Pitta’s elemental makeup consists of fire and water. The common translation of pitta is “that which digests things.” According to ayurveda, this is the dosha responsible for our ability to mentally digest our life experiences and biologically digest our food. Pitta is responsible for all of our chemical and metabolic transformations.

Qualities or Attributes of Pitta Dosha

  • Hot

  • Sharp or penetrating

  • Light

  • Liquid

  • Spreading

  • A little oily or “unctuous” (some ayurvedic texts describe it as moist)

  • Sour

Characteristics of Pitta Dosha

The classic ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita says that when pitta is in balance within any individual, according to their prakruti or constitution, their blood will be healthy and the acid secretions in their intestines and stomach optimal for digestion. Mental digestion, sound judgment, and discernment are functions of balanced pitta. Our ability to clearly perceive what the body senses (sees, hears, smells, etc.) is governed by pitta. Regarding transformation, pitta governs the ability of the body to combust, or digest, the materials needed to bring warmth and color to the body. The body’s ability to maintain warmth and absorb sunlight as well as our ability to mentally digest our thoughts and emotions are governed by pitta dosha. The Charaka says that the “light of awareness” is governed by pitta as well.

Actions of pitta dosha in the body and mind are:

  • Intelligence

  • Valor

  • Understanding

  • Color and complexion

  • Hunger

  • Thirst

  • Visual perception

  • All digestion

  • All heat in the body and mind

  • Softness and health of the skin

  • Regulation of the liver

  • Proper function of the small intestine

Characteristics of Pitta Dominance in Appearance

  • Sharp, almond-shaped eyes (often green or hazel)

  • Little body hair or soft, light body hair

  • High hairline, with medium amount of soft hair; in aging process thinning hair to male pattern baldness

  • Early to grey

  • Sharp nose, teeth, and chin

  • Freckles (red hair is also pitta quality)

  • Medium to small frame

  • Flexible yet stable joints

  • Symmetry of hips to shoulders

  • Red colored tongue

  • Rosy cheeks and lips

Examples of Pitta Dosha in Excess or in an Imbalanced State

  • Easily sunburns

  • Heartburn

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Strong anger

  • Agitation as a stress response

  • Teeth sensitivity

  • Burning sensation in eyes, skin, mouth, or with urination

  • Yellow, smelly urine, or excess urine

  • Excess sweat

  • Flushed nose, cheeks, or ears

  • Bloodshot eyes or yellow in eyes (and skin)

  • Acne or skin rashes

  • Nosebleeds or excess bleeding when cut

  • Smelly feet, armpits, or a general sour smell to the body

  • Overanalyzing

  • Tunnel vision with goal-orientated behavior

  • Self-critical

  • Obsessive or compulsive thinking

  • Jealousy

  • Hatred

  • Desire to seek revenge

  • Liver issues

  • Blood issues

  • Inflammation in general

  • Fever

  • Heat and agitation with sleep

  • Small intestine/digestive acid issues

  • Burnout

Dietary Tips to Support Pitta Balance

Foods that are great to balance pitta are, in general, sweet, bitter, and astringent in taste. Ayurveda considers these tastes to be medicine for cooling, drying, and calming excess pitta. Generally, all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) are recommended for healthy digestion.

Foods that help to balance pitta:

Foods to avoid or consume only moderately if your constitution is predominantly pitta:

Foods that can increase pitta are, in general, sour, pungent, and salty in taste. These tastes, in excess for the pitta in your prakruti (constitution), can create heat, too much moisture, and intensify pitta, disrupting its balance.

Examples of foods that can aggravate pitta include:

Lifestyle Tips for Balancing Pitta

Yoga for Balancing Pitta


About the Teacher

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Kathryn Templeton
Kathryn Templeton, MA, RDT/ MT/LPC, E-500 RYT, C-IAYT. Ayurvedic practitioner Kathryn Templeton has devoted... Read more