• Tracyann Thomas

Pungent Taste in Ayurveda (Taste Series)

Updated: Jul 15

The Pungent taste is called Katu in Sanskrit. The dominant elements are Fire and Air providing the qualities of hot, dry, and light. Fire and Air are very light elements, so this combination moves the doshic energies to the upper part of the body. This is where Vatas can start to feel a bit ungrounded, but Kaphas will benefit the most from the light quality and heat Pungent brings.





This taste can be imbalancing for Pitta types. They will notice the extra heat ~ too much heat creates inflammation, irritation, and ulceration. Use carefully.


Pungent adds heat and spices things up!


In small quantities Pungent:


  • Stimulates digestion

  • Clears the sinuses - your nose might run here!

  • Promotes sweating & detoxification

  • Enhances circulation

  • Breaks up clots

  • Removes fat from the body

  • Aids elimination of waste products

  • Thins the blood

  • Antispasmodic, anti-parasitic

  • Is catabolic (breaks down, releases energy)




In excess Pungent:


  • Dries out the mucus membranes

  • Causes insomnia & excessive thirst

  • Causes hyperacidity (heartburn, nausea, diarrhea)

  • Causes skin conditions (hives, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis)

  • Depletes of reproductive fluid

  • Can lead to peptic ulcers & colitis


Pungent taste awakens the senses. It brings excitement and clarity of perception. Its hot, sharp, and penetrating qualities bring focus and determination to the mind.


However, too much Pungent taste can make one angry, aggressive, jealous ~ even violent. If there is a lot of pitta in one’s constitution, it is better to bring in more Sweet taste and less Pungent to cultivate a cool and calm mind.


The Pungent Stage of Digestion


Within the 4th hour of digesting, the Fire and Air elements are most prominent. This is the Pungent Stage of digestion.


The combination of the Fire and Air elements brings a sense of lightness and subtly to the body and mind.



The Fire element brings in more heat and sharpness by way of pungent enzymes to further break down food. The Air element makes our bones more porous so that they are able to absorb nutrients more readily, and it also creates gas and stimulates intestinal peristalsis to facilitate the movement of food through the GI Tract.


If there is any excess pitta in the body, this phase can irritate skin rashes, hemorrhoids, and bleeding disorders.


Pungent is the best taste for Kapha as it counteracts the cold, slow, unctuous qualities that this dosha possesses. It burns fat by helping the body sweat, melts mucus by thinning secretions, enkindles digestion, and stimulates the mind. All things that Kaphas need to find balance.


For more, see my previous post on the Salty taste, and my next post on the Bitter taste.




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