(v)   Tikta rasa (Bitter taste)

This is the taste that removes feeling of slime from the mouth and numbs the tongue. Despite tasting unpleasant, the bitter essence enhances the taste of other substances, makes it more interesting and thus helps to develop an interest in food. Bitter substances detoxify and help to manage obesity, diabetes, intestinal worms, syncope, burning sensations, thirst, fever, itching, dermatitis and severe dermatological diseases. They help in carmination (downward circulation) of Vata and bring dryness in the body. Consequently they help in drying up moisture, fat, cellulite, bone marrow, lymph, pus, sweat, urine and feces. They purify the throat and the liver and increase efficiency. Fever and toxins caused by accumulation ofdma are effectively purged. They purify breast milk and pacify Pitta and Kapha dosa. This taste essence is light, dry. cool, smooth and is excellent in promoting intelligence.

 Tikta Rasa (Bitter Taste)

Increases – Vata

Decreases – Pitta and Kapha

Excessive intake of bitter substances causes reduction in the tissues, plasma, blood, fat, bone marrow and sperm count. It leads to roughening of the walls of the srotas, dryness in the mouth, reduction in strength, feebleness, fatigue, dizziness, syncope and Vataja ailments such as nerve palsies, headache, prickling pain and so on. It can increase many Vata problems.

  • Substances with a bitter taste: Pointed gourd, bitter gourd, sandalwood, vetiver, chiretta, margosa, sesban (jayanfi), fragrant swamp mallow (sugandhabala), colocynth (indrayana), tinospora (guduci), sweet-flag (vaca), khorsan thorn (dhamasa), maha pancamula (five grass roots, an Ayurvedic medicine), yellow berried night shade (kantakari), Indian night shade (bari kateri) and aconitum (ativisa).
  • Exceptions: Tinospora (guduci) and pointed gourd though bitter are not harmful.

(vi) Kasaya rasa (Astringent taste)

Astringent is the taste that puckers the mouth, leads to numbness of the tongue and constriction in the throat and the srota. It reduces Pitta and Kapha dosas, controls blood pressure and intrinsic hemorrhage (bleeding), helps in healing wounds, aids healing of injured bones, and dries meda dhatu, liquid dhatus, urine and so on. It also binds loose feces during dysentery and dissolves fat. Intake of astringent foods causes constipation and firmness in the body. They make the skin excessively tender or soft, causes pressure on wounds, boils and increases inflammation of diseased parts. They absorb the fluids present in the body. Astringent foods are dry, cool and heavy.

[alert type=”e.g. warning, danger, success, info” title=””]Excessive intake of astringent foods leads to dryness in the mouth, chest pain which may relate to the heart, flatulence, difficulty in speaking, blockage and shrinkage in the srota, darkening of complexion, reduced virility, excessive thirst, weakness, fatigue, firmness and downward movement of Vata (adhovayu), obstruction in the smooth elimination of urine, leces, other waste products and sperm.[/alert]

Kasaya Rasa (Astringent Taste)

Increases – Vata

Decreases – Pitta- and Kapha

Excessive intake of astringent foods leads to dryness in the mouth, chest pain which may relate to the heart, flatulence, difficulty in speaking, blockage and shrinkage in the srota, darkening of complexion, reduced virility, excessive thirst, weakness, fatigue, firmness and downward movement of Vata (adhovayu), obstruction in the smooth elimination of urine, leces, other waste products and sperm. Being heavy in property, their digestion takes a longer time. Since the astringent tastes aggravate Vata, their excessive intake in some cases may lead lo an attack of palsy, strokes (paralysis), stiffness and convulsions.

  • Astringent Substances: Myrobalan (harara), belleric myrobalan (bahera), lebbeck (sirisa), white cinchona (kadamba), Indian fig (gulara), catechu, honey, raw sugar, lotus, lotus stem, and all other substances belonging to the lotus family. Pearls, coral (pravala), collyrium and red ochre (geru) are also astringent substances.
  • Exceptions: Even though myrobalan (harara) is astringent, it is neither cool nor a binding agent and thus does not prevent fecal elimination like other astringent substances.

The qualities of all food substances depend on their rasa (taste). In medicinal preparations virya (potency) is more prominent. Still virya (potency) is also determined on the basis of rasa (taste). For example, medicines with sweet taste essence are cold (sita virya) and sour or bitter medicines are hot in potency (usna virya).

 (Excerpted from the book: ‘A Practical Approach To The Science of Ayurveda: A Comprehensive Guide For Healthy Living’authored by Acharya Balkrishna)

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