Back in the day, before we knew about things like kidney failure and bacteria, the body was thought to be made up of humors. Black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm. Creative. But ultimately based on pretty much nothing but human creativity. Thanks, Hippocrates.
So, with time, medicine started basing itself on things like, you know, facts, and the humoral system went by the wayside.
Except traditional medicine didn’t get the memo. And let’s face it, the humoral system is appealing, thinking of the body as a holistic system in delicate balance. Certainly feels more intuitive than the complex intersection of biology and physics known as modern physiology.
But therein lies the beauty of the humoral system: it organizes the way we think about our bodies. Whether or not this bears out in a lab is besides the point. Traditional medicine and its focus on balance, diet, and the mind-body connection bridges a pretty significant gap in the modern medical model.
Which brings us to doshas. Ayurveda divides the body into three humors, vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth). Like a simplified Captain Planet. Keeping these doshas in balance is vital to health. They are also used to describe tastes, seasons, and personality traits. Too much of one? Balance it with the opposite.
Also, fair warning, like a new mother, ayurveda seems to have an obsession with bowel movements.
Vata: cold, windy; dryness, constipation, weight loss, insomnia, anxiety, cold-intolerance; thin, light, flexible, easily distracted, energetic, excitable; associated with the colder portions of autumn and early winter
Pitta: hot; rashes, heartburn, indigestion, heat intolerance; medium weight and build, strong sexual drive, short-tempered, argumentative, witty, outspoken; associated with summer and the earlier, warm portions of autumn
Kapha: cold, wet; weight gain, depression, allergies, congestion; stubborn, loyal, patient, strong, likes following a set routine; associated with spring and early summer
Most people are made up of a combination, and are dominant in one or two. Take the fun quiz to find out what your dosha(s) might be here.