The Three Doshas
The answer lies in the fundamental nature of each element. All five elements are responsible for orchestrating creation, yet some elements play a more active role than others.
Vata, which is the principle of kinetic energy in the body, is mainly concerned with the nervous system and controls all body movements.
Pitta controls the body’s balance of kinetic and potential energies. All of pitta’s processes involve digestion or ‘cooking’, even if it’s the cooking of thoughts into theories in the mind. The enzymatic and endocrine systems are pitta’s main field.
Kapha, the principle of potential energy, controls body stability and lubrication. The tissues and wastes of the body, which vata moves around, are kapha’s province. At the cellular level vata moves nutrients into and wastes out of cells. Pitta digests nutrients to provide energy for cellular function and kapha governs the cell’s structure.In the digestive tract vata chews and swallows the food, pitta digests it, vata assimilates nutrients and expels wastes and kapha controls the secretions that lubricate and protect the digestive organs. In the mind vata retrieves data from memory for comparison with new data. Pitta processes the data and draws conclusions,which vata then stores as new memories. Kapha provides the stability needed for the mind to grasp a single thought at a time.
Please remember: Doshas are forces, they are not substances. Kapha is not mucus, it is the force which when projected into the body causes mucus to arise. Pitta is not bile, it is the force that causes bile to be produced. Vata is not gas, but increased vata increases gas. Vata, pitta and kapha are called doshas. The word dosha means ‘a thing that can go out of whack’. When vata, pitta and kapha are out of balance with one another the system is bound to lose its own balance and causes dis-ease.
Air and space combine to become the vata dosha, which controls all aspects of movement as well as the space within our body – nothing in the universe moves without vata’s influence. In spite of this combination, however, vata dosha tends to primarily display the characteristics of air, the wind – and like the wind can move freely in the body, but, only when its path is free of obstacles, disease can appear when its path is blocked.
Space is totally inert, whereas air is totally mobile, it always attempts to expand itself free from limitations. If this expansive tendency becomes too pronounced it will destroy any structure that limits it, creating for example the spontaneous fractures that happen to hip joints that have been weakened by osteoporosis. Conversely, when excessive empty space and insufficient power of movement combine stasis can result. Emphysema is one example of such a condition, another is the type of constipation that develops after overuse of enemas. Only the force of healthy vata can keep air and space balanced with one another by ensuring there is enough space for air.
Vata’s tend to be either unusually tall or unusually short, they grow like weeds, with long tapering fingers and toes. Their joints are prominent and tend to make cracking noises when they move. Most structural abnormalities like nasal septum, scoliosis, bowlegs, or knock knees are also due to vata.
They tend to be darker and do not burn from the sun easily, they adore heat and because of innately poor circulation vata skin is cold to the touch. Their hair is usually dry, coarse or rough in texture, dark in shade and prone to dandruff. Nails are brittle and hard– vata’s are prone to biting nails – a sign of nervousness. Vata tends to congregate in the areas of: brain, heart, colon, bones, lungs, bladder, bone marrow and the nervous system.The attributes of vata are: dry, cold, light, unstable, mobile, clear, separation and rough.
Both pitta and kapha are oily, so dryness is a main characteristic of vata. Dryness appears in the body only when there is an increase of vata.
The fire element is associated with both fire and water. Whilst the qualities of fire and water would love to be able to ignore one another, they are inert to each other when they do mix, fire and water are always antagonistic. Mix them together and one or the other is bound to come out uppermost. To make the two such opponents cooperate is pitta’s job. All ‘fires’ in the body are contained in water. Stomach acid, is for instance, an extremely powerful acid, with a pH of 2. It burns anything it touches, as surely as an open flame or a bolt of lightning will burn. Acid is fire contained in water. When fire predominates in this mixture the acid can burn through the natural containment facilities that water provides and a gastic ulcer may result or if water becomes predominant and douses the ‘fire’ then indigestion will be created. Only the mediation of a healthy pitta force can keep this uneasy alliance of fire and water intact.
