Can Increased Pitta cause Agnimandya?

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

Agnimandya means ‘weakening of fire’. It is a condition wherein the digestive fire is depleted in terms of quality and quantity. Here the digestive fire, represented in the body by pitta, will have lost the capacity to digest the food. Thus, the digestive capacity of the person is hampered and compromised.

Pitta is said to be a representative of agni in the body. There is a difference of opinion, with reasoning, so as to whether both these entities i.e. pitta and agni are one and the same or different.

Related Reading – ‘Relationship between pitta and agni’

Types of Agnimandya

Agnimandya, the term other than describing the sluggish nature of the digestive fire also explains the imbalances occurring therein. It is often a generalized term used to describe the disturbance of agni by the influence of doshas.

1.  Mandagni – is a condition wherein the digestive fire is influenced by kapha
2.  Teekshnagni – is a condition wherein the digestive fire is influenced by pitta
3.  Vishamagni – is a condition wherein the digestive fire is influenced by vata

Samagni – is a state of fire which is in a state of balance, not influenced by any dosha. It is also one of the tools / parameters which determine a swastha – a perfectly healthy person.



Teekshnagni i.e. type of agni dominated and influenced by pitta digests the usual or even excess quantity of food without any difficulty. This agni is powerful and can digest the food within a short span of time. This type of agni causes pitta diseases.

Question of conflict?

So, when pitta influences the agni – digestive fire, the fire is teekshna – intense, strong and all burning. Technically, as and when pitta keeps increasing, the digestive fire too should get intense and the digestion of the food too should get rapid.

The question of conflict is – ‘Can increased pitta cause depletion or weakening of agni’?

The answer for this question is given in the context of the explanation of ‘Pittaja Grahani’ by Master Charaka. He explains this concept with a beautiful analogy.

Context of ‘Increased Pitta causing Mandagni’ in Pittaja Grahani

कट्वजीर्ण विदाह्यम्लक्षाराद्यैः पित्तमुल्बणम्|
अग्निमाप्लावयद्धन्ति जलं तप्तमिवानलम्||६५||
सोऽजीर्णं नीलपीताभं पीताभः सार्यते द्रवम्|
पूत्यम्लोद्गार हृत्कण्ठदाहारुचि तृडर्दितः||६६||

Master Charaka in this context gives a ‘hot water’ analogy to explain the influence of increased pitta over the digestive fire.

The pitta aggravated due to its causative factors suppresses and extinguishes the agni (dilutes the digestive enzymes), just like hot water causes extinction of physical fire.

The logic is –

Water is antagonistic to the fire, be it cold water or hot water. The hot water too will put off the fire when poured over it.

Pitta is liquid in nature. One among the qualities of pitta is drava i.e. being liquid or fluid.

Since pitta is hot in nature, the fluid constituting pitta too is hot in nature. In simple words, pitta is ‘hot water’.

Pitta aggravation also reflects increase in the ‘dravatva’ or fluidity of pitta. Now there is a lot of hot water in the gut compared to what it should be.

When this excess pitta – hot water – puts off the agni when it comes into contact it will lead to weakening of digestive fire. This is called mandagni. Mandagni is considered as the root cause of many systemic disorders.

This is how the increased pitta would put off / extinguish the digestive fire.

Symptoms of Pittaja Grahani

The patient suffering from pittaja grahani –

–        voids loose stool containing undigested material, which is bluish-yellow or yellow in colour
–        suffers from eructation, foul smell and sour taste
–        burning sensation in the region of the heart (chest) and throat,
–        anorexia and
–        excessive thirst

Causes of Pittaja / Paittika Grahani

Pitta gets aggravated by the excessive intake of food ingredients which are

–        pungent,
–        which cause indigestion (indigestion of food itself may be a cause)
–        which cause burning sensation
–        sour
–        alkaline etc.

Out of context of Grahani

The above said explanation of increased pitta extinguishing the digestive fire is in the context of pittaja grahani. Grahani is a syndrome affecting the intestines and causes many kinds of disorders. The base of these disorders is mandagni. One among them is pittaja grahani.

Does increased pitta also have a similar effect on agni generally, in conditions apart from pittaja grahani?

The answer is yes. The golden rule is that the drava quality of pitta should have increased to excessive and abnormal proportions. If other qualities of pitta are aggravated and not the drava quality, it may not lead to diminution of agni. Example – the increase of ushna – hot, teekshna – intense or strong and laghu – lightness properties / qualities of pitta will increase the agni instead of diluting or depleting. The increase of drava quality can mask all these qualities of pitta and eventually cause agnimandya.


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