Onions and Garlic. Staples on a cold winter day.
However, for food as Medicine, according to Ayurveda, onions and garlic have what we will call, a mixed message,
On the tongue, during the moments of taste, onions seem warming. Rasa is the word we use for the taste in the mouth. But the longterm effect of a food, called vipak, is more important, in the long run. For the vipak affects the physiology, the use of the food for fuel, for medicine, for nourishment. This is how we can get away with something that we might consider ” bad for me, but it doesn’t seem to bother me.”
This “bother” is the slow effect, the effect over time. In something like drugs or alcohol, the longterm effect become a degradation, an addiction, it wears down the organs and the systems of the body. Even though it seems to begin with Just one.
Well, this is a long way from the subject of Onions – and garlic by association. Although the immediate taste of an onion is pungent, warming. In your intestinal tract, post-digestion, these two foods are cooling, hard to digest. Raw onion is not enjoyed by someone who is prone to unbalanced Vata. They will tell you so. On a very cold and windy day, the negative effect is even greater. These are qualities of Vata and they will seek to unbalance
And so, in Ayurveda, we learn that Opposites are balancing. Available now, leeks and shallots are sweet, better choices during cold weather. Onions and garlic also become sweeter – and lighter – when they are cooked . For Pitta and Vata the alternatives ( cooking onions or substituting leeks) will help to balance if they are taken in small quantities ( Little Bits ) . Kapha is well-suited to an Onion in all of its Pungent forms.