Understanding Kapha Dosha: Symptoms, Body Type, Characteristics, Treatment and Diet

As per Ayurveda, the world is made up of five elements of nature, namely space/ether (Akash), air (Vayu), fire (Agni), water (Jala) and earth (Prithivi). Popularly known as the 'Panchamahabhutas' in the ancient Sanskrit texts, these elements are also present in the human body and mind in the form of Dosha: Vata (ether, air), Pitta (fire, water) and Kapha (water, earth).

These three Doshas or humors are decided at conception and influence everything from physical characteristics to mental abilities, emotional regulation, and more.

In this article, we will focus on the Kapha Dosha.

Wondering what your Dosha type is? Take our Dosha Quiz today.

What is Kapha Dosha?  

The Kapha Dosha combines nature's earth (Prithvi) and water (Jal) elements. The qualities of Kapha Dosha are slow, steady, moist, smooth, oily, cool, and heavy. Persons with Kapha dominant personalities have a robust build and frame and are likelier to have a radiant complexion, large eyes, and thick, lustrous hair.

Kapha-type persons are usually friendly and compassionate and easy to be with. They can also be lazy, and their heavy qualities sometimes make them sluggish and lethargic. Kapha additionally hydrates all cells and frameworks, lubricates the joints, saturates the skin, maintains immunity and safeguards the tissues. Kapha is often associated with water energy and with love and compassion.  Kapha in the body influences the mind-body connection and embodies structure, lubrication, and stability.

Characteristics of Kapha Dosha

Understanding Kapha Dosha | Amrutam
1. Cold
2. Wet
3. Heavy
4. Dull
5. Slow
6. Sticky
7. Smooth/slimy
8. Soft or hard (Think of mud—it can be sticky or soft and slimy or hard.)
9. Steady or static
10. Cloudy
11. Liquid
12. Dense
13. Gross (as opposed to subtle) 

    Physical features of Kapha Dosha-dominant personalities

    Understanding Kapha Dosha | Amrutam
    1. The Kapha body type is large, strong, and well-built.
    2. Strong muscles and large, heavy bones
    3. Large, white, steady, and pleasant eyes with long, thick lashes and brows
    4. Thick, smooth, oily, and pale skin. Hairy and have dark black, thick, and oily hair
    5. Tolerate various weather conditions except for cold or wet conditions
    6. Steady appetite and thirst. Digestion is slow. Can skip a meal without any trouble
    7. Love Bitter, pungent, moderately seasoned, astringent foods
    8. Deep and long sleep, often feel heavy and foggy in the morning
    9. Gain weight quickly but losing is difficult
    10. Peaceful, tolerant, easy-going, caring, compassionate, and forgiving.
    11. Slow to comprehend, excellent long-term memory

      Mental features of Kapha Persons 

      Understanding Kapha Dosha | Amrutam
      1. Generally graceful, gentle, loving, loyal, and tolerant, with a calm and steady mind.
      2. Known for being grounded and wise, and for having excellent long-term memory. 
      3. Not easily ruffled, and your loved ones undoubtedly appreciate your trustworthy stability, your big heart, and your naturally compassionate demeanour. 
      4. Likely have a well-developed capacity to be fully present and are willing to take life at a slower pace than some, though if that impulse is taken too far, it can lead to inertia, lethargy, and heaviness. 
      5. Kapha types often ignore their inherent need to stay active in favour of satisfying their desire to relax
      6. Likely tend to accumulate beautiful things and may have a difficult time letting go of your possessions, particularly if they have emotional significance for you. 

        Gunas of Kapha Dosha

        1. Snigdha - unctuousness.
        2. Shita - cold.
        3.Guru - heavy - stable movement, solid.
        4. Manda - dull, slow.
        5. Slakshna - smooth (like ice-cream).
        6. Mrtsnah - greasy. Magnetic attraction. 
        7. Sthira - stable.
        8. Hema - very cold. With water quality.
        9. Madhura - Sweet. (caraka) Pleasantness. Ojas.
        10. Mrdhu - soft. (Caraka).

          What happens when Kapha Dosha is imbalanced?

          Excess consumption of sweet, sour, salty, fatty, heavy food, dairy products, and a sedentary lifestyle aggravate this dosha. This imbalance produces symptoms related to the respiratory, digestive systems, and joints.

