Pitta Dosha: How to Keep This Fiery Ayurvedic Body in Balance - Dr. Axe

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Pitta Dosha: How to Keep This Driven, Fiery Constitution in Balance


Pitta dosha - Dr. Axe

Has anyone ever told you, “You’re so pitta?” Not sure what it means? Pitta is one of three main “doshas” in Ayurveda. In a way, it’s kind of like an ancient system of understanding (and working with) your body and personality type.

If Ayurveda medicine is new to you, you’re not alone. But this 5,000-year-old health system is believed to be one of the oldest forms of medicine in the world. It’s derived from the Vedic texts of India and focuses on bringing the body, mind and spirit into balance by utilizing holistic daily practices, diet and other natural approaches.

What Are Doshas?

To understand dosha basics, we first have to see how Ayurveda classifies the elements of the universe, including what we’re all made of. These include:

  • Ether (space)
  • Air
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Earth

The idea is that every person is made of a personalized, unique mix of the three primary doshas, which come from the elements. They are:

And here’s where things get fun. Every person tends to be more dominant in one (or sometimes two) doshas. And that primary dosha is also the one that’s most likely to come out of balance, threatening our mental and physical health.

We’re all a unique mix of all three doshas, but in this article we’re going to focus on better understanding and balancing high pitta.

In Ayurveda, “like increases like.” That means that pitta types need to work extra hard to stay in balance during the pitta time of year, which is summer. For instance, summer’s hot qualities can easily overheat pitta’s already fiery constitution if a pitta person eats lots of spicy foods during the pitta time of year. In Ayurveda, opposites are used to create a balancing pitta dosha lifestyle.

What are the symptoms of pitta dosha? According to the Himalayan Institute, when pitta is in balance, it is in charge of healthy digestion, immunity and enzymatic processes. However, a pitta imbalance, also known as high pitta, could lead to symptoms that include:

Ayurveda gives us a time-tested approach to help bring things back into balance.

Take this quiz to determine your dosha: What’s Your Ayurvedic Body Type?

What Is Pitta Dosha?

What does pitta dosha mean? To better understand pitta, we’ll first take a look at physical characteristics we’re born with, mental characteristics associated with pitta types and explores the health issues that can arise if you’re living with excess pitta.

Find yourself asking, “How can I overcome Pitta Dosha?” Perhaps a better way to look at it is not how to overcome it, but rather work with your dosha naturally to create more harmony in the mind and body.

Physical Characteristics (Pitta Body Type)

High pitta people tend exhibit these physical characteristics, also known as pitta body type:

  • More mesomorphic, muscular, medium build
  • Medium weight
  • Oilier skin prone to breakouts
  • “Run hot” and sweat easily
  • Penetrating stare
  • Oilier hair that tends to gray or bald earlier
  • Strong digestion

Emotional and Personality Characteristics

Some pitta dosha qualities include being:

  • Driven
  • Competitive
  • Focused
  • Direct
  • Sharp-witted

When in balance, the pitta type seems like they’re on top of the world. In fact, many pitta types go on to become CEOs or land in other positions of leadership because of their strong drive, focus, concentration and competitiveness.

But Banyan Botanicals outlines signs of excess pitta to watch out for. Imbalances of pitta dosha symptoms can be quite intense. When pitta’s out of balance and running too high, a pitta type experience, among other things:

  • Argumentative personality
  • Rage/hostility
  • Perfectionism
  • Yellowish coating on tongue
  • Insatiable hunger and/or thirst
  • Tenderness in breasts
  • Bloodshot or yellow tinge in eyes

Chronic imbalance in pitta can actually harm longevity and lead to accelerated aging.

How to Keep the Pitta Dosha Balanced

Pitta dosha - Dr. Axe

Pitta Dosha Diet

A pitta dosha diet should focus on sweet, astringent and bitter tastes. These help balance the fiery qualities of pitta. Since sour, pungent and salty tastes increase Pitta, those should be reduced. Instead, unprocessed foods with  sweet, bitter and astringent tastes should be favored.

