Bulkiness Quality – Sthula, Action On Doshas, Therapeutic Uses

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa B.A.M.S

Sthula Guna means ‘bulkiness / stoutness’ quality. Substance in which it is present is said to be bulky in nature. 

Bulkiness is one of the 20 gurvadi qualities. It is opposite to sukshma guna i.e. minuteness quality. Bulkiness and fineness are opposite qualities and are also mutually balancing.


Sthoola, being large and bulky and due to its inability to spread, gets stagnated and causes obstruction in many channels and cells of the body. Being heavy to digest, its conversion is delayed in process. Fineness quality, being minute and light, gets dissolved, spreads and disperses all through the body and opens up all channels of transportation. Thus, these qualities are antagonistic to each other.
Read – Rasa Panchaka – 5 Qualities Of Substance (Dravya)

Sthula is defined on basis of capability of foods, medicines and activities which cause obstruction in channels and tissues owing to its heavy and large size and its inability to move easily in the body. Since this quality can neither dissolve, nor move around, it settles down and causes stagnation in the body. Therefore, foods and medicines which block the channels of the body and do not get spread are considered to have sthula guna i.e. bulkiness quality.
Read – ‘Heaviness’ Quality -Meaning, Action On Doshas, Therapeutic Uses

Bulkiness is antagonist to fineness quality. When fineness increases it destroys tissues leading to excessive thinness. Vata increases due to increased fineness and cause destructive activities in the body. Faeces get dried and leads to constipation. In this condition, quality opposite to that of fineness, i.e. bulkiness quality should be administered.

Bulkiness would help in formation of tissues in a healthy way. By increasing kapha, bulkiness combats increased vata. Bulkiness is also opposite to vata. By controlling vata, bulkiness and kapha would check the destructive activities in body and prevent further destruction of tissues. This would restore strength and integrity to the body. Body will naturally gain weight in a healthy way due to bulkiness. Bulkiness enables easy passage of stools and hence relives constipation.
Read – Constipation Causes, Ayurvedic Treatment, Home Remedies

Bulkiness would do these healthy changes when administered in the form of foods, medicines and treatments comprising of bulkiness quality. These substances would increase bulkiness in the body and antagonize the effects of excessive fineness and consequentially increased vata.

Fineness is caused by increased vata in body. Bulkiness is caused by increased kapha. Bulkiness also causes increase in kapha. Kapha is antagonistic to vata. Bulkiness induced by kapha antagonizes and balances excessive fineness caused by increased vata.

When morbid vata is taken under control by bulkiness quality, excessive fineness caused by vata also decreases consequentially. Thus, bulkiness, when in a state of balance, antagonizes hyper-activity of fineness quality, makes the body bulky and stout, restores tissue balance, expels excreta and also relieves thinness of the body.

Bulkiness also supports tissues which were destroyed due to increased fineness and vata in body. Bulkiness, when balanced, promotes formation of tissues and also counteracts vata and nullifies its hyperactivity. All these events would eventually restore health.
Read – How To Balance Vata Dosha? Line Of Treatment And Reasoning

Salient features of Bulkiness quality

Bulkiness in terms of substances medicinal herbs and food substances – Bulkiness is a quality which can be perceived by eyes when it is an external feature, as seen in obese people who look stout and bulky. Inside the body, its effects can be appreciated through its actions.

Actions of increased bulkiness can be perceived in the form of increased kapha symptoms in the body. Obstruction and slowing down of physical and mental activities, lethargy, gain in weight, metabolic disorders, sluggish metabolism, excessive sleepiness etc are some of the symptoms which depict the picture of increased bulkiness in the body. Its actions can also be appreciated by its capacity to destroy thinness, destroy hyperactivity of vata, easy passage of faeces, block and cause obstruction at many places of the body, its tendency to increase kapha and also to support tissues when in a state of balance.
Read – Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Vata Dosha Body Type

These events happen following consumption of foods, medicines and treatments which have bulkiness quality in them.

That which is large in size, does not have the ability to get absorbed easily into cells and channels of the body and also to spread in the body i.e. gets dissolved, absorbed and spreads very slowly, and undergoes slow transformation due to its heaviness is called ‘sthula guna’ i.e. ‘bulkiness quality’.

यस्य संवरणे शक्तिः स स्थूलः।हेमाद्रि॥

Those which have capability and strength to produce obstruction and stagnation in channels and tissues of the body is called sthula guna i.e. bulkiness quality. Bulkiness, being heavy to digest and owing to delayed transformation and also due to its large size, causes obstruction in the passages of the body, hampering all activities. It also contributes to bulk and size of the body and contributes towards gaining weight’

Bulkiness quality may be introduced or induced in the body by administering medicines, food or activities having bulkiness quality predominantly.

