This is the third post in a series of posts about constitution and the 3 doshas of Ayurveda. If you haven’t already, you may want to first read about constitution or vata dosha.

Pitta dosha is the relationship between fire and water elements.

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It is identified by the gunas hot and sharp. It is also oily, liquid, light and spreading. As with vata dosha, these qualities express in both literal and metaphorical ways.

Healthy Pitta

Pitta governs all processes of transformation. Pitta is responsible for maintaining the warmth of the body and the color of “aliveness” in the skin. It is also pitta that transforms new information that we encounter into ideas and understanding in our mind. When it is well behaved, there is a balance between our hunger and our energy out-put and there is a gentle enthusiasm for life; a joie de vivre.

A healthy pitta-predominant person is motivated and inspired. They have a strong character and they are generous and caring towards those around them. They are natural leaders but they are sensitive to the needs of others. Generally they are sharp-minded and witty, confident and adventurous.

pittaicon2What does a pitta-predominant person look like?

Typically she will have a medium build with medium-sized bones. Her body may be slightly “pear” or flame shaped with more weight carried in her butt and thighs, and her face is heart or triangle shaped with a sharp chin. Her muscles are soft when relaxed and not very defined even when they are flexed. She has wavy or straight hair that tends to get a bit oily and oily skin. Her skin color tends towards a bit red or copper colored (this is especially evident in her palms and lips) or freckled. Her teeth may be sharp and her eyes are intense.

She is the friend who is always a bit competitive whether it’s in sports, card games or getting her taxes done early. Her hands and feet are always warm and she hates hot, muggy days.

Pitta agni and sex drive are intense and passionate: she may seem to devour most things she comes in contact with.

Imbalanced Pitta

The home site of pitta in the body is the small intestine. When pitta starts to become irritated, it will often first appear as loose bowels and burning sensations in the digestive tract. The heat and intensity of the summer can be particularly disturbing for pitta dosha.

What does excess pitta look like?

As pitta continues to over-accumulate, it may show up as acid-reflux, red-rimmed eyes or rashes and patches of inflammation on the skin. Her sensitive skin and mucosa will be prone to hives and other allergic reactions. As the pitta begins to affect her nervous system, she may start to feel and act excessively irritable and impatient. Anger is a common emotion for her and if it gets turned inward it can turn into a particularly nasty kind of depression. If the energy turns outward it might be expressed as over-confidence and pride. Her intensity can be very intimidating to those around her.

This intensity can fuel a host of health issues including fevers, inflammatory diseases, skin rashes, ulcers, bleeding disorders, high blood-pressure and liver disease. The anger can inflame to the point of rage and self-righteousness that can be impossible for others to reason with. Over time stress and pressure can result in an extreme explosion of anger, frustration or intense physical woes.

Our friend with surplus pitta is likely to be red in the face and too warm all of the time. Her skin is oily as is her hair and the whites of her eyes may be a bit yellow, ringed with red. She is irritable and touchy—as one of my teachers said it best: “pitta is sensitive, but not sensible.” She will be easily offended, but doesn’t always think before she speaks or acts.

She is likely to have a passionate sex-drive that reaches excesses when the pitta is high. Her periods are also probably intense, with a copious flow of bright red blood.

Excess pitta in the mind may make her somewhat intolerant and impulsive. Our pitta friend may have relationships that get very serious and intense very fast, but that seem to burn out pretty quickly.

What to Do?

The experience of pitta is primarily hot and sharp. It is important to increase the gunas of cool and dull or smooth.

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.

What to Eat?

Smooth, cool, sweet and cooked foods will soothe pitta in the body and the mind.

Generally the pitta appetite is pretty strong, so each meal should contain a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. Pittas can easily get over-hungry if they don’t eat in a timely way. They have to be careful to eat before hunger gets too strong to avoid over-eating and over-indulging in sweets.

The very best food medicine for pitta is ghee.

It’s cool moisture soothes pitta without smothering agni. Bitter green vegetables are also a great support to pitta digestion. Cream of wheat, fresh milk and purple grapes are other foods that are very soothing to pitta dosha.

It is best to avoid spicy-pungent foods, like garlic and chilis as they will quickly aggravate pitta leading to problems like headaches and inflammation. It is also a good idea to avoid eating too much sour food, such as vinegar and pickled vegetables, as they can lead to symptoms like acid reflux.

 

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This post is also available in: French