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.