Ayurveda: How to Use Food as Medicine
Below are a list of Ayurveda’s 10 pairs of qualities, 20 in total, 10 qualities and the opposite 10 qualities that balance them.
Ayurveda proclaims that we can use food to induce three specific effects on the body-mind:
It can be enjoyed for PLEASURE.
It can act as MEDICINE.
Or it can be a POISON.
“There is nothing in this Universe which is non-medicinal, which cannot be made use of for many purpose and by many modes.” -Ashtanga Hridayam, Sutrasthana 9.10
A main pillar of Ayurveda is that the antidote for ALL ailments are found in Nature. This is a logical reason why we want to eat local and seasonally. The microbes found in local food contribute to healthy immunity and naturally counterbalance imbalance. Nature clearly has a built in system of checks and balances, let’s take a look at how this manifests. The 10 qualities and their opposites help us to further understand and apply Rule #1: like irritates like and opposites balance.
Keep in mind Gunas are the qualities that exist physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s important to remember that the Doshas are very strongly influences by the Gunas. This is why understanding your Prakriti (given nature) and your Vikriti (current state) are both necessary in navigating balance.
Vata governs the energy of movement. Balanced Vata ensures regular elimination, healthy circulation, easeful breathing and sharp senses. Excess Vata accumulation is often responsible for constipation-gas, cold hands-feet, restricted breathing and anxiety.
The Gunas of Vata and their opposites that remedy:
-Cold / Hot
-Dry / Oily, Unctuous
-Light / Heavy
-Hard / Soft
Pitta governs the energy of transformation. Balanced Pitta gives rise to a consistent appetite with a strong metabolism, keen intellect, healthy complexion, balanced hormones and sharp eyesight. Excessive build up of Pitta can often manifest as acid reflux, overworking, acne or rosacea, red, dry eyes and needing glasses.
The Gunas of Pitta and their opposites that balance:
-Hot / Cold
-Sharp / Slow, Dull
-Liquid / Solid, Dense
-Oily / Dry
Kapha governs both structure and lubrication. Balanced Kapha gives rise to a sturdy physical body, well lubricated joints and a resilient immune system. Excess Kapha build up looks like weight gain, water retention, sinus congestion, mucus in the lungs, lethargy and sadness.
The Gunas of Kapha and the opposite qualities that bring balance:
-Smooth / Rough
-Slow-Dull / Sharp-Quick
-Stable / Mobile
-Slimy-Cloudy / Clear
-Soft / Hard
Once you start simply attuning to yourself to your current imbalances or the excess qualities you are experiencing, you can make skillful choices by taking in the opposite qualities and therefore promoting balance.
AND, this is how we use food as Medicine!