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.
Ayurveda medicine uses six flavors. Time- tested wisdom of Ayurveda provides clear and specific diet recommendations for people based on their unique constitution, state of balance and seasonal factors. According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes i.e. Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Pungent and Astringent, and these tastes have specific actions upon the three biological humors or Doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha). These tastes do not disappear once the food is ingested, but continue to influence our physical and emotional balance. Each taste is made up of a combination of two of the five elements. Three tastes increases and three tastes decrease each of the Doshas according to the elements that compose them., according to Dr. Ram Tamang of The Healing Gardens of Ayurveda.
Bitter is Clearing and Drying. Clearing is the oppostie of Tonifying and can be used to treat Heat excess and Toxin excess. Drying is the opposite of Moistening and can be used to treat Damp stagnation. (See bitter.)
Bland is Draining and promotes urination. (See bland.)
Salty is Softening and Purging. Softening can be used to treat hardness, such as nodules or masses. Purging can be used to promote elimination, especially via the bowels, and can be used to treat some kinds of constipation. (See salty.)
Sour is Contracting and can be used to treat certain types of diarrhea and can be used to treat spontaneous or excessive sweating. (See sour.)
Spicy or pungent 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. (See pungent.)
Stringent or astringent is Contracting and can be used to treat certain types of diarrhea and can be used to treat spontaneous or excessive sweating. Stringent is similar to sour, but stronger. (See stringent.)
Sweet is Tonifying, Harmonizing, and Relaxing. Tonifying can be used to support or strengthen the body, blood, or specific organs. Harmonizing can be used to bring the body and spirit into balance. Relaxing can be used to counteract spasms and tightness. (See sweet.)
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