Pitta dosha is allied with the elements of fire and water; the only dosha with fire in its mix. In the physical body, these elements provide pitta with its qualities of slight oiliness, sharpness/penetration, heat, light, sour/ pungent odour, liquidity, and the tendency to spread. Around the navel is the chief pitta zone, especially the small intestine, liver, gallbladder, lower stomach, pancreas, and spleen.
Hot and transformative by nature, in every human system, pitta dosha dominates the processes whereby foods are digested, utilized and assimilated into tissues. As well as every metabolic transformation, pitta’s fires kindle and maintain heat and bodily warmth. Those with pitta dominance tend to be naturally hot-blooded and intolerant of excess sunlight or heat. To help cool off, pitta types often copiously sweat. And can produce liberal quantities of urine and feces.
In physical stature those with pitta constitution often enjoy a moderately robust physique, with medium musculature and frame. In balance, pitta types seldom gain or lose much weight. Through the combination of fire and water, pitta and mixed pitta types maintain a soft, supple, shiny complexion that can range from moist and rosy, to flushed red, and can be dotted with moles, freckles and broken capillaries.
Reflecting the sharpness of fire, pitta people can possess angular features such as a pointed chin or nose. Their teeth may also be pointed with a tendency toward yellowing, and bleeding gums. Pitta tongues are shiny and rosy, of medium thickness and length. Their eyes are often bright, but can be sensitive to light, and the whites are prone to yellow. Their hair can be lustrous, however, can go prematurely bald or grey.
Given their fire predominance, pitta types tend to possess strong digestion, appetite, and thirst. But in excess can turn sharp and burning to heartburn, acid reflux, ulceration of the mouth, stomach and gut, and burning diarrhoea. All inflammatory processes are driven or influenced by pitta. Other signs of pitta imbalance include acne and spreading rashes, fevers, jaundice and liver disorders, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, and stones in the gallbladder and kidneys.
Fire’s light, subtle, spreading, penetrating qualities also influence psychology. Pure and mixed pitta types can be blessed with great clarity and wisdom, and the impulse to be purposeful, goal-oriented, probing and committed. They can be highly disciplined and feel happiest when striving toward goals that foster a sense of personal or social achievement.
Emotionally balanced pittas exude warmth, cheerfulness, and courage. Yet when the fire is excessive, pitta’s hot, sharp nature is quick to flame; prone to irritability, jealousy and irritability, and critical, self-righteous and perfectionistic tendencies and can kindle jealousy, anger, aggression and hate. As high achievers, pitta types often take on too much. In seeking transformation the main danger is that they try to achieve everything at once.
Dietary Guidelines for Pitta Dosha
Apply the Ayurvedic dictum like increases like to balance pitta’s moist, sharp, hot, light qualities. Avoid or eat sparingly the following:
- Pungent (spicy), sour and salty-tasting foods
- Refined oils and sugars, fried foods, red meat, sea fish, hard cheese, caffeine, alcohol
- Steaming hot foods and drinks
Apply the Ayurvedic dictum opposites reduce to manage pitta dosha. Think cool, soothing, and moderate. Emphasize:
- Sweet/bland, bitter and astringent tastes
- Salad greens and vegetables
- Sweet seasonal fruits
- Well-prepared whole grains and cereals, beans and lentils
- Fresh milks from cows, goats, almonds, coconut, rice; cottage cheese; sweet lassi
- Small amounts of ghee, or oils of sunflower, olive, or coconut in cooking, or over fresh and cooked dishes. Sprinkle coconut or sunflower seeds
- Unrefined sugar, date or palm sugar, barley malt, maple syrup, apple purée, dates, honey (if pitta is balanced)
- Sweet, neutral spices in moderation— fennel, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, mint, parsley, rock salt
- Room temperature water; sweet/bitter/ astringent herbal teas such as barley, fennel, chamomile, chicory, dandelion, nettle, alfalfa, saffron, rose, mint, hibiscus, jasmine, lemongrass, lavender, raspberry, red clover; fresh juices
Lifestyle Guidelines for Pitta Dosha
- Keep cool. Stay out of the sun; avoid excess steam and humidity; get plenty of fresh air.
- Three regular, satisfying meals.
- Sleep early (ideally by 10:00 p.m.), and for seven to eight hours.
- Rise at least forty-five minutes before dawn.
- Void the bowels first thing every morning.
- Spend time in non-competitive environments.
- Regularly massage the body in the morning or afternoon, or when you feel hot or dry, with cooling oils such as coconut, sunflower, or olive. Wait twenty minutes, then take a warm shower, or if evening, go to bed.
- Exercise during cooler hours. Play team sports that emphasize cooperation.
- Practice yoga postures that stimulate the navel area, are not overly detailed or technical, and turn the focus inward.