Is buttermilk good for pitta dosha? What about other types of dairy? These are a common question. While buttermilk isn’t generally recommended for pittas, there are other dairy products that are more generally recommended for the pitta dosha type.

Pitta Food List

  • Cherries
  • Avocados
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Goat’s or cow’s milk
  • Ghee
  • Unsalted butter
  • Mung beans
  • Mung dal
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Split peas
  • Navy, black, pinto and kidney beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Leafy greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Cilantro
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Avocado
  • Raw spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Cooked onions
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Basmati, wild, white rice
  • Spelt
  • Granola
  • Sprouted wheat bread (This pitta bread is best.)
  • And more

Pitta Snacks

  • Fruits like apples, berries, coconut, melons, pineapples and limes (fruit is best enjoyed alone, at least 3o minutes to an hour before or after a meal)
  • Soaked and peeled almonds
  • Raw veggies like broccoli and celery (best eaten at midday when digestive fire is at its peak)
  • Popcorn with butter, no salt
  • Pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Pitta Recipes

Mung Dal, Coconut and Cilantro Kitchari

Kitchari is a traditional nourishing and energizing dish in Ayurveda. This particular recipe is great for pitta types because it incorporates the cooling qualities of c coconut and cilantro to the mix.

Coconut Energy Bites

This is a great go-to pitta dosha recipe that you can whip up and enjoy for cooling snacks. They’re typically crowd pleasers, so be sure to make enough to share.

Summer Pasta for Pitta

This recipes is known as tridoshic, meaning it’s appropriate for all of the dosas, all though it’s especially satisfying and cooling for pitta types.

Related: Top 22 Cooling Foods & Herbs (Plus Benefits)

Foods to Avoid or Reduce

What foods should Pitta avoid or reduce? If you’re out of balance or in the pitta time of year (summer), it’s especially important to limit or eliminate pitta-increasing foods, otherwise pittas run the risk of excess pitta, which manifests into issues like rashes, joint pain, anger, over-competitiveness and digestive distress.

The idea here is to avoid or reduce foods with the salty, sour and pungent tastes because they increase heat, something pittas generally do not need more of.

  • Spicy foods
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Hot drinks (room temperature is best
  • Excessively salty foods
  • Chia seeds
  • Cashews
  • Pecans
  • Sesame seeds
  • Tahini
  • Seafood
  • Beef

Pitta Dosha Precautions

It’s easy to get really hung up on your dosha, but use it as a guideline to start living more in balance and with the season. Adopt a few practices for several weeks or months before adding another.

Take special care to adopt these guidelines during the summer (pitta time of year), when it’s especially easy for pitta dosha to come out of balance. Also, understand that although you may be naturally high in pitta, you’re a unique mix of all three doshas. What a beautiful thing!

Final Thoughts

    • Ayurveda is designed for a long and healthy life.
    • Pitta is a “fiery” dosha, one of three primary doshas: vata, pitta and kapha.
    • We’re all a unique mix of all three doshas, although most of us tend to have a dominant dosha what we need to especially focus on to maintain balance in the body, mind and spirit.
    • To help keep pitta in balance:
      • Avoid over-scheduling yourself; schedule free time
      • Eat a pitta-pacifying Ayurvedic diet, avoiding hot, spicy, salty foods, particular in the heat of summer
      • Herbs and spices best for pitta include cardamom, chamomile, cilantro, coriander, lemon verbena, peppermint and turmeric
      • Exercise in the morning or evening; choose swimming and water sports during hot months
      • Practice earthing in the evening and go for moonlight walks in the summer
      • Favor peppermint, lavender and sandalwood essential oils
      • Practice abhyanga, or self-massage, using a cooling oil like coconut oil
      • When scheduling vacations, opt for cooler, dry locales
      • Stick to a daily schedule

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