The Six Tastes {Spices}

Hey-o! Do you remember what the six tastes are? hint: see below

Effects that the tastes have on the body

Sweet: Increases kapha (see full chart), reduces vata & pitta. The sweet taste is a builder and a strengthener of all tissues.
Sour: Increases kapha and pitta, reduces vata. Helps aid digestion, reduces gas, sharpens senses.
Salty: Increases kapha and pitta, reduces vata. Helps increase agni, calming effect on vata and nerves, can make tissues flabby due to water retention.
Pungent: Increases pitta, reduces kapha and vata. Improves metabolism and digestion. Relieves pain and muscle tension. Promotes sweating and has a scraping action on the tissues.
Astringent: Increases vata, reduces kapha and pitta. Constricts blood vessels. Stops bleeding and flow, antibacterial. Absorbs all water.
Bitter: Increases vata, reduces kapha and pitta. Blood purifier, detoxifies the body, liver tonic. Depletes tissues, especially reproductive tissues.

In Ayurveda like increases like. For example, a pitta person who has too much pungent could result in an imbalance of heat or FIRE element. Therefore avoiding foods that contain the fire element (look above..aha! sour, salty and pungent) will help calm their fire until they are back to balance. See? Right.

After reviewing the foods list, a nice kapha friend said to me, “I don’t like many of the items that are balancing for me.” I told her that spices would flavor the foods so that she enjoy the foods more. AND! If she used spices on other foods it would help make them more appropriate for her.

For example kaphas tend to really like the sweet taste, but it doesn’t balance them because it’s made of the same elements a kapha is (earth & water). So for a kapha who likes sweet, why not add some chili powder to your sweet fruits (sounds crazy, but it’s like my FAVorite thing)? Or what about spices to your rice or pasta to help aid digestion and add more heat? You get my drift. Pungent and heating spices are able to cut through heavy, sticky, cold kapha increasing their energy and vigor.

And that’s just one example. You are probably thinking that this whole foods/spice/dosha thing can go very deep and become complicated. You are 100% right. And again, it’s very individualized depending on the state of YOU. Below I have listed information on some spices (there are a gizillion) and how they affect the doshas. Hopefully this provides some insight without being too overwhelming.

Corriander – tridoshic (balancing for vata, pitta and kapha)
Cardamom -tridoshic
Ginger – vata & kapha balancing. Fresh ginger is very heating and pittas should be very mindful
Tumeric – tridoshic
Fennel – tridoshic
Nutmeg – vata & kapha balancing
Cumin – vata & kapha balancing
Clove – kapha & pitta balancing
Black Pepper – vata & kapha balancing
Mustard – vata & kapha balancing
Garlic – vata & kapha balancing
Sesame – vata balancing
Cinnamon – vata & kapha balancing

See? Not too bad. Now you know if you are a kapha to put plenty of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg into your homebaked cookies ;) I know this might take a bit to understand at first. Holler if you have questions or comments. I am here to try and make this easy!

8 Responses to The Six Tastes {Spices}

  1. You’ve impressed us all with that posting!

  2. Hi!
    Really good explanation!

    I was looking for something like this. I’m a cookery teacher and i’m looking for which taste has each spice. For Example: Turmeric is astringent, salty. Instead of saying it’s tridoshic or so. Do you know if some books talks about that

    Thank you!
    Great website!

    • Monica says:

      Hey Jonathan! Cool and thanks for reading! I just wrote my book: And it has some of the spices/tastes in there. Should be helpful! If you want more than my book offers you can also check out Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing by Dr. Lad or you might also like Eat, Taste, Heal, which is a more modern Ayurvedic coobook. Both are good! Hope that helps and thanks again for connecting!

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  5. Hot Mama! says:

    […] I asked if she had eaten anything with ginger in it or anything else spicy. She said she did have ginger and that she put hot pepper flakes on her pizza the night before. Ah-hah! Ginger and pepper flakes […]

  6. Joyeaux says:

    So helpful…. You are my favorite person right now :)

  7. Shakti says:

    Hello Monica,
    this is great informations about 6 tastes :)
    I thank you , Namaste !

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