          KAPHA IN BALANCE  

          KAPHA OUT OF BALANCE  

          • stable temperament

          • gains weight easily

          • good long-term memory

          sluggish digestion

          • healthy robust physiology

          • prone to sinus and respiratory issues

          • strength and stamina

          • lethargy

          • compassionate and affectionate

          • feelings of sadness

          • sound sleep

          • difficulty waking up

           

          • food cravings

          Looking for a personalized treatment for an imbalanced Kapha Dosha? Book a consultation with our Ayurvedic Experts today at Amrutam.Global. 

          Five Subdoshas of Kapha

           Each of the Ayurvedic Doshas contain sub doshas that govern specific parts of the body and their functioning. The five sub-doshas of Pitta are

          1. Tarpak Kapha

          Tarpaka Kapha is located in the head and nourishes the entire nervous system. The human brain is the centre of the nervous system, where all the sensory and motor nerves arise from and lead to. The brain handles all sense and action organs—Indriyas—and Tarpaka Kapha provides lubrication to the brain tissues. From a Western perspective, it is often also correlated with cerebrospinal fluid.

          When out of balance, this sub-dosha can lead to a lack of clarity. Impaired or slow learning are signs that Tarpaka Kapha might be imbalanced, along with weakened memory and emotional issues like irritability, anger, greed, and envy.

          Understanding Kapha Dosha | Amrutam

          Since Tarpaka Kapha is related to the highly responsive nervous system, many easy ways to correct imbalances exist. Spiritual practices like meditation can help a lot. Herbs that work on the nervous system also are helpful—spices like ginger, long pepper, and calamus are beneficial.

          2. Bodhaka Kapha 

          Bodhaka Kapha is mainly located in the mouth and tongue, as well as the throat region, which is the root of the tongue. As the tongue is the sense organ associated with taste, this sub-dosha is also connected with the brain's parietal lobe, which processes tastes. As we know, consciousness is primary in everything—without this differentiating quality of consciousness, Bodhaka Kapha can't act.  

          So, this sub-dosha operates not only on the physical level of saliva and enzymes but also on a deeper level of intelligence. It’s also responsible for voice quality and is very sensitive to emotions.

          When Bodhaka Kapha is out of balance, digestion is disturbed from the initial stages. Saliva regulation is disrupted, which slows down enzyme production. The quality of one’s voice can be impaired as well.

          Certain herbs like liquorice and herbal preparations can help with these imbalances.

          Find your dominant Dosha with Amrutam Dosha Quiz today!

          3. Avalambak Kapha 

          Avalambaka Kapha holds the organs in our body's upper thorax or chest region. All these structures are the location of Avalambak Kapha—the lungs and their inner structures, as well as the layers covering the lungs, trachea, bronchi, and the pericardium, which is the fibrous sac surrounding the heart.

          The lungs expand and contract as we breathe, and Avalambak Kapha, between the pleural layers, provides lubrication and nourishment. The heart also runs continuously. In order to run all this machinery smoothly, the Avalambak Kapha in the pericardial layers plays a vital role—on the emotional and physical levels. Think of how one’s breathing pattern changes when she or he is in distress or how a sudden shock to the mind may lead to chest pain or heart conditions.

          When Avalambak Kapha is out of balance, either due to an increase or decrease, problems can arise in the lungs and heart. As with other Kapha sub-doshas, an increase in Avalambak Kapha will cause an increase of fluids in the respective organs, whereas a decrease will lead to a lack of lubrication and resulting dryness.

          Understanding Kapha Dosha | Amrutam

          Generally, Kapha-pacifying herbs, diet, and lifestyle changes help in such imbalances. Specifically, herbs for the respiratory system—like trikatu and bivitaki—are beneficial. 

          4. Kledaka Kapha

          This sub-dosha is located in the upper part of the stomach and the inner lining of stomach walls and is responsible for the secretions that pour into our food.

          In digestion, our food needs to be moistened and softened to break down properly and move further into the gastrointestinal tract. As the stomach environment is highly acidic, Kledaka Kapha protects the inner walls of the stomach by preventing the acid from harming the walls. So, if there is too much acid, it neutralises that, as it is itself alkaline. Kledaka Kapha represents the alkaline aspect of digestion in the stomach.

