Are you normally hot or cold? Is your skin dry or moist? Are you more prone to anxiety or depression?
You may be asked these questions when you visit a clinical herbalist or an Ayurveda practitioner. Understanding your body’s tendencies is key to discovering your energetic constitution, or in the language of Ayurveda, your dosha.
Ayurveda — the ancient sister science of yoga — does not subscribe to a one-size-fits-all attitude. Each dosha (vata, pitta, kapha) is comprised of different energetic forces that make up a person’s constitution, also known as prakriti. When a body is in balance, all three doshas are in equilibrium. When a body is out of balance, one or more of the doshas may be in excess.
In order to bring healing to the body, Ayurveda requires a balance of opposite energetics, which can be achieved through the use of herbs. A cup of chamomile tea might ground the anxious energy of vata, while peppermint can provide stimulation for a sluggish kapha.
Not sure which dosha(s) you are? Take a quiz and then read on to discover the best herbs for your dosha.
Ginger is a warming herb and perfect for the colder tendencies of vata. Fresh ginger promotes circulation and will warm a vata’s cold extremities. Dried ginger is also warming, but this action is directed toward’s the body’s core, thereby improving digestion. Regardless of whether it’s fresh or dried, the grounding energy of ginger is ideal for pacifying vata.
Lemon Balm is a unique herb in that it is both warming and cooling. Initially warming, it is excellent for a stagnant digestive system. It also works to calm the nervous system and gently sedates any anxiety that may be caused by excessive vata.
Chamomile is an excellent herb for all ages and doshas but is especially soothing for vatas. A natural relaxant, chamomile is an age-old remedy for calming the nerves. It also supports the digestive system and can relieve gas or bloating, both common ailments of the vata dosha.
Rose is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for pitta and a lovely herb for bringing this dosha back into balance. The petals of a rose can be used to make teas and tinctures, and when used as an ingredient in skin care, rose tones the skin and alleviates redness. Rose is also a calming herb, both physically and emotionally, and can be used to support the circulation and cardiovascular system of an imbalanced pitta.
Linden is another wonderful herb to support cardiovascular health. As both a cooling and relaxing herb, it soothes the fires of pitta and is comforting for the emotional heart. When aggravated, a pitta may be plagued by perfectionism or competitiveness. Fortunately, the nervine action of linden helps to soothe any anxiety or agitation that may promote such behaviors.
Dandelion, a well-known liver tonic, is also ideal for the pitta dosha. Pitta governs the functioning of the liver. When your liver is overtaxed, your body may react with rashes, inflammation, and skin breakouts — all signs of excess pitta. In response, dandelion tones and rejuvenates the liver, and as both a cooling and drying herb, it is able to pacify pitta.
Peppermint is both a warming and cooling herb and surprisingly enough, kapha benefits from both of these actions. For sluggish and tired kaphas, peppermint is uplifting and stimulating. It also thins mucus and reduces phlegm in the body, thereby aiding the congestion brought on by excess kapha.
Also known as “Holy Basil,” tulsi is revered in Ayurveda, often being referred to as “the queen of herbs.” Indeed, tulsi can be an extremely effective herbal remedy and is ideal for kaphas who need stimulation. A mood elevator, a cup of tulsi tea will aid kaphas when they are feeling blue or particularly stagnant.
Warming, drying, and tonifying, sage is the perfect herb for kapha types. When excess kapha increases mucus, sage is an excellent decongestant for the lungs and sinus tracts. Plus, sage moves heat and blood throughout the body, which can motivate the sluggishness brought on by too much kapha.