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What Ayurveda Says About Unquenchable Thirst
Are you married to your water bottle, but still find it difficult to quench your thirst? Carrying a water bottle everywhere we go has become a part of being healthy, but for some, drinking more water than your body needs can become a problem.
Drinking too much water—called polydipsia in Western medicine and trsna in Ayurveda — can be a sign of a more serious condition or an imbalance that needs to addressed. For example, excessive thirst is one of the hallmark signs of diabetes. It’s important to seek medical help if you constantly find yourself thirsty or unable to quench your thirst.
According to Ayurveda’s primary text, the Caraka Samhita (Chikitsastanam, Ch. XXII), the cause of unquenchable thirst is due to an imbalance of both vata (air) and pitta (fire), which in combination can overheat and dry out the body, leading to excessive thirst.
Hydration, Aging, and Ojas
The excess vata and pitta can dehydrate the body’s nutrient fluids and lymph, or rasa. The study of this fluid is called rasayana and it’s the study of longevity. Drying out the body’s rasa, which is predominately water, is considered the source of a thirst that cannot be quenched, as well as a host of other health concerns.
When rasa dries up it leads to an imbalance in the blood, muscle, fat, bone, nerves, reproductive tissues, which are all developed from a healthy rasa (lymph) in this order.. In Ayurveda, all of these tissues develop sequentially in a cycle that starts with healthy digestion. It takes about 30 days for the body to finish this tissue-building process, and the final product is the body’s most refined and important substance, according to Ayurveda, called ojas.
Ojas is a highly refined and subtle nutrient fluid that is responsible for immunity, vitality, virility, a glowing complexion, and overall health and happiness.
If thirst from dried out rasa lingers, it can lead to even more vata aggravation, and this can cause thirst, tiredness, dry skin, constipation, moodiness, discomfort, cravings for junk food, sleep issues and more. When any of the above or excessive thirst becomes an issue, Ayurvedic doctors recommend foods, supplements, and activities that build ojas to lubricate the tissues and reverse the dryness at the level of each of the tissues. Excessive dryness leads to depleted ojas, which the body tries to recover from with excessive thirst. But without healthy digestive and lymph systems water can’t properly hydrate the deep tissues.
The primary cause of ojas depletion is a severe vata imbalance from overexertion of any kind. This can be from excessive exercise, work, or sex. In fact, anything in excess is problematic, including too much sleep and too much food.
Since the final product of digestion before the production of ojas is shukra, or reproductive fluid, it is important to have a balanced and not excessive sex life. Excessive sex is one of the primary causes of ojas depletion because ojas is the main nutrient fluid required for procreation in both the males and females. Excessive loss of reproductive fluid, or ojas, is classically linked to dryness of all tissues, which can lead to more thirst if the excess is not addressed.
One of the most effective tools to balance vata, and ultimately rebuild ojas, is to regain control of the mind and senses. To gain mastery of the senses, Ayurveda prescribes a Vedic process called pratyahara, in which the mind directs the senses inward and trains them not to be addicted to various forms of outward sensory stimulation. Excessive thoughts, desires, and actions are due to an overstimulated or rajasic mind. This excess is the primary cause of depleted ojas and a deep unquenchable thirst.
How to Rebuild Ojas with Herbs and Foods
According to Ayurveda, certain foods can rebuild ojas and replenish rasa.
These are the top Ayurvedic ojas builders:
- Raw honey
- LifeSpa’s Ojas Nightly Tonic: combination of ojas-building foods and herbs.
Causes of Trsna, or Chronic Thirst
According to Ayurveda, there are 14 natural urges that should not be suppressed, and thirst is one of them.
As mentioned above, when vata and pitta are aggravated, they dry out the body and its tissues. Thirst is the body’s natural response to that, but if it is suppressed, it can lead to trsna, a state in which drinking even excessive amounts of water can’t quench your thirst.
[h3] According to the Caraka Samhita, activities that can lead to trsna include:
- Too much spicy, sour, or pungent food
- Excess salt
- Excessive alcohol
- Chronic stress, fear, and anxiety
- Over indulgence in sex
- Excessive sun exposure
- Working too much or exhaustion
- Getting too little sleep
- Undiagnosed medical condition (Seek medical attention if you have symptoms of trsna)
Thirst (Trsna) by Dosha
Here are more specific signs of chronic thirst, based on the dosha that is out of balance:
Excessive thirst from vata causes a bad taste and dryness in the mouth, as well as sleeplessness, giddiness, and supressed appetite.
Excessive thirst from a pitta imbalance causes a burning or bitter sensation in the mouth, as well as headaches, cravings for cold or ice, fainting, and a yellowish tint to the whites of eyes.
If vata and pitta imbalances aren’t addressed quickly, they can lead to a kapha imbalance. Vata and pitta deliver nutrients and manage the removal of waste. If the waste removal is blocked by a vata or pitta imbalance in the liver, blood, or intestines respectively, waste, or ama, can build up in the tissues and cause a kapha imbalance.
Excessive thirst from kapha causes heaviness, a tired sensation, melancholy, a sweeter taste in mouth, and sleeplessness.