The 6 Rasas in Ayurveda – Lavana(salty) and Katu(bitter) rasa
n Ayurvedic sutras, the sequence is one very important thing. The things mentioned earlier are more important than the ones mentioned later. Therefore, it can be assumed that madhura is the most important rasa for survival, next is amla and so on and so forth.
In the last blog, we discussed the basics of rasa and the first 2 rasas – madhura (sweet) and amla (sour). In this blog, we will be discussing the next 2 important rasas – lavana (salty) and katu(bitter).
avana rasa must be the most abundant rasa present on the earth. 99% of the water bodies of the world are full of lavana rasa. However, it is important to note that the healthiest salt is the saindhav lavana or the pink Himalayan salt. Basically, the word saindhav is derived from the ancient river “Sindhu” or the modern-day Indus. The salt derived from the areas near the Indus was called the saindhav lavana. This salt is basically the salt derived from the Himalayan mountains from where the river originates. However, many people consider saindhav lavana to be rock salt. The characteristics of lavana rasa are –
- It helps to aid the digestion. It also detoxifies the food.
- Salt helps to moisturize the food by attracting the water molecules. It softens the food particles and helps in penetration of digestive enzymes in the food.
- It helps to dissolve the excess mucus.
- It helps in the formation of feces.
- Lavana rasa is sharp in action. It spreads fast across the body and clarifies the channels inside the body.
- It helps to pacify the vata as it is unctuous and warm in temperament.
- It stimulates the saliva.
- Lavana rasa helps to balance excess kapha.
- It also helps to create interest in food and enhances the taste.
Salt is one ingredient that can transform the taste of a dish even with a small quantity. But too much salt can ruin the taste. In a similar manner, salt can contribute to the health of the body when consumed in an appropriate amount. But when consumed in a large quantity, it can disrupt the body metabolism.
Problems caused by excess consumption of lavana rasa are:
- Pitta imbalance
- Haemorrhagic tendency
- Excessive thirst
- Loss of consciousness
- Inflammation and fever
- Loss of essential mucus
- The weakening of the muscle tissue
- Increased susceptibility towards toxins/poisons
- Weak gums and early teeth loss
- The weakening of sense organs
- Wrinkles, early greying of hair and baldness
- Skin and blood-related disorders
- Psoriasis, haemorrhages, hyperacidity, erysipelas and many other diseases.
Sometimes people are advised to eat excess salt due to low blood pressure. However, eating excess salt is a regressive method to solve the problem of low blood pressure. Adequate exercise, better diet, and lifestyle can produce permanent relief in case of low blood pressure, instead of eating excess salt. Many times, people eating excess salt start to experience many other problems as mentioned above. Joint pain and signs of early aging are the most prominent in case of excess consumption of salt by patients of low BP. Therefore, it is advisable to improve the diet and lifestyle in case of low BP and not to depend on higher salt intake. So please take such advice with a pinch of salt!
Katu rasa (Bitter)T
his is the most dreaded rasa by a large number of people, especially the children. However, katu rasa is the ultimate purifier. A very wise sutra by Saint Kabir says “keep the bitter speaking (critical) person close to you and he will purify your mind and soul. Katu rasa performs the same function in case of the body. It is 4th in the sequence of rasas, but it is the healer and preventer of in-numerous diseases. Often, there is a confusion between katu rasa (bitter) and tikta rasa (pungent). This happens as this katu rasa is found along with tikshna (sharp) guna. For example, black pepper is both bitter and sharp. Also, many times, both katu and tikta rasa are found together, for example in Ajwain, badi elaichi (black cardamom) etc. Karela, asafoetida (hing), black pepper are good examples of exclusive katu rasa. There are multiple other characteristics of katu rasa and all other rasas. The most important of them are covered below. Characteristics of katu rasa are –
- Purifies the mouth and the digestive tract
- Increases the digestive power, conserves the temperature for optimal digestion
- Eliminates the excess fluids in the consumed food.
- Drains excess mucus from the oral and nasal passage.
- Clears the tear glands by stimulating tear secretion
- Purifies (stimulates) the sense organs
- Balances kapha dosha by secretion of excess mucus from all the body channels
- Destroys indigestion, anorexia, swelling, obesity, eye problems, and many other disorders
- Purifies secretory glands like sweat glands, sebaceous glands, oral glands etc.
- Stimulates the taste buds and increases the flavor of the food.
- Destroys itching, intestinal and external worms.
- Helps to heal the wounds.
Katu rasa is hot, light to digest and dry in nature. Because of its hot temperament, it can pacify vata and kapha. However, improper consumption of katu rasa can imbalance all 3 doshas. Vata can get vitiated because of its light and dry nature. Pitta can get hyperactive due to its hot temperament and kapha can get vitiated if the other 2 doshas are not balanced. Therefore, it is important to maintain optimal consumption of katu rasa. Problems caused by excess consumption of katu rasa are
- Loss of consciousness
- Unnatural bending of the body
- Throat inflammation
- Abnormal increase in body heat
- Excessive thirst, vomiting, shivering
- Tearing pain in the joints
- All kinds of vata disorders
Both of the above rasas are an essential part of a balanced diet. It is important to note that these 2 rasas are good for no prakrati (body constitution) in excess. The repercussions of their excess are faced by all people, children, youth or old. Besides, both of these rasas can cause severe health problems in case of their excess consumption. It is for this reason; they come after madhura and amla.
However, let us rest assured that all the problems mentioned in this blog series are caused by the regular excessive use of any of the rasas. Therefore, if you happen to eat excessive salt for a day or two, don’t worry. Our body is well equipped to manage these imbalances once in a while.
Hope this salty bitter information is well digested and implemented in your life for a healthier future. In our next blog, we will be discussing the last but not the least – tikta (pungent) and Kashaya(astringent) rasa. Stay tuned!