When we work through the Ayurvedic lens, one of the aspects to consider for good health is the balance of the bio-energies of Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the body and mind. For some people, through an online quiz or through an assessment, one of the doshas appears most prominent. However, in some people, this is not the case. Two different doshas are dominant and I often get asked these questions: what happens if I'm a mix of 2 doshas? Should I treat vata or pitta first? Vata needs more warming and grounding foods while pitta needs more cooling foods. How do I know which route to take? This blog is to help clarify some of the features of dual dosha or mixed dosha types.
In an Ayurvedic assessment we look at the balance of the doshas in the overall body and in addition, which organs or tissues. We also look at the balance of the doshas on a subtler level in the mind. For example, it's very common for people to fill up Ayurveda quizzes online and find out Vata is the dominant dosha. However, often this is a reflection of one's mental state (stress for example) and not necessarily what's happening in the body. You can be a Kapha type undergoing a lot of stress and anxiety (vata in the nervous system) but doesn't mean you should only follow a vata diet.
When addressing dual doshas, we always look for the common elements between the doshas. We also take into consideration the stage of life of the individual and the season because these factors can bring imbalances up to the surface. For example, if you are a vata-pitta then I often suggest following a pitta-friendly diet in the summer and a vata-friendly diet in the fall & winter. Below are some general tips for supporting dual doshas:
The common element between these two doshas is the need for grounding and earth element. Foods that are wholesome and activities that involve being outdoors are supportive for these types. We often consider a pitta type diet in the summer (more cooling foods) and a vata type diet in the fall and winter (more warming soups and stews). These body types are often more prone to inflammation and auto-immune disease so keeping these doshas at bay are very important.
The common element between these two doshas is the need for greens and cleansing food and activities. These types respond well to a diet high in leafy greens, herbs that are astringent, bitter and cleansing for the body. Water is the common element between these doshas, so often we look at food that is lighter and drier and helps the body get rid of excess water which might manifest as swelling or water retention. We often suggest a pitta diet in the summer and kapha diet in the winter.
The common element between these two doshas is the need for warmth - spices like cinnamon and ginger and keeping warm with warm baths. Vatas need warm and hearty food and Kaphas need warm food but lighter and drier food. In these types, we need to look carefully and understand where the vata and kapha tendencies are and treat specifically. For example, if someone is gaining weight and feeling heavy, but feeling very anxious and stressed, we need to understand what approach to take. Blindly treating stress as vata imbalance (with remedies such as oils, nervine herbs) could lead to an excess in Kapha (heaviness, dullness). In this dual dosha it is very important to understand where the vata imbalance is and where the kapha imbalance is.
When we look at treating from an Ayurvedic perspective, it's important to distinguish the qualities and imbalances in the mind and also the body and treat accordingly. Health goes beyond looking at vata, pitta, kapha and includes so many other aspects such as agni (metabolic fire), ama (toxins), malas (elimination) and the trigunas (rajas, sattva, tamas). If you are looking for deeper wellness, it's always important to work with a practitioner to do a proper assessment and a customized treatment plan. Always keep in mind, Ayurveda is flexible and we don't necessarily come under the category of one or two doshas consistently - doshas change throughout the day, seasons and phases of life so it's important to continue to bring awareness to the changes in body and mind.
Dr. Leena Sripada is a naturopathic doctor with extensive training in Ayurveda. Whether you have specific health concerns or just want to promote general wellness Dr Leena provides customized care integrating Ayurveda & naturopathic medicine. Please contact Naturopathic Foundations at 905-940-2727 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.