dhatu, but the primary focus is to reduce Vata, then THAT increases rest of dhatus.
Shukravaha Srotas -> Aahara Rasa -> Shukra Agni -> builds the Shukra Dhatu, then no Upadhatu. Although Oja is sometimes considered the Upadhatu, but Oja is not built up only as a side effect of Shukra Dhatu – it is the buildup of all 7 dhatus.
Shukra Dhatu – main function is for reproduction
Sarvadehika Shukra – all over the body, present in every part of the body so that every cell can regenerate and reproduce. Can be vitiated with too much sex, excessive consumption of very spicy food, and also Kshara (very alkaline substances) (modern alkaline diets are actually very stupid for this matter, although they think they are so healthy, little do they know what diseases they are actually creating) – so anything that forces the body to have to regenerate quickly. Excessive surgeries also can vitiate – different kinds of cuts on the body – regenerative specifically depletes shukra dhatu.
Sthanika Shukra – Semen
No Mala for Shukra – although kleda is formed at all levels of dhatu.
Shukra should never be wasted so excessive (what is excessive is not left up to what one considers or feels to be excessive but is diagnostic for the individual) elimination of shukra will lead to diminishment of ojas and all the dhatus. It is the essence of life and all the dhatus. Brahmacharya doesn’t just mean abstinence, it has to be from the mind first. (this is why it cannot exist in the Western paradigm and why it has been changed to mean watching of sexual energy instead of actual celibacy of mind and body) It cannot be everyone’s cup of tea. In Ayurveda also, they don’t force anyone to follow brahmacharya – there is a time for all of this, but first the time of life of reproduction etc. then as we get older, more the time for this. Grihasthashram Vanaprasthashram – Forcing oneself to do Brahmacharya can throw off whole lifetime and create diseases of mind as well as of body. Wait until its in proper time and then go for brahmacharya.
Excessive depletion of semen – first Vata imbalance/prakopa leading to body aches, low back pain, pain during ejaculation, then shukra dhatu depletion – less body strength, lusterless eyes, ultimately can lead to serious illnesses like tuberculosis. Different kinds of tuberculosis, all of which mean every dhatu is depleted, and first pranavahasrotas (respiratory system) is affected and shown first, but all over. First stop causative factor, then reduce Vata, then build Shukra Dhatu. Increase quality of shukra – ashwagandha. Improve the quality of the organ that is affected, its not about killing any bacteria but about improving the environment of the body. AIDS is mainly an all over dhatukshaya but mainly Ojakshaya – not because of sex so much, but of the body strength of the affected patients is depleted. Overall the immunity for that particular disease is lowered in this age.
Shukrashara – excess of shukra. Ojas is beyond sexual activity and has a lot of involvement of mind. When shukra is eliminated out, levels of shukra will be depleted and will need increase with food. Abstinence with lots of thoughts of sex can lead to unhealthy excess of Shukradhatu. Low agni + no elimination of shukra is helpful.
*Spiced milk with dates and almonds perfect for increasing oja and shukra dhatu, but only along with all other factors taken into account (don’t eat when stuffed and agni is low or if you make super spicy).
Rasa – Prinama – first to nourish everything
Rakta – Jeevamana – giving life
Mamsa – Lepana = covers the body/bones
Meda – snehama – unctuousness
Asthi – Dharana – to hold or have a specific structure
Majja – Purana – to fill inside
Shukra – Prajananama – reproductive
Obesity – low agni at level of jatragni can lead to diseases, but if agni at site of dhatu can be low too, and that stagnancy of bad quality of meda dhatu can block channels. Then samana vayu can get trapped inside koshta and flares hunger – false hunger. Food gets digested, but the subtle digestion doesn’t get completed correctly. Stops at meda dhatu and rest get depleted. Meda dhatu gets bad nutrients. A lot of obese people have cold, not that much heat. Meda dhatu that does get formed has bad quality. Flabby fat, not strong and fat, but excessive kapha with that fat increases sweda. Someone with watery fat should have less amount of water. Intake of Hot water so that it doesn’t remain stagnant in any part of the body. Hunger is not much, but still not losing weight. Vata is holding everything in place, specifically Samana Vayu getting trapped in the meda. Only when channels are blocked always either kapha or aama. When Pitta is prakopa can lead to excess Vata, which can lead to increase Kapha. Sleeping in daytime can lead to kapha AND pitta increase. But when very scorching heat in summer, body does need some kapha, so a short nap is ok, but all afternoon is too much. If someone is emaciated, or a child, can sleep in the daytime because it builds up Kapha.
When Pitta is out of balance, can have an increase in Aap, and liquid nature of Pitta can add more aap mahabhuta to Kapha. Both together can act as something to block channels and increase Vata, which can lead to holding onto weight. If you increase ushna guna can treat shita guna but need to find out exact attribute of dosha which is disturbed. Not just pitta but what quality of that Pitta is the cause of the disturbance.
Treat with Guna, NOT with dosha. EVER!!!!
Agni and Aama – brief – tikshna agni doesn’t mean you can digest anything, because capacity is involved – too much food may lead to either indigestion or formation of aam. Tikshna agni is different for all people. Basmaka – certain foods can cure basmaka in a few days.
Is agni always related to dosha? Basic qualities of dosha – kapha manda to vishama, pitta – tikshna, vata – vishama towards manda. But vikruti affects all.
Vitiated Vata – routine, regularity, langhana – fasting but not really, just not eating a lot at a time. So no, agni is not related to dosha as it is taught in the West. They are separate things that need to be diagnosed separately.