Not a Kapha?
With this Ayurvedic perspective in mind, let’s look at a few herbs that are particularly balancing for your predominant dosha, Kapha.
Herbal EnergeticsComposed of water and earth, the Kapha dosha is responsible for maintaining the structure and lubrication of your mind-body physiology. When Kapha becomes aggravated or excessive, you may experience congestion, sinus problems, weight gain, diabetes, excessive sleepiness, and fluid retention, among other symptoms. You can use herbs that have light, heating, and aromatic qualities as part of an overall Kapha-balancing lifestyle.
Turmeric (curcuma longa)
- Tastes: bitter, pungent, astringent
- Energetics: heating
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is an important detoxifying agent. Since it possesses the bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes and is mildly heating, it is useful in balancing excess Kapha in the mind-body system.
- Turmeric has a protective effect on the liver and can help reduce elevated blood cholesterol levels.
- In the treatment of arthritis, turmeric, when used alone or in combination with other herbs, can reduce pain and stiffness.
- Several studies in animals have demonstrated that turmeric can prevent or inhibit the development of certain cancer cells.
- Turmeric has a soothing effect on the digestive system and can help reduce the risk of ulcers due to stress or medication.
- As a natural antibiotic agent, turmeric can inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, and viruses.
A safe dose of turmeric for anyone is 500 mg, twice daily. Some studies show that turmeric is safe at much higher doses; however, it is important to consult with your health care provider before taking higher doses.
Ginger (zingiber officinale)
- Taste: pungent
- Energetics: heating
Known for its concentrated heating potency, ginger is often used in Ayurveda to treat Kapha disorders such as sinus congestion, sluggish digestion, and obesity. Ginger strengthens the digestive fire or Agni and helps remove accumulated toxins. Here are just a few of the recent findings about ginger’s benefits in restoring and maintaining balance and health:
- Consuming ginger on a regular basis can help reduce pain levels and swelling in people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Ginger inhibits the activation of several genes involved in the inflammatory response.
- Researchers have found that ginger contains specific compounds that may bind to human serotonin receptors, which may help to alleviate anxiety.
- Ginger is effective in preventing the symptoms of motion sickness, including nausea, dizziness, and vomiting.
- Small doses of ginger can also help relieve nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy, without the adverse side effects associated with anti-nausea drugs.
- Studies suggest that ginger may also be helpful in stabilizing metabolism, including reducing the risk of diabetes.
- Ginger may inhibit the growth of some kinds of human cancer cells, including colorectal cancer cells.
Taking one gram of powdered ginger is good for inflammatory conditions. Since ginger acts as a blood thinner, it’s important to taper off usage for two weeks before surgery. In addition, if you are undergoing chemotherapy, consult your doctor before taking ginger at medicinal doses.
- Tastes: sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, astringent
- Energetics: neutral (heating and cooling). Amalaki is cooling, while bibhitaki and haritaki are heating.
Amalaki (emblica officinalis), commonly known as Indian gooseberry or amla, is considered one of the best rejuvenating herbs in Ayurveda. It has traditionally been used to treat skin diseases, lung conditions, diabetes, and indigestion. Amalaki is a strong natural antioxidant containing high levels of vitamin C. In India, amalaki is known as the “nurse herb” because it strengthens the immune system and cools the body, balancing the Pitta dosha.
Haritaki (terminalia chebula) has the strongest laxative powers of the three fruits contained in triphala. In Tibet, haritaki is so highly revered that in Tibetan sacred paintings, it’s often depicted in the extended palm of the Medicine Buddha. The herb also has astringent properties and balances Vata.
Bibhitaki (terminalia bellerica) is an excellent rejuvenative with both laxative and astringent properties. It eliminates excess mucus in the body, balancing the Kapha dosha. In addition, bibhitaki is a powerful treatment for a variety of lung conditions, including bronchitis and asthma.
Triphala is a particularly useful herbal blend because it gently cleanses and detoxifies the body without irritating the colon. In addition, unlike other laxatives that deplete the body, triphala actually strengthens and nourishes the bones, nervous system, and reproductive organs.
The recommended dose is 500 to 1,000mg, twice daily.