Tikta Rasa or Bitter Taste – an Ayurveda View

Bitter taste is tikta rasa in Ayurveda and is one among six rasas or Shadrasa. Ayurveda acharyas recommend Bitter tasting foods for diabetes, weight loss, pcos and skin diseases.

Table of Content

Qualities of Tikta Rasa and Its Effect on Tridosha

Cleansing Action of Bitter Tasting Foods

Effect of Tikta Rasa foods and Herbs on Digestive System

Bitter Taste Foods and Herbs for Weight Loss and PCOS

Tikta Rasa Foods and Herbs for Skin

Side effects of Bitter Foods and Herbs

Ayurvedic Bitter Herbs

Qualities of Tikta Rasa and Its Effect on Tridosha

According to texts of ayurveda the major pancha mahabhuta  constituents of bitter taste are  Vayu (air) and Akasha (ether) elements. These two elements impart lightness, hollowness, coldness and dryness to a substance. Hence bitter tasting foods are light to digest (laghu), they increase air element or vata in body and cause dryness of tissues (rooksha). They decrease kapha dosha, Balance Pitta dosha and increase vata dosha

Most of us have averseness towards bitter tasting foods. Once we taste the bitter foods or herbs, it becomes difficult to identify other tastes immediately. It temporarily numbs the taste buds and makes them insensitive to other tastes.

Cleansing Action of Bitter Tasting Foods

  1. Bitter tasting foods and herbs cleanse the oral cavity. These herbs are recommended to clean teeth, gums and tongue. This property is called as “mukhavaishadyakara”.
  2. Tikta rasa herbs have “Kanta shodhana” property which is useful to clear throat which is clogged with phlegm.
  3. These herbs detoxify blood or Rakta dhatu with their “Rakta Prasadana” property.
  4. Ayurveda acharyas recommend bitter herbs for wounds for their cleaning and healing qualities. These properties are called “Vranaghna” and “Puyaghna
  5. Bitter tasting herbs are used to remove toxins from body. Hence these are eulogised as having “Vishaghna” quality.
  6. Tikta rasa vegetables and herbs are recommended for lactating mothers as these purify breast milk. This property is “sthanya shodhana”.

Effect of Tikta Rasa foods and Herbs on Digestive System

They act as body coolant (shaityakara) and relieves burning sensation (Dahahara). These foods boost strength of agni (Deepana) and increase digestion and metabolism (pachana). They eliminate intestinal parasites (Krumighna) and relieve indigestion.

Bitter Taste Foods and Herbs for Weight Loss and PCOS

These herbs and foods decrease moistness of tissue. This means they eliminate water from body (Kledahara). It reduces cholesterol and Balances Meda dhatu or body fat (medahara). It scrapes unwanted fat and toxins from body (lekhana). Because of these properties bitter tasting herbs are recommended for weight loss and PCOS.

Tikta Rasa Foods and Herbs for Skin

According to principles of Ayurveda bitter taste foods and herbs are very good for skin. They reduce sweat (swedaghna). This helps to reduce body odour and prevents accumulation of dirt and microbes on skin. They relieve itching (kandughna). These are praised as eradicator of skin diseases (kushtaghna) as they have anti-microbial properties. Hence herbs like turmeric, karanja and neem which are bitter in taste find place in ayurvedic preparations for skin ailments like psoriasis, acne, pimple, dandruff , leprosy etc.

Other Health Benefits of Bitter tasting Foods and Herbs

  1. When consumed in proper quantity they act as brain tonic and increase intelligence.
  2. They reduce fever (jwarahara)

What Happens When You Use More Bitter Foods and Herbs

When herbs and vegetables which have tikta rasa as main rasa, consumed in excess quantity the following symptoms appear.

  1. Dryness of mouth (Mukhashoshakara).
  2. Cause Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence (avrushya)
  3. Can cause constipation and erectile dysfunction due to constipation.
  4. Reduce shukra dhatu (quality and quantity of semen) (avrushya)
  5. They cause pain in heart (Ahrudya).
  6. Emaciation of Body tissues (Dhatushosha). Persons who want to increase their healthy weight through brumhana therapy (weight gain therapy ) are asked not to consume bitter foods.
  7. Thinning of body (Karshya). Because of this property Ayurveda practitioners recommend to use bitter herbs and foods in your weight loss diet,
  8. Weakness (Daurbalya)
  9. May lead to fainting due to low blood sugar (Murcha). Hence bitter herbs are used in ayurvedic management of diabetes.
  10. Tiredness (Glapana )
  11. Increased consumption of bitter foods can cause dry skin, migraine,
  12. Vital channels , which carry Rasa dhatu (lymph) , Rakta dhatu (blood), Shukra dhatu (semen) and nourish mamsa dhatu (muscles), asthi dhatu (bone) and majja dhatu (bone marrow), may become dry and brittle (Srotokharatva).

Ayurvedic Herbs With Bitter Taste

  1. Patola – Trichosanthes Dioica,
  2. Trayanti – Gentiana kurroa,
  3. Usira – Vetiveria zizanioides,
  4. Chandana – Sandalwood,
  5. Bhunimba –  Andrographis paniculata,
  6. Nimba – Neem – Azadirachta indica,
  7. Bitter gourd or karela
  8. Katuka – Picrorhiza kurroa,
  9. Tagara – Indian Valerian (root) – Valeriana wallichi,
  10. Vatsaka – Holarrhena antidysentirica,
  11. Naktamala or Karanja – Pongamia pinnata
  12. Turmeric and tree turmeric,
  13. Musta –  Cyperus rotundus,
  14. Vasa or Atarushaka – Adhatoda vasica,
  15. Patha – Cyclea peltata,
  16. Apamarga – Achyranthes aspera,
  17. Kamsya (bronze),
  18. Ayas (iron),
  19. Guduchi – Tinospora cordifolia,

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Author: Dr.Savitha Suri , Consultant Ayurvedic Physician

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