Pitta dosha is the biological energy that is manifested from the Fire and Water elements. As the governor of “fire,” Pitta is considered the transformational factor in the body, whether it is turning food into nutrients and energy, or transforming thoughts into feelings and emotions. Pitta’s main functions include digestion, metabolism, maintaining the body temperature, and processing all of our daily perceptions. Pitta is a much-needed force in the body, but when this fire becomes too hot, things can quickly go awry.
A Pitta imbalance may show up in the body in many different ways. Here are some common disorders that typically stem from a heightened state of Pitta in the system.
Common Signs of Pitta Imbalance
- Excessive anger, hate, criticism, or jealousy
- Short temper
- Egotism, self-absorbed
- “Workaholic” syndrome
- Heartburn/acid indigestion
- Arthritis (inflammatory types such as RA)
- Skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis
- Rash, hives, urticaria
- Hot flashes
- Bleeding disorders
- Sour, acidic, or metallic taste in the mouth
- Bloodshot eyes
The first line of treatment for any imbalance is to REMOVE THE CAUSE. If you have a Pitta imbalance, these tips will help to alleviate the symptoms. But without removing the initial cause, the imbalance will remain. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some common instigators in the provocation of Pitta.
Common Causes of Pitta Imbalance
- Hot, spicy foods
- Fermented foods
- Sour foods
- Extreme heat
- Direct sunlight
- Skipping meals
- Prolonged fasting
- Too much critical thinking/problem solving
- Sauna, especially extensive use
- Debating, arguing, conflict
- Anger, hate, jealousy
- Aggressive energy
Once you have discovered the cause, you can then work on removing it. Unfortunately, the longer the provocation, the stronger the imbalance will be. This simply means that the treatment time will increase for more chronic disorders. Whether your Pitta imbalance is lifelong or just manifested, these simple yet powerful tips will help your body and mind find a state of balance.
How to Balance Pitta
1. Avoid hot, spicy foods.
Pitta is already hot and sharp by nature, so the addition of heating foods will only increase the fire. Heating foods will also increase inflammation, ulceration, and acidity in the system. Some hot, spicy foods to avoid include all peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits (except limes), sour fruits, vinegar, garlic, fermented foods, pungent (hot) spices (i.e. Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, black pepper), excessive salt, fried foods, and red meat.
2. Eat more cooling foods.
When the fire is high, cooling foods are a great option for turning down the heat. Some great cooling food choices include coconut (oil, water, and meat), limes, cilantro, parsley, ghee, sweet lassi, organic whole milk, watermelon, cucumber, pomegranate juice, bitter greens, basmati rice, dates, figs, sweet mango, and avocado.
3. Do not skip meals.
If you are a Pitta type or have a Pitta digestive imbalance (Tikshna Agni), then your metabolism is probably in full swing and missing a meal will lead to symptoms of low blood sugar, crankiness, irritability, a “short fuse,” dizziness, hyperacidity, and other Pitta imbalances. Instead, find a healthy meal schedule and eat at routine times each day. Make sure lunch is the biggest meal of the day, as Pitta is at its strongest between 12 and 1 p.m. each day.
4. Perform cooling Pranayama each day.
There are some really great breathing practices that are sure to reduce the heat in the body. The best choices are: Sitkari, Shitali, and Chandra Bhedhana pranayama. These breathing techniques are all very cooling and, therefore, great for reducing Pitta dosha imbalances. Perform each of these three cooling breaths every morning for 3-5 rounds each. If you experience an acute heat “surge” such as a hot flash, too much sun, or excessive irritability, then you can also try these breathing techniques on the spot to reduce symptoms. ***It is important to learn all Pranayama techniques by a trusted, knowledgeable teacher. If you do not know these breathing practices, simply performing some “deep belly breathing” or “alternate nostril breathing” will also be helpful.
5. Bathe in the Moonlight.
Just as the heat of the sun will increase Pitta, the coolness of the moon will certainly reduce it. Lay in the cool grass on a nice summer night and absorb the moon rays. If it is a cooler season, simply take a gentle walk in the moonlight to soak in this healing energy. To increase the effect, wear white clothing and walk along the water if possible.
6. Rub the feet and forehead with Brahmi Oil or Pitta Oil.
Brahmi and Pitta oil are specific for reducing Pitta symptoms, both physical and mental/emotional. By doing this simple practice before bed each night, you will reduce Pitta-type headaches, tension, heat, and irritation. If there are any areas of inflammation, these oils can also be massaged into these areas as well.
6. Rub the feet and forehead with Brahmi Oil or Pitta Oil.
Tikta Ghrita is translated as “Bitter Ghee.” This herb-infused ghee is the number one Ayurvedic medicine for reducing a Pitta imbalance. This powerful formula has been used for thousands of years for reducing heat, inflammation, acne, skin disorders, liver issues, and for cooling and detoxifying the blood.
8. Aloe Vera Juice.
A great option for reducing Pitta imbalances, skin issues, and liver issues is by taking aloe vera juice each day. Make sure to purchase an additive-free and organic version to ensure the highest and healthiest quality. Take 1-2 Tbsp., 3 times daily before meals. Aloe can also be applied to the skin to decrease rash, irritation, burns, and other Pitta skin conditions.
9. Drink CCF Tea.
CCF stands for Cumin, Coriander, and Fennel—all of which are good for cooling Pitta, especially when there is a Pitta digestive disorder (Tikshna Agni). You can make this tea by simply boiling 3 cups of water and adding 2 tsp each of coriander and fennel and 1 tsp of cumin. Steep for 10-15 minutes on a warm flame and strain. Drink this between meals to reduce Pitta and balance digestion.
10. Find fun activities to enjoy each day.
Pitta types are well known for their serious nature, overworking, and being perfectionists. Therefore, it is vital for Pitta to throw away this behavior once in awhile and allow some fun, silly time in their lives. This can mean different things to different individuals, but some great examples are playing a fun game (non-competitive), jamming out on a guitar, doing cartwheels, going swimming, taking a hike (not in the direct sun), running around with the kids, swinging at the park, laying in the shade, and laughing for no reason. So, find your inner child and let them loose!
11. Avoid arguing and conflict.
Although Pitta types love a good debate (and are quite good at it), serious debates and arguments are sure to get the blood boiling and the Pitta rising. If your Pitta is high, it is best to avoid these situations and, instead, place yourself around pleasant people and conversation. Pitta types hate to hear the word “no” and, therefore, should be surrounded by more agreeable company. If you do find yourself getting into a conflicting conversation, step away, take a walk, and come back to the conversation when your mind is more balanced.
Virechana, also known as purgation, is the main Ayurvedic treatment for cleansing Pitta from the system. This purging can be done in a gentle way by taking a dose of Triphala before bed or can be done more abrasively by taking castor oil in ginger tea. Castor oil is a well-known, powerful laxative and, when taken in the proper dosage, will flush out the GI tract very effectively. ***Virechana should always be performed under the instruction of a knowledgeable practitioner, as there are many preliminary measures to follow before the therapy is done.
13. Pitta reducing herbs.
Pitta herbs tend to be either bitter, astringent, and/or sweet in taste and often act on the liver and blood. Taking these cooling herbs will be a great complement to a Pitta-reducing diet and lifestyle to enhance the healing process. Some of the most commonly used herbs specific for pacifying Pitta are: Shatavari, Guduchi, Vidari, Licorice, Neem, Kutki, Bhumyamalaki, Amalaki, Musta, and Brahmi. ***Please note that these herbs are only to be taken when under the guidance of a knowledgeable Ayurvedic Practitioner. Taking herbs “blindly” can lead to further imbalance if one does not look at the whole picture.