Bitter taste is also known as ‘tikta’ rasa in Ayurveda.
There is a famous saying in Ayurveda – bitter for sick and sweet for healthy. In periods of illness bitter taste is the first choice among all the tastes.
Bitter taste is dry,cold and light.It is the lightest among the tastes because of its air -ether composition. These properties enable it to pacify pita and kapha and aggravate vata. In small quantity it is beneficial for all the doshas.It is the only taste which pacifies both pita and kapha and does not aggravate vata that much.At the same time it stimulates our agni (fire element) which digests ama (toxins).
At the mental level bitter refers to something unpleasant or unwanted as in a ‘bitter pill to swallow’,’the bitter fruits’ .
Bitter taste is undesirable but once consumed it increases the desire for food,eliminates toxins,germs,bacteria.It alleviates fainting,skin diseases,burning sensation,itching and thirst,
lends firmness to skin and muscles ,cures fever,appetizes,aids in digestion ,purifies mother’s milk and blood,reduces fat ,dries up secretions like sweat,mucus,pus,urine ,stools e.t.c.
Despite all the good properties excess of bitter taste will produce unwanted effects like depletion of blood,plasma,muscle,fat , marrow and semen,roughness in the micro channels,reduction of strength,emaciation,illusion,dryness in throat.All these are manifestations of aggravated vata.
Sources of bitter taste:
Bitter taste is abundant in nature although less admired particularly in the west. It is found in most green leafy vegetables along with astringent taste. Also found in sandalwood,turmeric,neem (margosa tree),Giloya (Indian tinospora),luffa, khas khas grass,shankhpushpi (aloe weed),Indian aloe (aloe vera),clove, malabar nut e.t.c.