Pitta tends to congregate in the areas of: skin, eyes, liver, brain, blood, spleen, endocrine and small intestines.The attributes of pitta are: hot, light, acute (intense), mobile, liquid, oily and pungent smelling. Both vata and kapha are cold and pitta is hot, so heat is a main characteristic of pitta. Heat appears in the body or mind only when there is a disturbance of pitta. The intensity of excessive heat introduces irritability into the body and mind.
Called the watery dosha is associated with water and earth, another two elements that have no real affinity for one another.When you pour sand into water, for example, it drops to the bottom of the vessel and sits there. The only way sand will remain suspended in water is when stirred.The kapha dosha forces water and earth, which would otherwise refuse to interact with one another, to combine properly and remain in a mutually satisfied equilibrium.Wherever the body becomes too solid a problem always develops. Gallstones or kidney stones are good examples of concretions of earth in which water has dried out too much to let free flow continue. Likewise, too much water and not enough earth in a system promotes disturbances like edema. Only when kapha is balanced does water and earth remain in balance.
Kapha tends to congregate in the areas of: brain, joints, mouth, lymph, stomach, pleural cavity and pericardial cavity. The attributes of kapha are: heavy, oily, cold, stable, smooth, soft, sticky and solid.
Both vata and pitta are light and kapha is heavy, so heaviness is the main characteristic of kapha. Heaviness appears in the body or mind only when there is a disturbance of kapha. While evaluating yourself, keep in mind always that: Vata is cold, dry and irregular. Pitta is hot, oily and irritable. Kapha is cold, wet and stable.
Worry, ignorance, sorrow, fear, excessive coherent or incoherent speech, languor, wavering mind, greed, too much thinking.
Tetanus, stiffness of neck, wasting of arm, foot drop, weakness of thighs, stiffness, paraplegia, painful spasm of muscles of the limbs, wasting of shoulders, para paresis with tremulous movement of the leg, stiffness of tongue, facial palsy, monoplegia, quadriplegia, convulsions, contracture, tremors, stall-like rigidity, spasms, hemiplegia
Talking excessively, mutism or dumbness, stammering and speech with nasal twang.
Sensation as if abdomen is wrapped, pricking pains, pain in the flanks, splitting pain, pain all over the body, cramps in the feet. Tingling and numbness in the feet, numbness or anesthesia of the feet, burning sensation in feet. Atrophic ulcers on feet, colicky pain in direction reverse of renal colic. Cramps in calf muscles. Renal colic, headache, sciatica, splitting pains in the knees, splitting pain in the back and pelvis, brachial neuralgia, friction like pain in chest, sense of obstruction in chest, splitting pain in temples, dryness, pain and darkening of the vessels of the head, splitting pain in forehead, cold sensation, throbbing pain in vessels or nerves and giddiness.
Dilation of pupils, numbness of the skin, pain in the eyes, loss of taste sensation, loss of sense of smell, destruction of sense organ of smell, earache, inability to hear words or tinnitus, deafness, blackouts, astringent taste in mouth.
Autonomic Nervous System (ANS):
Distension of the abdomen, distension of the abdomen with peristalsis, sluggishness of the heart, tachycardia and retention of urine.
Bones, Joints and Muscles:
Rheumatism, glandular swelling near the ankle, stiffness of the ankle joint, dislocation of knee, ankle sprain, scoliosis, deformed spinal arch. Kyphosis, dwarfism, catch in the sacrum, knee joint looking like head of fox, stiffness or catch in the back, stiffness of flanks, wasting of arm muscles, stiffness of anterior neck muscles, stiffness of posterior neck muscles, lock jaw, splitting pain in chin,stiffness of eyelids, spasm of eyelids, spasm of the muscle of the eyebrows, splitting pain in bone, osteoporosis and spondylosis.
Teeth and Nail:
Splitting of the nails, cracks in teeth, loose teeth.
Skin and Hair:
Fissures on palms and soles, Cracking of lips. Cracks on the roots of hairs. Blackish or pinkish discoloration of skin. Goose skin. Short hair. Ptosis of organs. Foetal death. Increased Vata without aam. Infrequent defecation.
