You might know your Myers-Briggs personality type, but do you know your dominant dosha?
If your most prevalent dosha is the pitta dosha, you might be especially passionate and sharp-minded. But, according to Ayurvedic practitioners, a pitta imbalance can show up as probs like heartburn and headaches.
Here’s the deal and what to do if you feel like something’s off.
Do you have a pitta imbalance?
According to the ancient complementary whole-body medicine system of Ayurveda, everyone has aspects of the three main doshas: vata, kapha, and pitta. While vata is the airiest type and kapha tends toward earthiness, pitta’s all about fire and transformation.
Pitta qualities include fieriness, heat, and intensity, which are pretty fire personality traits. But Ayurvedic practitioners believe that having a pitta imbalance can manifest as a number of physiological, mental, or emotional probs.
If you have a little too much “fire” in your bod, you might experience:
- mental or physical burnout
- hot flashes
- red rashes
Ayurvedic medicine has been used for thousands of years, but there isn’t much modern scientific research yet to confirm these practices. That doesn’t mean it can’t help support your wellness, but we need more info to know for sure.
In Ayurveda, health is a balance of physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being. So, at its core, an imbalance could stem from any of these areas and have a domino effect on the others.
In a 2019 study of 117 people, researchers concluded that doshas correspond with western understandings of psychological states. In self-reported surveys, pitta imbalance was associated with:
- poorer mood
- less mindfulness
- more anxiety
- increased stress
According to Ayurveda, a pitta imbalance could be caused by a number of lifestyle, emotional, or physical factors, including:
- eating too much spicy, sour, salty, or deep-fried food
- spending too much time in the sun or heat
- working excessively (whether physically or mentally)
- experiencing a lot of stress, tension, anger, resentment, or jealousy
Ayurvedic texts note that pitta is related to processes in the body, including:
- energy production
- immune function
- growth factors and hormones
Issues in any of these areas could signal a pitta imbalance. For example, being under lots of work stress could lead to anger probs, inflammation, and trouble with digestion. That’s textbook pitta imbalance.
Are you burnt out and burning bridges? Here are some symptoms that might indicate your pitta’s out of whack:
- burning sensations in your body
- red, irritated skin or rashes
- sweat that really, really smells
- hot flashes
- painful or heavy periods
Medical issues like rashes, inflammation, fever, or hot flashes could signal a more serious medical condition.
“If you are running a fever for 3 days above 100.4° F or experience shortness of breath, go see your doctor,” says Dr. Debra Rose Wilson.
Getting proactive medical treatment can help prevent further issues.
If you’re feeling stressed out or overworked, consider trying some home remedies or even hitting up an Ayurvedic practitioner. Finding a trusted therapist can also help you address issues such as anger.
If you think you’re experiencing any symptoms of a serious health prob, consult a qualified MD. But if you’re just feeling a bit overworked, overheated, or hotheaded, try these at-home tips.
Since pitta is hot, sharp, sour, and penetrating, strive for balance by seeking out cooling and stabilizing forces.
Find that life-work balance
Feeling overwhelmed? Try to schedule free time for yourself every day. If you feel like you need to be productive every moment of the day, that can signal an imbalance in your life. Try to invite more rest, softness, and sweetness into your day to find harmony.
Taking a dip in a pool or relaxing with a cold beverage might help soothe a fiery pitta. You can also try watching an uplifting or funny movie (“Groundhog Day,” anyone?) or reading a sentimental book (Eat, Pray, Love FTW). Save “Apocalypse Now” for another day.
Cool it down
Wilson recommends cranking up your air conditioner or keeping a fan on if you’re running a little too hot. She also recommends keeping your bedroom temp nice and low to stay comfortable.
“Cool packs on the back of the neck are refreshing with hot flashes,” she adds.
Invite more kapha and vata foods onto your table
According to Ayurveda, foods that “cool down” excess pitta include:
- sweet fruits (like grapes, melons, cherries, berries, and plums)
- olive oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil
- veggies (like asparagus, broccoli, okra, zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens)
- wheat, rice, barley, and oats
- soothing spices (like coriander, fennel, saffron, and cardamom)
Practitioners recommend limiting the following foods:
- processed, fried, or fatty foods
- beef, seafood, and eggs
- sour foods
- hot spices (like cumin, spicy peppers, and cayenne)
- acidic fruits (like grapefruit and lemon)
- certain veggies (including tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, corn, radishes, garlic, and onion)
- alcohol and caffeine
There’s a lot of overlap here with modern medical advice on what to eat (and what not to eat) when you have inflammation. So if you think you’re dealing with a chronic inflammatory issue, consider looking into an anti-inflammatory diet.
If you’re not sure where to begin, consider talking with a registered dietitian.
Take time to breathe, rest, and restore
Addressing pitta imbalance has a lot to do with easing stress.
Getting a massage, taking a stroll in nature, or practicing breathing exercises can help you unwind and relieve tension, tightness, and stress in your body and mind. You can also try meditation and yoga, which are both practices with roots in ancient Ayurvedic medicine.
Need another reason to break out your essential oil diffuser? Cooling, sweet aromas like sandalwood, jasmine, mint, lavender, and chamomile could soothe pitta imbalance.
If you’re constantly red in the face about your job or tend to be hotheaded at home, it may be time to seek the support of a therapist or Ayurvedic practitioner.
They can help you heal from old wounds, forgive others (including yourself!), and live in the present moment where you can be free.
Practices like mindfulness and meditation may also help you on your journey to balance and harmony.
According to the ancient practice of Ayurveda, pitta imbalance happens when there’s too much of a fiery nature in your body, which may manifest as anything from anger to inflammation.
If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, consider visiting an Ayurvedic practitioner, adjusting your diet, or practicing mindfulness or other stress relief techniques.
But remember that for issues like fevers, infections, and inflammation, it’s prob best to visit a healthcare professional to rule out any serious conditions.