5 elements & Ayurveda (Tri Dosha) “PITTA”


What is Pitta?

Pitta is made up of the two elements of fire and water. The most revered ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita, defines the characteristics of Pitta dosha: hot and a little unctuous (sahasnehamushnam); sharp, burning (tikshnam); liquid and acidic (dravamlam); always flowing in an unbounded manner (saram); pungent and sharp (katuhu).


Pitta contains fire, but it also contains water. It is the source of the flame, but not the flame itself. Compare Pitta to gasoline--it is not hot to the touch, but it can be the source of flames. People with more Pitta in their constitutions tend to be of medium proportions, with a frame that is neither petite nor heavy, warm skin that is very fair or ruddy and may be sensitive, and fine hair that tends towards premature graying or thinning. They are sharp and determined in thought, speech and action. There is an element of purpose to their step, intensity to their voice. Ambition is usually their second name. They are moderate sleepers and gravitate towards cooler environments. Self-confidence and an entrepreneurial spirit are hallmarks of balanced Pitta. If your prakriti or original constitution has more Pitta in it, you will exhibit many of the characteristics and qualities of Pitta when you are in balance than people who have more Vata or Kapha in their make-up. And that's natural. But if the qualities become extreme, or more pronounced than usual at a given time, then the Pitta in you has in all likelihood become aggravated or imbalanced, and needs to be brought back into balance. And if a predominantly Kapha or Vata person starts exhibiting many Pitta qualities that indicates a Pitta imbalance in that Kapha or Vata body type. In both cases, it is then time to follow a Pitta-balancing diet and lifestyle to help restore the level of Pitta in the physiology to its normal proportion. Factors that can cause Pitta dosha to increase in the physiology include a diet that contains too many hot or spicy foods, fasting or skipping meals, over-exposure to the sun or to hot temperatures, and emotional trauma.

Signs that you need to balance Pitta

o Are you constantly critical, impatient and irritable?

o Do you feel obsessed by work or a project, unable to stop for a break?

o Do you wake up in the very early hours of the morning and then find it difficult to get back to sleep?

o Is your skin feeling irritated or more sensitive than usual, breaking out or feeling inflamed?

o Is your hair falling when you shampoo or comb it?

o Do you have problems with heartburn or excess stomach acid?

o Is your tolerance of other people or provoking situations lower than usual? Do you have temper outbursts over minor aggravations? Do you often feel frustrated?

o Do you feel hot even when you are indoors? Do you feel thirsty all the time? Are your eyes red?

o Is your speech often biting and sarcastic? Do you find yourself getting into arguments easily?
If you answered yes to many of the questions above, following a Pitta-balancing diet and lifestyle can help restore balance to Pitta.

Balancing Pitta dosha: Diet

Ayurvedic texts recommend the principle of opposites for reducing the level of a dosha that has become aggravated. Since the characteristics of Pitta include sharpness, heat, and acidity, qualities that are opposite to these in diet and lifestyle help restore balance to Pitta dosha.

Dietary recommendations Include a few dry foods in your daily diet to balance the liquid nature of Pitta, some "heavy" foods that offer substance and sustained nourishment, and foods that are cool to balance the fiery quality of Pitta. So what exactly does this mean in terms of foods you should choose and foods you should stay away from?
Here are some specific dietary tips:

o If you need to balance Pitta, choose ghee, in moderate quantities, as your cooking medium. Ghee, according to the ancient ayurvedic texts, is cooling for both mind and body. Ghee can be heated to high temperatures without affecting its nourishing, healing qualities, so use ghee to sauté vegetables, spices or other foods.

o Cooling foods are wonderful for balancing Pitta dosha. Sweet juicy fruits, especially pears, can cool a fiery Pitta quickly. Milk, sweet rice pudding, coconut and coconut juice, and milkshakes made with ripe mangoes and almonds or dates are examples of soothing Pitta-pacifying foods.

o The three ayurvedic tastes that help balance Pitta are sweet, bitter and astringent, so include more of these tastes in your daily diet. Milk, fully ripe sweet fruits, and soaked and blanched almonds make good snack choices. Eat less of the salty, pungent and sour tastes.

o Dry cereal, crackers, granola and cereal bars, and rice cakes balance the liquid nature of Pitta dosha, and can be eaten any time hunger pangs strike during the day.

o Carrots, asparagus, bitter leafy greens, fennel, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, green beans and bitter gourd (in very small quantities) are good vegetable choices.

o They become more digestible when chopped and cooked with Pitta-pacifying spices. Vegetables can be combined with grains or mung beans for satisfying one-dish meals. Avoid nightshades.

o Basmati rice is excellent for balancing Pitta. Wheat is also good--fresh flatbreads made with wholewheat flour (called atta or chapatti flour and available at Indian grocery stores) combine well with cooked vegetables or Pitta-balancing chutneys. Oats and amaranth are other Pitta-balancing grains.

o Choose spices that are not too heating or pungent. Ayurvedic spices such as small quantities of turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and fennel offer flavor, aroma and healing wisdom. o Drink sweet lassi with lunch to help enhance digestion and cool, not ice-cold, water to quench thirst.
Suggested Food Choices for Pitta dosha

The following list of suggested foods is by no means all-inclusive, but offers starting guidelines if you are new to ayurvedic dietary principles. We will add to this list regularly, so please check back often! Grains: Rice, wheat, barley, oats, amaranth, sago, all cooked until tender

