Updated: Aug 29, 2020
The bitter taste is found in many foods and spices including; bitter melon, burdock root, leafy greens, eggplants, broccoli, cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, sesame oil, coffee, dark chocolate, fenugreek, saffron, aloe, and turmeric.
This taste stimulates and improves all the other tastes. It increases digestive secretions and enzymes and improves the digestive fire. Its deeply cleansing actions scrape fat and toxins (Ama), clears heat, and congestion. It is purifying for the blood while supporting the liver, and its coolness benefits the skin, relieving burning, itching, and swelling.
If overused, the dryness of the bitter taste can delete the tissues weakening the kidneys and lungs. It can reduce bone density, induce nausea, cause dry mouth, and dry out Ojas (the body's life sap). Its extreme coldness can also cause excess coldness and tissue dryness, constipation, and create a sense of confusion and disorientation.
If bitter isn't your favorite taste, try incorporating small amounts into your meals by adding some of the greens above and fenugreek. Additionally, Aloe Vera juice is bitter and has many other beneficial actions which you can read about on my blog page.
Bitter Ayurvedic Facts:
Elements: Ether and air
Energetics: Dry and light
Taste (Rasa): Bitter
Temperature (Virya): Cold
Digestive after effect (Vipaka): Pungent
Location: Ileum (longest part of the small intestine)
Digests: Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
Balances: Pitta & Kapha
Benefits: Reduces weight and water intention, relieves skin rashes, fever and nausea
Bio-medical actions: Detoxificant, refrigerant, nervine stimulant, fat scrapper, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, cholagogue, laxative, anthelmintic, alterative, and diuretic.