The main qualities of Pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light, fleshy smelling, spreading and liquid. So, having a Pitta-predominant constitution means that these qualities express themselves generously throughout your mental, emotional and physical make up. You may find them reflected in your strengths and weaknesses.
A basic tenet of Ayurveda is “like increases like” therefore, increasing the inherent qualities of Pitta will increase Pitta in your body, mind and spirit. For example, because Pitta is inherently hot, hot weather, hot foods, the hot seasons and times of day, and even hot emotions can increase Pitta. Likewise humid environments will increase the liquid quality and thereby increase Pitta.
Example: You are a Pitta individual. Pitta is hot in nature. You visit the equator for a vacation and you sunbathe for six hours daily and enjoy hot, spicy food daily for one week. At the end of the week you suffer from an acute rash and terrible heartburn and find yourself in an awful temper. Ayurveda would say that your heat-increasing indulgences increased the natural heat in your Pitta constitution and lead to hot conditions “erupting” in your body and emotions. This is an extreme example to illustrate a point.
Each of us has a unique proportion of the three doshas in our constitutions. Ayurveda teaches us that if a dosha increases beyond its original, natural proportion for us, it fosters an environment where disease can flourish.
It is common for our predominant dosha (Vata, Pitta or Kapha) to increase more quickly than other doshas because we tend to perpetuate what we know the best.
Example: If your dominant dosha is Pitta, you may be intellectually bright, due to the hot and sharp qualities of Pitta. However, this very quality that is inherent in Pitta may eventually aggravate it and create mental or physical “burn out.”
Medicines are substances, which decrease the excess dosha by providing the opposite qualities to it.
Example: If excess mental wrestling has resulted in “burn out,” a comfortable, soft couch and a cool mind can be medicines. If it has increased due to excess heat, coolness can be the medicine. Too much moisture? Use dryness.
One of the wonderfully practical aspects of Ayurveda is that anything can be used as a medicine because everything that exists has a quality. This includes but is not limited to: herbs, foods, drinks, environments, colors, smells and lifestyles.
Qualities opposite to Pitta are those that are dry, soft, cool, heavy, sweet smelling, and contained. It is therefore best for Pitta individuals to seek out physical and emotional environments, routines, and foods that possess these opposite qualities.
Along with the main qualities of Pitta, it is also helpful to know those tastes that increase Pitta and those that decrease Pitta.
A Pitta individual does well to have fresh, cooling foods. They have difficulty skipping meals because they tend to have strong appetites. Because they also have strong digestive systems, they tend to tolerate raw foods better than the other doshas but they must be careful to avoid hot foods, alcohol, caffeine, irritability, high aggression and anger because these will create too much Pitta and weaken the digestive system.
Because the sweet, bitter and astringent tastes decrease Pitta, these tastes should be predominant in your diet. Note that this is not necessarily a green light to eat refined sugary foods and drinks. The naturally sweet taste that is found in many grains, squashes, natural sweeteners and fruits is most appropriate and can help balance Pitta.
Using herbs to manage your constitution compliments the changes you make in your diet and lifestyle. Brahmi, Bhringaraj and Guduchi are three of the primary herbs used to remove excess pitta from the body and maintain balance.
ABOUT Claudia Welch Dr. Claudia Welch is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, an Ayurvedic practitioner and educator, and the author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness Through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Western Science. Dr. Welch lectures internationally on Oriental and Ayurvedic medicines and Women’s Health, bringing a depth of knowledge and a sense of joy to her presentations. She has served on the teaching faculty of The Ayurvedic Institute, Kripalu School of Ayurveda, Southwest Acupuncture College, and Acupractice Seminars.