          Also read: How Ayurveda can help improve digestion in the body?

          When Kledaka Kapha is excessively increased, it disturbs the acid and can cause delayed and inefficient digestion, resulting in the production of ama, or toxins. It may also lead to nausea, overproduction of saliva, weakened taste, dull agni or Mandagni, tasting food in the mouth hours after eating, heaviness, and even slimy or mucus-laden bowel movements.

          Conversely, when Kledaka Kapha is decreased, the stomach produces too much acid, which leads to symptoms like occasional acid reflux or hyperacidity in the stomach, an acid taste in the mouth, abdominal discomfort, and other signs of increased digestive fire, or Tikshna agni.

          Herbs, diet, and lifestyle changes can help. If the imbalance is due to decreased Kledaka Kapha, simply drinking lots of water or fluids between meals will be helpful.

          If the problem is due to an increase in Kledaka Kapha, we need something that kindles digestion. Cooking with mustard oil is a good option. Similarly, herbs like ginger, pepper, and pipplai (trikatu) also help to kickstart digestion. Amrutam Detox Key Herbs is a must in the case of high ama. 

          5. Shleshaka Kapha

          This sub-dosha is responsible for lubrication in all of the small and large joints of the human body. Altogether, there are 260 bones and 360 joints in our body. A joint is where two bones come together, but ligaments and tendons also play a vital role. Movement in all these joints would be impossible without Shleshaka Kapha, which lubricates all of these joints.

          That’s why, from the perspective of Western Medicine, this Kapha is at times compared with the synovial fluid located in many joints. This sub-dosha helps lubricate the joints and helps as a shock absorber. Be it smaller joints in the fingers or big joints like the hip bone or the vertebral column, without proper action of this Kapha, the whole framework of the body would not be possible. It’s located all over the body.

          Understanding Kapha Dosha | Amrutam

          When out of balance, joint issues can crop up. If you have increased Shleshaka Kapha, your joints could become swollen and irritated, whereas if it’s weakened, your joints might become dry and crackle and pop.

          If there is swelling and fluid retention in the joints, then herbs like punarnava [Boerhavia diffusa] and shilajit [mineral pitch] help loosen the extra fluids and support healthy regeneration of the bone tissues

          Also, the local application of heat via a hot water bottle or steam bath is a good way of addressing this problem.

          Dietary tips for Kapha Dosha

          A Kapha-pacifying diet will go a long way toward nourishing Kapha dosha to stay balanced. Because Kapha dosha is cool and slow in nature, it benefits from getting fired up a little with stimulating activities and foods.

          Cold, wet foods can weigh sluggish Kapha down further. If you have a predominance of Kapha dosha, you’ll benefit from foods that are warm, light, dry, and lightly spiced. Food should be fresh, well-cooked, tasty, pleasing, and satisfying. Try our clearing Kapha lentil dish that can be easily made with a thermos, or our simple but delicious spring pasta recipe.

          Also read: Compatible and Incompatible Food Combinations in Ayurveda

          Take your meals regularly, at the proper time - morning, noon, and evening. Eat the proper amounts of food at each meal, and avoid over- or undereating. You may feel hungry by the next meal, but not ravenous. Snack a bit between meals as long as it does not dampen the feeling of hunger by your next meal. Eat in a quiet, relaxing environment. Favour organically grown foods and avoid genetically modified foods (GMOs). 

          Diet chart for Kapha Dosha  

          FAVOR  

          REDUCE OR AVOID  

          Lighter diet; dry, warm food and warm drinks; pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes

          Avoid large quantities of food, especially at night; avoid unctuous, cold, heavy food; minimize sweet, sour, and salty tastes

          Old grains (minimum one year), barley, millet, corn, buckwheat, rye, oats, wheat, rice (good quality, like basmati rice)

          Avoid new grains, especially wheat and rice

          All, except tofu and black gram

          Avoid tofu (soybeans), black gram

          Lassi (yoghurt and water drink -- preferably made thin), buttermilk, low-fat milk; a small amount of ghee

          Cheese, whole milk

          Honey, old jaggery (caramelized sugar cane syrup)

          Avoid sugar cane products (except old jaggery)

