by Varsha Khatri, MA, SYT, MCMA, MFNTP

Through the knowledge of the doshas, it is known that there are many causes of imbalance but there are equally numerous ways to create greater balance when it comes to health and wellbeing. Oftentimes, it is easier said than done to ensure a regular routine to pacify Vata, avoiding direct sunlight to pacify Pitta, or engaging in daily vigorous exercise to pacify Kapha. It is all great in theory, but sometimes, it is not possible to make those lifestyle adjustments.

That is when it is optimal to turn your attention to food. The food consumed can have a therapeutic balance. Using the six tastes of Ayurveda, it is known that Vata can be balanced by favouring the sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Pitta can be pacified by having more of the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes. Whereas Kapha can be balanced by predominantly consuming the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.

In addition to the different tastes, the quality of food can also make a difference. For example, dry and rough foods will irritate Vata, whereas its more the spicy foods that will imbalance Pitta and its the heavy and oily foods that will bother Kapha.

There are a lot of considerations to make when it comes to using food to balance the doshas. Therefore, one of the simplest ways to get started is to actually use spices as a part of cooking.


With a Vata pacifying diet, the use of various spices would encourage exposing oneself to a variety of tastes. As you will see in the list below, there are many options for a Vata pacifying diet as many of the spices can also be considered sweet, sour, or salty. Some highly recommended spices for Vata are:

Cumin seeds, ginger, asafoetida (hing), cinnamon, cardamom, clove, anise, fennel seeds, rock salt, lemon juice, tamarind, sugar, coriander leaves and seeds, saffron, vanilla, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, oregano, and basil


It is more of the cooling spices that should be favoured when balancing Pitta, especially when it’s hot weather or the situation you are in is making you angry. Some of the best herbs and spices for Pitta are:

Coriander, saffron, cinnamon, vanilla, rock salt, rose water, fennel seeds, ginger, cumin seeds, parsley, mint, cardamom, fenugreek, dill, lemongrass, sugar


For a Kapha pacifying diet, the usage of spices is considered essential. Spices will help to kindle the digestive fire as well as counter laziness or lethargy. Here are some spices and herbs that are excellent for pacifying Kapha.

Ginger, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, parsley, mint, fennel seeds, anise, clove, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, asafoetida (hing), fenugreek, nutmeg, oregano, dill seed, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, turmeric, vanilla, paprika, chilli powder, and garlic.

Spices include many different flavours and each one has its own therapeutic benefit. Here are some of the known benefits of each of these commonly used spices:

Turmeric is considered to be tridoshic, meaning that it is beneficial for all doshas. Turmeric is an anti—inflammatory, boosts immunity, is a mild laxative, reduces pain and swelling, and is extremely good for skin and complexion.

Cinnamon is generally known for its role in balancing blood sugar levels. In addition, cinnamon is excellent for helping with coughs, breathing problems, including any issues with the upper respiratory tract. Cinnamon can also be used to help improve circulation and helps with any gas or bloating in the abdomen.

Coriander is another excellent spice for pacifying Vata as it can help reduce anxiety and calm the mind. It helps to balance the central nervous system, including the brain. Coriander also helps to stimulate appetite, reduces any undigested food or Ama within the body and can also help with reducing headaches.

Fennel is a unique spice in that it is great for digestion, but is also cooling. This means that fennel will allow the rest of the body to cool down while keeping the digestive fire warm so that it stays strong.

Saffron is considered to be the only Sattwic (Pure) spice and is great for the skin and complexion. Additionally, due to the purity aspect of saffron, it helps to balance the emotions so that all feelings and thoughts are expressed in a positive and productive way. This way all the doshas work together to balance mental health.

Ginger, both in its dried form and fresh, helps to decrease Kapha. Ginger is commonly known for being an appetite stimulant, but also helps with constipation and reduces the feeling of heaviness in the body.

Ajwain Seeds help with digestion and increase heat in the body. Particularly good for Kapha when they are feeling bloated, gassy, or cold.

Cumin seeds are also excellent for digestion, but also work as a diuretic. Kapha people may often feel that they are retaining too much water, and therefore, using cumin can help flush out the excess water and salts from the body.

Spices are versatile and can generally be used to enhance the flavour of any meal that you prepare. Ayurveda has a general preference for favouring cooked foods over raw foods and when you cook the spices into your meals, not only do you engage the sense of smell, but the flavours and depth of the meal are enhanced. As you can see from above, spices generally also support a healthy digestive system.

Keep in mind that when balancing the doshas, it is not about avoiding certain tastes or foods. Rather, it is more important to aim for a balance by having all six tastes at every meal, but favouring the three tastes to help balance your dosha. When in doubt about which foods to have, turn to spices as a way to keep it simpler while creating greater balance within your body.