The amla rasa or sour taste in Ayurveda is one of the shad rasa or six tastes. Sour decreases Vata dosha and increases Pitta and Kapha doshas. Sour is comprised of the earth and fire elements.
The sour taste in Ayurveda kindles the agni or the digestive fire by stimulating acid secretions and increasing circulation. Additionally, sour dispels gas, promotes salivation, moistens food, and thus aids in swallowing and digestion. Sour will also add bulk to the body. In terms of gunas or qualities, the sour taste in Ayurveda is light, hot and wet.
All the tastes impact us both physically and psychologically. Psychologically, the sour taste in Ayurveda promotes healthy discrimination or discernment, awakens the mind, sharpens the senses, and aids in analyzing and evaluating capabilities,. Excess sours leads to feelings of envy, jealousy, and anger. We are familiar with the phrases, “left a sour taste in my mouth” or “don’t be such a sourpuss”.
The sour taste nourishes all the dhatus or tissue systems in Ayurveda except for artava and shukra (the reproductive tissue). Ayurveda states that we must consume all things in moderation. When used excessively, sour makes the teeth sensitive, creates thirst, hyperacidity, a burning sensation in the throat or chest, and heartburn. Too much of the sour taste can cause excessive blinking of the eyes, goosebumps, skin infections, as well as edema or muscle wasting. Overuse of sour will also cause ulcers, hot flashes, and menstrual difficulties. It can also lead to problems related to the liver, gall bladder, and thyroid.
Examples of foods with the sour taste in Ayurveda are: lemon, citrus fruits, raspberries, strawberries, fermented foods (miso, soy sauce, yogurt, pickles, yellow cheese, vinegar, and alcohol), and tamarind. The virya or post-digestive effect of sour is heating to the body and the vipak or aftertaste of sour is also sour.
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