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Ayurvedic herbs and six tastes

Ayurvedic herbs and six tastes

Sweet, sour, salty, pungent, Bitter, Astringent

  • Sweet = earth+water
  • Sour = earth+fire
  • Salty = water+fire
  • Pungent = fire+air
  • Bitter = air+space
  • Astringent = air+earth

        Tastes is important and has direct effect on bodily doshas. According to Ayurveda, each food and each herb, medicinal herb has a specific taste. When the tastes are used in the proper amount, individually and collectively, they bring about balance of our bodily systems.

 The taste of an herb is not incidental but is directly related indeed directly responsible for much of its therapeutic value. That is why Ayurvedic herbs are generally taken in a form that requires tasting them, rather than concealing the taste in a  capsule.

        There is no problem in taking an herb that has a sweet pungent, or otherwise tempting taste, but most people here don’t like the bitter or astringent taste, and if they have to take an herb with either of these tastes, they want tp put the herb into a capsule and swallow it without tasting it. Since the stomach has no taste buds, when the herb is taken this way, the effects and benefits derived from the taste are lessened, because they are not perceived. When we eat food, we don’t lose the effect of the tastes because we have to chew, when  we use capsules, we miss the taste of the herb

       One of the reason the Ayurvedic physician prescribes an herb is to balance whatever taste is lacking in the body. The herb transmits that taste and its effects into rasa dhatu (plasma). Triphala, for example, provides all the tastes except salty, but it tends to yield the predominant taste that is lacking in the body, which for most westerners is the bitter taste. That’s why for many people Triphala taste bitter for some time.later, after regular use, the bitter taste will have been received into the rasa dhatu, and Triphala may taste sour or sweet.

         In Ayurvedic medicine, most herbs are classified according to their predominant taste, secondary aftertaste, and potential taste. The main taste acts on rasa dhatu, the aftertaste acts on the nervous system, and the third taste has either a heating or cooling effect.

Effects of tastes on the Doshas (constitution)

1)         Vata – People of vata constitution should avoid bitter, pungent, and astringent substances in excess, because they increase air and have tendency to cause gas. Foods and herbs containing sweet, sour and salty tastes are good for individuals of vata constitution.

2) pitta – pitta individuals should avoid sour, salty, and pungent substance, which aggravate bodily fire. However, sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes are beneficial for pitta.

3) Kapha – kapha individuals should avoid foods that has the sweet, sour, and salty tastes, for they increase bodily water, Bitter foe them are foods with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.

Ayurvedic herbs and six tastes

6 Ayurvedic Tips for Winter Wellness

This time of the year, colds are common in people. Symptoms include runny nose, cough, congestion, headache, drowsiness, and an achy body. In Ayurveda, colds are viewed as a kapha and vata disorder. Kapha is due to the congestion qualities (cool, moist properties in excess) along with high vat, manifesting as a decreased appetite, chills and body aches.

Here are 6 tips to deal with a cold according to Ayurveda:

  1. Rest – slow down and give your body the time to heal and balance. We have less energy during these winter months. It is a time when our energy wants to go inward so honor this and give yourself the space to relax and restore.
  2. Avoid dairy Products – dairy increases kapha, which manifests as mucous. If you are feeling congested then it is best to avoid all dairy so you don’t add to this congestion.
  3. Sip warm water – this will help you to flush your system as well as keep you warm throughout the day.
  4. Eucalyptus Steams – in a large pot boil water with either eucalyptus leaves or add a few drops of eucalyptus oil once the water is steaming hot. Cover face with towel and bend over pot. Breath in the steam for several minutes. This should help clear up congestion.
  5. Neti – Using a neti pot with salt water will help to flush out excess mucous from your nasal passages follow with breath of fire and alternate nostril breathing.
  6. Ginger – This is one of the best remedies out there for cold because it combats the kapha and vata qualities out of balance. We suggest using fresh herbs such as ginger root, turmeric root, and cinnamon sticks if these are available to you. If not powdered can work as well. 
Herbal medicine is an important aspect of Ayurvedic Healing.

Following an Ayurvedic routine can also help maximize wellness and also boost immunity to help ward off colds.

According to Ayurveda, each organ is at its highest functioning power during certain times. Reflect on different times in your day and utilize healing and balancing tools to bring clarity, routine, and ease mind this fall/winter season.

  1. 6-8 am Lunch (kapha) try gentle yoga, pranayama, or walking.
  2. 8-10am pancreas (kapha) have a breakfast, and allow digestion to occur.
  3. 10-12pm stomach (pitta) digest.
  4. 12-2pm heart (pitta) have a lunch and digest.
  5. 2-4pm spleen(vata) digest
  6. 4-6pm colon, kidneys, Bladder (vata) enjoy dinner
  7. 6-8pm lungs (kapha) walk outside.
  8. 8-12pm pancreas, small intestine, stomach (kapha+pitta) rest, digest, and sleep.

      Adding simple things to your daily routine, such as practicing self abhyanga (warm sesame oil self massages). An hour before shower or any form of exercise. Eat a seasonal warm cooked meal on time. Avoid cold drinks and food during cold winter months.

Ayurvedic oil massage (Abhyanga) is another important aspect of a health and wellness routine.

Jalpa Patel (Jagadamba)

Jalpa Patel (“Jagadamba”) is a knowledgeable Ayurveda Practitioner who is passionate about integrating Ayurveda and Yoga for health and healing. View courses with Jagadamba >