The Dhatus: Muscle and Fat
Why does the food you eat hold qualities of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and how does it assimilate into the body and affect how it functions?
In Ayurveda, your body functions from its tissue system, or Dhatus. The 7 Dhatus are the essential elements that provide structure and support to the body. Food is broken down into the smallest molecules and used to nourish these tissues. We talk a lot about the food you eat and how it holds certain qualities related to the doshas. These qualities from the food pass into each level of the dhatus and increase or decrease the elements associated with the doshas, such as water, earth, fire, air, and ether. Any imbalance of these elements directly manifests into disease. This is why Ayurveda focuses so heavily on diet and that you really are what you digest!
There are 7 Dhatus (bodily tissues):
Rasa Dhatu (Plasma)
Rakta Dhatu (Blood)
Mamsa Dhatu (Muscle)
Medas Dhatu (Fat)
Asthi Dhatu (Bone)
Majja Dhatu (Marrow)
Shukra Dhatua (Reproductive Fluid)
This week we are going to talk about Mamsa and Medas Dhatu and how to best provide nourishment and balance to these tissues.
Mamsa and Medas Dhatu
Mamsa means flesh and this dhatu is what forms our muscles and ligaments. Medas means fat, and this dhatu provides lubrication and moisture to the skin, joints, and stores energy for the body.
Mamsa dhatu (muscle) hold elements of earth and fire, making it hot, heavy and dense. It provides structure and is supported mostly by Pitta and Kapha doshas.
Medas Dhatu (fat) hold the elements of water and earth, making it primarily supported by the Kapha dosha.
These two Dhatus work together by providing structure and cohesion, as well as deeply nourishing the body’s tissues providing soft healthy skin, balanced emotions, and high levels of energy. Imbalanced levels of Mamsa and Medas dhatus cause fatty tissue build up, sluggishness, weakness, and slow metabolism.
Doshas and The Dhatus
Your food holds qualities of all the earthly elements; fire, water, earth, air, and ether. Each of these correspond to one of the three doshas in Ayurveda; Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
Vata: Ether and Air - Eating foods with cold and raw qualities increases the Vata dosha
Pitta: Earth and Fire - Eating foods with hot and oily qualities increases the Pitta dosha
Kapha: Water and Earth - Eating foods with sweet and dense qualities increases the Kapha dosha
In order to find wholeness, you must first balance the qualities that are in excess or depletion within your body. For most people, this can be witnessed through the fat or muscle tissues. Most people notice weight gain or weakness as signs of imbalance. Some may experience skin issues, hair loss, or emotional imbalances such as depression and anxiety.
Proper nourishment of the body’s tissues are equally as important to one’s mental health as it is to their physical health. Healthy levels of Medas (fat) dhatu brings in calmness to the mind, while healthy levels of Mamsa (muscle) dhatu brings in structure and consistency to the mind.
Foods to Nourish Mamsa and Medas Dhatus
To keep these tissue systems functioning, we have to ensure that the doshas are balanced. This means that we have to balance the earth, fire, water, air, and ether elements in the body, down to the very molecule.
Since the Mamsa and Medas tissues are primarily governed by Pitta and Kapha dosha, foods that are dense, hot, oily, sweet, and grounding best help build this tissue.
Sometimes however, too much of a doshas is absorbed into the tissue, causing imbalance and, if untreated, disease. To figure out your current imbalance, you can see an ayurvedic practitioner, or start by simply taking our dosha quiz. From there you can pinpoint which dosha has gone into which dhatu, and then balance it through food, herbs, and lifestyle habits that best remove excess or increase depleted elements!
Some ways to cultivate health Mamsa dhatu is:
Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
Practice abhyanga (oiled self-massage)
Stretch and massage to keep muscles healthy and not tight
From here, you can also work on cultivating health Medas dhatu by:
Eat oils in moderation
Bolster your diet by eating on a regular schedule
Include proper dosha pacifying spices
These are very simple tips on finding awareness for these tissues. It is important to talk to your ayurvedic practitioner about what tissues need to be balanced and what diet would work best for your constitution.
If you would like to start this process, take our free dosha quiz here! From there, you can reach out with questions or book your first consultation with us so we can get you on the path to balanced health.
Textbook of Ayurveda, Vasant Lad
Art of Living