The sour taste tends to be fairly familiar to us. It is primarily the result of acids such as citric acid, lactic acid, malic acid, oxalic acid, and ascorbic acid in our foods. We often “pucker” when we encounter the sour taste and it immediately moistens the mouth and increases the flow of saliva.
The Sour Taste – At A Glance
|Aggravates:||pitta and kapha|
|Primary Elements:||earth and fire|
|Vipaka (post-digestive effect):||sour|
|Gunas (associated qualities):||liquid, light, oily, hot|
|Associated Positive Emotions:||appreciation, understanding, discrimination, comprehension|
|Emotions of Excess:||criticism, jealousy, rejection, hate, agitation, selfishness, hyperactivity|
|Location on the Tongue:||front edges, along the tapered curve|
|Affinity for Organs:||lungs|
|Most Affected Tissues:||all tissues (dhatus), except reproductive|
|Direction of Movement:||downward moving (activates apana vayu)|
|Additional Actions:||moistens, promotes bulk, holds fluid in the tissues, demulcent, laxative, cholagogue (promotes the healthy flow of bile)|
Examples – Substances that Illustrate the Sour Taste
|Fruits||grapefruit, lemon, lime, raisins, tamarind|
|Dairy & Eggs||butter, cheese, sour cream, yogurt|
|Other||alcohol, vinegar, most fermented foods|
|Spices & Flavorings||lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, savory|
The sour taste is digestive, so it fuels the appetite, increases salivary secretions, enhances the secretion of digestive enzymes, and stimulates metabolism overall.1 It also expels excess vata, moves stagnation in the liver, encourages the flow of bile, and promotes proper liver function.2 The sour taste awakens the mind and helps to coalesce scattered energy. It is anti-flatulent, antispasmodic, energizing, refreshing, satisfying, nourishing to the heart, and can clear dryness.1, 2 Sour fruits are usually high in vitamin C and are considered to be antioxidant, rejuvenating, and tonic herbs.2
If overused, the sour taste can lead to sensitivity in the teeth, ears, and eyes.1 It can dry out mucus membranes, draw the tissues inwards, disturb the blood, destroy semen, and cause congestion, rash, dermatitis, acne, eczema, psoriasis, itching, excessive thirst, hyperacidity, heartburn, ulcers, and even ulcerative colitis.1, 2 It can also lead to thirst, dizziness, fever, diarrhea, anemia, edema, or wet coughs and dampness in the lungs.1
The sour taste can exacerbate the situation if there is itching, excess heat, excess congestion, or if there too much pitta in the blood (rakta dhatu).2 It is best avoided in hot and damp conditions or with skin conditions of any kind.2
Amalaki, pomegranate, and limes do not aggravate pitta because they are cooling and tend to reduce heat and inflammation.2
1 Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda Vol I: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda. Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2002. Print. 241-242, 244-245.
2 Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. London: Churchill Livingston, 2006. Print. 63-64.
3 Lad, Usha and Dr. Vasant Lad. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. 2nd ed. Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2006. Print. 232-238.