Pitta derives from the elements of Fire and Water and translates as “that which cooks.” It is the energy of digestion and metabolism in the body that functions through carrier substances such as organic acids, hormones, enzymes, and bile. While Pitta is most closely related to the element of Fire, it is the liquid nature of these substances that accounts for the element of Water in Pitta’s make-up.
The qualities of Pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light, moving, liquid, and acidic. A Pitta individual will display physical and mental characteristics that reflect these qualities in both a balanced and imbalanced state.
The balanced Pitta individual is blessed with a joyful disposition, a sharp intellect, and tremendous courage and drive. As the fire of the mind and body becomes unruly, however, the laughing Pitta quickly becomes the yelling Pitta.
The hot, sharp quality of Pitta disorders commonly manifest as infection, inflammation, and hemorrhage and are often acute in nature. In classical Ayurvedic texts, Pitta accounts for roughly 30 percent of all listed disorders. These texts identify more than 70 Pitta disorders related to the eyes alone. Due to their inherit motivation, Pitta individuals usually approach self-healing with great will and enthusiasm. A bigger challenge may relate to their tendency to become overzealous and actually overdo things a bit.
The Pitta dosha controls digestion, metabolism, and energy production. The primary function of Pitta is transformation.
Qualities of Pitta: Hot, light, intense, penetrating, pungent, sharp, acidic. Those with a predominance of the Pitta principle have a fiery nature that manifests in both body and mind.
Physical Characteristics: Pittas are usually of medium size and weight. They sometimes have bright red hair, but baldness or thinning hair is also common in a Pitta. They have excellent digestion, which sometimes leads them to believe they can eat anything. They have a warm body temperature They sleep soundly for short periods of time and have a strong sex drive. When in balance, Pittas have a lustrous complexion, perfect digestion, abundant energy, and a strong appetite. When out of balance, Pittas may suffer from skin rashes, burning sensations, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, heartburn, and indigestion.
Emotional Characteristics: Pittas have a powerful intellect and a strong ability to concentrate. When they’re in balance, they are good decision makers, teachers, and speakers. They are precise, sharp-witted, direct, and often outspoken. Out-of-balance Pittas can be short-tempered and argumentative.
When Pittas are overstressed, their typical response is “What did you do wrong?”
- Pitta is hot, sharp, sour, pungent, and penetrating. To balance Pitta, we need to make choices that are cooling, sweet, and stabilizing.
- Balance rest and activity allowing some free time everyday. Be careful not to create unnecessary time pressures for yourself.
- Be certain not to skip meals and do not wait until you are famished to eat. Favor foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent. Favor cooling foods such as cucumbers, sweet fruits and melons.
- Regularly spend time in nature. Take walks in the woods and along natural bodies of water. Keep plants and fresh flowers in your home and office. Walk in the moonlight.
- Perform a daily oil massage using cooler oils such as coconut or olive.
- Favor cooler colors in your clothing and environment such as blues, greens, and silver.
- Laugh many times each day!
- Favor aromas that are cooling and sweet. Sandalwood, rose, jasmine, mint, lavender, fennel, and chamomile are recommended.
Pitta-Balancing Nutritional Guidelines
Since an excess of Pitta dosha overheats the mind and body, favor cool foods and liquids. Foods with sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes are best. Reduce foods that are pungent, salty, and sour.
- Dairy can be helpful in balancing the heat of Pitta, take milk, butter and ghee. Sour, fermented products such as yogurt, sour cream and cheese should be used sparingly as sour tastes aggravate Pitta. Ghee (clarified butter) is recommended. Find our ghee recipe here.
- All sweeteners may be taken in moderation except molasses and honey.
- Olive, sunflower, and coconut oils are the best oils to pacify Pitta. Use less sesame, almond, and corn oil, which are more heating.
- Wheat, rice, barley, and oats are the best grains to reduce Pitta. Eat less corn, rye, millet, and brown rice.
- The sweeter fruits such as grapes, melons, cherries, coconuts, avocados, mangoes, pomegranates, fully ripe pineapples, oranges, and plums are recommended. Reduce sour fruits such as grapefruits, apricots, and berries.
- The vegetables to favor are asparagus, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, celery okra, lettuce, green beans, and zucchini. Reduce tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, beets, eggplant, onions, garlic, radishes, and spinach.
- Pitta types need to use seasonings that are soothing and cooling. These include coriander, cilantro, cardamom, saffron, and fennel. Hotter spices such as ginger, cumin, black pepper, fenugreek, clove, salt, and mustard seed should be used sparingly. Very hot seasonings such as chili peppers, and cayenne are best avoided. Chew on fennel seeds after meals to cool down acid in the stomach.
- For non-vegetarians, chicken, pheasant and turkey are preferable; beef, seafood, and eggs increase Pitta and should be minimized.