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The Five Elements and the Three Doshas
The power of the five elements

Ancient schools of medicine believed that the five basic elements of nature were the raw material that constituted all matter, living or non-living. Siddha medicine holds that these elements combine in various levels to form the various aspects of man.

The combinations are indicated in the table below.

 Elements  Earth  Water  Fire  Air  Space
 Earth  Bones  Muscles  Skin  Nerves  Hair
 Water  Saliva  Urine  Sweat  Blood  Semen
 Fire  Hunger  Thirst  Sleep  Fear  Coitus
 Air  Lying down  Walking  Running  Climbing  Jumping
 Space  Avarice  Hatred  Fear  Shyness  Desire

The Tridosha Theory
  • Air and Space together form Vatham
  • Fire is present as Pitham
  • Earth and Water form Kapham

If these three components are present in the right proportion, a person is said to be physically healthy. But a fine balance is difficult to achieve and illness results. This forms the basis of the tridosha theory.


What is the seat of Vadham?

The seat of Vadham is below the naval. (Urinary bladder, pelvis, umbilical chord, thigh, bone, skin, nerve endings, musculature, joints, hair roots.)

What are the functions that Vadham regulates?

Stimulation, respiration, thinking, sensory functions, co-ordination of the seven physical constituents, reflex actions.

What happens when Vadha increases?

This results in wasting away of the body, a black hue, tremors, distended abdomen, constipation, weakness, insomnia, and lack of inspiration.

What happens when Vadham decreases?

This leads to body pain, feeble voice, low functioning of the brain and brief loss of consciousness.

What is the temperament of the person who has a Vadham constitution?

Such a person tends to have excessive appetite, low physical ability, excessive love for rich food and a dislike of cold foodstuff. He or she has a low sex drive and is indecisive. He is belligerent, likes sports and music. He does not sleep well and dreams of mountain forests or space.


Where is the seat of Pitha?

The seat of Pitha is between the heart and the navel. Sweat, lymph, heart, blood, stomach, urinary bladder, saliva, eye, and skin.

What are the functions of Pitha?

It regulates body temperature, colour of the skin, vision, sweat, and digestion.

What happens when Pitha increases?

Thirst and appetite increase, there is burning sensation, more sweat and less sleep. There is a yellow hue about the eyes, the skin and faeces.

What happens when Pitha decreases?

The reactions are similar to an increase in Kapha - No appetite, a fall in temperature, and paleness.

What is the temperament of a person with a predominant Pitha constitution?

Such a person is normally disciplined, but is unable to resist hunger. He is prone to thirst, anger, and fear. He likes sweet, astringent, bitter and cold food. He is emotional, likes perfumes and cosmetics, talks a lot, has a flair for knowledge and he loves others. He dreams that he is amidst flowering trees, lightning, fire or is surrounded by bright light.

Where is the seat of Kapha?

Above the heart, the stomach, fat, sperm, tongue, uvula, bone marrow, blood, bones, nerves, large intestines, eyes, joints.

What are the functions of Kapha?

It builds the body and gives it strength. It gives lustre to the skin and cools the eye. It gives a whitish colour to the skin, eye and faeces.

What happens when Kapha increases?

Excess salivation, excess sleep, heaviness, cough, diminished activity, loss of appetite and dyspnoea.

What are the characteristics of a person with a Kapha constitution?

He is said to have a sattvic frame of mind. He does not usually crave for food. He likes bitter, pungent, and hot food. He can control appetite, stress, fear, and heat. He is polite and determined, keeps company of the elite. He dreams of lotus ponds, humming birds and moving clouds.

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