This principle is one of the basic principles of ayurveda, though this principle can’t be verified by the modern medical sciences as they are based on principles completely different from ayurveda. The ayurvedic principle believes that the structural aspect of the body is made up of five elements, but the functional aspect of the body is governed by three biological humours.
Ether and air together constitute vata; fire and water, pitta; and water and earth, kapha. Vata, pitta and kapha are the three biological humor that are the three biological components of the organism. They govern psycho- biological changes in the body and physio- pathological changes too. Vata-pitta-kapha is present in every cell, tissue and organ. Everyone has the three humors or doshas present in their constitutional makeup, but in unique combinations and any imbalance in this constitution may lead to diseases.
For example, excess Vata can manifest as dry skin and insomnia; excess Pitta as heart burn, a skin rash, acne and peptic ulcers; as respiratory congestion involving phlegm, obesity, sinu siti s and asthma.
There are many external and internal factors which may result into the variation of the three doshas. Emotional factors like excessive fears and anxieties can aggravate the Vata humor. Excessive anger and aggression can disturb the Pitta dosha. Excessive emotional clinging or possessiveness and general lethargic attitudes are said to cause a disturbance in the Kapha humor. The diet that we primarily follow has a powerful impact on the balance of the three Doshas, as well. Too much light and dry food can cause Vata (air) to go out of balance, too much hot and spicy food can aggravate Pitta (fire) and excessive heavy and oily food can cause Kapha (water) to go out of balance.
The Vata dosha is the most important of the three doshas.Vata provides the essential motion for all bodily processes and is extremely vital for health. Vata dominated regions are intestines, lumbar region, ears, bones and skin.
A person with Vata predominant is blessed with a quick mind, flexibility and creativity. Vata people are more susceptible to diseases involving the air principle, such as emphysema, pneumonia and arthritis. Other common Vata disorders include flatulence, tics, twitches, aching joints, dry skin and hair, nerve disorders, constipation, and mental confusion. Vata tends to increase with age as is indicated by drying and wrinkling of the skin.
Frantic travel, especially by plane, loud noises, continual stimulation, drugs, sugar, and alcohol.
Late nights, irregular food habits, talking in a high pitch.Over physical and mental exertion, Consumption of spicy, dry, bitter food.
The pitta dosha assists the body fire or Agni, which plays a major role in body & metabolic activities. The locations where pitta dominates are digestive system, skin, eyes, brain, and blood. Pitta maintains body temperature. The secretions like digestive juices pigments like melanin, hemoglobin are all types of pitta. Pitta people have a strong metabolism, good digestion, and strong appetites.Pitta people have a lower tolerance for sunlight, heat or hard physical work. Mentally, Pitta types are alert and intelligent and have good powers of comprehension.Pitta people tend to have diseases involving the fire principle such as fevers, inflammatory diseases and jaundice. Common symptoms include skin rashes, burning sensation, ulceration, fever, inflammations or irritations such as conjunctivitis, colitis, or sore throats.
Excess consumption of spicy, sour, salty foods and consuming alcohol in excess.
Sunburn, poison ivy, prickly heat, and short temper.
Kapha provides bulk to body, lubrications, moistness, fertility, stability, strength, and memory. Helps in binding process wherever necessary. This is heaviest of all doshas. Kapha dominated regions are chest, neck, head, stomach, body fat, nose and tongue.
Kapha people are blessed with strength, endurance and stamina. Their skin is oily and smooth. Physically, Kapha people tend to gain weight and have a slow metabolism. They tend to have diseases connected to the water principle such as flu, sinus congestion, and other diseases involving mucous. Sluggishness, excess weight, diabetes, water retention, and headaches are also common. Winter is the time of greatest Kapha accumulation.
Sleeping in daytime, Consuming sweets and intake of chilled food in excess.
Balance and Harmony of the Three Doshas
When the three Doshas are well harmonised and function in a balanced manner, it results in good nourishment and well-being of the individual but when there is imbalance or disharmony within or between them, it will result in elemental imbalance, leading to various kinds of ailments.
The Ayurvedic concept of physical health revolves round these three Doshas and its primary purpose is to help maintain them in a balanced state and thus to prevent disease. This humeral theory is not unique to the ancient Indian Medicine. The Yin and Yang theory in Chinese medicine and the Hippocratic theory of four humours in Greek medicine are also very similar.
The Qualities of the Three Doshas
The three Doshas possess qualities and their increase or decrease in the system depends upon the similar or antagonistic qualities of everything ingested.
Vata is: dry, cold, light, mobile, clear, rough, and subtle
Pitta is: slightly oily, hot, intense, light, fluid, free flowing, and foul smelling.
Kapha is: oily, cold, heavy, stable, viscid, smooth, and soft
Both Vata and Pitta are light and only Kapha is heavy.
Both Vata and Kapha are cold and only Pitta is hot.
Both Pitta and Kapha are moist and oily and only Vata is dry.
Anything dry almost always increases Vata , anything hot increases Pitta and anything heavy , Kapha.
Puffed rice is dry, cold light and rough – overindulgence in puffed rice therefore is likely to increase Vata in the overindulger.
Mustard oil is oily, hot, intense, fluid, strong-smelling and liquid and increases Pitta in the consumer.
Yoghurt, which, being creamy, cold, heavy, viscid, smooth and soft, is the very image of Kapha, adds to the body’s Kapha when eaten.
All Five elemets , as expressed through Vata, Pitta and Kapha , are essential to life, working together to create health or produce disease. No one dosha can produce or sustain life – all three must work together, each in its own way.