Agni is called the digestive fire in the language of Ayurveda. Digestion, assimilation and transformation of matter into energy are functions of agni. It plays a role in nutrition of all bodily tissues and subdues toxins in the body. Cellular intelligence, the turning on or off of a gene and cellular selectivity would not occur without agni.
Agni functions mostly without our control. We can however affect the digestion by when, what and how we eat and drink.
Four Variations of Agni
There are four variations of agni, three of which often correspond with the dominant dosha. The fourth type of agni can occur in anyone. It happens when all the doshas are in balance according to the individuals original constitution (prakrti).
- Sama Agni – is balanced digestion. This person can eat most any type of food without having any discomfort.
- Vishama Agni – is irregular digestion and is equated with vata. This individual can go through periods of lack of hunger and sudden hunger attacks. They experience gas, bloating as well as constipation and diarrhea.
- Tikshna Agni – is sharp, intense digestion and is equated with pitta. This individual has a high metabolic rate and can be irritable when hungry. They can experience acidity (burning sensations) in the digestive tract. They can experience diarrhea and loose stools.
- Manda Agni – is slow digestion and is equated with kapha. This individual feels heavy after eating and easily gains weight.
Different types of agni need different types of appetizers in order to properly begin the process of digesting a meal. Go with a tridoshic appetizer or condiment if you don’t know what to do.
Eat tridoshic appetizers when in doubt
Tridosha, literally means three dosha. Tridoshic means it will not aggravate any of the dosha-s and can help balance the dosha-s to its original proportions within the individual. Create appetizers with sour and heating dominant properties and sweet and salty tastes as secondary flavors.
Use condiments during the meal when in doubt or just to add more fun to your meal.
Appetizer Ideas for your dosha
- Vata – Pickled ginger or pickled anything is vata‘s friend. Vata is helped by drinking a little sweet pineapple juice with a pinch of ginger, black pepper one hour to one and a half hours before the meal. This drink will stimulate digestive enzymes. Additionally you can add a pinch of salt if you know you are going to eat a heavy meal like a meat dish.
- Pitta – needs something to work on. A small carrot raisin salad will bring tikshna agni to normal zone or an Israeli salad with lemon dressing. Antipasto can be a good choice as well. These provide a cooling effect and waters down the digestive system without putting out the fire.
- Kapha – Manda agni can enjoy some chutney or even a salsa to help fire up the digestion. Pineapple juice and pickled ginger as in the above vishama agni for vata is helpful. Vishama agni and Manda agni can share some of the same traits especially when vishama agni is slow and sluggish.