Ayurveda - Agni: The Elemental Fire
By Dr Partap Chauhan
The concept of agni or elemental fire in the body is unique to Ayurveda. The Sanskrit terms 'agni' and 'jatharagni' refer to the body's digestive capability, which is metaphorically represented as all-consuming fire in Ayurveda.
Imbalances in the metabolic fire result in various physical and psychological problems, such as poor digestion, lethargy, diarrhea, mental stress and strain. Symptoms of low agni include flatulence, dull complexion, constipation and a tiredness of mind, while high agni is indicated by heavy perspiration, diarrhea, rashes, irritability and anger..
Imbalances in the metabolic fire may be improved by eating smaller meals, sipping lime or lemon water, drinking ginger tea, chewing one's food well and sipping warm water with all meals. Agni can also be improved by fasting and through herbal medications. However, these procedures should be practiced under the guidance of an Ayurvedic healthcare practitioner.
Guidelines for balancing agni in vata types
Vata types can take a pinch of finely chopped, fresh ginger-root mixed with a little salt before meals. Plums and a little ghee or clarified butter on grains can help too.
Guidelines for balancing agni in pitta types
A little ginger tea sweetened with maple syrup before a meal is particularly good for pitta types. Gentian bitters and fresh cilantro or parsley with a little black pepper can also help balance agni.
Guidelines for balancing agni in kapha types
Take a pinch of trikatu—an Ayurvedic mixture made with equal portions of ginger, black pepper and cayenne pepper—and sprinkle over a quarter teaspoon of honey. Take this before meals; it is especially helpful for kapha types. Light diet and pungent spices also help improve agni.
For more information on Ayurveda and it benefits please contact:
Kaviraj Partap S. Chauhan (Cyber Vaidya)
Director, Jiva Ayurvedic Research Institute