          Ghee (for cooking), mustard, sunflower, corn, olive (all, especially ghee, in small amounts)

           

          Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

          Avoid all nuts

          All spices except salt, especially pungent and sharp spices (pepper, ginger, etc.), lemon juice; Kapha Churna and Kapha Tea

          Avoid salt

           

          Artichoke, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, daikon radish, eggplant, garlic, green beans, green chilies, horseradish, kale, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, okra, onions

          Avoid olives (green and black), potatoes (sweet), squash (winter), tomatoes (raw), zucchini

          Apples, applesauce, apricots, berries, cherries, cranberries, figs (dry), peaches, pears, persimmons, pomegranate, prunes, raisins, strawberries

          Avoid avocado, banana, coconut, dates, figs (fresh), grapefruit, kiwi, melons, oranges, papaya, pineapple, plums, rhubarb, watermelon.

          Foods that help Kapha Dosha

          1. Fruits like apples, applesauce, apricots, berries, cherries, lemons, mango, peaches, pears, limes, persimmons, prunes, raisins.
          2. Vegetables like artichoke, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, bitter melon.
          3. broccoli, brussels sprouts, burdock root, cabbage, carrot, celery, chillies, onions, garlic, eggplant, peas, potato, okra, horseradish.
          4. Grains like corn, buckwheat, amaranth, oats, quinoa, basmati or wild rice, tapioca, and wheat bran.
          5. Legumes like black beans, navy beans, lentils, and toor dal.
          6. Dairy like buttermilk, cottage cheese, ghee, goat's cheese, and yoghurt.
          7. Nuts and seeds like almond, chia, and flax.
          8. Chicken, fish, eggs and shrimp.
          9. Spices like ajwain, basil, cloves, coriander, mint, nutmeg, oregano.

            Curious to learn about your Dosha type? Take Amrutam Dosha Quiz to learn about your dominant Dosha!

            Understanding Kapha Dosha | Amrutam

            Foods to avoid for Kapha Dosha

            1. Excess salt
            2. Sweeteners like date sugar, fructose, jaggery, maple syrup, white sugar
            3. Avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil
            4. Beef, buffalo, dark chicken, duck, pork, lamb, salmon, sardines
            5. Nuts and seeds like coconut, cashews, pistachios, tahini, walnuts
            6. Ice cream, sour cream, frozen yoghurt, cheese
            7. Kidney beans, soy, urad dal, cold tofu
            8. Pancakes, pasta, wheat, rice (white and brown)
            9. Avocado, cucumber, olives, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, squash
            10. Bananas, coconuts, dates, fig, grapes, kiwi, grapefruit, pineapple, tamarind.

              Lifestyle tips for Kapha Dosha

              1. One of the foundational principles of Ayurveda is that “like increases like,” and opposites balance. Therefore, because Kapha dosha is slow, heavy, moist, cool, and oily, it benefits from things that add a little fire and spice!
              2. One of the best things you can do to counter Kapha’s slow, heavy nature is to add some spice to your life—quite literally. Kapha types benefit from adding a bit of ginger, pepper, and other heating spices to their meals.
              3. Changing things up is good for Kapha, too, as Kapha personality types can sometimes get stuck in a rut or be prone to inertia, lethargy, oversleeping, and melancholic moods.
              4. Fresh air and regular exercise are some of the best ways to fire up Kapha, as are: learning new hobbies, taking new classes, taking a different route to work each day, listening to upbeat music, and making sure to socialise with uplifting friends and family members.
              5. Follow a Kapha dosha-balancing diet, favouring lighter fare and tastes that are bitter, pungent, and astringent while avoiding heavy, oily foods and those that are sweet, sour, and salty. 
              6. Stay warm in cold, damp weather. Cover your ears and wear socks to keep your feet warm. 
              7. Follow the circadian rhythm: early to bed, early to rise.
              8. Give yourself a daily oil massage with stimulating essential oils like eucalyptus and rosemary.

                Ayurvedic Herbs to Manage Kapha Dosha  

                Understanding Kapha Dosha | Amrutam

                Tulsi

                Tulsi is revered for its benefits for both body and mind and is considered to be a sacred plant across many cultures. It has a warm, light, clarifying quality and imparts the energy of sattva, or awareness.

