The Six Tastes-Shadrasa in Ayurveda

The Six Tastes-Shadrasa in Ayurveda are: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter and Astringent. Each Taste is governed by a Dosha (or combination of Doshas). Each taste may aggravate or alleviate a particular Dosha, Dhatu or Mala/s. The varying combinations of the Maha Bhutas (The Five Elements) are responsible for creation of these six tastes in nature.
The six tastes are:

Sr. No. Taste Comprised of Aggravates Pacifies
1 Sweet (Madhura) Water + Earth Kapha Vata & Pitta
Properties It is heavy, unctuous, prolongs life, alleviates Vata, Pitta & poison…
Pros Gives strength to body tissues, builds body mass-gives good shape-strengthens bones-aids in healing,  soothes nervous system-sense organs, gives good body lustre-skin-hair, soothing to throat-lungs-gastro-intestinal mucous linings, increases breast milk and so on…
Cons Excess intake vitiates Kapha, and causes related problems like Obesity, Dyspepsia, Diabetes, Delirium, Malignant Tumour, Cysts, Fibroids, Neck Enlargement etc.
Examples Most Fruits, Natural Sugars, Molasses, Grains, Ghee, Milk, Vegetables such as carrots & Sweet Potatoes, Rose Water, Gold & Herbs such as Liquorice, Gokshura etc. Honey, old rice, meat of desert dwelling animals etc. do not increase/vitiate Kapha in the body.
2 Sour (Amla) Fire + Earth Pitta & Kapha Vata
Properties It has Hot Potency, increases Kapha & Pitta, causes moistening and moves excess Vata downwards.
Pros It stimulates digestive fire, appetiser, Cleanses-Strengthens Dhatus (except Shukra Dhatu), unctuous (Helps in elimination of faeces, urine and flatus), good for heart, aids in assimilation-absorption of minerals and so on…
Cons Causes flabbiness of the body, loss of strength, loss of vision, whitishness to the skin, fever, small pox, skin related issues and more…
Examples Sour Fruits, Curd, Amalaki (Amla, Does not increase Pitta), Silver etc.
3 Salty (Lavana) Fire + Water Pitta & Kapha     Vata
Properties  It increases Pitta & Kapha and alleviates Vata. The Taste is heavy, hot & moist by nature.
Pros Provides flexibility, clears obstructions of channels, lubricates tissues, increases digestive fire, induces sweating, dissolves skin growths like abscess etc.
Cons Excess would lead to Baldness, Greying of hair, adversely affects vision, skin wrinkles & other skin ailments, loss of body strength. Sendha Salt is not bad for eyes.
Examples Sendha salt, Black Salt, Alkalis, Sea Vegetables, Lead etc.
4 Pungent (Katuka) Air + Fire Vata & Pitta        Kapha
Properties This Taste is Hot & Spicy such as that of red Chilli Powder. It Pacifies Kapha & aggravate Vata & Pitta.
Pros It Stimulates Body’s Metabolic System. Cures throat ailments, Skin ailments, Indigestion, Water retention in the body, Reduces swelling/Dries ulcers, Good for excess oily skin, Appetiser, Eliminates excess Doshas in the body, Breaks up hard masses/tumours of the body, Expands the channels, Alleviates Kapha.
Cons Causes Thirst, Depletion of Shukra (semen), Loss of energy, Fainting, Vitiates Vata & Pitta, Back-Ache
Examples Many Herbs such as Asafoetida (Heeng) & Black Pepper (Maricha), Garlic, Chilli Peppers, Leafy Vegetables, Pitta (Liver Bile) etc.
5 Bitter (Tiqta) Ether (Akasha) + Air Vata Pitta & Kapha
Properties It is Cool in Potency, aggravates Vata & alleviates Pitta & Kapha. In sensible quantities it cleanses-detoxifies Dhatus & clears channels. The Taste has strong anti-microbial properties.
Pros Cures Pitta Fevers, Anorexia (Dislike for food! Desire to look thin!), Intestinal worms, Thirst, Blood Impurities, Skin Ailments, Unconsciousness, Nausea… It has drying action on Body Fats, faeces & Urine. It increases Intelligence, Improves working of Mammary Glands, Soothes/Cures Throat Ailments.
Cons In excess causes depletion of Dhatus, Vitiates Vata.
Examples Herbs such as Holy Basil, Neem, Aguru & Guduchi, Bronze, Iron etc.
6 Astringent (Kashaya) Air + Earth           Vata Pitta & Kapha
Properties This Taste is Light & Dry such as that of Honey or Popcorn. It is cold in Potency, Pacifies Pitta & Kapha & in excess would aggravate Vata. It absorbs water-excess fluid in the body. 
Pros It constrict Dhatus, cleanses blood, dries dirty fats-heals wounds, cleanses channels, gives lustrous skin.
Cons Heavy, Diminishes Digestive Fire, Flatulence, Obstruction in Channels (Body Ache/Ache in the region of Heart), Fainting.
Examples Legumes, Honey, Dates (Khajoor), Pearl, Coral, Antimony etc.


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