Sweet or Bitter
The Ayurvedic diagnosis of disease is based on the three Doshas (see What is Ayurveda; Dosha test; Portrait of Vata, Pitta and Kapha). In treatment of diseases, the Six tastes are used (see Six tastes).
Each taste has a specific therapeutic action.
SWEET TASTE is building and strengthening to all body tissues. It harmonizes the mind and promotes a sense of contentment. It is expectorant and mildly laxative. Sweet taste counters burning sensation.
SALTY TASTE is softening, laxative and sedative. In small amounts it stimulates digestion. In moderate amounts it is purgative, and in very large amounts it causes vomiting.
SOUR TASTE is stimulant, nourishing and thirst relieving. It relieves gas and increases all tissues but the reproductive tissue, which it decreases.
PUNGENT TASTE is stimulant and heating. It dispels gas, promotes sweating, improves metabolism, and promotes all organic functions.
BITTER TASTE is blood purifying, cleansing and detoxifying. It reduces all bodily tissues and increases lightness in the mind.
ASTRINGENT TASTE stops excess discharges such as bleeding, sweating and diarrhea and promotes healing of the skin and mucus membranes.
Anybody who is familiar with Dosha qualities can see that too much Sweet will in the first place increase Kapha the heaviest dosha. Too much Bitter is bad for Vata, the airy dosha. Pungent overheats Pitta, the fiery dosha. Excess of any taste causes damage first to the doshas that it aggravates then even to the doshas it alleviates.
A lack of a taste can also aggravate doshas, first those they alleviate, then even those they aggravate.
Usually in our culture we don’t eat enough bitter, pungent and astringent food. The lack of bitter taste causes toxins to accumulate in the body, the lack of spices keeps our digestive fire low (see Agni, and Ama).
TODAY’S TIP: We need all of the six tastes in amounts and proportions appropriate to our constitution. An easy way to get the right amount of tastes is to use Churnas on a daily bases (see Six tastes – Spice therapy).