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Astringent Taste Foods & Herbs List: An Ayurveda PerspectiveCLASSIFICATION OF FOOD, HERBS, & LIFESTYLE

The Six Tastes: Astringent
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Reported by John Immel, Asheville, NC
Balance My Excess Astringent $15.95 Browse RecipesAstringent Stats

Balance My Excess Astringent

Get the 45 minute presentation 'Balance My Excess Astringent' 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 aggravating Pitta pacifying Kapha pacifying

Elements: Air, Earth
Balanced by 'Salty', 'Sour', 'Sweet'.
Astringency is characterized by constriction, drawing together, or drying.

You feel the power of astringent taste when you bite into astringent foods like a green banana or cranberries, or when you sip strong black or green tea.

Astringent foods make the mouth feel rough or dry. That dry, puckering sensation you feel tells you astringent taste is at work.

Foods with astringent taste cause constriction, drawing together, and dryness.

Their constriction power tones your body's tissues and cleanses your mouth. It also reduces blood flow and can help stop bleeding.

The reduced blood flow also makes most astringents very cold and dry.

Astringent's dryness also comes from its ability to chemically break up mucus in the digestive tract or lungs. Astringent foods are hard to swallow because they dry the mucous membranes in your mouth.

Astringent's drying power is helpful if you suffer from fluid retention or diarrhea, but use with care if you have dry skin or chronic constipation.

The tightening, constricting, and mineral rich nature of astringents makes them earthy, solid and dense.

Foods with Salty, Sour, or Sweet tastes can help balance astringent's dryness.

Let's explore further.

Astringent Taste & Dosha

Astringent is one of six tastes recognized by Ayurveda, the other five being sweet, sour, salty, pungent and bitter.

Astringent's dryness promotes excess Vata.

In the colon, Vata's home, astringency soaks up fluid and binds the stools, which (in excess) can lead to constipation especially if your digestive tract is already dry.

On the other hand, the airiness in astringent foods reduces excess water and mucus in Kapha constitutions by both drying up secretions and breaking down excess mucus.

Astringent tastes' cool quality helps balance and pacify Pitta related heat and inflammation, like skin eruptions.

Astringent foods are also helpful for Pitta related inflammation in the gastro-intestinal tract like IBS or Crohn's Disease.

And its stool binding function may be a source of relief for someone suffering from the diarrhea often associated with Pitta types.

However, if Vata dryness is the source of the inflammation, exercise caution when eating astringent foods, which can make the problem worse.

Minerals & Astringency

Foods high in minerals tend to have astringent qualities reflecting the earth element of astringent taste. You know this by the rough feel they have in the mouth. For example, stinging nettles.

Mineral rich foods include salt and foods high in potassium, calcium, magnesium and many others.

Some examples of foods high in potassium and magnesium include leafy greens like kale, collards and spinach. Beans and lentils are another good source. Pickles and olives are examples of mineral rich salty foods.

Pica is a medical disorder characterized by people eating non-foods such as clay, soil, paint, or wood. It results from a strong craving for astringent taste. This unusual craving can often be satisfied with vitamin and mineral substances, which supply the missing nutrient.

Astringent Taste & Elimination of Waste

If you've ever noticed a tendency towards constipation after drinking too much cranberry juice or eating lentil soup, you have experienced the drying power of astringent foods.

Astringent taste tones and tightens tissues which blocks or obstructs lymphatic flow and sweat. The dryness of astringents generally slows elimination of feces.

This can be a good thing if you have diarrhea or a tendency to sweat profusely.

However, many astringents are diuretics, such as dandelion and raspberry leaf, and enhance elimination in this area.

Astringent Foods

Leafy greens are generally astringent, including green and black tea, and beet greens.

Pomegranates and cranberries are all astringent, along with most sour fruits like apples.

Astringent taste makes an apple crunchy. Generally, crisp foods have some astringency.

Astringency makes slices of green banana, lentils and peeled potatoes stick to each other.

See below for a comprehensive list of astringent food and herbs by dosha, biocharacteristics (qualities) and other critical variables. You will also find a link to recipes that use astringent ingredients.

Emotions & Astringent Taste

The concept of astringent taste can be used to describe emotions as well as conditions in the physical body.

Astringent taste's cooling quality can calm an angry and irritated person and help them feel less riled, emotionally as well as physically.

Emotionally, the "pulling together" impact of astringent taste helps someone cool off and collect scattered thoughts.

In the physical body, astringent taste causes the cells of the body to withdraw, tone and tighten - creating a barrier to astringency.

Emotionally, your body's reaction to astringents is similar to the mind's response to fear - something from which you naturally withdraw or erect barriers around yourself.

Herbs with Astringent Quality for Ayurvedic Treatment

  • Triphala combines the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits of three traditional herbs. It is Pitta and Kapha balancing and can support digestive, oral and skin health. Triphala aggravates Vata.
  • Amalaki, a tri-doshic herb, is primarily sour with astringent qualities. It supports digestive health, clears excess Pitta from the digestive tract and builds ojas.
  • Haritaki cleanses, detoxifies and aids digestive and respiratory health. It has been used for centuries to balance Vata.
  • Arjuna is dominantly astringent and used as a rejuvenative and tonic that regulates blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tone.
  • Manjistha is a cleansing and detoxifying herb that pacifies both Pitta and Kapha and removes natural toxins and excess heat from the blood.


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'Astringent' may aggravate, or be aggravated by, these symptoms and causes below.

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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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