                Physiologically, tulsi is excellent for supporting a healthy immune system and promoting the health of the lungs and respiratory tract.

                Also read: Six Reasons Why Tulsi is the Queen of Herbs

                Turmeric

                Bright, golden-coloured turmeric is a time-tested herbal ally supporting overall health. While it has become well-known for supporting the joints in recent years, its benefits extend throughout the entire body.

                Use this brilliant golden root to support the immune system, cleanse the blood, promote healthy digestion, nourish the nervous system, bring a glow to your skin, and more!

                Pippali

                Pippali is a member of the pepper family and a relative of the black pepper. A rejuvenating herb, it nourishes the tissues of the blood, nerves, and reproductive system. It also has an affinity for the lungs and respiratory system and supports clear and comfortable breathing.

                Pippali is wonderful for supporting strong digestion without being too overheating for the system. Combined with ginger and black pepper, it creates the traditional digestive formula trikatu, used in Ayurveda to kick-start a sluggish digestive system.

                Kapha Key Herbs

                The herbal blend of Kapha Key Herbs contains Bibhitaki, Chitrak, Dalchhini, Haldi, Tulsi and several other herbs that help to control an aggravated Kapha. The mix helps to alleviate all the different symptoms of Kapha imbalance while simultaneously controlling it.

                Kapha Key Herbs | Amrutam

                How to use the Kapha Key Herb Mix: As before, simple is the way to go with these herbal blends. Consume one or two teaspoons of the mix on an empty stomach daily to see optimal results. The herbs in the mix also soothe the body and mind and can be used as your evening beverage to relax and unwind.

                Kapha Pacifying Recipes

                Lastly, we have Kapha, The Binding Energy. This Dosha imparts a calm and thoughtful demeanour to people. Like Earth, the element that best describes this Dosha, people with a predominant Kapha constitution tend to be strong, stoic and grounded. However, in an imbalanced state, such people tend to feel sluggish and lethargic. Aggravated Kapha levels cause weight gain, digestive problems, depression and laziness. Below you will find two delicious Indian dishes that will help keep your Kapha in check.

                Also read: Six Delicious Recipes to Balance Your Doshas

                Recipe 1: Kapha Pacifying Ayurvedic Tea  

                This Ayurvedic recipe is inspired by Ancient texts and focuses on providing herbs that control Kapha in a pure form.

                Ingredients:

                The recipe requires some dry and grated Ginger, 1 whole Clove, Fenugreek Seeds, ¼ tsp. Cumin and Water.

                Note: Since it is recommended that sweet foods be avoided in the case of excessive Kapha, we have not added any sweeteners to the recipe. However, you may use Honey if needed.

                Method:

                Add the spices and herbs into a pan and boil in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Strain out the spices, and your hot Ayurvedic Tea is ready.

                Recipe 2: Khichadi  

                This savoury Indian dish is a great way to combat the symptom brought on by Kapha imbalances. The Baajra in the recipe provides a good amount of fibre to the body which helps in remedying digestive problems.

                Understanding Kapha Dosha | Amrutam

                Ingredients:

                The recipe requires ¾ cup Baajra and ½ cup split Moong Dal along with 1 tsp Cumin, ¼ tsp. Turmeric, 2 tsp. Coriander, 1 tsp. Cinnamon, a few Curry leaves, Black pepper, Rock salt and some Ghee.

                Method:

                Add the Baajra and Moong to a pot and 6 cups of water to it. Cook the mix over a low flame for 15-20 minutes. Once the mix has cooked well, add salt and the spices and cook over high flame for 5 minutes to allow it to dry up a bit. Pour melted Ghee over the dish and serve hot.

                Consult an Ayurveda Doctor

                Imbalances are unique to each person and require customized treatment plans to fully curb the issue from the root cause. We recommend consulting our Ayurveda Doctors at Amrutam.Global, who take a collaborative approach to work on your health and wellness with specialized treatment options. Book your consultation here today.

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                Talk to an Ayurvedic Expert!

                Imbalances are unique to each person and require customised treatment plans to curb the issue from the root cause fully. We recommend consulting our Ayurveda Doctors at Amrutam.Global who take a collaborative approach to work on your health and wellness with specialised treatment options. Book your consultation at amrutam.global today.

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