The kapha principle can be translated as biological water. It is considered to be formed from earth and water elements. Kapha governs the structure of the body. It is the principle that holds the cells together and forms the muscle, fat, bone, and sinew. The primary function of Kapha is protection. The Kapha dosha also regulates biological strength, vigor, stability, and natural tissue resistance. It lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin, gives energy to the heart and lungs, helps heal wounds, and fills the spaces in the body. Kapha activates the anabolic or growth forces in the body – one reason kapha people tend to become overweight. Kapha manifests as mucus in the chest, throat, nose, sinuses, mouth, joints, and cytoplasm.
People with a kapha constitution have well-developed bodies. They have the type of physical constitutions we may stereotype as football linemen. Kapha people have a slow digestion, made even slower by oily or fatty foods. They do well with pungent, bitter, and astringent foods, which often help to bring them into balance. They are especially thrown out of balance by sweet (which they often crave), sour, and salty foods. Excessively sweet fruits may also cause a derangement. The one exception to this is raw honey, which is considered a main dietary antidote to a kapha imbalance. All dairy products, with the exception of some goat milk products, tend to cause derangement in kapha. Goat milk has slightly astringent qualities that help minimize the kapha imbalance. Kapha people generally are not very thirsty and should not drink the eight glasses of liquid per day that are supposed to be so healthy for everyone.
Exercise is very important for kapha people. They do poorly if they do not get sufficient or regular exercise, or if they nap during the day. It was a relief for the author to discover that his predominant kapha physical constitution was the cause for his need for exercise, not feeling good after day naps, and slow digestion, made even slower with oil.
Tolerance, calmness, forgiveness, and Love are predominant kapha characteristics. They are also characterized as righteous, generous, steadfast in friendship, stable of mind, given to measured and deliberate speech, enthusiastic, and understanding. They have tendencies toward greed, attachment, envy, and possessiveness. Intellectually, they may be slow to comprehend, but once they grasp a concept they retain it well. Their symbolic animal archetypes are bull, lion, elephant, horse, or football lineman (in college, the author was a football lineman). Kapha constitutions are thrown into imbalance in cold and damp weather. For example, during the author’s first year in India, his nose never dripped, but within one-half hour of stepping out of the plane into the damp, cold London climate, his nose began to run. Kapha people benefit most from the mucusless diet. Exercise, fasting, and heat are also important treatments for people with kapha dosha aggravation or constitution.
Symptoms of kapha derangement are heaviness, drowsiness, constipation, itching, skin disease, dullness, laziness, depression, and excess mucus production. When they’re out of balance, Kapha types may become overweight, sleep excessively, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression. Excess Kapha in the mind manifests as resistance to change and stubbornness. In the face of stress, the typical Kapha response is, “I don’t want to deal with it.”