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Home sjmtoc 3.2 The Three Humors: Vata, Pita and Kapha

3.2.4 States of Matter, Dosha and Health



WWWW Waaaiitt a minute! This is a bit complex, what do all these states of matter and principles have to do with me and getting healthy? What do I care if motion and space have a hard time together?

What is muscle pain? It is the restriction of motion by the lack of space. Pain happens to me often due to the deformation of my spine. The physical contraction of the muscles in my back is often caused by overwork: the spin doesn’t support my body, the muscles take the load, I begin to feel tension, and then I feel pain. This condition can also be understood as a decrease of space, or flexibility, or relaxation, in my back. Once the space decreases, the energy that moves the muscles gets constricted or blocked and I feel that blockage as pain.

Many of our diseases, aches, and pains can be seen as conflicts between different states of matter. Learning how to harmonize these humors eliminates the problem from a basic source. Controlling the dominant humor, or the unbalanced humor, results in harmony to the five states of matter, which are the basis of all manifestation, and which include both good health and disease.

Once a great sage was asked by his students what would happen to him at death. He responded: “Where can I go? I am always here”. Then he expounded further y saying, “At the death of the body the five elements dissolve back into their sources; earth goes back into earth, water into water, fire into fire, air into air, and space into space”.

Briefly, the principle of vata can be described as that which moves everything in the body, including pitta and kapha. It is called the most important humor and is most often out of balance. It is usually the most difficult to correct. It is centered in the colon and is responsible for al evacuations of waste from the body.

The principle of pitta can be described as that which transforms everything in the body; it is th metabolic process. Food becomes energy, and information becomes knowledge. Pitta balances the other two humors, for they are opposites each other. Digestion is controlled by pitta, and it is said that pitta is centered in the small intestines.

The principle of kapha can be described as that, which provided the base for the other two humors. It is stability; it provides cohesion in the body. This is reflected as plasma, tissue, muscles; it is centered in the stomach; it controls the liquid in the body.

We are a mix of each of these three forces. One or two will usually predominate, but whatever humor is predominant is said to be our constitutional type. If two are equally predominant, then we are said to be of a mixed constitution. The equally balanced constitution of all three humors is said to be rare, but the best for good health and long life. Here are the seven possibilities.

(1) Vata
(2) Pitta
(3) Kapha
(4) Vata + Pitta
(5) Vata + Kapha
(6) Pitta +K apha
(7) Vata + Pitta + Kapha

Some modern practitioners say that there are ten possibilities by indicating the first humor as slightly stronger. For example, PV would indicate that pitta was stronger than vata, and VP would indicate that pitta was stronger than vata, and VP would indicate the reverse. This can be useful. The understanding of these principles is the very heart of Ayurveda. There are similarities to other systems in many aspects of Ayurvedic medicine; however, the use of these three humors to diagnose, treat, live, and heal are unique to the Ayurvedic system.


Dr. David frawley draws he very helpful analogy between the traditional Chinese view and the Ayurvedic constitution in Michael Tierra’s book, Planetary Herbology. He states that a correlation can be drawn like this:

This correlation was very valuable to me because it enabled me to use certain Chinese medicines to heal myself. It also gave me a much deeper insight into the traditional Chinese medical system.





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