|Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term that translates as the science of life. Ayu meaning life and veda meaning knowledge.
It’s considered the oldest active traditional health system of India and for a system that began over 5000 years ago its managed to adapt to the times taking on many modern innovations and today is still considered a genuine holistic health system with physical, mental, and spiritual components.
In a nut shell, Ayurveda is a QUALITATIVE, ATTRIBUTE BASED system. It models nature in terms of 3 “doshas”, where dosha can be translated as “that which can go wrong”.
Elements: Dosha Short Description Function
Earth + Water = Kapha Water Stability/Structure
Fire + Water = Pitta Fire Transformation
Air + Ether (Space) = Vata Air Movement
Note that ether is not really an element, but the property of empty space*
The doshas are often spoken of as being purely matter, but they are more than matter – they are a force, or energy as well. To make matters more complicated, the subtle energies behind the doshas are often discussed separately: vata (prana), pitta (tejas), kapha (ojas).
Doshas on a psychical level:
The Six Tastes of Ayurveda
In ayurveda, foods are classified into six tastes (rasas)–sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Many foods have more than one taste–Amla, the Indian Gooseberry, for example, contains five of these six tastes: all except salty, and turmeric contains three–bitter, pungent and astringent. Ayurvedic healers recommend that you include all of these six tastes at each main meal you eat. Each taste has a balancing ability, and including some of each provides complete nutrition, minimizes cravings and balances the appetite and digestion. The general North American diet tends to have too much of the sweet, sour and salty tastes, and not enough of the bitter, pungent and astringent tastes.
The Powers of Pungency
The Pungent taste is present in spicy foods like Black pepper and chilies. Pungent spices stimulate by irritating the lining of the digestive tract and other membranes. Made of fire element, pungent taste is sharp and concentrated, fast acting and intense, spreading quickly to all tissues. The forceful, constant contact of fire element penetrates, burns, and cauterizes.
Circulation & Immunity
The body flushes pungent irritants by thinning the blood, dilating blood vessels and increasing the heart rate. Pungent taste thus improves circulation and liquefies, softens, secretes and flushes breaking up and dissolving thick or hardened masses such as mucus. Pungent taste warms the liver (which is responsible for blood thickness). Pungent taste expels excess vata, pitta, and kapha. Pungent taste stimulates courage and valor because blood flow is movement of prana. The immune system is in the blood. Good circulation, stimulated by ginger, black pepper or other pungents, helps improve immunity and resolve sore throats.
Pungent & Kapha
Pungent taste is the best taste for kapha. Circulation increases heat, metabolism and agni (digestive strength). It burns off all kapha tissues creating lightness. It helps the body sweat, clearing and flushing all secretions. It breaks up and dries mucus in the GI tract and in the lungs. It wakes up the sleepy kapha mind and brings focus to mental activity.