The Problematic Dosha-Quizzes

Q: I have filled out a few online dosha-quizzes and think I have a vata problem. Can you treat this?

A: First of all, Ayurveda is a complete medical system, and no one person can be stereotyped into a dosha per se. A dosha means a blemish or vitiation itself, so it’s often what can be a natural tendency within a person, whereas the vikriti or disease outside of this is a deviation from the norm.

Secondly, there is often a misconception about Ayurvedic doshas reflecting “body-mind” types. Ayurvedic psychology (bhutavidya or graha chikitsa) is itself a specialised limb within Ayurveda and assesses the mind and it’s disorders in a very specific manner outside that of the so-called doshas of vata, pitta, kapha and their combinations, although sometimes these are used in disease – but are not limitations alone. Not all diseases can be neatly classified into such, and due to numerous combinations of them, each disorder manifests specific traits relative to each which is known only to a highly-trained Ayurvedic practitioner, or Vaidya

Thirdly, the dosha-quiz model often fails as we tend to project our own ideas about ourselves rather than consistent traits. Variations such as in female menstrual cycles or emotional factors, the age and sex of a person, genetic factors, one’s race and suitabilities, one’s diet, quality of food, digestion, underlying mental issues (that may stem from karmic issues, congenital or childhood trauma) can alter these, as can the seasons and even changes of foods and diets due to various soil types and crops being cultivated around the world (as an example, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins, capsicums, corn, chillies etc. are native to the Americas).

The quality of foods, drugs and lands, as well as numerous other dietary and lifestyle factors have to be assessed in a clinical setting, as well as your response to questions in addition to a clinical examination that brings in differential diagnosis in both the more ‘natural’ state and also disorder(s) you are currently suffering, and the way forward.

Clinical Ayurveda looks at subtle factors that make up the doshas as well as other factors previously mentioned. For those not trained in this medical system, which has over 1100 diseases and a highly-evolved surgical system, one of detoxification, understanding of seasonal, weather patterns, food energetics etc. as well as an extensive pharmacopoeia that has its own indications and contraindications as with allopathic medicine – will find it difficult to navigate, just as one surfing on WebMD or Googling symptoms and self-diagnosing, which is extremely dangerous.

Q: Once I had an Ayurvedic Consultation and I was told I was a Kapha-Pitta person, but a quiz indicates something else. Another Consultation revealed I was Vata-Kapha. Why is this?

A: First of all, as mentioned aforehand, we have to be very careful about assessing things and take note of specifically what we have been told. Some Ayurvedic practitioners will tend to work on the disorder, some may give recommendations as per your age and sex alone seeing it as a major factor, digestive power and sex, and one may be working simply with lifestyle recommendations as per your phenotype or biological type, based on their own analysis of you.

As also noted, it depends which methods they have implemented as well. Some may just go on answers you gave during a written test-sheet, or cross-examine you. So, we first have to understand what information was given, why and what exactly it applied to.

Some also understand Ayurveda only from a Naturopathic or New-Age model of stereotypes, whilst others may project their own analysis of you based upon their own and project these. Some may also be more sensitive to one dosha within a person at any one given time, and some may be basing it on the pulse, but not understanding the deeper facets of this science which has its own indications and aspects that have to be weighed up, and takes a lot of practice, examination and study – especially in disease, to perfect. Eating, drinking, exercise, anxiety, exposure to cold and heat before and after this can alter readings, where it is only possible for very highly trained and intuitive practitioners to differentiate.

Q: I read that taking Triphala and Vegan-diet was best for me.  Should I continue with this, as I’m feeling much better?

A: People will often feel ‘better’ when they take anything lighter and any substance that helps with their elimination, but this is not indicative of proper health or healing.

Ayurveda looks at long-term effects rather than short-term effects, relative to life-long than just over a few weeks, months or even years. Disorders can manifest due to excesses of anything – whether foods or impressions, lifestyle regimes or exercise as even yoga practices, which have to be specific, rather than generic for everyone.

While some herbal formulas can be good for one and all, some such as Triphala can cause griping in some people and may have opposite effects, due to their metabolism, so your GI health has to be assessed clinically first. It is often taken along with other specific herbs or even compound and combined formulas depending on what is best for you given all of the factors we have previously discussed, viz. age, sex, metabolism, mental state, tendencies, location, climate, seasons, lifestyle etc.

Relative to diets, no diet suits one and all. Note our article here that discusses this aspect in more detail, relative to Ayurveda.

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