Elemental relationship

Bulkiness quality is mainly related to earth element. Earth element too has bulkiness quality.
Read – Relationship Between Doshas And Basic Elements (Pancha Mahabhuta)

Combination of earth and water elements make up kapha dosha. Therefore bulkiness which is formed by and dependent on earth element also increases kapha in the body. Earth is heavy in nature and has gravitation. Due to its heaviness it is bulky and difficult to move. It is most often stagnant if not mobilised by a greater force. Earth element bestows the same qualities to the bulkiness quality. Foods and medicines rich in earth element are slow acting.

Due to the presence of earth element, bulkiness quality does not move easily nor get dissolved in the body. It undergoes delayed transformation and hampers metabolism. As a result it tends to increase kapha, which has similar qualities and also causes blocks in the channels of the body. This leads to stagnation of substances, unwanted cell debris, excreta and toxins adding to the bulk of the body.
Read – Panchamahabhuta: Application, Areas of Utility in Ayurveda treatment

Bulkiness, increases kapha and destroys vata. Therefore, when in a state of balance, bulkiness helps in combating vata increase and also nullifies hyperactivity of vata, thus leading to restoration of tissue balance.

Medicines and foods rich in earth element will naturally induce bulkiness in the body parts.
Read – Kapha Dosha Dominant Places in Our Body

Effect on doshas

Bulkiness quality increases kapha and mitigates vata. Kapha naturally tends to increase bulkiness quality. Thus, kapha induces bulkiness in the body. Anything which increases bulkiness in the body also increases kapha. Similarly anything which increases kapha also increases bulkiness.

Vata dosha tends to cause fineness in the body. Increase in vata will cause increased fineness in the body. Increased fineness destroys tissues and paves way for manifestation of many diseases. Fineness, increased beyond limits also causes increase in vata. These events consequently cause further destruction of tissues and many functions of the body. 
Read – Decrease Of Tissues – Dhatu Kshaya – Reasoning, Symptoms

In such conditions, bulkiness should be induced by administration of foods, activities, medicines and therapies which have bulkiness quality in them. Bulkiness being antagonistic to fineness quality, reduces fineness and induces bulkiness in the body.

Bulkiness also increases kapha. Kapha is antagonistic to vata. Increased kapha and bulkiness quality will nullify hyper-activity of vata and also reduce fineness. This also prevents unnecessary destruction of tissues which has been caused by increased vata caused by excessive fineness in the body. Thus, bulkiness helps in keeping the body healthy.
Read – Lifestyle, Food And Factors That Cause Increase Of Kapha Dosha

Effect on Tissues

Bulkiness quality increases tissues i.e. it builds up tissues in a healthy way. This is possible when bulkiness quality and kapha increased by that quality are in balanced proportions. When in a state of balance, bulkiness quality helps in forming tissues and keeps them in balanced proportions.

It also restores and replenishes tissues which have undergone destruction and damage owing to the increase in vata caused by excessive fineness quality which is the antagonist quality of bulkiness.
Read – Vata Increase Caused Due to Tissue Depletion: Dhatu kshaya

Bulkiness also counteracts hyperactivity of vata and thus prevents further destruction of tissues. When abnormally increased and out of balance, bulkiness quality increases kapha to pathological proportions.

This increased kapha causes destruction of metabolism in gut and tissue levels. Tissues are either formed in a slow manner or there is severe accumulation of unwanted tissues due to weak tissue and core metabolism. Waste products of tissue metabolism are also not cleared out and get stagnated in tissues leading to swelling of tissues.

Over a period of time these stagnations become toxic to the body. All these mechanisms happen due to multiple blocks caused in various channels of the body and also in tissues caused by kapha which has undergone severe increase owing to increased bulkiness quality in the body.
Read – Symptoms Of Doshas Associated Ama – Treatment Principle

Both kapha and bulkiness are antagonistic to vata. When vata builds up in body, it causes undue destruction of tissues. Tissues are quickly destroyed and makes backdrop for development of many diseases. Strength, endurance and immunity become less due to tissue destruction. Bulkiness controls vata, prevents destruction of tissues, forms tissues in healthy way and restores their balance, thereby restoring strength and immunity.

