Friday, March 24, 2006

The Six Tastes
  • Bitter: The bitter taste is found in spinach, romaine lettuce, endive, chicory, chard, kale, and tonic water. The bitter taste decreases both kapha and pitta, but increases vata.
  • Pungent: The pungent taste is found in chili peppers, cayenne, ginger, and other hot-tasting spices. The pungent taste decreases kapha, but increases pitta and vata.
  • Astringent: The astringent taste is found in beans, lentils, cabbage, apples and pears. The astringent tast decreases kapha and pitta, but increases vata.
  • Salty: The salty taste is found in any food to which salt has been added. The salty taste increases kapha and pitta, but decreases vata.
  • Sour: The sour taste is found in lemons, limes, vinegar, yogurt, cheese, and plums. The sour taste increases kapha and pitta, but decreases vata.
  • Sweet: The sweet taste is found in table sugar, honey, rice, pasta, milk, cream, butter, wheat and bread. The sweet taste increases kapha, but decreases pitta and vata.
The Six Major Food Qualities
  • Heavy: Heavy foods include bread, pasta, cheese, and yogurt. The heavy quality decreases vata and pitta, but increases kapha.
  • Light: Light foods include millet, buckwheat, rye, barley, corn, spinach, lettuce, pears and apples. The light quality decreases kapha, but increases vata and pitta.
  • Oily: Oily foods include dairy products, meat, fatty foods, and cooking oils. The oily quality decreases vata and pitta, but increases kapha.
  • Dry: Dry foods include beans, potatoes, barley, and corn. The dry quality decreases kapha, but increases vata and pitta.
  • Hot: The hot quality describes hot beverages and warm, cooked foods. The hot quality decreases vata and kapha, but increases pitta.
  • Cold: The cold quality describes cold beverages and raw foods. The cold quality decreases pitta, but increases kapha and vata.

To balance Kapha:


Cooked rice cereal with apples or pears.


Vegetable soup, green salad.


Vegetable stir-fry (include ginger for digestion) and shrimp or chicken, rice.

apha Tea
1/4 teaspoon dry ginger
1/3 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon dill seed
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed
1 cup water

Method of Preparation

Boil the water and add the spices. Cover, turn off the heat and let sit a few minutes.

Specially calming for Kapha

My Ayurvedic teacher taught us that mucus has the consistency of wax and that when it is heated, it melts and comes out of the body. According to this system of medicine, it is normal to accumulate phlegm in the winter and to discharge it in spring. When this happens, we say we have a cold, but unless the color of the discharge suggests infection, Ayurveda says this is a completely normal occurence when the weather becomes warm enough to melt the accumulations of winter. They even promote the discharge by drinking hot, spicy concoctions. My teacher gave us a recipe:

1 t. black peppercorns
3-5 whole cloves
1 inch ginger root

Shyam, my teacher, said one could boil these spices in water and just drink the liquid. Most people I know can't stand the taste unless they add a bouillon cube or soup stock. In any event, when you drink this, your sinuses really run, this whether it is flu season or not, winter or summer, proof positive that one does not need a cold in order to decongest. In fact, there is a term for this therapy: errhine.

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