CHAPTER 7: THE 6 RASAS OR TASTES AND YOUR HEALTH

7.1: Role and Impact of Taste

The action of tasting your food can significantly impact your body. The Sanskrit word for taste, Rasa, has a number of potent meanings. Some of the most common ones are experience, enthusiasm, juice, plasma and essence. These diverse meanings give a hint of the significance of taste within Ayurvedic traditions.

RASA IS THE TRUE ESSENCE OF LIFE AND IT AFFECTS EACH ASPECT OF OUR BEING, FROM STRUCTURE AND PHYSIOLOGY TO OUR OVERALL STATE OF MIND AND CONSCIOUSNESS.

Ayurveda defines rasa as an extremely powerful and therapeutic tool that determines not only how you experience your food, but ultimately, the overall flavor of your existence. It assigns a much deeper significance to taste as it is responsible for determining the diverse effect of foods, spices, therapeutic herbs and experiences on your body, mind and soul. Digestion, in fact, begins the second that food enters your mouth.

There are nearly 10,000 taste buds in the mouth, and about 8,000 of them are on the tongue itself. The taste buds signal to the body when to release the appropriate enzymes which are needed to break down food. The underlying notion is that incorporating all six tastes in your meals and having them in rational amounts helps you to maintain good health and feel satisfied overall.

7.2 Sweet Taste

SWEETNESS COMPRISES OF EARTH AND WATER.

Sweet increases one’s kapha dosha in the body, while balancing Vata and Pitta doshas.

Qualities – heavy, moist, cold, difficult to digest

Positive Effects of Sweet taste in the body:

  • Cooling
  • Comforting
  • Satisfying
  • Calming

Negative effect of Sweet taste in the body (Emotion of excess):

  • Slows the digestion process
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Increases water retention and bloating
  • Creates excessive sugar cravings
  • Obesity and heaviness in the body
  • Lethargy and oversleeping

7.3 Sour Taste

SOURNESS COMPRISES OF EARTH AND FIRE.

Sourness can heighten kapha and pitta doshas, while balancing the Vata dosha. If consumed in excess, it can lead to severe dosha imbalance.

Qualities – liquid, oily, hot, greasy

Positive effects of Sourness:

  • Warming
  • Digestive In nature
  • Refreshing and energising effect
  • Promotes healthy functioning of liver and flow of bile
  • Leads to comprehensive behaviour

Negative effects of Sourness:

  • Jealousy
  • Rejection
  • Hate
  • Hyperactivity
  • Insecurity
  • Critical behaviour

7.4 Salty Taste

SALTINESS COMPRISES OF WATER AND FIRE.

Saltiness increases one’s vata dosha, while balancing their kapha and pitta doshas.

Qualities – liquid, heavy, oily, hot

Positive Effects of saltiness:

  • Warming
  • Acts as Appetizer
  • Antispasmodic properties
  • Leads to understanding behaviour

Negative Effects of Saltiness:

  • Criticism
  • Jealousy
  • Rejection
  • Hate
  • Increased energy

7.5 Bitter Taste

BITTERNESS COMPRISES OF ETHER AND AIR.

Bitter taste increases one’s vata dosha and balances their kapha and pitta doshas.

Qualities – cool, light, dry, soft

Positive effects of bitterness:

  • Clarity and composition
  • Introspection and self-awareness
  • Calm behaviour

Negative effects of bitterness:

  • Cynicism
  • Rejection
  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Betrayal
  • Disgust

7.7 Pungency / Spice

PUNGENCY OR SPICE COMPRISES OF AIR AND FIRE.

This taste increases one’s pitta and vata doshas, while balancing their kapha dosha.

Qualities – hot, light, aromatic

Positive impact of Pungency:

  • Enthusiasm and happiness
  • Vitality
  • Concentration and clarity

Negative impact of Pungency:

  • Irritability and crankiness
  • Aggressiveness and anger
  • Jealousy and insecurity

7.8 Astringency

ASTRINGENCY COMPRISES OF AIR AND EARTH.

Astringent taste tends to increase vata dosha. However, it balances kapha and pitta dosha.

Qualities – dry, cold, heavy, moist

Positive impact of Astringent taste:

  • Stable
  • Unified
  • Composed and calming

Negative impact of Astringent taste (Emotion of excess):

  • Fear
  • Anxiety and panicky heaviour
  • Nervousness and self-doubt
  • Depression and sadness

Through the first seven chapters. you would have gotten a basic idea into the different elements of Ayurveda. Let’s wrap it up in Chapter 8, following this one. 

You can refer back to the broader course outline here. 

Scroll down below to ask any questions in relation to this chapter. 

Article By:

Dr. Muneesh

Dr. Muneesh S

Ayurveda Doctor

Dr. Maneesh S is an authority in the field of traditional style of Ayurvedic treatment. With over 10 years of expertise and a proven track record of classical style of treatment his work has immensely benefited several people all over India and the world. He mastered the Ayurvedic method of treatment from the renowned Pankajakasthuri Ayurveda Medical College, Trivandrum. His experience includes working with Somatheeram Resorts, Club Mahindra Resorts and as a Dubai Healthcare City licensed Consultant Physician. He has also traveled extensively across the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent collecting medicinal plants to replenish his extensive organic infusions. He has treated patients with chronic and complicated diseases as well as delivered lectures on Ayurveda, partaken in discussions and seminars pertaining to the propagation of various treatment modalities cited in the Ayurveda texts. With his extensive knowledge on various subjects like Sanskrit, Vedas, Mythology, ancient Indian Culture and Classical arts etc., he is considered to be one of the best in the industry.

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