The three biological humours viz; Vata (biological air), Pitta (biological fire), and Kapha (biological water), are integral and vital components of the universe as per Ayurvedic metaphysics and anatomy. The three biological humours play a significant role at physiological and pathological levels in the human-body. Check your dosha here: Dosha Calculator
These are the vital life-forces that must remain in equilibrium for sustaining healthy-life. They are influenced by diet, code of conduct as well as emotions. Five sub-types of the humours have been mentioned in Ayurveda. Proper diet and positive states of the mind have a big role in balancing the humours.
Vata, can be scientifically described as wind or the biological humour that results in the movements of the things of the universe. The chief seat of vata is the colon. Thigh, hips, ear, bones and skin are other sites for vata. As regards quality, vata is dry, cold and light. Other humours, pitta and kapha are considered to be handicapped without vata. Vata affects physical and mental abilities of the body. Caraka, the Ayurvedic physician, has described eighty diseases caused by aggravation of vata. In aggravated state, vata causes following diseases
- Desire for warmth
- Emaciation and
- Mental confusion
Five types of vata have been mentioned. The important functions are enumerated below
- Prana: The main function is breathing, blood circulation and swallowing.
- Udana: The main function is sound, speech, and memory.
- Vyana: The main function is perspiration, blinking and other movements.
- Samana: The main function is digestion and formation of stools.
- Apana: The main function is excretion of the urine and faeces.
Vata can be increased by consuming foods with bitter, astringent and pungent taste. Vata can be decreased by consuming foods with salt, sour and sweet taste.
Pitta scientifically means the biological fire. The chief seat of pitta is the small intestine. Pitta do reside in other seats like blood, eye, stomach, sweat, and sebaceous glands, As regards quality, pitta is hot, moist and light in attributes. Pitta is responsible for
- Body temperature
- Thirst and
- Visual perception,
In aggravated form, pitta imparts yellow colour to the eyes, skin and waste products. In Ayurvedic literature, forty diseases arising from aggravated pitta have been described. Pitta leads to hunger, thirst, burning sensation and inflammation. Five types of pitta have been mentioned. The important functions are enumerated below
- Ranjaka: The main function is imparting colour of blood, bile and stools.
- Sadhaka: The main function is dealing with intellect and memory.
- Alocaka: The main function is visual-perception.
- Bharajaka: The main function is maintaining the colour of the skin.
- Pacaka: The main function is the digestion of food-stuffs, we consume.
Pitta can be increased by consuming foods with sour, pungent and salt taste. Pitta can be decreased by consuming foods with bitter, astringent and sweet taste.
Kapha, is described scientifically as mucus or phlegm or above all, the water humour. The principal seat of kapha is the stomach. Other seats for kapha are chest, throat, head, and pancreas, lateral side of the body, lymph, fat, nose and tongue. As regard attributes, kapha is cold, moist and heavy. Caraka mentions twenty diseases born out of aggravation of the kapha. When aggravated, kapha causes
- Depressed appetite
- Looseness of joints
- Nausea and
- White coloration of the skin.
Five types of kapha have been mentioned. The important functions are enumerated below
- Tarpaka: The main function is maintaining sense and hearing.
- Avalambaka: The main function is protection of the heart and lungs.
- Kledaka: The main function is maintaining digestion.
- Bodhaka: The main function is maintaining the gustatory-perception.
- Sle?aka: The main function is lubrication in the joints.
Kapha can be increased by consuming foods with sweet, salt and sour taste. Kapha can be decreased by consuming foods with pungent, bitter and astringent taste.
Bond between Tridosha and Triguna
Pancha Mahabhutas, the five proto-elements are the building-blocks of three biological humours, known as tridosha. They are also integral part of Triguna, known as Satva, Raja and Tama. In human-beings, one or the other humour and Guna are predominant either singularly or in combo.
We cannot imagine the universe without the presence of the five proto-elements, the three biological humours and three mental attributes. They are essential parameters for sustaining the life-process. The three biological humours and three mental attributes are bonded in intrinsic manner.
The three biological humours and three mental attributes are chiefly responsible for the composition of an integrated personality both at the physical as well as psychological levels.
Bond between three biological humours and the five proto-elements
Just like the five proto-elements, three biological humours theory of Ayurveda is fundamental aspect of all anatomical and physiological processes going inside the human-body. Three biological humours, commonly referred to as tridosha, are the elementary life-forces of the human-beings. Life and death are well under the influence of three biological humours.
Vata is formed when air and ether undergo interaction. Pitta is formed when fire and water undergo interaction. Kapha is formed when earth and water undergo interaction. The three biological humours (vata, pitta and kapha) are in dynamic-equilibrium, a stage of perfect mental and physical health. Imbalance among vata, pitta and kapha results in disease.
With Ayurvedic medicines (originating from medicinal herbs, minerals, animals or metals), the enhancement of the opposing elements is achieved in order to create equilibrium among vata, pitta and kapha.
Bond between the 3 biological humours and the five tastes
Bitter, astringent and pungent foods increase vata. Sour, pungent and salty foods increase Pitta. Sweet, salt and sour foods increase Kapha. Salt, sour and sweet foods decrease Vata. Bitter, astringent and sweet foods decrease Pitta. Pungent, bitter and astringent foods decrease Kapha. The evolution, properties and functions of six tastes have been summarised below: Ayurvedic physiology and etiology: Ayurvedo Amritanaam. The doshas and their functioning in terms of contemporary biology and physical chemistry
The three humours are in dynamic equilibrium with each-other. A balanced humour represents state of health and imbalanced one invites diseases. The whole purpose of Ayurvedic treatment is to maintain the dynamic equilibrium among three humours for healthy and prosperous life.