In Ayurvedic medicine, spices normalize digestion, helping balance a person's physiology and personality, or dosha. Read our related article, "What is your body type" to figure out which of the three doshas below best represents you. Then feed your dosha the spices it needs.
Embodying air and wind, vatas tend toward lean physiques; creative, impatient, nervous personalities; and fragile digestion, says Mark Halpern, MD, founder and president of the California College of Ayurveda in Grass Valley. Try fresh ginger and ground cinnamon to stabilize digestion, plus salt to increase digestive fire and calm your nervous system.
The pitta dosha, containing strong elements of fire and bile, begets passionate personalities. Natural leaders, pittas have fair skin, warm hands, and average builds. This type requires spices that stabilize the body without overheating it. Use fennel and coriander to cool the body down and cardamom to balance your digestive system.
Kapha types, associated with the water element, tend to be heavier-set with slow digestion. When imbalanced, a kapha's loyal, loving, responsible character may turn into depression. Benefit your dosha with spices that stimulate metabolic activity and dry up mucus, such as black pepper, crushed red pepper, and cloves.