As anyone who has ever consumed a hot curry soup knows, such meals can really stimulate the sinuses to drain. In fact, such draining, called errhine therapy, is a recognized Ayurvedic mode of treatment for phlegmatic conditions. Foods and spices, along with special culinary and medicinal herbs, can be used to help balance the doshas. Since this is one of those therapies that interfaces readily with astrology and the elements and since my own Jupiter in Cancer predisposes me to a love of cooking and this particular form of chemistry, a special section of this site is devoted to the energetics of eating.



The Impact of Taste on Constitutional Balance

In the West today, we tend either to pride ourselves on our efficiency and to toss frozen dinners into the microwave, or we try to exhibit nutritional awareness by counting calories, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc. Many, if not most, of my clients either hate cooking and ignore the consequences of neglect of this most fundamental requirement of life, or, they pop supplements as though it were possible to live healthfully and creatively on tablets instead of real food.

On top of these issues, there is the fact that our food is often so adulterated that the average American eats several pounds of chemical preservatives per year, not to mention how difficult it is to find food that is 100% free of genetically modified ingredients. Plus, there are no doubt side effects to irradiation and microwaving of foods: indigestion, vitamin loss, free radicals, and so on. The picture is disturbing, but even if all of our foods were as safe as the marketers and their cohorts in various government agencies would like us to believe, nothing in our culture, even the saner concepts of nutrition, takes into account the energetics of food. Not only do no standardized tests reveal the lack of prana in foods, but modern nutrition does not address the issues of body type and energetics underlying assimilation of food and the effects of food on constitutional balance.

A hot spice, such as cayenne pepper, stimulates fire. If the individual eating such a spice is already of a fiery nature, the fire element may aggravate the pitta dosha and result in diarrhea or temper flare-ups. However, if the Photo by Gabriel Howearthperson is watery, cayenne may not only increase the appetite and digestion but relieve kapha and improve circulation and perhaps result in a little weight loss due to its stimulating effect on metabolism. If the individual has a cold, the cayenne may help to warm the body so that the mucus liquefies and is easier to expectorate. These concepts are so completely logical and easy to apply that children have no trouble learning strategies for health management.

According to Ayurveda, each food has a particular taste that correlates to its digestive action and that has a bearing on the balance of the elements. This taste is not a coincidence but is a direct result of the biochemical traits of the food and therefore also of its pharmaceutical properties. There are six tastes: sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, salty, and astringent.


The Sweet Taste

Kitchen Doctor

Kitchen Doctor
Taste and the Elements

The Ayurvedic system of taste and the elements is presented in a way that anyone interested can immediately begin applying the ideas so as to further constitutional balance through diet. In Ayurveda, taste is considered to be a clue to the pharmacology of food.


Reprinted from The Elements: Constitutional Type and Temperament by Ingrid Naiman
Copyright 1989 and 1998 by Ingrid Naiman





Sacred Medicine Sanctuary
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2004

Photo credits: Spices by Kitzia Howearth

*The material provided on this site is for informational purposes only. The author is not a medical doctor. The statements made represent the author's personal opinions and are not intended to replace the services of health care professionals. The content and products discussed have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this page and the products available on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.