One diet does not fit all. And different herbs can effect people in different ways. How is this possible if we’re all human and essentially similar? The answer lies in the subtle nature of our individual makeup.
What’s Your Constitution?
When we ask this question, we are referring to your body’s make up. In other words, the “default settings” that your body tends to run with.
For some people, understanding their body’s constitution has been a critical key to unlocking the mystery of persistent but elusive physical problems ranging from digestion and weight loss to arthritis and headaches.
This is quite a powerful tool. But where did it come from? And why don’t we hear about it more often?
Ancient Medicinal Traditions Live On
In ancient India, a system of medicine emerged called Ayurveda. This system is thought by some to be even more sophisticated than Traditional Chinese Medicine.
At the most basic level, Ayurveda looks at physical and mental characteristics of a person and classifies them according to these traits into three general constitution types. These types are called doshas.
There are three doshas. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each of these tends to be associated with its own set of characteristics that tend to co-exist.
What is important to remember, is that we all have some combination of all three doshas. Its just that for most of us, one of these doshas tends to be more apparent than the others. Another way to say that is one of the doshas is dominant or your lead dosha.
Sound Like Someone You Know?
For example, have you ever known a person who was very energetic, tended to be hot, reacts to toxins by getting extremely hot, seemed to be able to eat pretty much whatever they wanted, but had trouble turning off their thoughts to fall asleep at night?
Perhaps this person also rarely gets sick and has deep energy reserves.
That person I am describing is me. My lead dosha is Pitta and I also have many Kapha qualities as well. Just not all of them.
How About You?
What is your lead dosha? We included a full dosha test on the other side.
There are more questions that need to be asked, and the incredible depth and complexity of Ayurveda couldn’t possibly be addressed in an article of this length.
But the usefulness of understanding some of these basic tendencies about yourself can go a very long way. We use this information regularly to help ourselves, and also to build an understanding of a person whom we are assisting for the first time. This helps us to quickly hone down on the best herbal solution for the individual.
So fill out the dosha test on the other side of this paper and show it to our staff. This information can prove to be very useful. Especially in dealing with digestive problems.
To take this test, look at the quality listed in the left column, and then check the box that best describes you most of the time. It is normal to feel like all three options apply to you for several questions. We are trying to hone in on which qualities are most true for you the majority of the time. When you are done, add up the check marks in each column. The column with the most check marks indicates your pre-dominant dosha.
|Body frame||Thin, light, lean||Moderate, muscular||Large, substantial|
|Skin||Rough, dry, dark, chaps easily||Soft, light, moles, freckles||Thick, oily, smooth|
|Hair||Dry, coarse, kinky, brittle||Soft, fine, thin, straight||Thick, oily, wavy, glossy|
|Appetite||Variable, low||Good, excessive||Slow, steady, consistent|
|Disease tendency||Nervous, anxious, pains||Heat, infection||Edema, mucus|
|Smell, body odor||Musty||Powerful, rank||Stagnant water|
|Physical activity||Very active||Moderate||Lethargic|
|Mind||Restless, active||Intelligent, organized||Calm, slow|
|Emotional tendency||Changeable, variable||Upbeat, dynamic||Patient, deliberate|
|Negative emotion||Fear, anxiety||Anger, irrationality||Greed, attachment|
|Dreams||Flying, running||Fiery, passionate||Watery, romantic|
|Speech||Fast, animated||Sharp, clear, cutting||Slow, monotone|
|Spending habits||Spends quickly||Spends methodically||Saves, spends slowly|
|Climate preference||Heat, humidity||Cool, well-ventilated||Any climate but no humidity|
|Sexual energy||Variable, active fantasy life||Ready interest and drive||Slow to awaken, steady interest|
|Digestion, elimination||Irregular, constipated||Easy, loose stool||Regular, thick|
|Work style||Creative, dislike routine||Planner, leader||Methodical, like routine|
|Sleep||Light, interrupted||Little but sound||Deep, heavy|
Your dosha can help indicate which type of diet, tastes, etc. are most appropriate for you. Of course this classification does not limit or define you completely.
There are many instances where a person displays many qualities of a particular dosha, yet many other qualities that are seemingly the opposite of that dosha.
As an ever-improving work in progress, this information should be used to help you hone in on the best diet for you. It can also alert you to patterns of imbalance and some clues for identifying potential imbalances and correcting them.
Here is a very simplified guide to identify what you may be unbalanced by, and what changes you can make to get back into balance. In Ayurvedic medicine it is believed that each dosha can be balanced or imbalanced by foods that have certain flavors.
For example, if you are naturally of a predominantly Pitta constitution, but you eat a lot of salty and sour foods, your Pitta qualities might be over exaggerated. In that case it may make sense to eat a bit less of those foods and a bit more sweet, bitter, and astringent tasting foods.
In a nutshell, a predominately Vata person will tend to be thin with dry skin and a nervous temperament.
Vata is INCREASED by bitter, astringent, pungent tastes – dandelion greens, green tea, onions
Vata is DECREASED by sweet, sour, salty – banana, lemon, seaweed
A Pitta person will tend to be hot even when other people are cool or comfortable, are natural leaders, and have a naturally muscular frame.
Pitta is INCREASED by salty, pungent, sour – soy sauce, salsa, pickles
Pitta is DECREASED by sweet, bitter, astringent – maple, artichoke, chard
Kapha individuals tend to be bigger boned with smooth skin, thick hair, healthy even teeth, and healthy fingernails. They also tend to be calmer than most and very methodical.
Kapha is INCREASED by sour, salty, sweet – yogurt, olives, papaya
Kapha is DECREASED by pungent, bitter, astringent – ginger, turmeric, dark grapes
This was intended to be a very general introduction to Ayurveda. It is not at all exhaustive but should give you a good place to start from in your ability to utilize this knowledge for your personal benefit.
What’s your constitution? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experience with Ayurveda and/or the results of your dosha quiz.