Aggravation of the doshas

Understanding the factors that aggravate the doshas gives a better view as to how to live in balance.

Vayu is aggravated when it goes into prakopa avasta, why?

When hot season/Grishma/summer – due to the heat and dryness, no matter where in the world it is as compared to the winter it will be hot. Overall surrounding temperature increasing causes aap mahabhuta to decrease – the heat and climate act on food and grains too, which acts on prithvi and aap mahabhuta which affects vayu. It increases laghu and ruksha – lightness and dryness. Heat increases laghu, but doesn’t directly increase vayu because heat tries to balance vayu. Body full of kapha and pitta. But how does vayu accumulate in body? Symptoms are dryness and other symptoms, but how does the vayu actually increase. Specific actions are associated with vayu. Gas and other actions are results of increased vayu but not cause. When all symptoms and functions are variable inbalance of vayu is due to inconsistency. Body becomes acclimatized to the different seasons, but the changeability and adaptation increases vayu until comes back to balance.


Pitta Prakopa – Vruddhi just means increase. When increase of the dosha is in its own place its called prakopa, when it goes beyond its own place, it is called prasara.

Pitta gets aggravated in the autumn due to the change in season and moisture. This is when pitta treatments are done in panchakarma. Pitta is both fire AND water element which is why it is impossible for it to be aggravated in the summer time with the summer being the driest part of the year.  This is not what Western Ayurveda teaches as it is simplified and just says the heat of summer increases pitta. This is shown to be wrong as per what diseases show up at the different seasons. Pitta diseases always start in the second part of the summer in my continuing experience no matter where I have been so far in the United States.

Baseline of doshas –> increase to chaya –> then beyond is prakopa (anything above baseline balanced dosha is vruddhi/increase)

Rasas that aggravate Pitta Dosha:

  • Katu – pungent – Tejas (fire) and Vayu
  • Amla – sour – Tejas and Prithvi (sometimes considered acid which is Tej+Aap)
  • Lavana – salty – Tejas and Aap (sometimes considered Tejas + Prithvi, but also releases water)

