THE SIX TASTES
Taste is important and has a direct influence on our bodies. In Ayurveda each food and herb has a specific taste (along with its prabhava), when we balance these tastes it keeps our body in balance. The taste buds on our tongues are organized into six groups — these are the six tastes recognized by Ayurveda; Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent. Different taste buds on the tongue perceive taste and send a signal to the brain, which the brain will send a signal to directly influence various systems of the body, for example – digestion, endocrine, organs, tissues, and even cells. When we crave a certain taste (like sweet or salty) something is out of balance in our body.
Six Taste Examples:
Sugar in any form, brown, refined, white, honey, jaggery, molasses, products of sugar cane, wheat, rice, millet, barley, oats, corn, pulses (legumes), beans, lentils, peas (dahl) milk, sweet milk products like clarified butter (ghee), cream, butter, fruits like coconut, bananas, grapes, raisins, dates, figs, sweet oranges, mango, all fruit juices, peaches, plums. Vegetables like potato, sweet potato, cucumber, carrot, beets, cauliflower, string beans, animal products like beef, fish, lamb, pork, fats, oils and spices like licorice, red clove, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, most nuts.
BENEFITS IF TAKEN IN PROPER QUANTITIES: Promotes plasma, lymph, blood, muscles, fat, bones, semen, ovum, and Ojas in the body. Promotes life span when taken in moderation. Pleases and experiences as delightful for nose, mouth, throat, lips, tongue and mind. Produces luster, strength, healthy skin, and healthy hair. Beneficial for the throat and is nourishing, vitalizing, saturating, bulk promoting, and stabilizing. Heals wounds, beneficial for emaciation, alleviates Pitta and Vata and relieves thirst and fainting.
ILL EFFECTS IF TAKEN IN EXCESS: Vitiates Kapha, produces obesity, laxity, lassitude, excessive sleepiness, heaviness, loss of desire for food, loss of appetite, abnormal growth of muscles in mouth and throat, dyspepsia, cough, coryza, food poisoning like diarrhea and vomiting, fever, hardness in the bowels, sweetness in the mouth, diabetes, loss of consciousness, disorders of voice, goiter, cervical adenitis, pharyngitis, coating in the bladder, diseases of kidney, arteries, throat, and eyes.
Sour fruits like lemon, lime, orange, pineapples, passion fruit, cherry, plum, tamarind, green grapes, banana, tomato. Sour milk products like yogurt, cheese, whey, sour cream etc., fermented substances like wine, vinegar, soy sauce, sour cabbage, carbonated beverages like soft drinks, beer, champagne etc
BENEFITS IF TAKEN IN PROPER QUANTITIES: Produces relish in food, stimulates digestion, appetite, and produces energy. It is carminative feeling of saturation and nourishment. Alleviates Vata, increases Pitta and Kapha, and gives satisfaction in food intake.
ILL EFFECTS IF TAKEN IN EXCESS: Produces thirst, sensitivity of the teeth, liquefaction of Kapha, vitiation of Pitta and decomposition of muscles, flabbiness of body. Produces swelling in wasting, injured, emaciated and debilitated persons. It produces suppuration in wounds, injuries, bites, burns, fractures, and swelling.
BENEFITS IF TAKEN IN PROPER QUANTITIES: Promotes digestion, increases appetite, expectorant, mass breaker, irritant, laxative, moistening, depressant. It increases Pitta, Kapha and reduces Vata. Removes stiffness, binding, and compactness. Overshadows all other tastes, increases salivation, liquefies Kapha, cleans the channels, softens all the body parts, and gives relish to foods.
ILL EFFECTS IF TAKEN IN EXCESS: Vitiates Pitta, aggravates blood, skin diseases, causes thirst, fainting, heat, tearing, sloughing, increases leprosy and other skin diseases, and aggravates poisons. Produces inflamed tissue to burst, teeth fall out. Increases internal hemorrhages, acid gastritis, erysipelas, gout, eczema, and alopecia.
Spices like chilies, black pepper, mustard seeds, ginger, cumin, cloves, cardamom, garlic etc. Also mild spices like turmeric, anise, cinnamon, and fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, mint. Raw vegetables like radish, onion, cauliflower, broccoli etc.
BENEFITS IF TAKEN IN PROPER QUANTITIES: Keeps the mouth clean, stimulates digestion, and helps in absorption of food. Produces secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. Helps in proper action of sense organs, helps to relieves disease like internal torpor, obesity, chronic conjunctivitis, alleviates swelling, corpulence, channel blocking, sweating, moisture, removes impurities sticking in metabolic waste products. It gives relish to food, destroys itching, heals wounds, kills organisms, reduces tissue, and checks the coagulation of blood, cuts binding, opens the channels of circulation. Pacifies Kapha and increases Vata.
ILL EFFECTS IF TAKEN IN EXCESS: Damages sexual potency, mental confusion, malaise, depression, emaciation, fainting, feeling of darkness, giddiness, burning throat, body heat, loss of strength, neurological disorders in the lower back, feet etc., produces burning, excessive movement, tremors, piercing and tearing pain.
BENEFITS IF TAKEN IN PROPER QUANTITIES: Promotes the tastiness of food, expels intestinal worms, and alleviates fainting, burning sensation, itching, leprosy, other skin diseases. Pacifies thirst, provides firmness in skin and muscles, antipyretic, appetizer, digestive, absorbent of moisture, fat, bone marrow, lymph, puss, sweat, urine and feces. Pacifies Pitta and Kapha.
ILL EFFECTS IF TAKEN IN EXCESS: Dries up plasma, blood, muscles, fat, bones, marrow, and semen, reduces strength, produces emaciation, malaise, mental confusion, giddiness, mouth dryness, Vata disorders.
Turmeric, honey, walnut, hazelnuts, beans, lentils, peas. Vegetables like sprouts, lettuce, rhubarb, other green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, potato, spinach, celery, most raw vegetables. Fruits like pomegranate, berries, persimmon, most unripe fruits, unripe banana, and cranberries. Spices like cinnamon.
BENEFITS IF TAKEN IN PROPER QUANTITIES: Produces sedation, constipation, alleviates Pitta in blood born disorders, constricting, union promoting, compressing, healing, absorbs fluid from tissues.
ILL EFFECTS IF TAKEN IN EXCESS: Dries up the mouth, causes heart ache, hinders voice, slows movements, and darkens the skin, impotency, and gas formation during indigestion, discharges of flatus, urine, feces, and semen. Produces emaciation, malaise, thirst, stiffness, produces Vata diseases like hemiplegia, spasm, convulsions, and facial paralysis.
Note: In this article, there are terms Vata, Pitta,and Kapha; which are the Tridoshas. Ayurveda’s concept of the Tridoshas is unique to medical science. Ayurveda says the body is made up of tissues (dhatus), waste products (malas), and doshas (loosely translated to Energetic Forces). It is the Tridoshas’ job to assist with the creation of all of the various tissues of the body and to remove any unnecessary waste products from the body. It is also the Tridoshas that influence all movements, all transformations, all sensory functions, and many of the other activities in the human body and mind.