The Taste, called RasaRasa directly affects our nervous system through the Prana in the mouth, which is connected to the Prana in the brain. Taste stimulates nerves, awakens the mind and senses, and make us feel alive. It sets our vital fluid in motion. Through stimulating our Prana in our mouth, taste affects our digestive fire! It prepares our body for digestion! This explains why when we are sick, we lose our appetite and taste. Lack of taste indicates fever, disease, low agni and high ama. To improve agni, it is important to stimulate the sense of taste. There are 6 tastes according to Ayurveda: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent.
- SWEET: earth and water
- SOUR: earth and fire (fermented or acidic)
- SALTY: water and fire
- PUNGENT: fire and air (spicy or acrid)
- BITTER: air and ether (think bitter herbs like gentian, goldenseal or dandelion)
- ASTRINGENT: earth and air (think constricting quality like tannins or oak bark)
The Energy, called ViryaThe energy of an herb is either cooling or heating. Herbs through their taste tend to heat the body or cool it and this produces the most basic energizing effect on the body.
- Pungent tastes have a heating effect. Your body gets warmed up when you eat fresh ginger or chili peppers.
- Sour taste is heating as well. Products resulting from fermentation like wine, kombucha, yogurt or pickles will warm your body.
- Salt is heating, too. If you happen to have a cut in your lip and put salt on it, you will experience a burning sensation.
- Sweet tastes; however, are cooling, as sugar counteracts the burning sensations in the body.
- Bitter is also cooling. Bitter herbs are renowned for reducing fever and inflammation.
- Astringent is also cooling.