Astringent foods are light, cold and dry and thus they have many similarities to pungent foods except that they are cold in nature where spicy foods are hot. Both pungent and astringent foods act on air but pungent foods are mostly catabolic while the astringent ones are slightly anabolic. The astringent foods cause dryness, which reduces water whereas its coldness reduces fire element. The presence of tannins causes the astringent taste, which is usually found in the bark of the trees.
Astringent is absorptive. These foods have haemostatic properties that arrest bleeding and vulnerary i.e. aids in healing. These can be used if there is diarrhea or hemorrhage. Such astringent foods also reduce the flow of urine when there is an excessive loss of fluid due to frequent urination.
Tannins are effective in reducing irritability. These are slightly anaesthetic and therefore have a pacifying effect on body and also help in reducing sensitivity. They are helpful in controlling excessive perspiration and to neutralize putrefaction. The herbs with astringent taste have antiseptic property also. The most common astringent that is used in the kitchen is old honey, which has both sweet and astringent taste. Ayurvedic doctors always warn against heating honey and never recommend mixing honey with salt.
Astringent foods should be avoided in case of cardiac pain, hoarseness, flatulence, constipation, haemorrhoids, debility, paralysis or impotency.