By Dr Raghuram Y. S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B. A. M. S
When the food in stomach and intestines undergoes digestion, they undergo taste conversion. This transformed taste is called Vipaka. This knowledge helps to understand how food or medicine acts in our body.
Introduction, Sanskrit verse
Ultimate taste change of food or medicine that takes place due to the process of digestion is called vipaka or nishta paka.
Thus, when a substance of particular tastes comes into contact with digestive fire in stomach after consumption, they get digested. While they get digested by digestive fire, they also undergo taste conversion. Final taste obtained in substance after it gets digested, i. e. final end product with different taste is called vipaka. Read – Vipaka: Taste Conversion During And After Digestion
Types of Vipaka
Based on conversion of taste of a substance, Vipaka is also of three types –
Madhura vipaka i. e. conversion into – substances having sweet and salt tastes get transformed into sweet taste after getting digested by fire. This increases kapha and mitigates pitta and vata. Read – Lifestyle, Food And Factors That Cause Increase Of Kapha Dosha
Amla vipaka i. e. conversion into sour taste – only those substances with sour taste get transformed into sour taste after getting digested by fire. Therefore, sour tastes do not change after digestion. This increases pitta and mitigates vata.
Katu vipaka i. e. conversion into pungent taste – substances having pungent, bitter and astringent tastes get transformed into pungent taste after getting digested. This increases vata and mitigates kapha.
Read – Different Causes For Vata Dosha Imbalance, Increase
Salient features of ‘post digestion
conversion of taste of a substance’ and its impact on doshas
Vipaka resembles avastha paka but both are different. Avastha paka explains different phases of digestion of food at various levels of alimentary tract, immaterial of taste of food. Vipaka is taste conversion of substances coming into contact with digestive fire.
Read – Normal Dosha Vitiation In Relation To Digestion
Avastha paka is also called prapaka which means first digestion. Thus, this process takes place during early digestion. Vipaka means after digestion. This takes place in later part of digestion process.
Avastha paka is applicable for food
substances having 6 tastes. Vipaka is mainly applicable for digestion and
conversion of medicinal herbs.
While avastha paka takes place during process of digestion at different parts of digestive system, from mouth to colon, vipaka occurs after completion of digestion. Post digestion taste change in a given substance takes place at time of absorption of chyle or digestive byproduct in intestine.
Read – Understanding Digestion Process From An Ayurveda View
Action of changed taste of a substance will be different from that of original taste. Action of former one will be a permanent one. This holds good with herbal medicines because their impact is more or less directly on disease process.
Thus, change of taste of a substance or herb post digestion is directly targeted towards a disease pathology, pathological site, tissue or viscera. Example, sweet and salt tastes will have different impact on body individually, but when both are taken together they are converted into sweet taste post digestion. Impact of this changed taste i. e. sweet taste obtained after digestion will be final impact and different from original tastes.
Changed taste of a substance post digestion will have similar impact and action on doshas like that of avastha paka. Example, pungent taste obtained after digestion of pungent, bitter and astringent tastes will stimulate and increase vata and mitigates kapha just like pungent phase of digestion.
Read – Kapha Decrease Symptoms, Analysis, Treatment
In avastha paka, individual tastes are not concerned. Food consisting of all 6 tastes and combination of foods of any tastes will undergo sweet, sour and pungent phases in that order leading to formation of kapha, pitta and vata, in stomach, intestines and colon respectively, during process of digestion. In vipaka, individual tastes will undergo change in taste after coming into contact with digestive fire, after digestion has been completed.
Avastha paka starts in mouth and completes in colon, i. e. entire process takes place in alimentary tract. In other terms it starts with mastication of food and ends with formation of feces. Vipaka begins after digestion and conversion of particular tastes, absorbed in intestines and ends by making final impact in tissues.
Read – How To Know That Your Digestion System Is Working Fine?
Avastha paka is influenced by gut fire. In fact sweet phase starts when before food comes into contact with digestive fire. Final phase too doesn’t need digestive fire. Though colon fire has been mentioned, it is not a fire by real terms. Re-absorption of water, salts and minerals and consequent drying of end products of digestion leading to formation of feces is depicted in terms of shoshyamana vahni or colon fire.
Read – Excessive Thirst – Ayurvedic Understanding And Treatment
Vipaka is invariably influenced by digestive fire. Later it is influenced by elemental fires and during final impact wherein they act on body components, is influenced by tissue fires also.
Kapha formed from rasa tissue during formation of blood tissue from lymph and formation of pitta from blood tissue during formation of muscle tissue from blood can be considered due to impact of post digestion change in tastes. This kapha and pitta are waste and unwanted form of kapha and pitta while kapha and pitta formed during phase-wise digestion in gut are supportive in nature, form functional components of body.
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