How to Balance Kapha Dosha

Share this Page
Celebrities who evidence strong Kapha
The Face of Kapha Dosha

The Function of Kapha Dosha

Kapha Dosha represents the abstract quality of structure at the finest level of creation. It gives rise to the primordial “element” known as Earth and interacts with Pitta to give rise to Water. The qualities of Kapha reflect our surface-value associations with the terms earth and water. When balanced, Kapha stabilizes mind and body in the face of change. It gives strength, potency and fertility. It fosters love, courage, generosity and other highly-valued emotions.

Qualities Effects of Balance Effects of Imbalance
Cold Stability, firmness Sluggish digestion
Stable, steady Strength Depression
Oily Unctuousness Obesity, diabetes
Heavy Potency Respiratory congestion
Sweet Affection Lethargy
Soft, sticky Courage Procrastination
Slow Generosity Greed

 Kapha Characteristics

Kapha is seated in the chest and stomach. Those with a Kapha-dominated Prakriti (constitution) tend to have a large, powerful chest and well-developed muscles. Their skin is smooth, oily and soft. Bones, joints and veins are well-covered. Their eyes are milky white. Their teeth are large, white and well-formed. Kapha-types tend to dislike cool damp weather. When they get cold, it affects them all over.

Effects of Kapha Imbalance

Due to its inherent stability, Kapha is the least likely of the Doshas to go out of balance. But when it does, bad things happen. Generosity can degenerate into greed. Strength and heaviness can become corrupted by obesity and/or diabetes. Slowness and calm can slide into lethargy and depression. Less severe imbalances may simply give rise to respiratory problems like colds and bronchitis. Also, Kapha is associated with swelling and tumors including cancer.

Most commonly, Kapha imbalance initially manifests as a problem with sluggish digestion and Ama. Ama is the toxic products of faulty digestion. It has qualities similar to that of degenerate Kapha. In particular, Ama is sticky and tends to accumulate in places of pre-existing weakness where it causes blockage or attracts Dosha imbalance. Ama is a major factor in many chronic conditions.

Kapha Periods in the Cycles of Nature

Kapha dominates in the first third of life, in the spring, the first hour after eating and in the hours following sunrise and sunset (6-10 AM and 6-10 PM). This is why we feel sleepy in the evening and will enjoy greater rest and rejuvenation if we get to bed before 10 PM. It is also why we may feel groggy and lethargic throughout the day if we sleep past sunrise. The Kapha period in the morning is the best time for vigorous exercise. A brisk walk in nature during the first hour or two after sunrise is nature’s best antidote to stress, anxiety and depression.

On the other hand, our physiology doesn’t support exercise in the evening as well. This is because the fine channels shrink down for the night. Also, evening exercise may  interfere with sleep.

Young healthy children exemplify the bliss and joy of balanced Kapha. Because Kapha is seated in the chest, when children get sick, they commonly suffer respiratory problems. Induced vomiting is an ancient method for eliminating excess Kapha. During my medical training, we sometimes used syrup of ipecac to treat refractory asthma. Excessive vomiting, however, severely weakens the physiology. This is one of the toxic results of bulimia.

As we’ve already seen, the junction between winter and spring is the optimum time for detoxification. Kapha needs a much lighter diet than would satisfy the average person during winter (Vata season). This is why spring is such a good time to begin a program for sustainable weight control or to at least initiate a habit of fasting on liquids one day a week.

Balancing Kapha

Putting all this information together, we can see that Kapha needs lots of physical activity to counter-act the tendency toward couch-potato stability. A light, warm diet is also important with a predominance of bitter (greens), astringent (beans) and pungent tastes. Raw honey, taken in moderation, is the best sweetener for Kapha balance – as long as it is not heated much above body temperature.  In addition, those who want to balance Kapha should awaken before 6 AM and take their main meal at noon. They should also avoid foods and drinks that create dullness (Tamas) in the nervous system such as peanuts, garlic, mushrooms and fermented products including alcohol.

Share this Page

Author: Marc Edwards

Marc is a Family Physician who has studied, practiced and lived Ayurveda over 30 years.

10 thoughts on “How to Balance Kapha Dosha”

  1. Hi,
    I’m confused.
    I am Kapha/Pitta. I use garlic a lot when cooking, take mushrooms (I’ve read a lot about the benefits of them) capsules daily (Host Defense) for immune health, yet I’m reading above that those aren’t good, and other sites recommend it…? Can you please explain the discrepancy?

    1. Geneviève,

      Thank you for visiting and for your thoughtful question. People like yourself who earnestly seek information to optimize their health can easily get confused by the vast amount of information available, much of which conflicts. I’ve chosen to navigate this by taking Ayurveda as my true North: a valid description of the Laws of Nature. In principle, all other perspectives can be reconciled with it.

      It’s important to remember that most things are not black and white. Garlic, for example, is pungent and therefore most balancing for Vata and Kapha. Because it’s pungent, it can aggravate Pitta. In addition, garlic has both Rajasic (stimulating) and Tamasic (dulling) properties. For spiritual progress and long-term health, the Ayurvedic wisdom is to favor Sattva in all things (see: https://qatoqi.com/ayurveda/sattva.htm for details). So, while garlic may be quite useful for therapeutic purposes (e.g., for arthritis or sexual dysfunction), it’s not recommended for daily use. Mushrooms are much more Tamasic. They are fungus and epitomize the process of decay and destruction. Moreover, it seems you’re taking them in capsule form as a supplement rather than as food. There’s a famous Ayurvedic aphorism: Without proper diet, herbs (aka medicines or supplements) are of no benefit. With proper diet, they are not needed. That’s somewhat of an exaggeration, but you get the point.

