Stoking The Fires Of Digestion

Date Posted:10 February 2015 

How strong are your digestive fires?
I love the simple analogy of Ayurveda that considers our digestive system to be a cooking pot with the fires of digestion being much like a fire in our hearth or fireplace.

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting beside an outdoor fireplace, enjoying the cooler evening night and seeing how clear the night was - how brightly the stars shone in the clear night sky.  As the fire strengthened the wind-blown smoke went up the chimney instead of over me and the warmth became welcome as the night grew colder.

Our internal fire
Much like the vagaries of this fire, our internal “fire” has its primary seat in the small intestine or duodenum. Each cell shares in this fire, as it is the strength of the fire in the duodenum which provides the energy for cellular activity. Thus your digestive fire is key to the wellbeing of both body and mind.

A strong digestive fire helps to cook the food within our digestive system to perfection - not too hot, not too cold, just right!  When food is cooked just right within our digestive system then life is sustained, health is excellent and we naturally feel contented and strong. When the fire is unable to properly cook our food then indigestion arises.

A lot happens within the body when we place food into our mouth. Through the stages of metabolism the digested food becomes increasingly refined through a sequence of seven stages. Much like an irrigation system, each stage helps nourish a different tissue element – from plasma, blood, muscle, fat and hormone, bone, bone marrow, through to reproductive tissue.

The end result of this metabolic transformation is the production of Ojas. Ojas is the physical expression of Soma, the unifying value of intelligence, which connects body and mind, physical existence and consciousness. The ancient texts say that there can be no life without Ojas.

“That which dwells in the heart and is predominantly white, yellow and reddish in colour is known as Ojas of the body. If the Ojas is destroyed, the human body will also perish. The form in which the Ojas is produced in the body of a human being for the first time is the colour of ghee, its taste is like honey, in smell it is like puffed rice.” 
Charak Samhita Sutrasthan 17.74

How to support Agni – the Digestive Fire
The key to maintaining a healthy digestive fire so that Ojas is well formed is

  • Proper intake of wholesome food and drinks
  • Eating at regular intervals according to appetite
  • Adjusting food choices with the season
  • Restoring digestive strength if indigestion is present

What are your signs of indigestion?
There are three types of indigestion. Which do you typically experience?

  • Swelling or distension of the abdomen due to gas, abdomen pain, retention of stool and flatulence and pain in the limbs and various parts of the body.  If yes, then Vata imbalance disturbing digestion is your strongest tendency. Helpful herbals include 2-4 tablets of Digest Tone at bedtime and 1 tablet of Digest Plus after meals.
  • Giddiness, thirst, fainting, sour and hot belching, perspiration, a burning sensation in the body and other signs of aggravated Pitta. If yes, then indigestion due to Pitta imbalance disturbing digestion is your strongest tendency.Helpful herbals include Digest Medium after meals and if acidity is present take Aci Balance instead of Digest Medium. In addition take Emotional Balance 2 tablets 15-30 minutes prior meals.
  • Heaviness, nausea, swelling of the cheeks and eyes and belching similar to that occurring soon after meals. As the cold digestion allows impurities to accumulate they give rise to pain and become the origin for many diseases.If yes, then indigestion due to Kapha imbalance disturbing digestion is your strongest tendency.

Helpful herbals include Digest Tone 1 tablet prior meals 3 times a day and Digest Plus 1 tablet after meals.  Sipping Be Trim Tea throughout the day is also helpful to aid metabolism and reduce cravings.

Ensuring your digestive fires are burning brightly is the most important well-being choice to make.

If your symptoms are a little confusing this indicates a more complex imbalance where one or more doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) have become imbalanced. In this case a consultation with a consultant near you in person, or via skype with myself can be of enormous value to you.

Wishing you the bliss of perfect digestion!

Linda Sinden has been a practising Maharishi Ayurveda Consultant since 1990 and is a regular contributor to our weekly Insights. She has a practice in Auckland, New Zealand and also provides phone or Skype sessions for those who need assistance, but don’t have a consultant in their vicinity. Email: lindasinden@orbislife.co.nz Skype: Linda.Sinden Mobile: +64 212237525   linda_sinden

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