Week I • Elemental Herbalism


Elements + DOSHAs

You’ll learn how they present themselves in the body and how they make up your own unique constitution.



As humans, we already have an innate connection with the elements, but just need reminders to tap into them.

  • WHY the Elements are so helpful 

    • These elements are the building blocks of life. They are the key to our life force.  Without ether, air, fire, water, + earth, we wouldn’t be here.

    • We can tune into the language of the elements at any time because they are around us and apart of us. There’s really no separation, though the more we learn how to recognize their patterns, the easier it becomes to use them as tools for balance.

    • As humans, we already have an innate connection with the elements, but just need reminders to tap into them.

    • All ancient cultures saw the elements as the base of their healing modalities.

  • HOW can we use the elements 

    • We can use the elements bring our bodies back into balance with remedies specific to what we need moment to moment. The elements help us decide what foods would be the most nourishing, what plants would be the most healing and what practices would be the most grounding.

    • It’s a giant step beyond the allopathic approach of giving the same drug to many different people. It takes into account your uniqueness and offers multiple avenues for remedies in the form of food, medicinal herbs and healing practices.

    • Though it might seem simple to boil it all down to an elemental level, aligning with the elements is a powerful way to make tangible shifts in how we feel, think and move in the world.


    • Our dosha is our foundation, our baseline. Throughout life we experience events, traumas, surgeries, illness or loss that can throw us out of balance and another element or dosha will fill in the gaps.
    • A lot of times when people refer to their dosha, they only refer to their primary dosha--vata, pitta, or kapha. But, most of us actually have two doshas. We usually take one dosha from each of our parents and in turn, it makes up our constitution. We have a primary dosha and a secondary dosha. Primary is the more dominant dosha and secondary is not as upfront, but is still within us. Some are tri-doshic, but that is actually pretty rare. 
    • So think about some of the qualities you share with your mother or your father. These can be both physical and emotional qualities, but it will give you a sense of what make up your primary + secondary doshas.

Let’s look at the doshas and their qualities to start investigating which ones make up our primary + secondary doshas.

  • Ayurveda refers to the 5 elements as ETHER, AIR, FIRE, WATER + EARTH
  • Each of the elements contains one of these 4 qualities: COLD, DRY, HOT or WET
  • These 4 qualities are the clues that show us how the elements are showing up physically in the body.

Here are a few quick examples before we dive in:

  • COLD - cold hands, cold feet
  • DRY - dry skin, hair or nails 
  • HOT - rashes, inflammation 
  • WET - mucus, excess fluids 



EXERCISE: Write down any elemental patterns you've experienced most throughout your life or during childhood. 


These 4 qualities are then what make up the 3 doshas: Vata, Pitta + Kapha

HOW The elements Create the doshas


Vata: Ether + Air 

  • Qualities: COLD + DRY  
  • Ether (Empty space) + Air (Wind) 
  • Mantra of Vata: CONSTANT CHANGE

  • Processes: Releasing gaseous waste

  • Organs: Hollow - lungs, heart, small intestine + colon
  • Tissues: Bones + nerves
  • Important to focus on nourishing these bones + nerves when Vata dominant dosha
  • Symptoms of imbalance:

    • Physical: dry hair, skin or nails, cold extremities, cracking joints, tends towards constipation or dry hard "pellet like" stool.

    • Emotional: anxiety, indecision, fear, worry 







Organized, disciplined, spiritual and does well with and is responsible for routine 


Balanced Pitta


 Dedicated, goal oriented, intellectual and responsible for leadership

PITTA: Fire + Water 

  • Qualities: HOT + WET
  • Fire (Action) + Water (Digestive Liquids)
  • Mantra of Pitta: FOCUSED ACTION

  • Process: Assimilation + Absorption

  • Organs: stomach, gallbladder, liver, spleen

  • Tissues: Muscles + fat cells, adipose/skin

  • Important to focus on nourishing these tissues + organs

  • Symptoms of imbalance : 

    • Physical: excess heat/sweating, inflamed skin, rashes,

      tends towards bacterial infections, loose stool + headache
    • Emotional: irritation, anger, frustration 

Balanced Kapha


 Steady, Grounded, motherLy instinct, Nuturer, humanitarian + responsible for nourishment

KAPHA: Water  + Earth  

  • Qualities: COLD + WET
  • Water (Liquid) + Earth (Solid) 
  • Earth + Water can create mud if not in balance

  • Process: Expectoration + Urination

  • Organs: "Waterways of the body" - cardiovascular, kidney, bladder, pericardium

  • Tissues: Lymph,, blood (2 liquid tissues)

  • Important to focus on nourishing blood + lymph when Kapha dominant

  • Symptoms of imbalance

    • Physical: Congestion in respiratory or digestive systems, bloating + gas, loss of energy, skin can feel watery + thick.

