A few weeks ago, I started having sweet cravings. I’m not typically a big sweets person, so I knew something was up. At first, I thought it was because it was getting hotter here in Albuquerque, and sweet flavor is cooling. So I started allowing for more sweet flavor in my diet…particularly ice cream. Just a few spoonfuls in the late afternoon or evening—I mean it’s summertime. No big deal, right?
But then the sweet cravings intensified. I started craving pastries for breakfast, and dessert after meals. One day I noticed a little red spot on my inner thigh. A few days later, I noticed a couple more. That’s when I knew, the sweet craving wasn’t me…it was the candida in my system.
According to Ayurveda, candida is a condition of ama, or toxic accumulation, in the body. Ama accumulates in the GI tract for a number of reasons, including:
- eating the wrong foods for your constitution
- eating processed foods (such as refined sugar)
- eating too fast or too slow
- eating too much at one sitting
- eating before your previous meal is fully digested
- bad food combining
- eating too many leftovers
- eating while under emotional stress
Ama first accumulates in our GI tract—in the stomach, small intestine, and/or colon. Here it can cause problems such as constipation, gas, bloating, acid indigestion, nausea, low appetite, and slow digestion. If nothing is done to cleanse the toxins from the GI tract, it can spread into the circulation, where it may cause rash, acne, dry skin, aches and pains, fatigue, foul smelling body odor, and something we call “perverted cravings.”
What’s a perverted craving? It’s what happens when an accumulation of ama leaves the GI tract and begins to spread to the tissues. The ama interferes with our body’s natural intelligence, and we begin craving that which will feed the imbalance.
So how do you know if your cravings are “intelligent” or “perverted”?
If you have any of the above signs and symptoms of ama, your cravings are most likely “perverted”—and if they’re not yet, they’ll become perverted soon enough. One really effective way to tell if you have ama in your system is by looking at your tongue first thing in the morning. If your tongue has a coating (usually it’s either white or yellowish, but it can also be a brownish color) then there’s an accumulation of ama in your GI tract, and it may be spreading into the tissues.
To reduce the ama, consider doing a cleanse or detox. Ayurvedic cleanses, in particular, are designed in a way that brings ama and doshas that have accumulated in the tissues back to the GI tract so that they can be eliminated (I’ll be offering a group cleanse at the end of September—make sure you’re signed up for my emails to be notified when I open registration). Here are a few other ways you can reduce ama:
- Sip hot water with lemon throughout the day to kindle agni and reduce ama.
- Take 1/2 teaspoon of triphala every night before bed. This herbal blend of three fruits is tridoshic and gently cleanses the entire GI tract, while also nourishing the body’s tissues.
- Try this ama-reducing dal. Eat it one day a week for both lunch and dinner to clear out any accumulated ama.
And if you’re not having any of the above symptoms, and there is no coating on your tongue…your cravings are most likely aligned with the intelligence of the body, and listening to those cravings will help in maintaining your body’s state of equilibrium and overall health.
As for my candida symptoms…I’ve been on an “ama-reducing diet” (no sugar, very limited grains and fruits, and lots of seaweed, fresh veggies, and probiotics) for almost one month now. The red patches on my skin are starting to heal. Candida is a stubborn form of ama, and I plan to stick to this diet for another month. Then at the end of September, I’ll be ready to finish clearing it out with a seasonal cleanse. After the cleanse, I’m looking forward to my cravings returning to their natural, intelligent state (they’re already beginning to just with the diet). I’m so grateful to have this Ayurvedic wisdom to apply to my own healing when I need it.