All have Tejas, so can increase Pitta. Mainly we are concerned with Tejas which will increase the heat inside the body. Ushna (hot potency) can also increase Pitta. Along with Ushna guna, if there is laghu guna, sometimes ruksha, Vidahi – burning, those dietary things which have potential to create hyper-acidity like Horse Gram. Lemon also will aggravate – almost all the amla (sour) things will increase Pitta – except for amalaki and pomegranate which will pacify Pitta. Peanuts are said to aggravate Pitta in western Ayurveda but that also has not been my experience at all. If someone’s digestion is all mucked up, sure many things can happen since peanuts are heavy and sweet. In India, ground nuts (peanuts) do not aggravate pitta, they are known obviously to be sweet. Maybe if you salt them like crazy they will. A lot of spices also aggravate pitta – excluding saffron (ushna but not aggravating with milk etc.), chilis, shunthi (dry ginger), black pepper, pippali (long pepper) in excess. Pickles – sour, salty and if you add vinegar also increases Pitta. All fermented foods become sour in body because the vipaka (post digestive effect) of fermented foods they aggravate pitta. This is why it increases Pitta and can actually mess up digestion. (the western world is in a popular thought that fermented foods are good for the probiotic health, yet without understanding that they increase pitta as well as having they have no template to diagnose the individual’s digestive health, it will create problems in most people.) Sour buttermilk has potential to increase Pitta. Buttermilk without spices or salt is not as sour as yogurt, less sour, more sweet. It has more astringent which is very important to be good quality buttermilk. If yogurt is very sour and buttermilk is then sour, that will lead to increase of Pitta. Fresh yogurt tends to be sweeter and less sour. Cheese also increases Pitta and Kapha – spoiled milk/fermented/sour and salty. Certain kinds of alcohol which are sour in taste – beer because of fermentation, sura, kanji – an alcohol mentioned in the granthas (ancient texts): fermentation happens in 2 ways. One when alcohol turns sour in taste and is called kanji. Fermented along with sour has potential to increase Pitta. Excess amount of beer does also. Cooling properties of beer – lots of shita guna which increases kapha, then fermented qualities of sourness increase Pitta: so people who drink lots of beer have the classic beer belly and red face. Spicy things plus beer and alcohol worst. (chicken wings and beer, peanuts and beer) Dhokla – fermented + spices = very pitta aggravating. Excessive tamarind, mustard seeds, cloves, asofetida, even fenugreek seeds can increase pitta. Dill leaves increases both vata and pitta. The vata disturbance aggravates Pitta. Fenugreek is good for low back and heals and gives strength to low back and helps after delivery of baby with other herbs like coconut. Asafoetida/hingu also increases Pitta, but in a paste directly on painful joints is helpful. Tea in excess increases Pitta. Tobacco – smoked or chewed but increase Pitta. Fish (ocean fish more aggravating because of the salt component, freshwater slightly better, but can’t say either is good. Fish is abhishandi which is moisture produced in the tissues at time of tissue production resulting in a weakness in the tissue that leads to the tissues affected getting diseases). Chicken increases Pitta. Red meat and pork increase Kapha. Depending on behavior and environment of the animal we can get an idea of the qualities of the meat. Goat meat reduces all three doshas, but watch out for the spices. Canned food increases pitta. Fear, anger, most emotional conditions have capacity to disturb Pitta. Especially anger. But fear and grief and anger all can increase pitta. Fear and Grief increase Vayu as well. Loss that leads to depression is vata prakopa which leads to sluggishness in body, which leads to sluggishness eventually in mind (this is just an example, it can manifest in many ways). Laziness increases Kapha. That condition responsible for weight gain also – tamas guna increases. Anti-depressants make mind still/clogged and one can’t think on their own, given to anxious and aggravated people which then increases tamas guna. Unmada/insanity causes sluggishness of thinking which increases kapha (once again, just one manifestation, there are many). Behavioral patterns which can increase Pitta – excessive heat ex. working in a place pouring molten metal or a kitchen behind a grill, exercise, sun, steam, cooking too much, steam, saunas, hot tubs. Opposite to popular thought and western research, chocolate is not healthy as it increases Kleda in the body depending on what kind you are eating and that can increase pitta and/or vata and/or kapha. Staying awake at night for a long time increases both Pitta and Vayu. Insomnia disturbs both Vata and Pitta both. Sleeping in daytime increases Pitta and Kapha, pitta not in huge quantities but mostly Kapha. Autumn increases Pitta. Purnima is the remedy – full moon time when moon is bright and gives out cooling properties to earth and time when all people should take moonlight on body, drink milk to pacify Pitta in their bodies. Walk in parks in the moonlight and drink milk together to soothe from this heat. If you are having a lot of mustard in your diet, that will increase pitta throughout the year, irregardless of season. If however you are eating in these pitta aggravating times, it will be even MORE aggravating. When pitta is at its peak, you must undergo some panchakarma treatment like purgation and raktamoksha to relieve pitta. Don’t aggravate it more – in these times, Pitta conditions like herpes are seen more.

If you have nailbed swelling below the nail that can become very painful until pus formation is formed, must add herbs or according to granthas and then keep your finger in a chicken anus.  Just please ask the chicken for permission first. 🙂  This example is used to show that it has so much heat in a chicken.

Now people are giving a lot of emphasis on prakruti, but if Pitta prakruti has a lot of chicken every day it will aggravate it. But very generally pitta prakruti can have good digestion so they may deal with it better. But we have to look to our actions and vikruti all the time.

Pitta is different from agni. You can’t see agni physically because it is present within Pitta. Pitta possesses qualities of digestion because of agni, but pitta is not just agni, it is agni plus aap. When aap is out of balance it can create hyperacidity and heat but never agni and digestion.


