Pitta is predominantly the energy of Fire, although it contains a bit of Water energy as well. The word Pitta comes from the Sanskrit root tap, meaning fire or heat. This is the same root that the term tapas comes from, which refers to the burning passion of commitment. discipline and dedication.
The qualities of Pitta are oily, sharp, hot, liquid, light (in both senses: light-weight and bright), odorous, and spreading. When the weather is hot and humid, Pitta is dominant in the environment. A Pitta-dominant person typically has a medium-framed body, red-toned oily skin, quick digestion with a strong appetite, balding or prematurely grey hair, and a sharp intellect.
In the human body, Pitta is responsible for metabolism and maintaining healthy temperature.Just like a physical flame, Pitta transforms matter from one form to another. Its functions include digestion, absorption, assimilation, cellular metabolism, vision, intelligence, and maintaining healthy skin. Importantly, it is also responsible for the digestion of information or experience into emotions and knowledge.
People with Pitta as their dominant dosha tend to be interested in matters of the mind, sometimes at the expense of the body. They can have fiery emotions, full of passion, and they can be competitive or even aggressive in communication, invested as they are in persuading their listeners. Their drive and motivation is strong and goal-directed.
Pitta Out of Balance
When Pitta dosha gets elevated, then signs of excess heat begin to show up. Fever, inflammation, irritation, hot flashes, diarrhea, ulcers, burning sensations, and skin rashes are all common signs of aggravated Pitta.
In the mind and heart, high Pitta can lead to anger, irritation, annoyance, jealousy, competitiveness, or simply a shorter fuse than usual.
What causes Pitta dosha to go up? As previously discussed, exposure to Pitta’s qualities (in the immediate environment, in foods consumed, or in the mind) will cause Pitta to rise in accordance with the law of “like increases like.” Typical culprits include greasy, acidic, and pungent-spicy foods, alcohol, hot outdoor temperatures, competitive activities, exposure to bright sunlight and overworking, which can all cause Pitta to rise.
During the particularly hot season of summer, Pitta tends to become elevated naturally. There is also a natural surge of Pitta during our mid-adult years when we are responsible for establishing our careers and making our mark on the world. With the emphasis on accomplishment and rational thinking in our culture, Pitta elevation can easily occur anytime.
How to Pacify Pitta
The best “medicine” for excess Pitta contains or expresses its opposite qualities: dry, dull, cool, heavy, stable, and dense. When Pitta is high, it’s a good time to drink cooling coconut water, hibiscus tea, pomegranate juice, and organic cow’s milk. It would be helpful to schedule in periods of rest (and actually follow through on it!), and to find a shady spot by a pool of cool water.
The trickiest part of managing Pitta is to keep our inner heat under control without putting out our digestive fire, or agni. Drinking ice cold beverages while eating a meal, for example, or piling on the ice cream after a meal, will disrupt digestion entirely. Extremes of cold cause constriction of vessels internally, which is why we ice an injury – to reduce inflammation. When we are trying to digest, however, it is helpful to keep vessels dilated with foods and liquids that are warm.