Pitta dosha is composed on the elements Fire and Water – they are its elementary building blocks. It is the „cooking dosha“, and also the „degrading“.
According to Ayurveda, Pitta is the energy of digestion and metaboilism in the body. It functions through various carriers – these are the organic acids, hormones, enzymes and bile. It is believed that this is a dosha thanks to which we are able to process mentally our life experiences, as well as biologically to digest our food. Pitta is responsible for all chemical and metabolic transformations.
What are the characteristics of people with predominant Pitta dosha?
Most often, people with Pitta constitution have common characteristics with regard to their appearance. They may have sharp, almond-shaped eyes, usually green, varicolored or hazel eyes. The hair in people with predominant Pitta is relatively poor, they have a few hairs on the body, or the hairs are much softer and lighter. They have sharp noses, teeth and chin, freckles, they may have red hair, and their cheeks and lips may be pinkish.
Pitta has a spectrum of characteristic qualities. It is oily (wet), sharp and penetrating, hot, bright, light, mobile, fluid and acidic. Individuals with predominant Pitta energy have physical and mental characteristics that less or more correspond to these qualities, respectively in balanced and unbalanced state.
This dosha is usually housed in the eyes, blood, liver, spleen, stomach, small intestine, pancreas and sweat. In a physiological aspect, through the degradation of complex food molecules, Pitta provides our body with heat and energy. It manages all processes related to the transformation, processing that take place in our mind, body and spirit. From a psychological point of view, Pitta dosha manages the bravery, courage, will power, joy, anger and jealousy, as well as all our mental perceptions. It is also the source of radiant light emanating from the intellect.
When a person tends to “burn out”, perhaps we are talking about aggravated Pitta energy. Without the necessary control, the internal fire of our body and mind can grow into a devastating fire.
People with Pitta constitution (prakruti – from Sanskrit – „nature“), when it is in harmonious state, are blessed with a sharp intellect and joyful attitude to life, as well as with great courage. But the fire of the mind and body is wild. Therefore, if not controlled, the laughter of this dosha can quickly turn into screams. If this happens, anger, fury and ego instantly replace the positive qualities of Pitta. Therefore, Ayurveda says that people with unbalanced Pitta energy do not go to hell – they just create it wherever they go.
Symptoms of imbalanced Pitta dosha
The imbalances of Pitta usually manifest with the following symptoms:
- Burning of the eyes, skin and mucous membranes
- Easy burning
- Sensitive teeth and fever
- Urinary problems
- Excessive sweating and bad odor
- Red nose, cheeks or ears
- Redness of the eyes
- Acne and other skin rashes
- Abundant bleeding when injured
There are also psychological symptoms such as:
- Strong anger
- Becoming petty and exaggeration
- Compulsive or obsessive thoughts
- Desire and seeking revenge
- Acute or chronic liver problems
- Burnout syndrome
There are three things that can help us bring back our Pitta dosha into balance when needed. These are: cooling, soothing, moderation.
According to the classic Ayurvedic text „Charaka Samhita“, when our Pitta dosha and constitution/prakruti are in equilibrium, then our blood will be healthy and the acidic secretions in the intestines and stomach will be optimal for the digestion. The balanced Pitta provides good advices and reasonable decisions, very good in understanding. Charaka says that the „light of awareness“ is managed by Pitta.
Observing proper balancing diet and regime
In order to normalize the levels of Pitta energy in ourselves, we must follow the proper balancing diet. It is especially important to eat in a relaxed setting, and to avoid any kind of artificial stimulants. We must try to indulge in relaxing activities, for example, to spend as much of our time as possible in nature and to practice daily meditation. All the physical exercises we do must be relaxing: Tai Chi, yoga, swimming and walking.
Pitta dosha becomes aggravated and goes out of balance most often as a result of excessive workload (for example, in the office), certain negative emotions, excessive exposure to sunlight, use of chemicals, improper diet – choosing the wrong set of ingredients. Not only that – if we eat while we are angry we increase the risk of aggravation of the levels of the Pitta energy, as well as if we drink coffee, black tea, alcohol and smoke cigarettes.
The best foods that can help us balance our Pitta dosha are generally the sweet, bitter an astringent ones. Ayurveda believes that these ingredients and product are the cure that favors cooling, drying and soothing the excessive Pitta. In general, all six flavor categories – sour, sweet, sharp, salty, bitter and astringent, are recommended for the achievement of healthy digestion.