When opposite quality of bulkiness i.e. fineness gets increased in the body, it causes destruction of tissues leading to loss of strength and immunity. This causes increase of vata and when vata gets vitiated beyond limits, it further causes destruction of tissues. All these events create a suitable environment for manifestation of many disorders. In these conditions, foods, medicines and therapies having bulkiness quality should be administered to combat ill-effects of increased fineness and subsequent increase of vata in severe form.
Read – Doshas And Ayurvedic Immunology

When bulkiness increases abnormally it increases kapha. Severe kapha aggravation leads to excessive formation and accumulation of unwanted tissues in the body. This happens due to slowing down of metabolism, obstruction and stagnation caused in the body by increased kapha.

Multiple obstructions and stagnation depletes tissues and organs of their nutrition and important life-sustaining components and also causes retention of wastes and toxins in the body. Eventually, following all these events, body becomes susceptible for many diseases.
Read – How To Know That Your Digestion System Is Working Fine?

This condition can be handled by administration of foods and medicines having fineness quality. Fineness scrapes off unwanted tissues and removes them in a healthy way and restores their balance. This enables the body to recover from bad effects caused by increased bulkiness and kapha. Fineness also destroys kapha which has gained an abnormal increase due to excessive bulkiness in the body.

Effect on Excreta

Bulkiness brings about heaviness and smoothness in excreta, mainly faeces and enables its easy expulsion. This property is used to treat conditions like constipation. Increased fineness and consequent increase of vata will dry faeces and cause constipation.
Read – Tri Malas – The Three Major Waste Matters Of Body

Bulkiness being antagonistic to fineness and vata will cure constipation. When bulkiness increases beyond limits, it may cause excessive expulsion of excreta and cause conditions like diarrhoea, excessive urination etc.

Effect on systemic functions

स्थूलः स्थौल्य करो देहे स्रोतसाम् अवरोध कृत्।भा.प्र।

Bulkiness can be used to treat pathological conditions caused due to increased fineness quality and also due to consequent increase of vata. Bulkiness would eventually remove excessive fineness caused in the body. Thus it is useful in treating conditions like under-weight and emaciation.
Read – Brimhana Therapy – Nourishing Ayurvedic Treatment Principle

Bulkiness is used to increase tissues which have been damaged and destroyed by increased fineness and increased vata. Thus, bulkiness is used to treat thinness and emaciation caused by pathological increase of fineness and vata dosha.

Since bulkiness increases muscle tissue, body gains strength and support. Muscles have been determinants of balanced health according to Ayurveda and their balance is mandatory for the body to be healthy. At the same time, fat tissue in normal and balanced proportions is needed for lubrication and protection of all structures in the body. Fat too adds to bulk of the body and balanced bulkiness causes balance of fat tissue in the body. Thus, bulkiness adds to the strength, endurance and immunity.

Since bulkiness increases kapha, it causes kapha features in the body. It provides unctuousness and dampness to faeces and makes its voiding easy. Thus, it is beneficial in treatment of constipation and retention of urine. On When bulkiness increases in the body in an abnormal way, it may lead to excessive defecation and increased urine output.
Read – Dysuria: Causes, Remedies, Tips, Diet, Ayurvedic Treatment

Since bulkiness builds up tissues, it helps in restoration of tissue health when in state of balance. It restores all cells destroyed and damaged by increased fineness and abnormal increase in vata.

Bulkiness quality increases kapha in the body which is antagonistic to vata. Therefore bulkiness is used to treat high vata conditions. It is also used in promoting bulk and curing thinness.

Excessive increase of kapha caused due to increased bulkiness in the body is also harmful for the body and tissues, because increased kapha would cause excessive obstruction in many passages and tissues of the body resulting in stagnation and congestion. This would eventually lead to deterioration in strength due to deficit nutrition. To counteract the effect of excessive bulkiness quality, foods and medicines having sukshma guna i.e. fineness quality should be administered.
Read – Diseases Due To Pathological Muscle Tissue – Mamsa Pradoshaja Rogas

Bulkiness quality is heavy to digest. Its transformation is slow paced. Therefore foods and medicines which are rich in bulkiness quality undergo delayed digestion, conversion and absorption. As a result they spread slowly all through the body.

Effect of excessive consumption

When foods having bulkiness quality are excessively consumed, they lead to excessive accumulation of tissues and fluidity leading to congestion and stagnation of unwanted things, excreta and toxins.

They also will cause excessive elimination of excreta. Excessive bulkiness also causes abnormal increase in kapha. Increased kapha consequentially causes block in many channels leading to congestion and stagnation.

Kapha also slows down metabolism and manifests many kapha disorders. Excessive bulkiness may totally destroy its antagonist property i.e. fineness which is essential for many body functions. 
Read – Intimate And Distant Causes Of Disease: Sannikrushta, Viprakrushta Nidan

Examples of foods and medicines having bulkiness quality

  • Pishtaka – flour preparations
  • Dadhi – curds etc

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