The 6 Rasas in Ayurveda – tikta(pungent) and kashaya(astringent) rasa
e have discussed 4 prominent rasas in the previous blogs – madhura (sweet), amla (sour), lavana (salty) and katu(bitter). Let’s now look at the last 2 rasas are tikta (pungent) and Kashaya (astringent).
he Hindi word “tikha” emerges from the Sanskrit word tikta. It is a different sensation than the katu (bitter) rasa. For example, red chili is tikta or pungent in taste. Tikta rasa is a very important rasa for the health of an individual. It is 4th in the sequence of rasa because it is required in a very little amount by the body. Large amounts of tikta rasa can cause severe metabolic damage because of its corrosive nature. Characteristics of tikta rasa are –
- Tikta rasa is dry, cool and light in nature.
- Tikta rasa eliminates anorexia, sense of satiety and stimulates hunger and digestion.
- Tikta rasa is pitta pacifying rasa.
- It neutralizes poisons and toxins (vishnashaka).
- Tikta rasa is the best antidote against intestinal worms.
- Tikta rasa helps to prevent and cures loss of consciousness.
- It dilates the blood vessels and helps to reduce inflammation, fever and itching sensation.
- Tikta rasa is good for all the skin disorders including leprosy.
- It helps to nourish skin and muscles as it promotes the rate of blood supply.
- It is also a great purifying agent for mother’s milk.
- Tikta rasa dries up body fluids like mucus, fats, pus, sweat, urine etc. Therefore, it is helpful in wound-healing, cold, cough, fever and many more disorders.
It can be a surprising fact for most of us that the inhabitants of an extremely hot climate, like Rajasthan (desert) should use excessive tikta rasa in their diet. Normally the traditional food of desert areas in India is full of spices, esp. red chili, and other tikta rasa dominant herbs. However, the natives consuming traditional food never face any kind of health problem resulting from excess consumption of pungent food. One of the reasons is that tikta rasa dilates the blood vessels and helps the heat to get radiated from a larger surface area. This helps the individual to get rid of the internal heat at a faster rate. Besides, external heat tends to slow down the digestive process so that there is less internal heat produced in the body. But tikta rasa helps to keep up the digestion and kills heat induced anorexia. If we look at the natural selection of local vegetation, Kesar is hot in temperament and grows in cold climate. Therefore it is naturally suited to the local population. Similarly, tikta rasa dominant herbs like chili grow easily in a hot climate and are naturally suited to the natives. No wonder that the largest producers of chili are hot countries like India. However, in spite of all the benefits, excessive use of tikta rasa can cause multiple damages.
Problems caused by excessive use of Tikta rasa
Let’s take a look at a unique concept of Ayurveda “satmya” as we talk about the health problems caused by the excessive use of tikta rasa. Sometimes, after frequent use of a substance over a fairly long period of time, the body of the user gets habituated to it. This concept is visible in many ways. For example, eating curd at night is prohibited according to Ayurveda, but in south India, natives are habituated to curd consumption with all their meals and they don’t fall sick. However, if a north Indian were to use curd at night once in a while, he will have more chances of falling sick as compared to a south Indian eating curd at night every single day. Similarly, a person habituated to a high amount of tikta rasa might not be harmed by an extra pungent meal. But a person who is not used to a very tikta food might fall sick immediately. Therefore, “excess” is a relative term and should be treated accordingly. With the foundation of this sutra, let us look at the health problems caused by the excessive use of tikta rasa –
- It can cause excessive dryness in the mucosal linings, blood vessels, muscles, fatty tissue, bone marrow, and semen.
- Excessive tikta rasas cause weakness and abnormal thinness in the body.
- It can cause giddiness, hallucinations, dryness in the mouth etc.
- It can cause all kinds of vata related problems.
ashaya rasa or astringent taste is the last one of the 6 rasas. It is not as commonly found as the madhura or amla rasa. However, Kashaya rasa offers excellent health benefits. Harad (Terminalia chebula) is a good example of Kashaya rasa. It is an extensively used herb in Ayurveda and is one of the constituents of Triphala.
Characteristics of Kashaya rasa are –
- Kashaya rasa.
- Kashaya rasa is known to balance kapha and pitta.
- It helps to dry up excess body fluids.
- It is a very good remedy for loose motions and bowel related disorders.
- Kashaya rasa helps to heal wounds, broken bones and promotes anabolism in the body.
- It helps to eject the pus in the wounds and dries them.
- Kashaya rasa works great in case of blood-related disorders.
However, Kashaya rasa can do immense damage if consumed in large quantity regularly. Problems caused by excessive use of Kashaya rasa –
- Frequent dryness in the mouth
- Cardiac disorders (dryness in the heart)
- Excessive bloating
- Problems in vocal cords
- Blockages in the fine channels of tissue fluid and other body fluids.
- Darkening of the complexion.
- Constipation (Kashaya rasa causes constipation while getting digested).
- Obstruction in the natural flow of vata, urine, feces, and semen.
- Weakening and thinning of the body.
- Toxin accumulation in the body.
- Excessive thirst.
These are some of the grave problems caused by Kashaya rasa. Most dangerous of all is the deposition of toxins in the body as the natural flow of the body fluids is blocked. The body thus becomes like a stagnated and decaying water puddle. Harad is a highly praised herb in Ayurveda. But because of all these problems, it is advised that Harad alone should not be consumed for more than the prescribed period. Otherwise, it can cause more problems than benefits.
We hope that this information helps you build a healthier and happier life. In the next blog, we will be talking about the balanced diet and how we can accommodate all different rasa in appropriate quantities in our daily diet. Stay tuned for life beyond diseases!