The Six Tastes and the Doshas
According to Áyurveda, all foods and liquids contain six tastes: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, astringent, or combinations. Each of the six tastes either increase, or decrease, each dosha.
Sweet: Reduces Váta and Pitta and also increases Kapha
Sour: Reduces Váta and also increases Pitta and Kapha
Salty: Reduces Váta and also increases Pitta and Kapha
Pungent: Reduces Kapha and also increases Pitta and Váta
Bitter: Reduces Pitta and Kapha and also increases Váta
Astringent: Reduces Pitta and Kapha and also increases Váta
Everyone needs some of each of the six tastes every day. Depending on one’s constitution, however, persons mostly eat from the tastes that balance their dosha. The key is moderation. In fact, a general rule of thumb in life is
everything in moderation, including moderation.
A general rule of thumb in life is everything in moderation, including moderation.
Physical and Mental Properties of the Six Tastes
Following is a description of the effect of each taste on the physical and mental aspects of the body. The consequences if used in excess are also listed.
Vata and Pita are reduced and also Kapha increases
Physical: Strengthens tissues, good for complexion, hair, throat, sense organs, ojas, children, and the elderly. It heals broken bones, effects longevity, is an emollient, expectorant, and a mild laxative. Sweet tastes build the body, increase breast milk, and are difficult to digest.
Mental: Provides contentment and is harmonizing.
In Excess: Causes overweight, indigestion, diabetes, fainting, enlarged glands, and cancer.
Reduces Pitta and Kapha and also Vata increases
Physical: Clears channels and pores, improves digestion, produces sweat, enhances taste, penetrates tissues, causes lacerations, and bursting of tissues and abscesses.
Mental: Sedative, calms nerves, stops anxiety
In Excess: Increases blood, causes balding, gray hair, wrinkles, thirst, skin diseases, herpes, weakens body strength.
Reduces Vata and also increases Pitta and Kapha.
Physical: Good for the heart, digestion, relieves burning sensations, satiating, moistens, oily, dispels gas, nourishes, relieves thirst. Aids circulation, in particular aids all tissues except reproductive tissue. Also maintains acidity.
Mental: Awakens the mind and senses.
In Excess: Flabbiness, loss of strength, blindness, giddiness, itching irritation, pallor, herpes, swellings, smallpox, thirst, fevers.
Reduces Kapha and also increases Pitta and Vata.
Physical: Heals throat diseases, allergic rashes, skin disorders, edema, ulcer swelling; dries oiliness,
fat, and water; promotes hunger, taste, and digestion; eliminates dosha excesses, breaks up hard masses, expands body channels.
Mental: Opens the mind and senses.
In Excess: Causes thirst, fainting, tremors and pains, depletes reproductive fluid and strength.
Reduces Kapha and Pitta and also increases Vata.
Physical: Heals anorexia, parasites, thirst, skin disorders, fever, nausea, burning sensations, cleanses breast milk and throat, promotes intelligence, and is drying.
Mental: Clears the senses the emotions.
In Excess: Depletes tissues.
Reduces Pitta and Kapha and also increases Vata.
Physical: Cleanses blood, stops bleeding, sweat, diarrhea, heals ulcers, is drying, is difficult to digest. However causes indigestion, tightens tissues, heals prolapse.
In Excess: Causes gas, thirst, emaciation, loss of virility; obstructs channels, causes constipation
and pain in the heart area, inhibits digestion.