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As per Ayurveda, everything in this universe constitutes five major elements - Water (Jal), Fire (Agni), Space (Akasha), Air (Vayu) and Earth (Prithvi). These are considered as subtle matter states and are interlinked with one another.
The natural constitution of an individual (Prakriti) is the determining factor for how certain elements can dominate the body, in comparison to others. Due to this property, the doshas are categorized into 'Vata Dosha' - where the dominating factor is air and space, 'Pitta Dosha' - where the fire element dominates, and 'Kapha dosha' - where earth and water elements dominates.
The Pitta Dosha governs the body metabolism, heat and transformation in the body, mind and soul. It controls digestion and metabolism of our sensory perceptions and how we discriminate as right and wrong.
An imbalanced pitta dosha leads to depleted digestion and decreased body metabolism. According to Ayurveda, depleted digestion and decreased body metabolism are two main causes of any disease in the body.
Derived from the root word 'tapa', implying 'heat', Pitta comprises two basic elements - heat/fire (agni) and moisture/water (jala). It is this fluid nature of pitta that renders its mobility. Pitta governs digestion, stabilizes body temperature, visual perception, colour and complexion of the skin, emotions and intellect. The qualities of Pitta are that it is slightly oily, light, hot, liquid and free-flowing.
Causes Of Imbalanced Pitta
There are various factors that contribute to an imbalance in the pitta dosha. Some of the main reasons include:
• Eating foods which aggravate pitta, such as, sour and salty food, pungent food, very spicy and deep-fried food, processed foods, and red meat, can lead to pitta imbalance.
• Consuming excess caffeine, smoking, alcohol, and other stimulants can cause an aggravated pitta.
• Too much exposure to sun, emotional stress, and over-straining are few other reasons.
• Excessive consumption of corrosive foods, intense-acting foods and medicines, excessive fasting, excessive anger can also be the triggers.
Symptoms Of Pitta Imbalance
It is essential to know the symptoms of pitta imbalance, so that you can prevent the diseases caused due to it. The symptoms can be classified as 'physical' and 'behavioural'.
Some of the major physical symptoms of an imbalance in pitta are as follows:
While you can track the early symptoms of pitta imbalance, as intense hunger, excessive thirst, and insatiability, with continuous accumulation, pitta can cause vomiting, hiccups, nausea, acid reflux, loose stools, haemorrhoids, heartburn, low blood sugar, and sensitivity to fried foods.
In case of pitta aggravation, your tongue may have a yellowish coating, a bitter taste, bad breathe, etc., and you may feel a burning sensation when urinating. When pitta is present in the digestive tract for a prolonged period, it can lead to indigestion, heartburn, blood in stools, peptic ulcers, inflammation of stomach, and appendicitis.
Excess pitta can cause the skin to appear yellowish or red in colour or you may be hot to touch. Certain skin diseases like dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, acne, rashes, herpes flare-ups, shingles, and hives are considered to be a sign of pitta aggravation. Excess heat in the blood may cause burning or itching sensation, hot flashes, fever, and bleeding tendencies.
Few other symptoms may be bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, and canker sores. Excessive sweating and bad body odour are other signs of pitta imbalance. Severe disturbances may lead to visible capillary networks, haemorrhage, hepatitis, jaundice, gangrene, abscess, lupus, blood clots, gout, strokes, melanoma, and myeloid leukaemia.
Increased hunger and thirst, greying and/or loss of hair, infection, burning sensation, insomnia, yellowish tinge in the eye, urine, or stool, hormonal imbalances, migraines, bad breath, hot flashes, sore throat, bad breath, nausea, tenderness in breasts/testicles, painful or heavy menstruation, weakened digestion, feeling of coldness in the body, and lack of lustre are among the other symptoms.
Long-standing disturbance in pitta can lead to blindness or poor vision, fibromyalgia, inflammatory arthritis, gout, kidney and bladder infections, fainting, hyperthyroidism, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple sclerosis.
Among the classic behavioural symptoms of an imbalanced pitta are frustration, inflated ego, impatience, jealousy, resentment, instability, perfectionist tendencies, etc. An increase in pitta in the mind can lead to a general feeling of dissatisfaction, and when this goes unchecked, it can lead to severe hostility, rage, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, depression, and intense jealousy.
Natural Ways To Balance Pitta Dosha
Once you track the early symptoms of pitta imbalance, you can try these natural ways to balance pitta dosha:
1. Follow a pitta-pacifying diet by including bitter, sweet-tasting, astringent foods. Even butter, ghee and milk are pitta pacifiers. Try to include sweet fruits into your diet rather than sour ones.
2. Maintain good balance between activity and rest. Do not overstrain, but also ensure that you do not remain lethargic.
3. Have meals on time, and consume only warm and fresh food. Avoid very cold foods and beverages.
4. Take time to meditate and spend some time with nature, and in good company. This is to give a break to the ever-soaring pitta mind. Learn to count your blessings.
5. Practice of certain specific yoga postures such as Marjarasana (Cat Stretch), Chandra Namaskara (Moon Salutation), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Paschimottasana (Seated Forward Bend), Ardha Sarvangasana (Half Shoulder Stand), Ardha Noukasana (Half Boat Posture) And Shavasana (Corpse Posture) can be of help.
6. Some specific ayurvedic medications, such as Yashtimadhu, Amlapittari vati, Nishamalaki, when taken on consultation with a trained Ayurvedic practitioner, can be of help in restoring pitta balance.