    • Emotional: Lethargy, attachment, dullness + depression

Balancing with opposites

Let's look at how our doshas affect the foods, flavors and even environments we crave. 

FullSizeRender 5.jpg

It’s in our nature to crave the things that are similar to us, but in order to balance, we need to look at the opposite quality.


VATA: Ether (empty space) + Air (wind)


  • COLD + DRY

  • Seasonally: Fall-Early Winter

  • Commonly drawn to foods that are: cold, munchy crunchy, carbonated, smoke, citrus, raw foods


  • COLD needs WARMING


  • Eating warming foods and drinks
  • Cooked foods
  • Enjoy electrolyte sea salt on foods and in water
  • Grounding self-care ritual like salt scrubs + warm baths
  • Using warming oils on the skin like sesame or mahanaryan 
  • Important to eat consistently to avoid drops in blood sugar 




  • Raw foods
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Dry foods
  • Self care rituals that are aggravating to dry like saunas, dry brushing, being in too much wind

PITTA - Fire (action) + Water (water = digestive fluid) 


  • HOT + WET

  • Seasonally: Summer-Early Fall

  • Commonly drawn to foods that are: spicy, oily, sugar, nightshades, salty or fried 


  • HOT needs COOLING


  • Eating raw, wet, alkaline foods
  • Eating 3 meals on time each day
  • Taking time to rest and recharge



KAPHA - Water (liquid) + Earth (solid)  


  • COLD + WET

  • Seasonally: Late Winter-Spring

  • Commonly drawn to foods that are: heavy sticky foods, dairy, sugar, overeating


  • COLD needs WARMING


  • Eating light or raw foods
  •  Invigorating self-care rituals like doing steams + scrubs and
  •  Daily movement or exercise 
  •  Eating 3 small meals a day 


  • Fried or oily foods 
  • Too much saturated fat or meat 
  • Spicy foods
  • Eating out a lot or avoiding too much table salt 
  • Taking on too much, be able to delegate tasks or work in groups


  • Heavy foods 
  • Doing too much for others 
  • Skipping meals  

Foods + herbs for your dosha 

In this session we’ll go over each dosha, and how tastes, herbs, and foods can help us maintain balance. This way, you can easily decide which remedies are best for your own unique body, and have these staples handy.


Choosing balancing remedies is easy when you have the flavors and foods you need on hand. 



Balance Cold + Dry with Warming + Nourishing  

    • Ether (empty space) + Air (wind) 
    • COLD needs WARMING

    • BALANCING TASTES for COLD: Sour + Sweet
      • Sweet: Lubricates to further liquefy food as it converts, immunity of the gut

      • Sour: Liquifies macronutrients for conversion, highly enzymatic

    • Benefits from: Warm soups/stews/broths, cooked foods, foods in bowls, eat consistently

    • Warming Herbs: Ashwagandha, Ginger, Cinnamon, Tulsi

      • SPOTLIGHT: Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera

        • Warming + Grounding adaptogen

        • Number one herb in Ayurveda for Vata imbalance

        • Withania somnifera is its species name, som, means “sleep”

        • Its used to nourish Vatas who're out of balance by soothing fatigue, stress, anxiety

        • It's an adaptogen that supports the immune system, stabilizes blood sugar + balances hormones

        • Use this nervine in PM rituals, try adding ashwagandha powder to a milky tea to support restful sleep + to wind down from the day 

        • Part of the nightshade family, important to note if you're on a diet avoiding this group of plants

     Ashwagandha - Whole Plant 

    Ashwagandha - Whole Plant 

    • DRY needs NOURISHING 
    • BALANCING TASTES for DRY : Sweet + Salty

      • Sweet: Lubricates to further liquefy food as it converts, immunity of the gut

      • Salty: Assimilates water carrying vitamins and minerals to tissues through proper lymph and blood flow

    • Benefits from: Wet cooked foods, broths/soups/stews, seaweeds, grazing on food throughout the day

    • Nourishing Herbs: Licorice, Cardamom, Basil, Cilantro

      • SPOTLIGHT: Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis

        • Moistening + Sweet

        • Glycyrrhiza glabra, is an adaptogen that nourishes the adrenals and helps with fatigue due to its moistening properties, supporting the waterways of the body

        • A demulcent used for inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, sore throats, dry cough, etc.

        •  An immunomodulator that helps to regulate immune function, great for those with seasonal allergies

        • Known as the harmonizer in traditional herbal formulas

        • Avoid using licorice if you have hypertension or high blood pressure. If you're on any medications it's best to consult with your healthcare practitioner or herbalist before use, licorice can actually enhance the effectiveness of some pharmaceuticals, making their actions more intense

     Licorice in flower. The leaves indicate it being a member of the pea or legume family.

    Licorice in flower. The leaves indicate it being a member of the pea or legume family.

