Doshas in Relation to Age, Season and Time of Day

By Dr. Regina Antony
As per Ayurveda, the three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha dominate, in sequential orders with regards to lifespan, food digestion time, day and night.


As per Ashtanga Hrudayam Sutrasthana 1st chapter,
Though a balanced state of Doshas in the body is essential to maintain good health, they vary naturally based on the age of a person, time of the day and according to the phase of digestion.

In a person’s life,
Childhood is dominated by Kapha,
Middle age is dominated by Pitta,
Old age is dominated by Vata.

During the day and in night (separately),
First part is dominated by Kapha,
Second part is dominated by Pitta and

Third part is dominated by Vata.
While eating and during digestion,

First part (gastric phase) is dominated by Kapha,
Second part (intestinal phase) is dominated by Pitta and Third part (colonic phase) is dominated by Vata.

Factors Kapha
Age Childhood
(~1-25 years)
Middle age
(~25-60 years)
Old age(~60
and above)
Day Morning Afternoon Evening
Night Early
Mid night Late night
(1st phase)
Intestinal phase
(2nd phase)
Colonic phase
(3rd phase)

Doshas and age

Variation of Doshas based on age –
In the first 25-30 years of life, Kapha will be naturally dominant in all people. The predominance of Kapha during childhood and adolescence helps in nourishment and growth of body tissues.

This is one of the reasons why children suffer from weak digestion and respiratory disorders like cold and cough, early in the childhood.

Hence, it is a good idea to include a small amount of spices in this period. Spices keep Kapha in balance, promote the healthy functioning of digestion and respiratory system.
Read related – Activities And Diet For Kapha Balance

The first two decades is the time period with maximum body growth. Hence, care should be taken to include a variety of high nutrition food during this period. The food should have good amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and even fats.
One may argue that, high nutrition diet can increase Kapha further. This slight increase in Kapha due to high nutrition diet is balanced down by the use of spices in diet. Because there is rapid body growth, fully nourished Kapha Dosha will be very useful to promote the nourishment and growth of all the body tissues.

In the mid part of lifespan, i.e. between 25 to 60 years of age,Pitta dosha will be naturally dominant. Middle aged people are more prone to suffer from Pitta related conditions like gastritis, burning sensation, early greying of hairs etc.
During this period of life, Pitta calming diet, with fewer amounts of spices and more amounts of sweet, astringent and bitter foods should be advised. Some of the advisable ingredients to balance down Pitta are – raisins, sweet fruits, pomegranate, pointed gourd, cucumber, milk, dairy products, ghee etc.
Read related – Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Pitta Dosha Body Type
Above 60 years of age, Vata will be dominant, irrespective of our body types. In old age, people very often suffer from degenerative diseases like weak memory, brain tissue degeneration, lack of sleep, osteoarthritis, which is due to the predominance of Vata. Hence old people should be encouraged to undergo oil massage and to take more of oils, fats, ghee, sweet and sour foods.
Read related – Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Vata Dosha Body Type

Usage of ghee and coconut oil in diet helps to promote memory and sleep very well.
Sesame oil is the ideal cooking oil, as it is the best ingredient to balance Vata Dosha.

Doshas and time

Variation of Doshas based on time of the day –
If day and night are divided into three equal parts each, the first part is Kapha dominant, the second part is dominated by Pitta and the last part by Vata.
During olden times, people used to have only two meal times. At around 10-11 am and 7-8 pm.
As they were following only two meal times, both breakfast and dinner were of equally high in nutrition.
11 am was considered ideal, as this is the time the Kapha domination in the day would end and Pitta would get stimulated. This high state of Pitta helps to digest the breakfast very efficiently.
During night, at around 7 or 8, just ahead of Kapha dosha dominance, dinner was consumed.

In this modern day with three meal time becoming pretty much the norm, highly nutritious diet in the morning, moderate quantity, Pitta calming diet in the afternoon and lesser quantity of food at night is recommended.

