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How Can I Balance Pitta Dosha?

Written by Anna Dale

Pitta dosha is made up of the elements of fire and water through which it manifests the qualities of pungent, hot, penetrating, oily, sharp, liquid, spreading and sour. Its primary function is transformation and is the force of metabolic activity in the body associated with the endocrine function, digestion, body temperature, visual perception, hunger, thirst, and skin quality. In Western terms we can categorise the activities of pitta in terms of amino acids, enzymes, bile, hydrochloric acid and hormones. This explains the seemingly contradictory combination of fire and water to form pitta. Pitta exists as water or oil in the body, thus preserving the tissues from the destructive aspect of fire. It resides in the eyes, blood, sweat glands and lymph but its primary site is in the small intestine. Mentally it plays a role in understanding, in digesting sensory impressions.

You need to balance the heat of pitta if many of the following conditions are present

  • Your skin is overly oily and prone to acne

  • You are prone to rashes, fevers or inflammatory skin conditions

  • You have excessive hunger or thirst

  • You sweat profusely and have overly hot hands and feet

  • You suffer from infections, excess acidity, ulcers and heart problems

  • You are overly aggressive and prone to anger and frustration

  • You experience loose or hot, watery stools and diarrhoea-type elimination

  • You tend to be overly critical, domineering, obsessive or controlling in nature

  • You experience frequent eyestrain or tension headaches

  • You are going prematurely grey or balding

Basic principles

Qualities of Pitta: oily, sharp, hot, light, sour, liquid and spreading

Times of day: 10-2 am & pm

Season: Late Spring/Summer

Tastes to balance Pitta: sweet, bitter and astringent

Tastes to aggravate Pitta: pungent, sour and salty

Characteristics of Pitta Types

  • Sharp mind, good concentration skills

  • Medium physique, strong, well built

  • Confident, assertive, competitive, enjoy challenges, leaders demanding, pushy when out of balance

  • Strong digestion, strong appetite, strong thirst, get irritated when need to wait for food

  • Passionate and romantic, more sex endurance then in Vatas, less then in Kaphas

  • When under stress Pittas become angry and irritated

  • Heat makes them tired and angry

  • Like to spend money on luxury

  • Good public speakers; also capable of sharp, sarcastic speech

  • Hair usually fine and straight, tending toward blond or red, turns grey early; tendency toward baldness or thinning hair

Typical physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, boils, skin cancer, ulcers, heartburn, acid stomach, hot sensations in the stomach or intestines, insomnia, bloodshot or burning eyes, anaemia, jaundice.

Tips for balancing Pitta

  • Follow a Pitta balancing diet and avoid hot, spicy or sour foods

  • Avoid very heating substances such as red meat, alcohol and tobacco

  • Avoid excessive fasting and try to eat when you are hungry. Don’t skip meals; especially lunch

  • Exercise moderately and avoid prolonged exercise in very hot climates or environments

  • Walk regularly in nature; especially by the sea. Walking in the moonlight is also very beneficial

  • Reduce your exposure to hot environments and keep your head and skin protected when the sun is hot .

  • Cultivate peaceful emotions and spend more time with people who love and fully accept you

  • Avoid angry or stressed people and try not to argue – aim to agree more often!

  • Take the time to be sweet and sociable and find the time to chat, laugh and play

  • Practice moderation and find time for enjoying leisure activities and appreciating natural beauty

  • Avoid overly competitive sports, deadlines and confrontation in general

  • Practice meditation, cooling forms of pranayama and gentle yoga postures

  • Avoid watching too much television and excessive use of computers

  • Massage the head with coconut or brahmi-amla oil at night

  • Wear cooling colours – blue, purple, green and avoid wearing red colours

  • Drink sweet pomegranate juice. Its astringent and bitter quality helps balancing pitta, cleanses the liver and blood and works as an excellent heart tonic

  • Eat a chunk of Aloe Vera each day. It is used as cooling herb. It is also sweet and bitter in taste which helps to nourish dry mucus membranes and to clear inflammatory heat from the body

The Vata balancing diet

  • Generally, favour warm or cool and refreshing foods with the tastes of sweet, bitter and astringent such as; asparagus, lettuce, broccoli, cucumber, raita, mung dhal, summer squashes, courgettes, cilantro, coconut, lime and green salads

  • Avoid very oily, salty, sour, fermented or pungent foods and spices such as chillies, alcohol, pickles, vinegar, hard or pungent cheeses, citrus fruits, sour cream, yoghurt, tomatoes, garlic, onions and chillies as they will aggravate the acid and pitta in the intestines and blood

  • Enjoy sweet, juicy seasonal fruits such as peaches, figs and berries

  • Avoid red meat and favour chicken or fish

  • Most vegetables, beans and lentils are good unless they are cooked with too much oil

  • Favour wheat, basmati rice, oats and barley and take corn, millet and rye in moderation

  • Drink cooling herbal teas such as peppermint, spearmint, rose, coriander or liquorice (do not use liquorice if you have hypertension)

  • Ghee is cooling and can be used for cooking and spreading on toast. Coconut oil can also be used for cooking whilst Udo’s oil, flax oil or pumpkin oil can be used for salad dressings

  • A nourishing breakfast to balance pitta could include cereal, toast, apple juice. Soak almonds overnight, de-husk in the morning, mix with hemp seeds, small quantity of sesame seeds, dates and make a nourishing, sattvic shake

  • Always avoid over-eating, especially in the evening

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