School of Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion

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Reported by John Immel, Asheville, NC
Balance My Excess Sour $15.95 Browse RecipesSour Stats

Balance My Excess Sour

Get the 45 minute presentation 'Balance My Excess Sour' given by Joyful Belly founder and director John Immel. This presentation will show you Ayurvedic essentials on fixing this imbalance, including diet, lifestyle, and herbal tips from Ayurveda. Price: $15.95



Vata pacifying Pitta aggravating Kapha aggravating

Elements: Fire, Earth
Balanced by 'Astringent', 'Cold'.
Sour refers to anything fermented or acidic.

When something spoils or goes rotten it becomes sour. Sour taste in Ayurveda generally refers to fermented foods as in "the milk has gone sour," or acidic foods. Sour foods include yogurt, wine, beer, miso, and pickles. Acidic fruits like citrus and subacidic fruits like peaches are also considered sour, but where ferments heat the blood, sour fruits cool the blood.

Sour and Secretions

Sour pacifies Vata. Sours are secretagogues. They moisten and refresh a dry palate, encouraging secretions throughout the GI tract. These might be salivary secretions that improve taste, gastric secretions in the stomach that improve digestion, or a moist colon that facilitates smoother, looser bowel movements.

Sour Spoils the Blood

Sour ferments are hot and may spoil the blood, aggravating Pitta. Since all ferments are pre-digested by bacteria, they are readily absorbed through the GI tract. Sours thus increase the blood (rakta). In Chinese medicine they "generate" the liver. Since ferments are already digested, they contain metabolic byproducts or "bacteria poop." It is the bioavailability of nutrients combined with irritating metabolic byproducts that heat up metabolism in all tissues (dhatu agni), stimulate the liver, and cause the blood to spoil. Heavy ferments also aggravate Kapha. Sour increases flabbiness of tissues and decreases the strength of the sense organs.

Sour Increases Desire

Intellectuals love wine because it dilates blood vessels and focuses the mind. When our desires aren't satisfied it could lead to "sour grapes," as in the case of Aesop's fable, "The Fox and the Grapes." Grapes are supposed to be sweet, and nobody likes eating grapes that have turned sour. If we have sour grapes, our heart rejects the object of our desire.

Sour Fruits

Sour fruits are more sattvic than ferments. They refresh and cleanse the palate. Think of a lemon sorbet between courses at a fine French restaurant. Generally, sour fruits heat digestion, but not the blood. Sour fruits come in two categories: acidic and subacidic. Acidic fruits include citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges. Citrus fruits strongly pacify Kapha. However, most sours like lemons exhaust Pitta-Vata livers so caution is required. Mild sours that are also sweet (applesauce, blueberries) are exceptions to the this. Subacidic fruits include peaches, apricots, cherries, apples. Subacidic fruits are the most sattvic of all sours. Many subacidic fruits pacify Pitta-Kapha because they decongest the liver and extract hot toxic bile from the liver.

Sour and Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, sour taste is considered cooling because sour taste includes astringent taste. Pomegranates and cranberries are special medicines in Ayurveda because they are examples of sours with strong astringency. These sours focus dispersed energy, bringing the spirit back to the heart. They are also valuable digestive tonics because: (1) sourness aids digestion, (2) the cool quality soothes inflammation, and (3) astringency restores tone to distended tissues.


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About John Joseph Immel

About the Author

John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.

John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 7 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information and products on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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