Detoxifying Diet or Anti-Ama Diet

An anti-Ama diet is often needed before proceeding with a long-term nutritional program or herbal therapies. It is indicated whenever there is a covering on the tongue, or the stool sinks and/or has a strong smell. There are other signs of Ama accumulation such as chronic fatigue, etc. There are contra indications for a strongly reducing diet. This diet should not be given when there is any kind of wasting disease such as AIDS, tuberculosis, etc. It should not be given when the patient is young (under 10 years) or old (over 70), or recovering from a long illness. In other words, whenever a patient is weak it should not be used. It also should not be given to persons suffering from high Vata Vikriti, or a strong Vata imbalance.

Generally, all types can use this diet at the beginning of spring and at the end of summer to prevent disease on a seasonal basis. This kind of reducing diet should be avoided in winter if possible, especially in cold climates. In hot climates, it can be used year-round.

This diet has to be slightly adjusted for each constitution and according to their individual situation. Depending on their lifestyle and climate the following duration can be used:

  • Vata not more than two weeks
  • Pitta not more than four weeks
  • Kapha not more than four months

Percentage of Food Groups

Fruit

10%

Animal Products

0%

Vegetables

35%

Fish

0%

Grains

45%

Oils (ghee)

1%

Beans

3%

Sweetener

0%

Nuts/Seeds

0%

Spice

5%

Dairy

0%

Supplements

1%

Anti-Ama Diet Guide for All Types

Food Group Kind of Food
Fruit 1 Grapefruit or other sour fruit in the morning
Vegetables 1/2 cup barley, alfalfa and wheat sprouts daily; NO nightshades, all other veggies steamed for lunch and dinner – use only one veggie per meal; veggie juices are excellent with mild spice or ginger.
Grains 1/2 to 1 cup cooked whole grains per lunch and dinner as per constitution; NO white flour, bread or pastry; Khichari is good; Pitta types can take whole grain cereals in the morning.
Beans No beans, except Khichari made with Mung beans
Nuts/Seeds No, unless sprouted
Dairy No
Animal Products No (eggs included)
Fish/shell fish No
Oils No, only ghee should be used
Sweeteners No, only raw honey can be used at 1/2 teaspoon per day when needed
Spices Little or no Salt, all spices are good especially ginger and black pepper
Beverages No cold drinks, alcohol, coffee or other stimulants; water is good and some mild herbal teas can be used
Supplements Spirulina, chlorella can be used, blue green algae is strongly reducing (not for Vata); other supplements should be avoided.

Sprouts are strongly cleansing and are often enough on their own when combined with a simple diet to clear Ama. For old, chronic formations of Ama this kind of diet is highly recommended. The amount of raw foods used should follow the constitution, age, season and Agni. However, most people will benefit from using primarily raw foods during this diet supplemented with cooked whole grains, or cooked sprouted grains.

If any indications of high Vata or emaciation occur using this diet it should be stopped immediately. Signs of excessive use for an anti-Ama diet are:

  • Insomnia
  • Fainting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Emaciation
  • Palpitations
  • Lack of energy, motivation
  • Listlessness
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Lack of concentration

This diet is quite “un-grounding” and is not good to use for clients who are healers, psychics, construction workers, athletes, social workers, or other physical or mentally demanding jobs. Also, note the psychological state of the client, as this diet needs a fairly stable mental state. I suggest to avoid using this diet when the client is undergoing major emotional changes.

If the body is detoxified too fast some problems can manifest. I do not consider this to be a good sign. Some practitioners say that these signs are part of a “healing crisis”. It is true that the body will sometimes have worse symptoms before having a relief of all symptoms. However, this is more the exception than the rule.

In my clinical practice this happens less than 10% of the time. The trick is to avoid detoxifying the body too fast. If the body is detoxified slowly then the increase of negative symptoms will not occur. Hence, introducing a cleansing, anti-Ama diet, slowly into a patient’s program is usually best. My patients all have to work and take care of family, etc. Giving them a strong cleansing diet would force them to miss time working and perhaps create further psychological burdens. However, if the patient is very ill it may be better to go directly into using this cleansing diet.

Common signs of detoxifying the body too fast: 

  • Headaches
  • Skin Rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

Usually, if adequate spice is given to keep the Agni strong these signs will not manifest. By far the most common occurring sign of detoxification is the headache. My approach is to reduce the amounts of raw or cleansing foods until the symptoms disappear. Then I slowly increase the doses of these foods when the symptoms and metabolism stabilize.

When prescribing a detoxifying diet, it is important to see the patient more often – at least once per week. Pancha Karma, the Ayurvedic detoxifying program, is very good to accompany an anti-Ama diet. Be very aware that a strongly detoxifying diet or Pancha Karma can reduce the Agni to a very problematic level. Maintaining Agni is the most important consideration in reducing Ama and detoxifying therapies. It should be stressed that simply eating a few raw or healing foods alone is not enough to change a disease or the beginning stages of pathology. The client must use the whole Ayurvedic methodology and diet together to be successful.

In order the keep Agni strong it is recommended to use a ginger root decoction tea during the anti-Ama diet. This tea can be used at any time, even with a normal diet, when Agni needs to be supported or increased. In Ayurveda, fresh ginger root is considered to be balanced for all types of persons. It is important to adjust the amount of ginger root to fit your tastes. If ginger is disliked by you, or the patient, use the following spices alone without ginger.

Khicharirecipe

Khichari is a nutrient balanced rice dish that balances the three Doshas and helps to detoxify the body. It is considered to be very easy to digest and highly nutritive.

Instructions: 

Ingredients: 1 cup white basmati rice and ½ cup of mung dal (split mung beans without skin – they are yellow). 6 cups hot water, 1 tsp of ghee, ¼ tsp. cumin seeds, ¼ tsp. ground cumin, ¼ tsp. ground coriander, ½ tsp. powdered turmeric, 1 pinch of asafetida powder (optional), ½ inch of ginger fresh, peeled and finely chopped or grated, 1 pinch of salt, fresh coriander chopped or lime

Wash the rice and mung dal together several times. Add the ghee to a saucepan and heat with medium heat. Sauté the cumin seeds in the ghee until they burst or pop. Add the remaining spices and ginger while stirring. Immediately, add the rice and mung beans while stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add the water and salt after removing from the heat. Cover and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat and cook slowly for 30 minutes at a low heat until soft; adding water if needed. Khichari is not a dry preparation, it is humid and moist.

Note: for Vegans use cold pressed sesame oil instead of ghee

Traditionally, the preparation of Khichari can be modified for each Dosha by changing the ratio of rice to mung dal:

Vata – 1 cup rice to ½ cup dal

Pitta – 1 cup rice to 1 cup dal

Kapha – ½ cup rice to 1 cup dal

Khichari (faster variant)

Use the same ingredients, but instead cooking the spices in ghee, put all ingredients directly to in cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Serve with a little bit of ghee, or sesame oil for Vegans.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This website presents the point of view of traditional Ayurveda and may not be adapted to you or your health situation. Consult your primary health care provider if unsure.