By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa B.A.M.S
Sheeta Guna means coldness quality. It is present in some substances and those substances are said to be cold in nature. Read – Dravya:Meaning, Ayurvedic Explanation
Coldness is one of the qualities included in 20 gurvadi qualities. It is opposite of hot quality. Cold quality consisting foods and medicines are administered to counteract effect of excessive heat in the body caused due to increased pitta dosha or due to consumption of foods which are hot in nature. Among body components, cold quality is quality of vata and kapha doshas and antagonistic to pitta dosha.
Coldness in terms of substances –
Coldness is a quality which can be felt by touch. We have a similar feel when cold air touches our skin. When we drink cold water or cold drinks during summer, when body is fatigued by excessive heat or rise in internal heat, we feel at comfort. This is because cold quality is antagonistic to hot quality. Read – Benefits Of Drinking Hot Water, Contra Indications
That which causes reduction in heat is coldness.
Thus, coldness is absence of heat. It is also antagonistic quality of heat or hotness.
Coldness also reduces burning sensation. Read – Home Remedy For Body Heat, Burning Urination And Abdominal Pain
Coldness in herbs, food
Coldness in terms of medicinal herbs and food substances –
Certain foods and medicines have cold quality in them. They are basically coolants in nature. They act against increased heat and heat generated health issues. Pitta is dosha which naturally has heat quality in it. If this heat is within balance, it contributes to all metabolic activities of body and also to maintain temperature of body. If this heat goes beyond normal limits due to consumption or exposure to etiological factors causing pitta increase or heat increase, it leads to many inflammatory diseases and metabolic disorders.
Read – Ayurvedic Pitta Diet – Food Suitable For Pitta Body Type Hot climate also does similar impact on the body.
In these instances wherein high pitta and high heat conditions and diseases are manifested, cold therapies, foods and comforts are always advised. Similarly medicines having coolant herbs or prepared from herbs having cold quality and potency are administered to counteract excessive heat in the body. Read – How To Understand And Master Ayurvedic Medicines Easily
Coldness quality is related to water element. Water is the basis of coldness quality. Water naturally has coldness in it. In its normal temperature, water is cold to touch. Coldness is also a quality of air element. Cold quality can be perceived by touch. Read – Relationship Between Doshas And Basic Elements (Pancha Mahabhuta)
Effect on doshas
Cold quality mitigates pitta and increases vata and kapha.
Pitta is hot in nature and cold quality is antagonistic to it. Therefore any food or medicine which has coldness quality will destroy pitta. Since heat and cold are opposite qualities, cold foods, medicines, activities and comforts which produce coolant properties are administered as remedies to mitigate hyper-activity of pitta and cure diseases caused due to pitta vitiation. We can observe pitta to be within its limitations in cold seasons and weather. Read – Understand Pitta Dosha By Its Functions
Likewise, coldness is one of the basic qualities of vata and kapha doshas. Therefore any medicine or food having coldness quality tends to increase vata and kapha. This will obviously lead to manifestation of diseases caused due to vata and kapha vitiation. Cold seasons too have similar impact. Read – Understand Kapha Dosha By Its Functions
Effect on Tissues
Cold quality increases tissues and is conducive to them. It provides coolant effect to all tissues and reduces burnouts caused by excessive heat produced by pitta and during cellular metabolism. It wards off excessive heat from tissues and reduces inflammatory reactions. It is soothing in nature. Read – Stambhana – Blocking Therapy Principle For Leaking Disorders
Cold quality also checks bleeding and acts like a styptic.
Read – Stambhana in Raktapitta: Styptic Therapy In Bleeding Disorders
Effect on Excreta
Cold quality stimulates urination and expels urine. Coldness enables diuresis. There is excessive urination in cold season or when we drink more cold drinks. Cold quality causes blockage of feces and sweat. This causes less excretion of feces leading to constipation and also less sweating. Since cold quality is astringent and arresting in nature, it is used to stop excessive excretion of feces as in diarrhea. Anti-diarrheal medicines are predominantly prepared with herbs having coldness quality.
Effect on systemic functions
Coldness mainly wards off ill-effects caused by high pitta. When pitta gets high in body, there is abnormal rise in heat and temperature of body. This is dangerous for the body, mind and senses. Excessive heat and temperature damages tissues and impairs many functions. It leads to inflammation and burnouts and causes many diseases caused due to pitta vitiation. Read – Shothahara Gana Of Charaka – Anti Inflammatory Group Of Herbs Excessive pitta causes burning sensation, excessive thirst, loss of consciousness and fainting. Cold quality helps in pacifying burning sensation, excessive thirst, fainting and many other symptoms caused by high pitta.
Cold quality is refreshing to the mind. One would find himself at comfort after intake of cold things, exposure to cold air or after having undergone cold comforts.
Below mentioned are also cold in nature and quality –
- , tikta and kashaya rasa – foods having sweet, bitter and astringent tastes are cold in nature, i.e. they have cold quality. All these three tastes are antagonistic to pitta and pacify pitta aggravation. Sour taste is also cold in touch but is hot in potency; therefore it is pitta aggravating in nature.
- Madhura vipaka – sweet post-digestion effect also is cold in nature and mitigates pitta.
- Sheeta veerya – cold potency
Examples of foods and medicines having cold quality
- Chandana – sandal wood
- ice cream, butter, amla, coconut water, coconut oil, cow milk, raisins, rice water, Shatavari, cucumber, Shankha Bhasma, etc.