Definition - What does Tikta mean?
Ayurveda identifies six predominant tastes; sour (amla), salty (lavana), sweet (madhura), astringent (kashaya), pungent (katu) and bitter (tikta). Each of these tastes is made up of a combination of the five elements, and tikta is considered to be predominantly air and ether.
Although Tikta is a bitter and generally unpleasant taste, it is important to incorporate it into a balanced diet according to Ayurveda. Tikta foods tend to be cool, light and dry in character. Consuming these foods is thought to be balancing for Pitta and Kapha, but aggravating to Vata.
Yogapedia explains Tikta
According to Ayurveda, the experience of taste (rasa) influences every aspect of the mind and body. Taste can have a pacifying or aggravating effect on the doshas, be cooling or heating to the body, impact emotional wellbeing and even influence the nourishment of individual cells.
Tikta helps to cool burning sensations in the body, cleanse the organs and give firmness to skin and muscles. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and can therefore be used in the treatment of any kind of inflammation. Bitter tastes can also help to withhold the mind and senses from desire.
Examples of Tikta foods are neem, bitter gourd and bitter melon. However, bitter food should not be consumed in excess as this can lead to loss of strength, fatigue and increased Vata. This taste may also have a spermicidal effect, and should therefore be consumed with caution by males with fertility problems.