The Pungent Taste
Ahara is one of the three pillars of health in Ayurveda. The other two are the regulation of sleep and sex. The classical Ayurveda texts dedicated elaborate sections on foods, their taste and therapeutic effects. The primary classification of food is based on its appropriateness to body and mental constitution based on five elements and three doshas. The inherent nature of your lifelong daily foods choices is important in your health and disease. To understand the tastes that are use on a daily basis is vital to health.
The pungent taste is made up of the fire and air elements. It has a warm immediate effect on the body and a long-term pungent effect. Its major qualities are hot, light, mobile and dry. People with a Kapha nature or imbalance will benefit the most form the taste. The Pitta nature is the most effected by the pungent taste and can quickly de-stable Pitta, causing problems like acidity, fever and heat in the blood. Vata can benefit from pungent but must be aware that the dry and light qualities may increase. Pungent taste is also good at reducing ama.
Pungent is the hottest of all the tastes. Hence it strongly increases weak digestion or agni. It is also strongly reducing and purifying, so can be used for obesity, weak digestion, circulation, sinus issues and vata and kapha ama. Too much pungent taste can deplete rasa dhatu. The skin and mucus membranes will become dry. The lungs may become weak and one may develop a dry cough.
Psychologically the pungent taste increases the passions of life. Anger and irritability may develop resulting in an intensity of life.
Examples of pungent taste are chili pepper, ginger and black pepper.