Chinese medicine divides foods and herbs into seven flavors, each representing a basic Energetic property. Note that the flavors are based on the effects on the body and may differ from actual taste.
Spicy or pungent or acrid is Dispersing and Moving. Dispersing can be used to break up and distribute a concentrated stagnation, to release Cold, and to push out pathogens. Moving activates and mobilizes Energy flow and circulation and can be used to treat Ki or Blood stagnation.
Ayurveda medicine: Pungent Taste. This taste is made up of Fire and Air elements, found in all Spices like Cayenne , Ginger, Turmeric etc. Pungent Taste stimulates digestion and helps destroy bacteria and parasites. Pungent Taste is light, hot and dry in character and by its hot nature, it causes sweating and creating heat in the body. It stimulates the mind and senses and clears the head and throat. This Taste decreases Kapha and increases Pitta and Vata. Excess use destroys virility and can cause skin rashes, burning sensations etc., according to Dr. Ram Tamang of The Healing Gardens of Ayurveda.
from Chrak Samhita: XVI. 43
DESCRIPTION OF THE SIX TASTES
The pungent taste is cleansing to the mouth, enkindles digestive fire, purifies food, promotes nasal secretions, causes tears and gives clarity to the senses. It helps cure diseases of intestinal torpor, obesity, abnormal swelling and excessive liquid in the body. It helps discharge oily, sweaty and sticky waste products. It gives taste to food, stops itching, helps the resolution of skin growths, kills worms, is germicidal, corrodes the muscle tissues, moves blood clots and blood stagnation, breaks up obstructions, opens the vessels, alleviates Kapha. it is light, hot and dry.
Yet when used too much by itself or in excess causes a weakening of virility by its post-digestive effect. By its taste and hot potency, it causes delusion, weariness, langout, emaciation. Pungent taste causes fainting, prostation, loss of consciousness and dizziness. It burns the throat, generates a burning sensation in the body, diminishes strength and causes thirst. By its predominance of fire and air, pungent taste creates various burning sensations, tremors, and piercing and stabbing pains throughout the body.
from The Art of War: Chapter 5
by Sun Tzu
There are not more than five cardinal tastes (sour, acrid, salt, sweet, and bitter), yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.
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