In this post, we’ll explore the effects of excess pitta dosha—or water and fire.
Pitta Menstrual Symptoms
Pitta—with its hot, sharp, spreading and intense qualities—increases the heat, fluidity and spreading nature of your blood.
Since pitta dosha expresses strongly through your blood, it governs the week-10 days after ovulation, when blood flow increases to the endometrium in preparation for a potential pregnancy.
Here are some common pitta menstrual symptoms:
- Short cycle length—less than 22 days between periods.
- Excess bleeding—a period lasting longer than 5 or 6 days with a heavy, depleting flow
- Loose bowels—heat and spreading quality in the digestive system
- Irritability—the hot quality of pitta leads to frustration and anger.
- Bright red blood—this can be a sign that the blood vessels in the surface of the uterus are continuing to bleed rather than stopping with the formation of the endometrial tissue.
- Increased appetite—since fire element is a component of pitta, you may feel a temporary increase in your digestive fire
- Sugar cravings—sweet taste, composed of earth and water, helps to soothe pitta
- Breast tenderness—caused by swelling and inflammation in the tissues of the body
- Headaches—especially migraines behind the eyes with light sensitivity
- Excessive body heat—or sweating with strong body odor
- Loose bowels—or increased bowel movements
- Hot skin outbreaks—such as rashes, hives, cold sores and acne.
- Endometriosis–and other conditions characterized by excess bleeding and heat are also ailments of pitta.
During peri-menopause and menopause, excess pitta may cause excess bleeding (or even hemorrhaging), irritability and hot flashes. After menopause, pitta may also build-up in the system, causing any number of pitta issues. Some ayurvedic doctors even recommend that women who have enough strength give blood regularly after menopause to alleviate some pitta symptoms.
To cool pitta menstrual symptoms you need to reduce the qualities of hot, sharp and intense in your body by increasing the qualities of cool, dull and soft. This means invoking earth and water element in your diet and routine.
Smooth, moist, sweet and cooling foods will soothe pitta in the body and the mind.
The pitta appetite can be very strong, and can usually handle a pretty heavy meal. A portion of meat or some bone broth can be very satisfying, but even more importantly, a good selection of oils and fats in the diet help satisfy and soothe the body and mind deeply.
So, in general:
- Eat sweet, cooling foods—like mung beans, rice, coconut milk, fresh cow’s milk, soaked and peeled almonds, pomegranates and purple grapes. If you have symptoms which are a combination of pitta and vata symptoms, this food list will cover all the bases for you.
- Ghee—lubricates the body, cools excess pitta and helps to nourish the blood and reproductive tissues.
- Avoid intense spices and sour or fermented foods—like garlic, chilies, tomatoes and alcohol.
- Dairy—if it’s easily digested, unpasteurized cow’s milk cooked with turmeric, ginger, cardamom and ghee cools and soothes the system while nourishing all of the tissues of the body.
Moderation is the name of the game.
Pitta individuals, and those with excess pitta need to soothe their experience of intensity. Their tendency toward self-righteousness can make it challenging for them to take a step back and see the big picture. This is why meditation is the best medicine for pitta dosha. Meditation helps them find a moment to pause before reacting to what they perceive. From this place of pause, they can choose to respond instead of react.
Some Additional Remedies
As always in Ayurveda, we try to treat your whole system, and not just the symptoms. Pitta symptoms in your menstrual cycle signify pitta excess in your system in general. Since pitta dosha expresses as hot, sharp and intense, the best remedies emphasize the opposites of those qualities: cool, smooth and dull.
General remedies for excess pitta:
- Full, deep breathing–this Full Yogic Breath practice is short and sweet.
- Avoid the heat of the mid-day sun and intense emotional situations.
- Massage your entire body with sunflower or coconut oil—add a bit of sandalwood oil to the base oil if you have it—and then bathe in lukewarm water. (Avoid the oil massage when you are actually bleeding.)
Remedies for specific complaints:
- Pitta PMS—take 1 tbsp. aloe vera gel or juice with a pinch of black pepper 2 or 3 times per day. Triphala tablets or tea before bed can also be very helpful.
- Excess bleeding and loose bowels–2 drops sandalwood oil massaged into the navel may relieve complaints immediately.
- Sensitive nipples or breasts—gently apply 1 tsp. coconut oil with a few drops sandalwood oil to the breasts and massage in a circular motion.
- Irritability (and, really, any pitta menstrual complaints)—try practicing 3-12 rounds of Chandra Namaskar, or moon salutations, every evening during the portion of your cycle when you are not bleeding.
- Hot flashes or irritability in peri-menopause and menopause—consider donating blood (unless you are not anemic or have other contraindications).
- More serious complaints like hemorrhaging or endometriosis–you may find all of the pitta reducing techniques helpful. However, these conditions often respond very well to herbs. Consult a qualified herbalist for herb recommendations.