Ayurvedic Wisdom: Bringing Balance to Imbalanced Pitta

Pitta is the dosha of heat. It is composed of fire (primarily) and water (secondarily). Since fire is hot, so is pitta! When pitta goes out of balance, symptoms of increased heat occur in the body, and these symptoms manifest physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Physical symptoms of unbalanced pitta may include loose stools, heartburn, liver weakness, skin rashes, fever. Mentally you may become critical, judgmental, controlling, opinionated, overly focused. You may find yourself burned out from overworking and intensity. Emotionally, “hot” emotions may challenge you, such as anger, jealousy, vindictiveness. If you went to a doctor and said “Doc, I have loose stools, heartburn, a skin rash, and I find myself getting angry really easily,” he (or she) would likely pull out the prescription pad and write out a different prescription for each symptom. From the perspective of Ayurveda, though, all of these symptoms are simply the body’s way of telling you: YOU’RE TOO HOT. YOU NEED TO COOL DOWN. What do we say to someone who is overly intense, driven and angry a lot? We call them a “hot head” and tell them to  “chill out!” The wisdom of Ayurveda is wired right into us.

So how to “chill out”? Choose foods which cool – both temperature and energetically (there’s lists of appropriate foods in Ayurvedic cookbooks and from your friendly neighborhood Ayurvedic practitioner – who would be your best bet if you wish to get an accurate assessment of your dosha imbalance).  This doesn’t mean ice cold drinks and ice cream, though. Using cooling spices such as cumin, coriander, fennel and cilantro is a great way to start, along with eating lots of “greens.” Balance rest and activity, allowing some free time everyday. Don’t skip meals! Pittas have a strong digestive fire and when they don’t eat on time, they can get pretty cranky. Avoid sunlight, especially at mid-day. Instead, take a walk in the moonlight. Perform daily massage with cooler oils, such as coconut or sunflower. Choose sweet, cooling aromas such as rose, jasmine, lavender, mint. And laugh a lot! Laughter is the best medicine to lighten up an overheated pitta.

By Marisa Laursen, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda 

One final note: We are moving into the season of pitta – the hottest time of the year. This is the time that pitta is most likely to go out of balance, and thus the time to be most thoughtful of keeping pitta IN balance!