Hey Pitta - Chill Out.


Ayurveda recognizes that each human being is born with a unique balance and that this natural balance is responsible for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. By recognizing and maintaining this unique balance, Ayurveda provides simple guidelines to help each person create his or her own state of ideal health. For now, we will discuss the fiery nature of Pitta.


Hey Pitta - "Chill Out.”
The first thing which comes to mind when thinking of pitta is the brilliant blaze of fire. The primary function of pitta is transformation and controls digestion, metabolism, and energy production. The fire aspect makes pitta types bright, illuminating, fiery and even hot-tempered.


A Dose Of Loving Compassion
One of the best ways to pacify the fiery and hot-tempered nature of pitta types is the enduring dose of antiquated love and compassion. The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda explained perfectly the antidote of the fiery pitta flare ...

“lying on the grass or a veranda in the late evening under the moonlight, listening to a melodious song, exposure to a pleasant cool breeze, having the company of loving, sweet-speaking friends and sweet speaking innocent children, a beautiful looking agreeable partner of the opposite sex, in a house surrounded by cool-water fountains, a beautiful lawn and swimming pool with shallow steps, swimming with a woman, beautiful swans and lotuses that are kissing.” - Ashtanga Hridayam, Sutrasthana, Ch. 13 Su. 5-9
[Translated by Dr. Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Physician]


The Pitta Body
Pitta individuals are usually of average height, build and frame and generally possess good health. Likewise, pitta types often have well developed muscles along with a great complexion. The reason for this shining complexion is due to an oily quality which can also make pittas more prone to acne, rashes, and other inflammatory skin conditions. Shake the hands of a pitta and you will likely feel a warm hand yet firm grip. Pittas are predominately of the fire element and therefore sweat easily and prefer all things which are cooling.

The Pitta Mind
Pitta individuals are characterized as being highly intelligent and perceptive with a remarkable ability to discriminate. They have a sharp intellect, great comprehension along with a competitive streak. It is because of these qualities that pitta types are high achievers, leaders, and successful achieving their respective endeavors. Due to their competitive nature, pitta individuals can also have a fiery temper and at times become domineering.


Pittas Are Full Of Passion
Pitta types have a fiery drive and strong sexual appetite. Pitta types can be thought of as the most passionate of all types and are able to get just what they want - so they think.

Sharp Digestion
Pitta types possess a healthy and robust appetite and despite the ability to eat just about anything, their weight often remains moderate. Due to the predominant fire quality, pitta types are prone to acid indigestion and heartburn. Pitta are punctual and the surest way to make a pitta individual irritable is to have them arrive late to a meal.

Pitta Sleep Pattern
Pitta types sleep well. Even if these individuals wake up at night, they are easily able to fall right back asleep. Since pitta types are critical thinkers, their brain continues to work throughout sleep and can manifest as intense dreams, centered around action.


Management Of Pitta

The management for pitta types is centered around:

  • Cooling
  • Calming and
  • Moderation


Several Considerations For Pitta Types
Several considerations for helping to balance pitta:
– eat foods which are cool and refreshing
– avoid foods which are sour, salty, pungent and spicy
– dairy milk, butter, and ghee are often beneficial for pacifying pitta
– drink enough water and consider aloe vera to help cool down pitta

Sweet, Bitter & Astringent
Ayurveda describes an interesting relationship of taste and its influence upon the body. According to this philosophy, pitta types often are most balanced by sweet, bitter and astringent tastes as these are considered to be cooling and pacifying. Generally, pitta types should avoid heavily spiced meals because they are prone to acid indigestion [i.e. heartburn].

Improving Digestion
The best food for pittas are cool or warm [not steaming hot] with moderately heavy textures. Bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes are ideal. Refreshing food during the summer or hot weather are ideal and cooling drinks such as herbal tea, specifically mint or licorice root tea are pacifying to pittas. A suitable breakfast for pitta types may consist of cold cereal, cinnamon toast and apple tea. In general, vegetarian food is ideal for pitta types as red meat tends to be heating which can aggravate pitta inflammatory conditions. On the contrary, pittas should consume abundant amounts of milk, grains, and nourishing vegetables.

Great Veggies For Pittas
- asparagus
- broccoli
- Brussels sprouts
- cabbage
- radishes
- cauliflower
- celery
- cucumber
- green beans
- leafy green vegetables
- parsley
- sprouts
- squash
- spinach

Awesome Fruit For Pittas
- bananas
- avocados
- cherries
- coconuts
- figs
- mangoes
- melons
- pears
- pineapples
- plums
- prunes
- raisins

Terrific Grains For Pittas
- barley
- wheat
- basmati rice

Favorable Beans For Pitta
- chickpeas
- mung beans
- red lentils

Is Bitter Better for Pacifying Pitta?