Kapha Prakopa Causative Factors

3 Rasas which aggravate Kapha:

  • Madhura – sweet – Prithvi + Aap – excess amount of sweet things especially in childhood will increase Kapha. Kleda is also increased by madhura rasa – not just for kids but for adults too. Can disturb kapha and increase kleda. Certain symptoms may give us an idea of kleda production – like water retention, edema – aap mahabhuta that is stagnant in body and not properly digested (inflammation is pitta, cellulitis is inflammation then pus formation then returns) just swelling is absolutely NOT pitta, it is kapha.
  • Amla – sour taste
  • Lavana – salty taste, the only thing that has salty taste is actually salt.
  • Excessive unctuous, cold, heavy, slimy things. Abhishandi means can release water from it – yogurt and fish. Anything that increases kleda is abhishandi. Bread is abhishandi. Dosa batter is abhishandi. Black gram – urad dal, yogurt, fish, salt. Fruits in excess especially mangoes, bananas, guava have potential to increase kapha. Cheese and half baked things have potential to increase pitta and kapha both. Poha is guru and anything guru will increase kapha. Pork, beef, milk if served cold and raw. If you heat milk (with or without spices) will not increase kapha. Will not increase too much if comes back down to room temperature. Especially drinking milk at night MUST be hot. If it is cold will increase for sure. And each of the different kinds of milk has different quality. Boiled/condensed milk greatly increases because water content is gone and becomes heavy. Yogurt increases kapha, ghee can increase too but in no way comparable to pork or red meat. It has potential to increase, but not as much. Increased kapha due to ghee is good for dhatu replenishment though. Western doctors don’t allow for ghee use because they don’t understand qualities. More research is coming though and they realize now reducing LDL and increases or maintains HDL. and also decreases Pitta. Now days in India ghee is not used much because India is trying to follow Western sciences, sadly.


Laziness, sedentary job both lead to Kapha increase. Napping in the daytime, waking up late (also taking a nap in the morning or going back to sleep). At same time we know about winter that our agni is very strong and because of that whatever we eat gets properly digested and some amount of kapha is generated in the body. Chaya. When dakshinaayana (starts and sunrays are away from earth, already cooling properties on earth are increased and shita guna accumulates in hemantari and shishira. When sun comes out in spring, all that accumulated kapha gets liquefied and starts coming out. That is prakop. Specific time to follow Kapha reducing regimen. Winter is good time to exercise and have sexual intercourse depending on strength and quality of shukra dhatu. Don’t wait till spring when symptoms are starting. In liquid form has potential to travel all over body and can bring about disease. That is when to keep in control. That is why spring is the time to start neem leaves and vamana (therapeutic vomiting) to keep kapha under control. Must know how many neem leaves and how much to take though. To do this without the proper supervision of a real ayurvedic doctor is very hazardous. In most diseases stated in the Ayurvedic texts, there are causative factors. In these many diseases have improper panchakarma treatments as a factor. This shows the danger and detail that is part of panchakarma. These techniques are detailed with diagnosis of the individual’s strength and the amount and the specificity of the technique given is based upon this. They also have signs of when the treatments are done properly as well as when they are over done and under done which both lead to a deeper disease. This in itself says volumes about the detox world that has become popular in the west with detoxing the body. None of this diagnosis exists in it.


10 thoughts on “Aggravation of the doshas

  1. – Dhokla = fermented + spices = pitta aggravating. Can I assume that being fermented, it is also kappa producing? You mention that dosa batter is abhishandi. I understand that dosa/idli was not part of the vedic diet, and is a fairly recent addition.
    – I also read some articles on how fermented food is not recommended by Ayurveda due to it being predigested and not as nutritious to the body. Should fermented foods (breads, dhoklas, idli/dosa) be avoided completely? Or are there some that are okay to take at specific times in the year?
    – I am assuming that sodium bicarbonate, baking soda, eno fruit salt are just as bad. What food to snack on then? 😦