Loss of strength. Amenorrhoea, prostate enlargement, prolapse of rectum, anal fissure. Oligospermia, retracted testes, loss of power of erection of penis, swelling in the inguinal region, frequent passage of dry separated stools in small quantities, cancer of prostate, hard stools, irritation of throat, exhaustion without undertaking exertion, exhaustion and fatigue, connective tissue disorders, yawning, absence of sweat, dryness of mouth, roughness, stiffness of arm, restlessness, leanness and emaciation.
Diet to reduce Vata:
Avoid dry fruits, raw vegetables, heavy beans, white sugar and all gassy foods. However, you can eat more sweet fruits, cooked vegetables and all kinds of squashes and pumpkins, white meat, seafood, orange and yellow lentils, masoor dal etc. Jaggary, honey, palm sugar, unrefined sugar, ghee, butter milk all helps to pacify vata.
Home remedies to reduce vata
Take one teaspoon of castor oil with hot ginger tea before going to bed.
Half tsp of ginger powder; One pinch of asafoetida; Quarter tsp of black pepper;One cup of water;Half tsp of cardamom;One tsp of honey.Boil all the ingredients except honey.Drink it warm twice a day to release gas, flatulence, bloated stomach, aches and pains.All the above will help the patient detoxify,experience lightness and freshness.
Intense localized burning sensation resembling the sensation arising from burnt area. Burning sensation all over the body, Burning sensation in localized area. Sensation as if smoke is coming out of throat. Splitting pain in the body organs. Splitting pain in skin and muscles. Blackouts, Paka-Suppuration, Stomatitis, Pharyngitis, Conjunctivitis, Proctitis and perianal excoriation, Balanoposthitis. Gasto- Gasto-Intestinal Tract, Acid regurgitation, burning sensation in the stomach and oesophagus.
Greenish discoloration of urine, eyes, stool and skin, Increased heat in the body,Excessive perspiration, foul smell of the body. Haemolysis of Red blood cells. Inflammatory splitting of muscle fibres. Premature greying of hair, Yellowish discoloration, bluish discoloration. Bitter taste in mouth. Suppurative stomatitis. Excessive thirst/polydipsia. Jaundice, Absence of satiety. Excessive bleeding.
Erythematous eruptions, acne, pimples, boils, itching, reddish vesicular eruptions, reddish circular eruptions, bleeding disorder, skin eruption in axilla, splitting of skin, fissure of skin.
Diet to reduce Pitta:
Avoid sour, pungent, spicy, fermented foods, sour fruits, red meat, sea food, salted nuts and honey. You can take more of sweet fruits, sweet and bitter tasting vegetables, cooked vegetables, all types of squashes and pumpkins, cooked rice, all legumes, leafy green vegetable, etc.
Home remedies to reduce Pitta
Soak twenty black raisins in water, crush and filter them, then drink the content.Take one teaspoon of ghee first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.36
Satiety, desire for hot environment and food item, drowsiness, excessive sleep, sensation as if body is wrapped in wet cloth, heaviness of body and limbs, poor intelligence, laziness, excessive salivation, spitting of saliva or sputum, increased quantity of stool and urine, sensation as if throat is lined by phlegm, excessive semen. Increased phlegm in chest, polyuria, excessive Kapha in heat, sensation as if heart is covered with excessive Kapha. Coldness, fullness of blood vessels, swelling in the neck, extreme obesity, weak digestive power, white discoloration of skin, urine eyes and stools. Urticaria-like skin eruptions, sweet taste in mouth. With normal Kapha you experience:lubrication, bonding between the joints.emotional and feelings.
Diet to reduce Kapha
Avoid or reduce sweet and sour fruits, sweet and juicy vegetables, red meat, sea food, heavy beans, black lentils, all nuts especially cashew and peanuts, chilled water, cold drinks, ice creams, etc.You can take fruits like apples, apricots,dry figs, pungent and bitter vegetables,rice, lentils, pumpkin seeds, all spices and herbs, especially ginger, garlic, black pepper, asafoetida, etc.
Home remedies to reduce Kapha
Mucus, coughs, colds and allergies are one of Kapha’s biggest problems, we recommend the following:
One quarter tsp. of fresh ginger juice. Half tsp fresh basil juice. One Pinch black pepper powder. Half tsp honey. Take the above mixtures two or three times a day or more.Source: http://www.aayushanti.com/index.php/ayurveda/dosha