Ayurveda Fundamentals

What is Pitta Dosha?

If you read my article about “What is Vata Dosha?” then you are already familiar with what a dosha is according to Ayurvedic science and Samkhya philosophy. If not, let me briefly explain…

A dosha is simply an expression of the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth). A dosha is not a physical thing, but merely a means of understanding the elements working within the human body. The human body is made and constructed in nature and is therefore directly related to the five elements.

So what is pitta dosha anyway?

Are you pitta dosha dominant?

Pitta dosha is one of the three doshas present in nature. The other two are vata and kapha. Everyone has all three doshas, because we have all five elements, but they are present to different degrees. Each persons’ dosha makeup, or constitution, is determined at birth. Pitta dosha is made up of the fire and water elements.


Now you may be asking yourself how can fire and water be related? They are polar opposites in terms of natural forces. Well that is the beauty of nature and pitta dosha. Pitta uses it’s predominantly fire component to transform things in the body like digesting food. The water quality of pitta is much less present than the fire, but is there to control and keep balanced the “hotter” aspects of pitta. Without water our body would burn up and cease to exist.

It is the beauty and marvelousness of nature at work.

Pitta has contrasting qualities

If you recall from above, pitta is made up of the fire and water elements. When you think of fire and water what type of qualities come to mind? Look at the following list and see if you come up with something similar:

  • Hot
  • Wet
  • Sharp
  • Light
  • Flowing
  • Smooth
  • Mobile
  • Clear

Fire and water generate thoughts of warmth, mobility, and containment. It’s no surprise then that pitta dosha is responsible for governing all metabolic and chemical transformations in the body. The fire element creates alteration in the body and water serves as a safety mechanism. More on this specific comment will be discuss below.

How do opposing forces work together?

Stated above, I mentioned that pitta dosha is responsible for transformation throughout the body. Fire acts as the energy for change, while water serves as the facilitator of that change. It is important to remember that pitta not only governs the physical transformations that occur on a daily basis, but the mental and emotional as well.

For example, in order to have healthy digestion, a strong and balanced pitta dosha is critical. Digestion of food, emotions, and clarity of perception are all a part of the digestive process in our bodies. Digestion is digestionthe act of breaking down food or thoughts and then utilizing vata dosha (movement) to disperse them accordingly throughout the body as needed. Can you see now how two doshas might rely on and act together? In alignment with digestion, pitta is also responsible for the sensations of hunger and thirst.

Another example of pitta dosha at work within the body is regulating metabolism and body temperature. If you recall, pitta dosha is primarily the fire element, so it makes sense then, that pitta directly controls the bodies internal temperature. Metabolism is also regulated by the strength of a balanced pitta dosha.

perceptionOn an interesting note according to Myra Lewin from Hale Pule “release and absorption of hormones and conversion of nerve impulses into thought” is also a primary responsibility of pitta dosha. That means that a persons’ perception of reality, tendency to discriminate and ability to form judgment are all impacted by a balanced or imbalanced pitta dosha. Fire and water are powerful elements and need to be mindfully kept at their natural state of balance to ensure good health.

The roof is on fire!

Now that pitta dosha has been defined and characterized by qualities and functions, it is important to discuss what can cause an imbalance. The following list is not comprehensive, but will give you a good idea of contributors to pitta imbalance:

  • Too many acidic foods (ex: tomatoes)
  • Too many hot spices
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Excessive exposure to the sun
  • Aggressive sports
  • Loud music
  • Too strong a focus on competition

This list is not nearly as long as vata, because it is not as easy to imbalance pitta, but it is still important to excessbe mindful of the activities listed above. When you finish reading the list above think: college parties, spicy/hot food, and college football brackets. All things highly prevalent in mainstream culture.

It is important to remember that anything in excess can create an imbalance, especially if it is your primary dosha. Curious about what your constitutional make up is? Look back in the future for a free quiz to determine your dosha type.

Healthy digestion is key to good health

You now know what imbalances pitta, therefore I think it’s fitting that we cover the types of activities and consumption that will help to balance pitta. From reading the article you know that pitta is made up of the fire and water elements and is responsible for all kinds of transformation throughout the body. Keep this in mind when reviewing the following:

  • Quiet activities like reading
  • Avoiding the midday sunyoga
  • Cooling herbs and spices
  • Daily meditation
  • Smelling sweet fragrances
  • Certain fresh juices
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga

The list above is not comprehensive, but should give you a decent idea of the types of things you can do to help bring pitta dosha back into balance. More often than not, we simply need to stop doing the things that cause imbalance and our body, mind, and spirit will bring themselves back into a state of balance. Our inherent nature is to be in a state of harmony and whether that is our current state our subconscious is always striving to reach it.

Is your body on fire?

When thinking of doshas it is important to remember it is not just the physical body I am talking about, but the mind as well. We not only transform food/liquid, but also mental perception and emotions. Pitta plays a very important role via transformation throughout our body. It needs the correct amount of fire to create change, but enough water to keep that change from going out of control.

Keeping in mind the qualities of pitta and its function you will be better prepared to do the things that keep it balanced and recognize those that will make it wander from its primary home. Remember that excess dosha or lack thereof, are the beginnings of disease in the body. As long as you take responsibility and correct the imbalances you have all the power inside you to cure yourself and live a life of true health and happiness.

I hope you found this article informative and check back for the free dosha quiz in the future!

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