Physiological Elements : Kapha

Kapha dosha is composed of earth and water. These properties make this dosha stable, and it is responsible for growth and homeostasis of the body. Kapha dosha is produced in the body as a post-digestive product (in the form of energy), and its quality and quantity depend on the substances consumed and their proper digestion.

Kapha dosha is responsible for the cohesion of the body throughout life. It gives the body weight, mass and stability. Due to its water and earth components, it is cold, heavy, steady, dull, viscous and strong. It lubricates and moisturizes body tissues, thus maintaining their smooth functioning. It replaces old cells, heals wounds and balances the corrosive properties of pitta and vata. Kapha also works on mental and emotional levels, giving calmness and steadiness to the mind. Its properties are similar to ojas, which is the supreme strength or energy, produced after a metabolic cycle, giving vigor, strength and energy to the body and increasing resistance and immune power.

Like vata and pitta, kapha functions throughout the body. Its main sites are the mucous-producing tissues and organs, including those in the chest and gastric regions, palate, joints, plasma and lymph.

Types of kapha:

Kapha is classified according to the site of its function; the types are known as kledak, bhodhak, tarpakaa, avalambaka and shleshaka kapha.

Kledak kapha functions in the chest and gastric area. It lubricates ingested food, forming it into soft, moisturized balls for ease of passage through the esophagus, stomach and lower digestive tracts. It helps gastric juices to mix with and soften food, so it becomes easier to digest. If sweet, starchy, heavy and liquid foods are eaten often, more kapha is produced and the body becomes heavy and bulky.

Bodhak kapha is found in the region of the tongue, palate and throat and keeps the oral cavity lubricated. As food is chewed, bhodhak kapha moisturizes and softens the food, making it easier to swallow. It also moisturizes the mouth to facilitate talking as well as eating.

Avalambak kapha is found in the chest, where respiration and circulation take place. Because these activities are constant, the tissues in this region undergo considerable friction, wear and tear, and catabolic destruction. Thus, avalambak kapha strengthens and lubricates the heart and lung tissues to combat these effects. In the respiratory tract, avalambak kapha prevents damage to soft tissues and mucous linings caused by inhaled air and other particles.

Tarpak kapha is present in the area of the head and the spinal cord. Tarpak kapha lubricates nerve tissue and enables it to carry impulses from the brain organs. It supplies nutrition to the brain, prevents wear and tear and drying of brain tissue, and acts as a shock absorber in head trauma.

Shleshak kapha is found in all joints, providing lubrication to soften friction caused by movement. It exists in the form of synovial fluid within the joint space. If it diminishes, the bones become brittle, and movements will be difficult and painful.