GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE KAPHA DOSHA:
The Kapha dosha is a combination of the water and earth elements. We know that if we refer to someone as earthy, we are referring to their grounded, stabile, practical nature. Kapha personalities often have psychological and emotional tendencies towards density, slowness, apathy, and a love of luxury and materialism. They are also patient characters who can be quite sentimental and compassionate, as well as peaceful.
Kapha energies are heavy, cold, moist, dull and firm. They often rule the chest, lungs, throat, stomach, lymph systems, fat, mucous, pancreas and our sense of smell. Those with a primarily Kapha dosha often succumb to conditions such as respiratory illnesses, colds, swollen glands, edema (water retention), low appetite, hypoactivity, lethary and excessive sleep, obesity and possible tumours.
Kapha is earth & water. With the basic understanding of ‘food as medicine’ in mind, one should be able to discern that cold heavy & moist foods will aggravate a Kapha condition, whilst firey & airy foods that are warm, dry & light will pacify them. As much as Kapha conditions love food, they need to consume only small quantities of food because they are slow digesters and actually derive more nutrition from smaller well-digested meals, rather than overloading their system. Eating especially light at breakfast and in the early evening is a must. Regular fasting benefits Kapha conditions greatly because it gives their system a break, prepping up the digestive fire and allowing them to observe the emotional relationship that they to have with their food. Herbs for digestion, absorption & doshic balancing are key to the Kapha condition’s well being.
FOODS FOR KAPHA:
Fruits are generally moist and put out the digestive fire, so in general, it is best that Kapha conditions avoid fruits and certainly never combine them with other foods. If fruits must be eaten, then sweet digestives like clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and even pepper should be taken with the fruits. Dry fruits, apples, cranberries and pomegranate are preferred fruits for Kapha conditions, while cherries, dates, figs, grapes, mangoes, melons, plums, oranges and bananas should be avoided.
Vegetables are great for Kapha conditions, especially when cooked or prepared with spices and minimal oil. Recommended vegetables include alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chard, chillies, cilantro, eggplant, green beans, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, parsley, radish, spinach and turnips. Kapha conditions should avoid avocado, corn, cucumber, seaweeds, squash, sweet potatoes and yams.
Kapha conditions are encouraged to eat grains in small quantities as they are usually heavy and increase the bulk that then takes time to digest. Grains that work best for Kapha conditions are barley, buckwheat, corn (dry/popped, crackers & popcorn), millet, quinoa and rye. Kapha conditions should avoid rice, oats and wheat (especially in bread and cake form).
Proteins are particularly hard to digest and therefore should be taken in small, manageable quantities with digestive herbs. Seeds, goat’s dairy, buttermilk and soy products are more manageable proteins for Kapha conditions to digest, while nuts in general and all other cow dairy products should be avoided.
Oils are not generally advised for Kapha conditions because they are hard to digest. Mustard, safflower, sunflower, flaxseed, corn and soy oil could work when needed.
Sweeteners that suit Kapha conditions are honey and stevia.
Spices and herbs that compliment Kapha conditions include:
Digestives – black pepper, garlic, turmeric, cayenne, mustard, chillies, basil, bay, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, garlic, oregano, sage, cinnamon and our blend DIGEST-AID.
Elimination – A Stagnant Kapha elimination may need aloe root, rhubarb root, and our products TRIPHALA and ELIMIN-AID.
Tonics – To stimulate circulation and prevent accumulation, Kapha conditions can use garlic, pippali, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, shilajit, saffron, guggul, myrhh, aloe.
Mind herbs – Herbs that stimulate and inspire lethargic tendencies include calamus, gotu kola, guggul, tulsi, skullcap, basil and sage.
Herbal teas – These are great for Kapha conditions, especially when unsweetened (unless with honey or stevia). Chai herbs, alfalfa, red raspberry, dandelion, cinnamon and ginger are beneficial. All pungent and bitter herbs are appropriate. It is important that Kapha conditions avoid ice drinks, especially before meals. In general, less water should be drunk around meal times
Exercise is vital to balance the potentially lethargic Kapha tendencies. Therefore, strong, vigorous aerobic exercise is recommended until a sweat is broken, although this is usually the most un-appealing to a Kapha condition. For Hatha yoga, do an active practise focusing upon inversions and those that open the chest, such as cobra, bow pose and wheel pose. Pranayamas would include bastrika & kapalbati. Volunteering to work for charities (karma yoga) is good for a Kapha condition, as is Bhakti yoga, or any devotion to the divine in which ever form you are called to.
Kapha conditions need to practise self-discipline by setting goals and achieving them. Kapha conditions are encouraged to stay mentally alert by studying and learning new things and should avoid sleeping during the day. Strong and vigorous massage treatments are best for Kapha conditions, along with use of mustard or flax oils, to which essential oils such as ginger, wintergreen, camphor, eucalyptus, oregano, cinnamon, myrrh, frankincense or cayenne can be added.
Colours that are warming and revitalizing, such as yellows, goldens, oranges and reds are stimulating. It is recommended that Kapha conditions avoid pastels, though dark colours can be used in moderation. Natural fabrics and strong colours in general may suit this constitution.
Kapha people are naturally loving, generous, calm and surrendered. They are seen as a stable foundation, for both home and society. In Ayurveda, a Kapha constitution is considered one of the most beneficial body types, especially when combined with some Pitta.