Tastes
 ‘One man’s medicine can be another man’s poison’ Ayurveda validates this statement by enlightening about the diversity and doshic influence of the six different tastes or the Shad Rasas as referred to in Ayurveda text. These various tastes result into nurturing various actions in the body systems. It is therefore recommended to choose and supplement the tastes in your everyday diet after actually considering your body needs and suitability.

Shad Rasas – Ayurveda Insight of 6 Tastes

Shad rasa are the six different tastes that are known to your taste buds viz. sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. In Ayurveda text, these are mentioned as Madhur, Amal, Lavana, Tikta, Katu and Kshaya Rasas. But it is less known fact that these 6 Rasas not only render the differentiation of tastes but also provide a good contribution to your basic health. Therefore for having sound health, it is also equally important that your daily diet contains all the six tastes or the Shad Rasas.

 

Effect of Shad Rasas on Health

The six tastes have varied effect on your health and wellbeing. Read on..

Madhur Rasa or Sweet Taste

The sweet taste is believed to increase the general body resistance against disease. As per Ayurvedic text, this specific taste helps to increase the body tissues and as a consequence, it enhances the ‘Ojas’ or the vital energy reserve of the body and mind. This taste therefore aids in increasing not only immunity, but also the general health of an individual and keeps aging at a distance.

Amala Rasa or the Sour Taste

Sour taste is believed to enhance the strength of the body by providing nutrition to the body tissues. Also, it increases the taste for food and promotes salivation.

Lavana Rasa or the Salty Taste

The salty taste imparts a relish for the food and provides softness to the body parts. At the same time, it causes a decrease in the body strength of an individual and increases weakness and lethargy.

Katu Rasa or the Pungent Taste

The Pungent taste is believed to cause demolition of body tissues and obesity. It is also anti toxic in nature; and thus destroys intestinal parasites and aids in curing skin ailments.

Tikta Rasa or the Bitter Taste

Bitter taste is a blood purifier and helps in creating a good appetite. Also, it has a nature of drying the body tissue mainly mucous, fat and pus.

Kshaya Rasa or the Astringent Taste

Astringent taste causes dryness of the body tissues and lessens the secretion from mucous membranes.

 

 Ayurvedic Significance of the 6 Tastes or Shad Rasas

The 6 different tastes also show varied processes of digestion. Food items that are sweet, sour and salty in taste have the property of being heavy, slimy and oily. Therefore the same are also believed to be mildly laxative by nature. Whereas, the other three tastes i.e. bitter, pungent and astringent are light and dry by nature and so tend to cause constipation.

All the six types of tastes, according to their mode of action, can be divided into two categories – Cold and Hot. The tastes sweet, pungent and astringent are considered to be cold in nature and thus provide a cool effect to the body system by reducing the body heat. Therapeutically, these are used in heat related disorders like fainting and burning inside the body. Whereas, the other three tastes i.e. sour, salty and bitter are generally hot in nature and therefore act in increasing the body heat.

Shadrasas or 6 Tastes for Health


For a virtuous and sustained healthy living, it is important to cultivate the habit of using all the six tastes in our daily diet. The knowledge of their actions on the body systems can prove helpful so as to supplement the desired taste, in accordance to the body requirements. And the timely curb on the tastes more extensively used, can help to keep the disease at a distance.
A balanced intake of all the six tastes ensures
good health. Whereas, these ‘Rasas’ or tastes when taken in disproportion results into distortion in either of the three ‘Doshas’ or body humors viz. air, heat and phlegm, and this results into production of a disease.

 

Ayurveda Significance of Shad Rasas

 

Ayurveda believes that as we put food in our mouth, we can immediately sense the taste or the Rasa. This is the working of a type of Kapha dosha ie. Bodhaka Kapha by the virtue of which we are instantly able to differentiate between the six different tastes. Eventually, the sense of taste is perceived by Vata dosha, mainly the Prana Vayu which on its part sends signals to the brain. This signal is then passed on from the brain to the stomach and alimentary canal which stimulates release of digestive enzymes so as to commence the process of digestion. Thus, in the Science of Ayurveda, mindful eating with consciousness to tasting every single morsel is regarded to be vital component of healthy eating.

 

Excessive Intake of Shad Rasas

Shad Rasas or the 6 tastes are though beneficial for the body, yet excess intake can cause more harm than good.