Is Bitter Better for Pacifying Pitta?
“I read online that for pitta people, particularly in the summer time, in order to keep things cool, bitter things are good. So I ordered a bitter ghee preparation called “pancha tikta ghritam” and I started using it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. I
immediately developed nausea and felt like I had a hangover. It felt like instead of pacifying my pitta, it aggravated it? Can you please address this? If ayurvedic texts and experts say that bitter is good for pitta then why did it not help me?

Also, how should I take care of my pitta in the summer? I read your article on cooling pitta in the summer and it gave a different approach. You were recommending sweet things like rose petal preserve. Is the sweet taste enough for pacifying pitta in the summertime? Can you please comment on this?

Thank you,
Christina P. “

Vaidya's answer:
In Ayurveda we acknowledge six total possible tastes. Verse #171 from Bhava Mishra’s Bhavaprakash, lists them in hierarchical order: [madhur/sweet, amla/sour, lavana/salty, kattu/pungent, tikta/bitter, and kashaya/astringent]
Screenshot 2015-07-17 08.41.09

As the verse explains, these tastes are hierarchical in the sense that the first 3 pacify vata dosha, and last three pacify kapha. In addition, “kashaya” astringent, “tikta” or bitter, and “madhura” or the sweet tastes pacify pitta. So, in theory, to say that the bitter taste is pacifying for pitta is correct. Based on the ayurvedic ancient texts, the 3 tastes: astringent, bitter, and sweet, pacify pitta. However, knowledge needs to be applied. In practical situations, many times, knowledge needs to be adapted to specific conditions.

In the process of pacifying your pitta dosha, you aggravated your vata dosha.
It looks like in the process of pacifying your pitta dosha, you aggravated your vata dosha. To address your situation, I would like to highlight two major aspects according by referring to the same text, the same shastra-s. Based on my experience as an ayurvedic expert practicing in the West for the past almost 20 years, in 90% of situations where pitta was aggravated, it was a case of also high agni, or digestive and metabolic fire element in the body, particularly in the digestive system.

When kledak kapha (the balancing kapha subdosha in the stomach that keeps things moist and lubricated) goes low in the stomach, then samana vata (which also resides in the stomach area) also gets aggravated. When Samana Vata is aggravated, it pushes udana vata (that resides in the chest) more forcefully upwards and then one experiences nausea. In such scenarios, in most cases, wherever pitta is aggravated, vata also gets aggravated. That's why there are three options in terms of rasa, or taste, for pacifying pitta. Those three tastes as indicated in the shastra-s are: astringent, bitter and sweet. Practically speaking, you have to choose among those three, based on the specific condition or situation.

Verse #171 says that the first three rasa-s or tastes: madhur (sweet), alma (sour) and lavan (salty) pacify vata dosha. So madhur or sweet rasa pacifies both vata and pitta, and that’s why I personally use madhur rasa or the sweet taste to pacify pitta in the summer time. With rose – and intelligent rather than dumb or dead sweets loaded with preservatives and synthetic chemicals such as white sugar – and sweet juicy seasonal fruits like pears, blueberries and blackberries, as well as a little amla or sour rasa like orange, or lime, one can work wonders for pitta and vata. Of course, the sour taste has to be in moderation, specially in the summer time, because it contains more agni, and can thus aggravate pitta as well. It has to be in balance in minimal quantities in relation to the sweet taste.

Another point to consider comes up in verse number #190 that says:

Screenshot 2015-07-17 08.41.33

The bitter rasa, or bitter taste, can aggravate vata. That’s why, when you consumed that bitter ghee to pacify your pitta dosha, it aggravated your samana vata and udana vata, resulting in nausea. So you see, theory or just knowledge are not enough. In practical daily applications of the knowledge, we need to have acquired skills and have guidance to know how to use that knowledge for optimal results. Even though the texts prescribe the bitter taste for pacifying pitta, if we follow the text without considering actual conditions, we will end up aggravating pitta further. I learnt such practical applications of the ayurvedic shastra-s while interning with my father in our family practice in India. I am always happy to share what I learnt during those years as well as in my life experience as an ayurvedic healer, since the opportunity to intern with ayurvedic experts is much more hard to come by in the western cultural context. I thank you for your question as it has given me the opportunity to clarify a crucial point for all.

PITTA ~ 5 Sub-Doshas

Pitta = Fire +Water

1. Pachaka Pitta:
The fire which digests things. It is located in the small intestine, governs the power of digestion, absorption and assimilation, and it's the basis and support of all other forms of pitta. Pachaka pitta is often the first consideration in the management of pitta related conditions and is considered to be our primary source of heat as the digestive fire.

