Ayurveda considers the removal of toxins and impurities from the body — and the prevention of their build-up in the bodily tissues — to be a key element in staying healthy. Ayurveda refers to impurities as “ama”. Ama is considered to be a contributing factor in many diseases because it disrupts the delicate biochemistry in the body and blocks the channels of circulation and communication. The accumulation of ama often starts with poor digestion, which creates the toxins, and contributes to poor elimination. Poor elimination allows the toxins to be absorbed into the circulatory system and transported throughout the body.
Many of the recommendations that are given during an Ayurveda consultation are aimed at preventing the accumulation of ama and removing ama that has built up in the body. And one of the most common — and simple and effective — recommendations is to drink hot water frequently during the day.
Hot water flowing through the digestive tract helps to dissolve impurities and cleanse the entire digestive and eliminative systems. The result of this simple addition to one’s daily routine can be a major an improvement in digestion, in the assimilation of food, in regular elimination, and in the prevention of the build-up of ama.
As the hot water is absorbed into the circulatory system and travels throughout the body, the extra warmth and fluid aids in opening circulation, dissolving accumulated impurities and washing them out of the body.
Many people report that after just a few weeks of this adopting this practice, digestion and elimination improve and they feel lighter and fresher.
The Vata season (the cold, windy days of fall and early winter) is a perfect time to start a regime of sipping hot water throughout the day. The extra warmth and fluid will help counter the cold, drying effects of Vata.
The usual recommendation is to sip hot water frequently throughout the day — up to every half hour if possible. Water should be boiled first and then cooled just to the temperature where it can be sipped comfortably. Even taking a few small sips fulfills the recommendation.
It is recommended that you use some kind of purified water for your daily hot water intake. Filtered tap water is best, followed by bottled spring water. Distilled water is not recommended. If you use a powerful reverse osmosis filter, it is recommended that you occasionally use water from another source so that you continue to get some of the natural mineral content of the water.
Ideally water should be boiled for about 10 minutes. Boiling the water allows excessive mineral deposits and impurities to precipitate out, and decreases the Kapha influence of the water: increasing the water’s lightness and cleansing influences.
Boiling water each morning and placing it in a thermos is an effective, timesaving approach.
A few slices of ginger root, a pinch of turmeric or a few fennel seeds may be added to the boiling water if desired. These herbs can increase the cleansing influence of the water. Lemon may also be added it if is not upsetting to the stomach.
Removing ama is the primary target of Panchakarma, the traditional Ayurveda program of purification and detoxification offered at The Raj.