Vegetables: Asparagus, tender and bitter greens, bitter gourd, carrots, fennel, peas, green beans, zucchini, lauki squash, artichoke, parsnips, okra, celery, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, sweet potatoes, all cooked, small quantities of raw lettuce, carrots or cucumber

Fruits: Avocado, pineapple, peaches, plums, grapes, mangoes, melons, pears, pomegranates, cherries, all kinds of berries, apples, coconut, dates, fresh and dried figs, raisins (soaked), all ripe and sweet

Lentils: Mung beans, mung dhal, red or brown lentils, small portions of garbanzos, lima beans, black beans, all cooked until butter-soft

Dairy: Whole milk, cream, butter, fresh yogurt (cooked into foods), lassi, cottage cheese, fresh paneer cheese

Oils: Ghee, olive oil, walnut oil

Herbs: Cilantro, curry leaves, parsley, fresh basil, fresh fennel, fresh mint

Nuts and Seeds: Almonds (soaked and blanched), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

Spices: Turmeric, cumin, cardamom, coriander, fennel, small quantities of black pepper, Chinese cinnamon, mint, saffron, dill, sweet orange zest

Other: Rice milk, soy milk, sucanat, turbinado sugar, date sugar, and tofu in moderation (diced small and cooked with spices)

Balancing Pitta dosha: Lifestyle

Ayurvedic texts recommend the principle of opposites for reducing the level of a dosha that has become aggravated. Since the characteristics of Pitta include sharpness, heat, and acidity, qualities that are opposite to these in diet and lifestyle help restore balance to Pitta dosha.

Lifestyle recommendations

o The primary lifestyle recommendation for balancing Pitta is to stay cool--both physically and emotionally. Avoid going out in the heat of the day, especially on an empty stomach or after you have eaten tangy or spicy foods. Avoid exercising when it's hot. Walk away from situations that make you see red.

o Do not skip meals, do not fast and do not wait to eat until you are ravenously hungry. Start your day with cooked fruit, followed by some cereal. Eat a sustaining meal at lunch, and a lighter meal for dinner. For snacking, choose sweet juicy fruit--fully ripe mangoes, sweet pears and sweet juicy grapes are excellent Pitta-pacifying choices. Delaying meals can cause excess acidity, so eat on time every day. The Amalaki Rasayana helps enhance digestion without aggravating Pitta dosha. It also helps balance stomach acid.

o Daily elimination is very important to prevent ama from accumulating in the body. Triphala Rasayana helps promote regularity as well as toning the digestive system. Since Triphala is gentle, not habit forming and not depleting, it can be taken indefinitely to maintain regularity.

o To soothe sensitive skin, to balance the emotions and to nourish and tone muscles and nerves, indulge in an ayurvedic massage every morning before you bathe or shower. Use coconut oil for your massage. If you like, you can add 3-4 drops of a pure essential oil such as lavender or rose to 2 oz. of massage oil. Mix well before use. Two or three time a week, massage your scalp with warm oil, and let the oil stay for an hour or two before you shampoo. After your shower or bath, apply a pure, gentle moisturizer all over your body or spray your skin with pure rose or sandalwood water to keep your skin feeling cool all day long.

o Protect yourself from the heat. Stay cool in warm weather by wearing loose cotton clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes when you go out. Drink lots of room temperature water.

o Water-based activities are ideal exercise for Pitta-dominant people. Try swimming or aquaaerobics to stay fit but cool. Strolling after sunset, especially along a waterfront, is also a soothing way to fit some leisurely activity into your day.

o If Pitta dosha is out of balance, you may find that you can fall asleep without much trouble, but you wake up in the very early hours and find it difficult to get back to sleep. It is important to get to bed early, so that you can get adequate rest each night. A cup of warm milk, with some cardamom, can be helpful before bedtime.

o Set aside about 30 minutes each day for meditation, to help balance the heart and emotions and to enhance body-mind-spirit coordination.

Find Your Ayurvedic Type (Pitta - Fire & Water)

o Medium build

o Medium strength

o Moderate body weight, may be athletic and muscular

o Skin is oil, warm, and sensitive, may be ruddy or inflamed

o Hair is fine and oily, may be balding or prematurely gray

o Medium, penetrating, photosensitive eyes

o Lips are soft, medium-sized

o Soft, flexible nails

o Strong appetite, irritable if meals are missed

o Enjoys physical activity, especially competitive

o Bowel movements easy and regular, may be soft, oily, or loose

o Possessed of mental focus and clarity

o May become angry or frustrated when under stress

o Excellent memory o Usually sleep well

o Good circulation, perspire frequently

o Dreams may be angry, violent, passionate, or fiery

o Tendency towards inflammation, high blood pressure, hypersensitivity, aggression

The primary organs of the Pitta are the small intestine and stomach. Pitta types, therefore, have good digestion as well as intestinal fortitude or strong will and determination. Pitta is associated with the fire element and Pitta types tend toward heat, oiliness, and lightness. Imbalance in a Pitta type may manifest as skin rashes, burning, inflammation, fever, ulcers, anger, jealousy, or excessive urination. Pitta types benefit from staying cool and dry. Pittas should avoid oily or fried foods as well as caffeine, alcohol, red meat, hot spices, and salt. Balancing choices include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Pitta types should try to get plenty of fresh air and express their emotion