      There’s more to the story. You’ve indicated that you have a habit of cooking with garlic. It may go back to childhood or the culture in which you were raised. Ayurveda also acknowledges that things become relatively suitable to our physiology by virtue of habit (Oka Satmya), even if they aren’t optimal for long-term health. So, even if we decide to make some changes in diet or daily routine, it’s better to proceed at a slow to moderate pace to give the physiology space to adjust to our desired new habits.

      If you decide to abandon routine use of garlic, try using a few dashes of Asafoetida (aka Hing) as a substitute. It smells awful until it blends with hot oil or ghee and other spices, but then it mellows and adds a savory note to the dish. While it is pungent, it’s only used in small amounts and it’s Sattvic. Anyhow, we do well to have a balance of all six tastes in our mail meal (see: https://qatoqi.com/ayurveda/doshas.htm#taste).

      I hope this explanation is useful to you and wish you all the best.

      Marc

  2. Hello,
    My Question is I am Pitta-Kapha Type and My Current Primary Imbalance is Kapha,So Which Regimen Should I Follow First?
    Kapha or Pitta-Kapha Both?

    1. Knowing your Prakriti (natural mind-body type) is a useful guide for maintaining balance with changes of season, etc. Where there is imbalance (Vikriti), however, we want to correct that regardless of the season.

      Kapha imbalance alone is uncommon but can occur when the diet is too heavy and cold or with disturbed digestion. See: https://qatoqi.com/ayurveda/php/digestion.php to assess digestion and https://qatoqi.com/ayurveda/php/ama.php to assess for a build up of Ama. Correction of digestion and Ama take precedence over dealing with Kapha Dosha, but generally the approaches would be harmonious because all three conditions benefit from a light diet with the main meal at noon.

      Still, you might need to be cautious not to disturb anther Dosha in the process of correcting the primary imbalance. For example, approaching the summer season, a Pitta-Kapha type who is suffering with a Kapha imbalance and who has a history of problems with acidity or other Pitta-related imbalances (see: https://qatoqi.com/ayurveda/blog/balancing-pitta-dosha/) would do well to seek consultation on how to best manage the situation.

  3. I have strong smell(sweat, breath, body odour) and I am little on the heavier side even after decently controlled diet.
    Now I have also started getting regular ulcers with some indigestion problems and heavily bleeding gums. This condition is persistent since last 3-4 years.
    I have tried many things, like avoiding food which could produce heat in the body citing the reason.
    Please suggest which dosha this is linked to and how to mitigate this

    1. Body odors commonly suggest Ama typically in association with Pitta. See to assess for Ama. Improper eating habits and poor digestion are the chief causes of Ama. See https://qatoqi.com/ayurveda/php/digestion.php, https://qatoqi.com/ayurveda/php/imbalance.php, and https://qatoqi.com/ayurveda/php/habits.php to assess. Onions and garllic can contribute too. Neither are good for Pitta. Bad breath can also arise from sinus trouble and poor oral hygiene.

      Bleeding gums are serious. They suggest gingivitis and the need for better oral hygiene: brushing and flossing daily. If unchecked, you could lose your teeth. Bleeding gums can also be the result of underlying systemic disease. Oral ulcers can have multiple causes including food sensitivities and stress. You would be wise to see a dentist before it’s too late.

  4. hello,
    it’s good to see you having so much knowledge about Ayurveda and its diagnosis. I am also suffering a bad phase in my life. So, I need some advice and help from you. my problem is that I am prone to problems like headaches(not of nausea), gas and indigestible problems. I have tried to diagnosis the problem myself, but nothing works. It’s had been a while since I started having these problems again. some information about myself is that my overall body weight, structure and height is very small and less. my headaches occur when I eat something which is likely to cause gas in my stomach. another thing that might be noted is that nowadays I am also consuming gram flour with water every day in the morning. is it bad for me? my headaches originates from the backside of my head. I guess that I have provided plenty of information to help diagnose my problem and cure it. please, I seriously need help.

    1. Souhanya,

      Thank you for visiting and for your interest in applying Ayurvedic wisdom to improve your situation. As you’ve discovered, my website offers many self-help resources. For those who desire individualized advice, I offer personal consultations. For details, see: https://qatoqi.com/ayurveda/consultation-fees.htm.

      Indigestion with Vata characteristics may be the root of your problems. Poor dietary choices and/or eating habits might be contributory. I don’t know why you are consuming the gram flour water mixture. Especially if the flour is raw, it is very likely aggravating your situation.

      1. thank you very much, Marc , for looking into my problem. after researching on the internet I have found that my dominant dosha is of “Vata” . and the problems which I am facing is because of the imbalance in my Vata dosha. I will be really, really thankful if you answer 2 of my last questions:-
        i) what should I eat and do to stimulate my Vata dosha?
        ii)what shouldn’t I eat or do to imbalance my Vata dosha?

        I really want to thank you so much Marc. You might not even realise how well of a direction you have provided to me just by a simple reply! I am really fascinated to see how Indian Ayurveda is spreading across the globe and solving health issues of others. Thank you so much for choosing Ayurveda in your journey. And one last time a big fat THANK YOU !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.