About Bitter Taste in Ayurveda
Bitter is disagreeable and stimulating rejection, and a strong taste often associated with black coffee, dark chocolate, and most salad greens.
The Six Tastes: Bitter
Balance My Excess Bitter $15.95 Bitter Recipes Bitter Ingredients Bitter Herbs & Supplements Bitter Stats
Balance My Excess Bitter
Get the 45 minute presentation 'Balance My Excess Bitter' 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
AYURVEDIC PERSPECTIVE ON BITTER
Bitters & DigestionAyurveda suggests that a healthy gut will eliminate food six hours after eating it. The holy grail of six hour elimination exists today in indigenous societies with higher consumption of bitters, but not for our society of refined flours and sugars.
The body may perceive some bitters as a poison, stimulating various organs for protection. In the case of edible bitters, this has a beneficial, stimulating effect on your body. Bitters stimulate peristalsis, the release of bile in the liver and gall bladder, clearing the blood of heat and Pitta.
Bitter taste stimulates breath and metabolism (prana). Recently, scientists have discovered the presence of bitter taste buds in the lungs. Calcium has a bitter, slightly sour taste. There is recent speculation that humans may have evolved specific taste buds for calcium.
Bitters, Cravings, & Fat MetabolismBitters are the missing taste in the modern diet, but they are the most common taste in nature. Our ancestors subsisted on diets high in bitters for millennia. Naturally, in a bitter environment, sweet taste was rare and highly desirable. Our taste buds have not yet evolved for modern, convenient availability of sweet taste.
Bitters are drying to the body, cause an increase in metabolism, and scrape fat. Bitter purifies the body and dries up all secretions. Bitter resets the taste buds and destroys food cravings. By reducing fat and forcing the ego to confront displeasure, bitter taste increases ether element.
Qualities of BitterBitters are light, cooling, clearing and drying. They alleviate Pitta and Kapha and cleanse the body of toxicity. Bitters create a descending action that alleviates dizziness and fainting from heat conditions like fevers. Bitters are used to treat fever because they also clear the blood plasma of impurities (ama) and sweet taste (kledaka Kapha). Bitter taste clears wounds and purifies the skin and muscle tissue.
Excess bitter aggravates Vata, causing tissue wasting and hardening, loss of strength and libido, and dryness of mouth.
Examples of BittersDigestive bitters is a popular Joyful Belly formula containing bitter taste. Most leafy greens, coffee, and orange peel are examples of bitter foods. Chocolate undergoes significant processing to remove bitter taste. Gymnema sylvestre (gurmar) is used for diabetes, food cravings, and weight loss.
In herbalism, simple bitters are differentiated from alkaloidal bitters and unpleasant tasting foods. Dandelion greens and neem are simple bitters whose actions are primarily due to their taste. Coffee and chocolate are alkaloidal bitters. Each alkaloid has a unique effect on the body beyond the action of a simple bitter.
Herbal actions common to many herbs listed in Bitter:
COLDCold refers to anything that reduces body temperature, metabolism, and blood flow.
PUNGENTPungency is characterized by irritation, or sharp, spicy foods that irritate the mouth such as black pepper.
ASTRINGENTAstringency is characterized by constriction, drawing together, or drying.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORYReduces inflammation in the body. Different herbs and carriers target different body systems.
DIURETICHerbs that promote urine formation, thereby flushing the kidneys and urinary tract while eliminating any excess water retention. As diuretics reduce water retention, they are often used to reduce blood pressure.
Pitta Reducing (33)
Kapha Reducing (31)
HOTHot is identified by increased body temperature, metabolism, or inflammation.
ALTERATIVELiterally, an herb that restores the proper function of the body. In practice, alteratives are usually blood cleansers and blood chemistry balancers. They were traditionally used to revitalize and detoxify after a long winter.
SWEETSweet refers to anything builds tissue, including macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
ANALGESICRelieves or reduces feelings of pain without eliminating sensation.
NERVINEHerbs that specifically go to the nervous system and brain. They can help with stress, memory, early alzheimer's, even chronic pain.
DRYDry is identified by lack of moisture, lack of fat, or anything that causes diuresis.
ANTISPASMODICHerbs that reduce or inhibit muscle spasms or cramping, such as in asthma, menstruation, hear palpitations, migraine, or IBS.
MOBILEMobile refers to anything that stimulates the nervous system, muscles, or activity.
DIAPHORETICAn herb that induces sweating, often by dilating blood vessels close to the skin.
AROMATICHerbs or spices with volatile essential oils that present strong aromas. Aromatic oils shock, refresh and numb tissue, with the end result of relaxing, opening and clearing stagnant fluids in tissues.
DIGESTIVEHerbs that encourage healthy digestion.
CLEARClear refers to anything that cleanses or flushes out wastes, or that digests ama.
Reproductive Health (19)
HELPFUL FOR*'Bitter' may be helpful for these symptoms and causes below.
CONTRAINDICATIONS / AGGRAVATES / IS AGGRAVATED BY*'Bitter' may aggravate, or be aggravated by, these symptoms and causes below.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his 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.