2. Ranjaka Pitta:
The fire that imparts color. It is located in the liver, spleen, stomach and small intestine, and gives color to the blood, bile and stool. It primarily resides in the blood and is involved in most liver disorders. Ranjaka pitta is also involved in the creation of red blood cells (RBC), so a dysfunction of Ranjaka may cause anemia.

3. Sadhaka Pitta
The fire that determines what is truth and what is reality. It is located in the brain and heart and allows us to accomplish the goals of the intellect, intelligence or ego, appreciation, self-esteem, confidence and courage. This also includes worldly goals of pleasure, wealth and prestige along with the spiritual goal of liberation. Sadhaka pitta also governs our mental energy, mental digestion (the digestion of ideas or beliefs) and our power of discrimination. Its development is emphasized in Yoga, particularly the Yoga of Knowledge.

4. Alochaka Pitta:
The fire that governs visual perception. It is located in the eyes and is responsible for the reception and digestion of light from the external world and also aids the acuity of the other senses.

5. Bhrajaka Pitta:
The fire that governs luster or complexion. It is located in the skin and maintains the complexion and color of skin. When aggravated, for example, it causes skin rashes or discoloration. Bhrajaka pitta also governs digestion of warmth or heat, which we experience through the skin.

• Ayurvedic Healing, a comprehensive guide, David Frawley.
• Secrets of the Pulse, Dr. Vasant Lad

Pitta ~ Basic Management

The very first thing which should come to mind when thinking of pitta is the brilliant blaze of fire. Pitta types are hot, fiery, oily, and intense. Therefore, management for pitta types is centered around:

  • Cooling
  • Calming and
  • Moderation

Since pitta types also have an inflammatory component, which is inherent to the element of fire, make sure to address pitta types with an extra dose of loving compassion.

Ayurveda describes an interesting relationship of taste and its influence upon the body. According to this philosophy, pitta types often are most balanced by sweet, bitter and astringent tastes as these are considered to be cooling and pacifying.

intense, acidity, irritability, inflammation, loose stools, fever, nausea

- Burning Sensation
- Bleeding
- Inflammation

Several considerations for helping to balance pitta types:
- Eat foods which are cool and refreshing
- Avoid foods which are sour, salty, pungent and spicy
- Dairy milk, butter, and ghee are often beneficial for pacifying pitta
- Drink more water and consider aloe vera to help cool down pitta


  • Hot
  • Sharp
  • Light
  • Liquid
  • Oily

Pitta types are anything but ordinary. What brings about this extraordinary “fiery” nature often found in pitta types? The predominant elements for pitta types are fire and water and because of this, pitta individuals can develop excessive heat from within. This hot aspect of pitta can manifest as fever, hives, rashes and even urticaria. Therefore the goal for managing this excess hot quality is twofold:

1.] avoid excessive hot qualities [i.e. direct sunlight, spicy food, heated emotions]
2.] consider cooling elements [i.e. coconut oil, neem, sandalwood]

The sharp quality dominant in pitta types is a double-edged sword. This sharp quality provides the ability to penetrate into great depths of understanding often making pitta types forthright, direct and outspoken. One the other hand, this sharp quality can also create irritability, ulceration and even worse, perforation. Therefore, the goal for managing the excessively sharp quality of pitta is to:

- avoid sharp and aggravating qualities [i.e. alcohol, tobacco, criticism, judgement]
- consider introducing the opposing dull quality [i.e. milk, āmalaki, sandalwood]

You cannot capture fire within your hands due to its subtle and light quality. If this quality is increased it can cause one to feel dizzy and light-headed. Therefore, individuals who experience this excessive light quality may want to avoid prolonged periods of fasting, and consider the opposing heavy quality [i.e. jatamāmsi, shankha pushpī]. Another consideration is to rub castor oil on the soles of one’s feet at bedtime. This will help to counteract the light quality of pitta with the heavy and dull quality of castor oil.

Excess liquid quality of pitta can impair the digestive capacity [i.e. Agni] and can lead to acid indigestion and even diarrhea. If there is an excessive liquid quality of pitta then one may want to consider avoiding hydrophillic foods such as yogurt, salty foods, and even avoid fruits such as apricots and grafefruit.

Often pitta types have a shiny complexion and this is due to the oily quality of pitta. This oily quality can make pitta types sensitive to oily foods which can aggravate conditions of the gallbladder. It’s interesting that bile, which is stored within the gallbladder, is considered a common element of pitta. Even furhter, if the oily quality of pitta is increased it’s thought to be a contributing factor for inflammatory gallbladder conditions [i.e. cholecystitis]. This excessive oily quality can also make pitta types vulnerable to persistent skin conditions [i.e. acne]. Individuals who have this excessive oily quality may want to consider the opposing dry quality. For example, individuals with persistent acne may want to consider topically applying chickpea flour, brahmī or camphor.

*For educational purposes only, not medical advice. 

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