    • Yes, you are correct, pitta and kapha both but mainly pitta. Dosa/idli you do not find in the texts anywhere and I would agree that they were added later but this is the gold of Ayurveda. We are not trying to eat as they did in those times. Lots of the plants mentioned in the text are unknown or extinct. What we do is understand the knowledge and use it properly i.e. wisdom. There are fermented products in those texts and whomever is writing about ayurveda not recommending fermented products is just naive. What are pickles as well? Are they not fermented?
      So what we need is to understand what is meant by fermented. There is a huge difference between store bought dosa batter and some that mom makes. The stuff that mom makes “or used to” only ferments for about 6 hours. The fermentation is actually minimal and will not aggravate pitta. It is the stuff that has been sitting for days or worse store bought that is truly unhealthy.
      They are fine at the proper times of year, yes.
      Sodium bicarbonate will quickly destroy your digestion. Think about what it does. Another thing to understand is that the kitchens in India put sodium bicarbonate in their rice because it makes it cook faster but it also stops the digestion and makes you feel satiated and full.
      Snacks in general have to be seen from ones digestion and not the tongue. Most people i work with do not have the strength of digestion to have snacks and it is one of the things that we stop to rebuild digestion. Just FYI.
      A chai, normal size not supersized, will put a damper on the digestion if to much quantity for the digestive capacity. This itself is what needs to be learned and felt instead of asking what is healthy to snack on. Understand?

    • Sir I am a south Indian.. Our main dish
      Is idli and Dosa.. I want to know that whether idli /Dosa increase kapha Dosha.. Please reply me..

    • Idli and dosa can increase kapha dosha, of course. They are made with black gram which is very heavy. Along with this the coconut chutney that is used in south india. But what is more to understand in this is the season and the individual imbalance. There is normally enough pungent spices to balance the meal. What you finish the meal with is also of concern. If it is a teaspoon of somf (fennel seeds or something like that to assist the digestion and end the kapha state of the digestion vs a cup of water which will increase the kapha. There is more to all of this than just looking at the main ingredients of the meal as you can see.

  2. So, what is the proper time to eat fermented food?

    W.r.t. pickles, they are fermented, but don’t make a meal out of them. Likewise, koreans eat kimchi, but they eat it as a side dish. Dosa/Idli are the central part of a meal. Hence the question. On the same note, can kappa producing foods such as dosas and yogurt be eaten in winters?

    Coming to cheese, which is also fermented, is that okay to eat? And I am referring to the aged cheeses.

    Talking about cheese, paneer/cottage cheese is also widely used these days in Indian cooking. But then, isn’t paneer really curdled milk? And mixed with salt and spices, wouldn’t that make an indigestible concoction?


    • Fermented foods eaten towards the beginning of the meal. Yes, they can, winter time is a time to eat kapha increasing food. Cheese with salt…. Toxic. Paneer, just fine at the right time of year. That would not be rainy season and autumn. It is curdled milk and is not a problem. Try for yourself. Eat a piece of your cheese, taste it, feel it, what does it do to your tongue, your system? Then feel it in your gut. Then the next day do the same with paneer. Then get back to me on the difference and then explain why paneer is not incompatible but cheese is.

  3. I guess by Cheese, you are referring to the aged kind, formed by the action of bacteria? e.g. Gouda and Cheddar?

    I am assuming that Paneer or Ricotta are different because they are formed by plain curdling of milk?

    Now, paneer is used in vegetable preparations, and salt is aways added (unlike in the traditional Indian sweet preparations). Paneer+salt should also be toxic then?

    Also, milk and citrus fruits is a bad combination because, from what I have been told, the milk curdles in the stomach, and that is not good. Why then is paneer, curdled milk, okay to eat?

    All this is not really very intuitive, is it? 😦

    • Salt plus dairy. No good.
      As a general rule keep that in mind.

      Paneer has no salt in it originally. Ricotta does.

      But yes, they are both made by curdling the milk. Paneer by the use of lemon originally. Not vinegar.

      The action before the stomach, not in the stomach.

      Not nessesarily intuitive but a good guess. This is all why the foundational knowledge has to be understood. Otherwise everything is guess work and learning alot of this and thats to follow with no understanding as to why.

    • Thanks for the catch, typo. adhaki actually aIleviates kapha and pitta. It is astringent. It aggravates vayu in excess. When added with ghee, it alleviates all the three dosas.

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