Doshas and time

Variation of Doshas based on phase of digestion
Based on the period of digestion of food, the first part of digestion is Kapha predominant. Hence, we feel full, heavy and sleepy soon after meals.
Second part of digestion is Pitta predominant. During this period, the food particles from stomach enter into intestines, where major part of digestion takes place, under the influence of Pachaka Pitta Dosha.  
The third part of digestion is Vata predominant. During this period, the digested nutritious part of food is absorbed into the body. The waste part enters into the large intestine. Here, the watery portion is re-absorbed and feces are formed under the influence of Samana Vata and Apana Vata.
Read related – Formation Of Doshas In Avastha Paka

Doshas and season

Variation of Dosha based on season
Doshas respond to changes occurring in seasons in form of undergoing increase and decrease.
In response to seasons, doshas show three types of response. They are –
1. Sanchaya (Chaya) – Local increase of Doshas in their own sites, due to the influence of season.
2. Prakopa (Kopa) – Local aggravation of Doshas in their own site, in next season (season following sanchaya season) favourable for their aggravation
3. Prashama (Shamana) – Natural decrease of Doshas towards their normal state in next season (season following prakopa season), under the influence of the season.

Doshas Dosha Sanchaya Dosha Prakopa Dosha Prashama
Vata Summer (Greeshma) Raining season (Varsha) Autumn (Sharat)
Pitta Raining season (Varsha) Autumn
Early winter (Hemanta)
Kapha Late winter
Spring (Vasanta) Summer

From the above table, it is clear that, Vata, Pitta and Kapha are dominant during rainy, autumn and spring seasons.
Especially in these three seasons, one should follow respective Dosha balancing foods and activities.
Read related – Normal Vitiation of Doshas As Per Seasonal Variation

Immunity decreases and Vata increases with Age

During childhood, I was able to tolerate high spicy diet, but now, in my 30s, a moderate amount of spice burns the stomach. 
Dr JV Hebbar

I propose a theory called linear recovery fallacy. Fallacy is something people naturally believe in some concept but it is not actually true. 
If a child eats a little more than its stomach capacity, then a little bit more exercise or games will help the her burn the excess calories easily. This is because there are no underlying illnesses in the child, the metabolism is very fast, there is less amount of fat, the body is growing very fast, so whatever the excess calories consumed, will be quickly used up by the body, so they feel nothing.
But if a man in 40, borderline obese, borderline diabetic person eats a little more, it takes a lot of effort for him to burn those extra calories, his already existing fat deposit, decreasing metabolism, aging process setting in, mental stress etc. make the process of burning calories a lot tougher. 
So, calorie intake = calorie burnt; this formula does not work precisely, past the young age. 

When the blood sugar level goes down to a small extent, if you take a little sugar or jaggery, the sugar spikes back up to normalcy.
But in a diabetic person, if overdoses on medicines, if it leads to severe decrease in sugar level, the brain, the internal organs, liver, heart, lungs etc. at that stage, giving him some sugar may bring the sugar back to normalcy but the damage that is done to the internal organs will not be reversed automatically.
Read related: Diabetes: Ayurvedic Treatment, Remedies, Prevention Tips

You roam under hot afternoon sun and feel excessive body heat. You take a coolant cucumber juice, the body’s temperature is restored back to normalcy. Pitta Dosha went up linearly high, the cucumber juice brought it back to normalcy linearly. 

But in case of fever, when the body temperature is raised, the same cucumber juice might not be able to bring down the temperature to normalcy. Here, Pitta Dosha has increased to a very high extent, it has vitiated Agni, has caused ama etc. The increase here is no longer linear and hence it will not decrease just with the linear counter balancing approach. 

Joint pain due to an injury to the knee is taken care by application of Mahanarayana oil alone, in a young patient. But the same in an old person, the oil application will not be sufficient because with age, Vata Dosha increases naturally to a high level. 
In Ayurveda, when Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha, are mildly increased, they can be brought back to normalcy. But when they go beyond a certain point, the amount of treatment required to bring them back to normalcy will be huge. 
Read related: Stage-wise Disease Manifestation

Now, coming back to the original question, during childhood, Kapha is dominant, which protects the stomach from spices. But during the 30s, Kapha goes down and Pitta goes up naturally, leading to decreased tolerance to spices. 
Childhood – Kapha dosha dominance 
25-55 years – Pitta dosha dominance 
Beyond 55 year – Vata dosha dominance

Few points to note with the above examples: 
Things go up and come down linearly only when the spike is small. 
Beyond a certain limit, what goes up, may not come down very easily. 
Older you get, the lower the chances of linear decrease. 
Older a disease gets, the less the chances of linear recovery. 
As you age, the amount of effort required to restore balance will go higher and higher.
As the Dosha increases, the collateral damage that the Dosha does becomes more complex.
Do not take your health for granted. More you preserve, longer you live healthy.

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