Sweet ripe fruit helps to balance Pitta
The Function of Pitta Dosha
Pitta Dosha represents the abstract quality of metabolism and transformation at the finest level of creation. This corresponds to digestion and work in daily life. Pitta gives rise to the primordial “element” known as Fire and interacts with Kapha to give rise to Water.
The qualities of Pitta reflect our surface-value associations with fire and water. When balanced, Pitta gives contentment, strong digestion, good vision (light from fire), sharp intellect (in-sight) and glowing skin. When out of balance and particularly under the influence of alcohol, Pitta can become the angry, red-faced hot-head. Pitta is seated in the small intestine and secondarily in the sweat, blood and eyes. Pitta is hot (pungent), slightly oily, sharp, liquid, sour, and possessed of flow and dynamism.
People with Pitta-dominated Prakriti (constitution) tend toward medium build, reddish complexion, sun-sensitivity, industriousness, competitiveness, and strong appetite. They can be perfectionistic, detail-oriented and demanding. They generally dislike hot weather. They sweat easily and profusely. They tend to maintain a stable body weight regardless of how much they eat – and they rarely skip meals, becoming irritable and dysfunctional if they do.
Effects of Pitta Imbalance
Inherently, Pitta is more prone to imbalance than Kapha, but less than Vata. Pitta imbalance is particularly common in the USA, perhaps as a legacy of the Pilgrim’s work ethic. We are a nation of immigrants who transformed the continent and achieved global dominance through powerful military force and innovation. Our predilection for salty, fried, spicy and sour foods, caffeinated beverages and alcohol aggravates the situation. Aggravated Pitta causes problems related to excessive heat and acidity in mind and body such as acid indigestion, diarrhea, anger, fever, hot flashes, infections and rashes.
Pitta Periods in the Cycles of Nature
Pitta dominates in middle-age (when work dominates our daily life), in the summer, the second hour after eating and in the mid-day and mid-night hours (10 AM – 2 PM and 10 PM – 2 AM). This is why digestion is strongest at noon and why health is supported by taking the main meal at this time. This is also why we get our second wind and often the munchies if we stay awake past 10 PM.
The transition from spring (Kapha season) to summer (Pitta season) is not usually problematic because of Kapha’s stability, but the junction with Vata season (late fall and winter) is an important time for detoxification and dietary transition. Pitta needs a lighter and more cooling diet than would satisfy the average person in winter.
In seeking to transform their environment, Pitta types tend to over-do it. Thus, first and foremost, Pitta needs moderation.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously
- If you are easily irritated by all the “idiots” that surround you, take 1-2 tablets of Stress Free Emotions after lunch and dinner
- Take time for play, particularly with children
- Be careful not to over-work or strain the eyes with computer or TV especially in the evening (get f.lux software if you can’t help yourself)
- Enjoy exercise, but avoid getting over-heated or too embroiled in competitive sports. Walking in nature especially by bodies of water or in the shade of mature trees, yoga, swimming, skiing, cycling, etc. are good choices
- Protect yourself from the mid-day sun
- Get to bed before 10 PM
- Take time out to eat a healthy lunch with attention on your food
- Favor cool, but not ice-cold, beverages
- Food should be freshly prepared and moderately unctuous
- Favor ghee in the cooking along with cooling spices like fennel, coriander, cardamom and turmeric. Coconut oil and olive oil are also good.
- Avoid chili peppers, vinegar, alcohol, tobacco, caffeinated beverages and chocolate
- Before bed, have some milk previously boiled with a little ghee, saffron, cardamom and sugar, once cooled to a comfortable temperature
- First thing in the morning after brushing the teeth and rinsing the mouth, drink some pure water left overnight in a copper cup
- For more details on food choice, look at the Pitta-pacifying diet
- Practice Transcendental Mediation
Coming Next: Vata Dosha
Marc Edwards, MD