 

Excess of Sweet Taste

This can lead to obesity, lethargy, and anorexia and over-sleep. Due to an increase in the ‘Kapha’ or phlegm body humor, the ailments like cough, cold, asthma and other respiratory disorders are common. It can even lead to in-digestion, goitre and diabetes.

 Excess of Sour taste

This causes blood disorders, oedema, inflammations, anaemia, vertigo etc. Also, an increase in ‘Pitta’ or heat may cause skin diseases, heartburn and defects in vision.

 Salty Taste Excess

 Excessive intake of the salty taste leads to increase in the body heat, which further cause ailments like fainting, burning sensation, untimely loss and graying of hair, excessive thirst, impotency and various skin and gastric disorders.

Pungent Taste in Excess

This increases the ‘Vata’ or the air, which further causes dryness of various tissues inside the body. This results into diseases like vertigo, emaciation, debility, and dryness of mouth, mental and neurological diseases.

Excess of Bitter Taste

This results into an increase in both air and heat body humors. Therefore, ailments like impotency, fainting, weakness and increased burning sensation occur inside the body. There may be pain and shivering within the body parts, and even mental diseases can crop up.

Excess of Astringent Taste

‘Vata’ or air body humor is aggravated. This leads to diseases like impotency, dryness of mouth, stammering, and pain in the heart region, paralysis and neurological disorders. Aggravation of Vata also leads to obstruction in the eradication of flatus, urine and stools.

 

Effect of Shad Rasa on the Doshas

The Shad rasas viz. Madhur, Amal, Lavana, Tikta, Katu and Kshaya have definite effect on the tri doshas i.e. Vata or the air, Pitta or the fire and Kapha or the phlegm.

  • Vata can be balanced by the intake of madhur, amala and lavana rasas and also on the contrary, Vata could aggravate on taking in more of the three bitter tastes of katu, tikta and kshaya.
  • So as to balance Pitta, the three recommended tastes in Ayurveda are madhur, tikta and kshaya. Also, the other three rasas i.e. amala, lavana and katu can aggravate the fire humor.
  • Kapha balance needs more of katu, tikta and kshaya rasas and phlegm can be aggravated by more intake of madhur, amala and lavana rasas.

 

Tastes

 

 Food Suggestions For Various Tastes

1. Madhur Rasa (Sweet Taste)

Coconut, Liquorice, Sugarcane, Dates, Fennel, Rice, Wheat, Ghee, Maize, Beet, Ripe Mango, Ripe Banana, Barley, Butter, Milk and Non-vegetarian foods etc.

 2. Amal Rasa (Sour Taste)

Pomegranate, Aamla, Tamarind, Lime / Lemon, Vinegar, Unripe Mango, Raspberry, Sea Buckthorn, Pineapple, Green Grapes, Curd etc. 

3. Lavana Rasa (Salty Taste)

 Sea Salt, Rock Salt (Saindhav Lavana), Black Salt (Kala Namaka), Mineral Salt etc.

 4. Katu Rasa (Pungent Taste)

Chillies, Garlic, Onions, Ginger, Radish, Black Pepper, Nutmeg, Betel (Pan), Mustard, Holy Basil (Tulsi), Long Pepper (Pippali), Jalapenos, Cinnamon, Lemon Balm, Cloves, fenugreek etc.

5. Tikta Rasa (Bitter Taste)

Turmeric, Coriander, Bramhi, Neem, Shankhpushpi, Aloe vera, Sarapgandha, Bitter Gourd, Khus Khus, Shilajit, Bishop’s weed (Ajwain), Cumin etc. 

6. Kshaya rasa ( Astringent Taste)

Haritaki (Harad), Arjuna, Guggulu, Bilva, Baheda, Green Beans and Honey etc. 

 

About the Author:

Dr Sonica Krishan is Author and Speaker in the areas of Healthy and Joyous Living through Ayurveda, Meditation, Yoga and other Contemplative practices. She is a leading Ayurveda Professional in India. She is also Health Writer, Columnist, Editor, Ayurveda Consultant and Holistic Healing Coach. Dr Sonica is open for National as well as International Collaborations with interested people / institutions in fields of Ayurveda, Meditation and Yoga.

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