    P I T T A


    BALAncing Hot + Wet with Cooling + Cleansing 

    • Fire (action) + Water (wet = digestive fluid)
    • HOT needs COOLING
    • BALANCING TASTES for HOT: Bitter + Astringent

      • Bitter: Alkalize and excrete toxins, cuts through the excess

      • Astringent: Activates need for digestion to break down macronutrients

    • Benefits from: Raw, wet + alkaline foods, eating three meals on time a day

    • Cooling Herbs: Aloe vera, Mint, Fennel, Dill, Shatavari

      • SPOTLIGHT: Shatavari  (Asparagus racemosus)

        • Cooling + Moistening 

        • This adaptogenic herb is commonly used in Ayurveda for women

        • It helps to bring the whole body back into balance, and gives us the power to easily adapt to stressors when used consistently over time

        • More specifically, it's known traditionally as a female reproductive tonic

        • It's used to enhance libido and promote fertility, and for women who feel their hormones are a bit off

        • It’s often used as a galactagogue, an herb that helps mothers produce more breast milk

        • Because it's a demulcent, it's great for soothing and healing inflamed tissues, both internally and externally. Meaning sore throats, inflamed digestive systems, sores, etc.

        • Shatavari is a cooling, sweet and building herb, great for those who are feeling dry, depleted, and fatigued

        • Try adding the powder to warm milk with a touch of cardamom and honey, a perfectly soothing late night herbal latte

        • Also a mild diuretic, so best to avoid if you're already on intense diuretic drugs

        • Best to speak with a practitioner first if you're eliminating any phyto-estrogenic foods and herbs, have excess Kapha or mucuous in the body, or have an major medical hormone related conditions

     Shatavari in flower. 

    Shatavari in flower. 

     Freshly harvested roots. 

    Freshly harvested roots. 

    • WET needs CLEANSING
    • BALANCING TASTES for WET: Sour, Bitter + Pungent

      • Sour: Liquifies macronutrients for conversion, highly enzymatic

      • Bitter: Alkalize and excrete toxins, cuts through the excess

      • Pungent: Action for follow through, coals on the fire

    • Cleansing Herbs: Elecampane, Rosemary, Thyme, Black Pepper

      • SPOTLIGHT: Chamomile (Matricaria recutita, Chamaemelum nobile

      • Cooling + Bitter

        • Famously known as a sleep aid, but this herb can be used for anxiety and frazzled nerves all day long
        • It's known as a nervine in Western Herbalism, which essentially means it helps to calm and sooth the nervous system
        • The bitter notes in chamomile stimulates the digestive juices, making digestion easier all around
        • Because of its anti-spasmodic properties, chamomile tea is great for those with irritable stomachs, especially those triggered by stress or PMS
        • As a carminative this herb has compounds that sooth the digestive tract and ease indigestion
        • It's cooling nature and anti-inflammatory properties make it a great remedy for Pittas who're running too hot, or those with red and inflamed skin issues
        • Great as a simple infusion with a touch of honey, pairs well with lemon balm and lavender for extra nervous system support
        • In the Asteraceae plant family, best to avoid if you have an allergy to daisies
     Chamomile in bloom. 

    Chamomile in bloom. 



    Balancing cold + wet with Warming + Cleansing

    • Water (liquid) + Earth (solid) 
    • COLD needs WARMING
    • BALANCING TASTES for COLD: Sour + Sweet

      • Sour: Liquifies macronutrients for conversion, highly enzymatic

      • Sweet: Lubricates to further liquefy food as it converts, immunity of the gut

    • Benefits from: Warm soups/stews/broths, cooked foods, foods in bowls, eat consistently

    • Warming Herbs: Sage, Chilies, Sumac

      • SPOTLIGHT: Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) 

        • Our "gateway adaptogen,” also known as Holy Basil, is one of the most pleasant tasting herbs dried or fresh

        • A nervine known for its ability to calm the nerves and uplift ones spirit, this is a great plant to take daily and over time to soothe a frazzled nervous system

        • Used by herbalists to help relieve mental fog and aid with stagnant depression, which is excess Kapha

        • Helpful for those with allergies to mold and dander

        • Tulsi is easy to grow during the summer months, we love making fresh tulsi pesto or a simple infusion

     Tulsi in flower.

    Tulsi in flower.


     Schizandra berries on the vine. 

    Schizandra berries on the vine. 