In order to soothe Pitta, we should think as an intention an also as a challenge to enhance our self-awareness. It is recommended to start by trying to see where in our life we can make small and gradual changes in support of our healing journey. All this should be done at a steady pace, instead of suddenly and all at once.
The process itself may cost us the separation with some of our established habits. We need to pay attention to the way these tiny reforms affect us. For example, if we like certain foods that aggravate Pitta, we have to focus on what we feel while we eat them. Whether their consumption exacerbates the symptoms of excessive Pitta dosha in the digestive tract? Do these foods cause in us sensations such as heat, burning, heartburn or stomach upset? Is there anything we can do to make this food more soothing for Pitta– perhaps by reducing the amount or by adding some cooling herbs and spices? These may include coriander, cumin, centaury, dill or mint, avocado, lemon juice or coconut.
Some ingredients such as coconut milk and dill seeds can make even foods that aggravate Pitta such as tomatoes, close and compatible with the Pitta constitution. Adding coconut milk to our spicy curry can make it more digestible and easy to absorb food for a person with Pitta prakruti. So it will not aggravate our Pitta, causing acidity.
Under cooling foods we usually mean products and dishes with a lower temperature. In the teaching of Ayurveda, however, the hidden message here is to use foods rich in cooling and hydrating properties. Coldness opposes to heat, and the moisturizing properties counteract the tendency of the fiery Pitta to cause dryness when it goes out of balance.
Following a diet to soothe Pitta dosha is a practice that is gradually being developed. No one expects you to wake up tomorrow morning and start eating according to the ideal method for soothing of Pitta and to continue until the end of your life. Even the most famous Ayurveda specialists have some differences of opinion. This may cause some discrepancies between the different Ayurveda diets and the products included in the recipes.
When it comes to soothing Pitta, things do not depend on a strict set of ingredients, well-defined doses, etc. In fact, it is often much more useful if we look at common situations and common patterns. After all, every step we take to change our diet is to be considered a victory, although a small one.
Recommended foods for balance of Pitta dosha?
Pitta can be soothed by eating juicy, cooling foods that have a high water content.
The recommended fruits include cherries, apricots, pears, plums, apples, melons, watermelons, strawberries, figs, papaya, pomegranate, mango, dates, oranges and grapes. The recommended vegetables include cauliflower, okra, celery, peas, pumpkin, lettuce, avocado, broccoli, radish, cabbage, sweet potato, spinach, cucumber, potatoes and mushrooms.
We can also benefit from cereals such as barley, oats, quinoa, muesli, wheat, tapioca, wheat bran and rice (Basmati). However, we must avoid buckwheat, millet, corn, rye, leavened bread, polenta (kachamak), as well as the brown rice.
From the dairy products, it is best to choose unsalted butter, cow’s and goat’s milk, cottage cheese, melted butter (ghee), yoghurt, ice cream but we must avoid salty butter, various yoghurts that contain fruits and preservatives, sour cream and hard cheeses.
Most nuts and seeds have a high fat content and are therefore not recommended for diets aimed at balancing the excessive Pitta dosha. Still, there are some foods that can be consumed in moderate quantities, for example, linseed, popcorn, pumpkin and sunflower seeds (unsalted), almonds (soaked in water and peeled). However, we should avoid peanuts, cashews, cedar nuts, sesame, pecan, unpeeled almonds, tahini, walnuts, pistachios and chia seeds.
If Pitta is aggravated we should also avoid spicy, hot, fried foods, as well as the sour ones (for example, tomatoes, vinegar, yoghurt, cream and fermented foods and beverages). It is always good when we have this opportunity to choose fresh and organic products. Instead, it is advisable to avoid ready and processed, packaged foods with preservatives, as well as bottled products. Pitta is very sensitive to chemical preservatives and artificial sweeteners.
While the foods that soothe Pitta help to balance the levels of this dosha, when they are particularly high, on the other hand, the exhaustion of Pitta dosha can also be a problem. It is usually manifested in aggravation (excess) of the other doshas – Kapha and Vata, so we have to eat foods that boost the qualities of Pitta. In such cases, light and warming foods are used for a short period of time until Pitta regains its powers.