Astringent Taste | Banyan Botanicals

Astringent Taste

astringent foods

The astringent taste is a flavor of dryness that is generally produced by tannins in the bark, leaves and outer rinds of fruits and trees.1 It causes the mucus membranes in the mouth to contract and results in an immediate dry, chalky (sometimes even choking) sensation in the mouth. The astringent taste is frequently complimented by the sweet or sour tastes.

The Astringent Taste—At A Glance

Balances: pitta and kapha
Aggravates: vata
Primary Elements: air and earth
Virya (temperature): cooling (though the mildest of the cooling tastes)
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): pungent
Gunas (associated qualities): dry, cold, heavy
Associated Positive Emotions: stable, unified, collected, grounded
Emotions of Excess: fear, anxiety, nervousness, depression, fixation, rigidity, resentment, harshness
Location on the Tongue: central region at the back of the tongue
Affinity for Organs: colon
Most Affected Tissues: plasma, blood, muscle, and reproductive tissues
Direction of Movement: draws inward
Additional Actions: tones tissues, reduces sweating, cools excess heat, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic (stops bleeding), astringent, vasoconstrictor

 

tongue and tastes diagram

© Dr. Vasant Lad2

Examples—Substances that Illustrate the Astringent Taste

Fruits apples, bananas (green), cranberries, pomegranate
Vegetables alfalfa sprouts, avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots (raw), cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, peas, potatoes, most raw vegetables
Grains pasta (wheat), rye
Legumes most beans are astringent
Nuts & Seeds popcorn
Meat chicken (light meat), venison
Spices & Flavorings basil, bay leaf, caraway, coriander, dill, fennel, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, turmeric, vanilla

Benefits

The astringent taste absorbs excess moisture, stops leakage of fluid, inhibits bleeding by promoting clotting, cleanses the mucus membranes, decongests, scrapes fat, improves absorption, and helps to bind the stool.2 Its tendency to draw inward helps to compress and hold the tissues together, which promotes bodily cohesiveness.1 This same quality makes the astringent taste a very effective tool in combating excess bleeding, sweat, diarrhea, leucorrhea, etc.1 Similarly, its binding effect lends tone to loose and flaccid tissues and can correct sinking imbalances such as prolapse.1 The astringent taste also helps to heal wounds, and averts coughs.2

In Excess

If overused, the astringent taste can create dry mouth, difficulty speaking, choking, spasms, griping sensations in the intestines, gas, bloating, distention, and constipation. It can cause emaciation, convulsions, Bell’s palsy, and stroke paralysis.2 Excess astringent taste can also smother the digestive fire, cause thirst, stiffness, coagulation and clotting in the blood, stagnation in circulation, cardiac spasms, insomnia, emotional stagnation, malaise, and depression.2 Further, it can reduce libido and lower sperm counts.2

Contraindications

The astringent taste can exacerbate the situation if there is elevated vata in the system, constipation, or blockages of any kind in the body.

Exceptions

Haritaki, though very astringent, is heating and has a sweet post-digestive effect. It supports healthy bowel movement and is an important tonic for vata.