    • WET needs CLEANSING
    • BALANCING TASTES for WET : Sour, Bitter + Pungent

      • Sour: Liquifies macronutrients for conversion, highly enzymatic

      • Bitter: Alkalize and excrete toxins, cuts through the excess

      • Pungent: Action for follow through - coals on the fire

    • Cleansing Herbs: Elecampane, Rosemary, Thyme, Black Pepper

      • SPOTLIGHT: Schizandra (Schisandra chinensis)

        • Schisandra chinensis: Known as the "five flavored fruit," the berries are sour, sweet, bitter, astringent + pungent

        • Sour quality beneficial for frequent urination or drying up excess fluids, a Kapha imbalance 

        • Its anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial for wet coughs and asthma

        • It's a nervine that has a dual effect on the nervous system, it has a mild stimulating quality and at the same time it helps reduce anxiety, and is calming

        • Known to be beneficial for normalizing blood pressure

        • The berries have a tangy flavor that tastes great in drinks, sauces, desserts

        • In Chinese Medicine, it's best to avoid this herb when acutely sick with a viral or bacterial infection

    balancing foods + herbs List 



    • Mostly wet cooked foods, soups and stews, everything in a bowl
    • Grounding foods, like root herbs and vegetables
    • A diet in healthy fats, raw EFAs
    • Ghee and milky teas for those running dry
    • Hydration is key, add sea salts to water for electrolytes
    • Usually needs to graze throughout the day to stay grounded
    • Avoid dry foods, bubbly drinks, lots of vinegar, and crunchy snacks
    • Avoid ice and cold foods when running cold and/or damp


    • Note: usually needs more saturated and monounsaturated fats
    • Animal based fats and EFAs
    • Ghee
    • Fish oil
    • Sesame oil
    • Pecan 
    • Walnut


    • Animal: bone broth, lamb, duck, cow, venison, buffalo, pork, chicken, fish, dairy, eggs
    • Plant: teff, amaranth, quinoa, barley, bulgur, lentils, kidney beans, fava beans


    • Herbs + Spices: cardamon, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, star anise, cinnamon, sumac, black pepper, ginger
    • Adaptogens: ashwagandha, maca, licorice, shatavari
    • Others: milky oats, skullcap, tulsi, nettle, spearmint



    • Cooling bitter plants, like dandelion, arugula, and greens
    • Lots of vegetables, juicing and salads
    • Maintain a 50:50 balance of cooked and raw
    • Protein and veggies are key fuels for Pitta
    • Eats three big meals a day
    • Best to avoid spicy, fried foods, and nightshades like eggplant and tomatoes, can aggravate fire element
    • Coffee and alcohol can be too stimulating for those running hot


    • Note: needs more mono and polyunsaturated fats
    • Fish oils
    • Pumpkin
    • Borage
    • Hemp
    • Coconut
    • Primrose
    • Black currant
    • Avocado
    • Cashew


    • Animal: bone broth, fish, dairy, chicken, turkey, goat venison, eggs
    • Plant: quinoa, peas, lentils, black beans


    • Herbs + Spices: fennel, mint, dill, turmeric, parsley, basil
    • Adaptogens: shatavari, tulsi, reishi, licorice
    • Other: chamomile, oats, lavender, lemon balm, aloe



    • Mostly raw, and lots of veggies, salads, and juicing
    • Light broths, veggie and miso 
    • Add energy and spices to each meal
    • Avoid dairy, unless cultured
    • Lots of greens and stimulating veggies, like radishes and turnips 
    • Avoid dense, hearty, and hard to digest foods, for some this may mean gluten and excess carbohydrates
    • Kaphas love sugar, but this can become false contentment and create excess dampness in the body


    • Note: needs more unsaturated fats
    • Fish oil
    • Chia 
    • Flax
    • Sunflower
    • Pumpkin
    • Olive
    • Borage
    • Black currant
    • Hazelnut


    • Animal: bone broth, fish, chicken, buffalo, eggs
    • Plant: quinoa, buckwheat, corn, millet, lentils, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas


    • Herbs + Spices: almost all spices, ginger, garlic, cilantro, cayenne pepper, turmeric
    • Adaptogens: schisandra, maca, tulsi
    • Others: rosemary, lavender, thyme, turmeric 


    Downloadable guide, great for sticking on the fridge for daily Elemental Eating reminders.


    Weekly Practices

    I. Now that you've been taking notes on the dosas and the patterns you connect with, what do you think your dosa is? What is your primary and secondary  dosha? 

    II. Did you recognize the elemental patterns you share with your parents? Does that create any clarity around the patterns they tend to fall into? 

    III. What foods, flavors or practices do you find most similar to your dosa? For example, do you run cold, but crave cold foods? Do you run hot, but crave hot environments? Do you have congestion but crave heavy sweet foods? 

    IV. Throughout the program, we invite you to investigate your dosha. Focus this week on keeping a journal of patterns you notice around your energy, waste + fluids. Did you notice you felt more dry or cold? Did you have any congestion or more acidic digestion? Anything that you noticed, jot it down. 

    V. This week, try to incorporate any of the foods, herbs or practices you feel most called to that are balancing to your dosha. What remedy did you keep coming back to for support? What difference did you notice physically or emotionally? 


    Share your comments + Questions Below