Pitta Doṣa is described as a Pathogenic Factor made of the guṇas : oily, hot, sharp, liquid, and fluid. It is also known to be pungent and sour. (Ca.Su.1.58) It is balanced by guṇas which are opposite to those just described like cold, soft, and dry as well as the Tastes which are Sweet and Bitter, especially.
When is Pitta Most Present?
Because Pitta is made of Fire and Water, when heat is present, a lot of damage can be done. Additionally, whenever the guṇas of Pitta are present, it can stimulate the process of its increase. Thus, Pitta becomes aggravated when the climate is hot or hot and wet, when food is spicy, sour, or very oily, and when intensity is high – this includes mid-day and mid-night. And, of course, when all of these happen at once and/or regularly, there is the likelihood of experiencing Pitta aggravation (prakopa).
If all is well, it will be present in your digestive system as it IS your Agni – the digestive capacity of your being including thoughts.
Did You Know?
Every season increases one doṣa, aggravates a doṣa, and soothes a doṣa. Thus, Pitta increases in the summer (gṛṣma) and rainy seasons (varśa), aggravates in the second summer (śarat), and is soothed by winter (hemanta). (AH.Su.12.24)
What Does Pitta Rule?
Pitta is in charge of :
- Digestion – Jāṭharāgni, Bhūtāgnis, Dhātu Agnis, and the Pañcāgnis
- Body Temperature
- Production of Hunger
- Suppleness of the Body (AH.Su.11.1-33)
What are the differences between Jathāra, Bhūta, Dhātu and Pañca Agnis?
Jāṭharāgni is the main digestive fire in your body. It is located in Grahaṇī, which is sort of the lower stomach/small intestine. Its power influences the other digestive fires of the body, so its maintenance is paramount to health. Caraka describes it as the raison d’etre of life. It provides color to your body, strength and your ability to carry out intense tasks, health in general, enthusiasm, suppleness, Ojas (immunity), Tejas (heat), and Prāṇa. Its extinction equals death and its maintenance equals a long healthy life. (Ca.Ci.15.3-4)
The Bhūtāgnis are the digestive fires that break down the food you take in (ahara rasa) and reveal the elemental make up of the food you eat. This means that the earthen elements get separated from the water elements from the fire elements from the air elements and from the space elements. This is a main reason it is so important to consume all 6 Tastes in the diet. If the food we consume is old or processed for example, it will be difficult for the Bhūtāgnis to recognize what is what and thus the food will sit or move, without proper digestion throughout the body causing many ailments. (Ca.Ci.15.13-14)
The Dhātu Agnis are the digestive fires that reside within each tissue. They metabolize the food that the Bhūtāgnis previously catabolized so that it can be turned into tissues. Issues here, like the two agnis previously described, will also cause problems with tissue formation.
The Pañcāgnis are the 5 types of Pitta that reside in particular areas of the body bringing about particular activities. We will describe these more below.
A Word About Suppleness
When there is too much uṣṇata (heat) in the body caused by too much exercise, heat, sour, salty, and spicy foods, the channels dilate, and everything solid melts. Thus, the body cannot hold form well and many conditions arise.
So, be mindful about the consumption of alcohol, kombucha, vinegar, salt, spicy food, and fried food – and definitely do not consume them in heat!
What Does Pitta Do?
Here is the story of the Pañcāgnis (the 5 types of Pitta).
- Cooks food divides it into essence, and wastes separately. (Pacaka Pitta)
- Gives color to Rasa and converts it into Rakta – blood tissue (Rañjaka Pitta)
- Based in the heart, it attends to mental functions like knowledge, intelligence + consciousness thus helping the arthas (goals) of life. (Sadhaka Pitta)
- Allows for seeing of all things (Alocaka Pitta)
- Gives color and complexion to the skin (Bhrājaka Pitta)
Though it is more complex than this, you can think of Pacaka Pitta as Jāṭharāgni. Rañjaka Pitta is what displays color to everything – it is why your blood is red and your organs have color. Bhrājaka Pitta is also used to give color to your skin and is why when the skin is aggravated by the qualities described above it becomes red, inflamed, swollen, rashy. It is also why people with Pitta conditions tend to lose hair – as the area where the hair grows is essentially on fire, thus prohibiting growth. Alocaka Pitta in the eyes is why you are able to see. This is also why people with Pitta conditions tend to need glasses, or their eyes burn, feel oily, are red, and are tired. Sadhaka Pitta allows for learning and integration. When there is an imbalance there, you can expect frustration to arise!
Where are the Home Sites of Pitta?
- Āmāśaya (“stomach”)
- Grahani (“small intestines”)
- Lasika (“interstitial fluid”)
- Rasa Dhātu
What Does Pitta Do When It Is Upset?
When Pitta increases (vṛddhi) in the body you will experience :
- Yellowish/Greenish color of the skin, faeces, urine, eyes
- Liquid or partially digested stool
- Excess hunger and thirst
- Burning sensation
- Hair Loss
- Loss of Muscles Tone
- Smelly sweat, urine, or stool
- Broken sleep
And when it is depleted (Kṣaya) :
- Weak digestive and cognitive power
- Loss of lustre (complexion) (AH.Su.15)
What to Do?
- Eat when hungry, drink when thirsty but do not drink while eating, or just before, or just after
- Do not overeat or undereat or eat when the previous meal is undigested
- Eat a diet balanced with 6 Tastes. Be mindful that excess use of Salt, Pungent spices, and Sours…..(KOMBUCHA folks!) is problematic. Favor Bitter, Sweet + Astringent Foods
- Consume GHEE + Milk
- Avoid exercising in heat + overuse of Sweatboxes – ie. not in a hot room, under midday sun, or in the sun in the middle of summer
- Do not ignore burning sensations, loose stool, redness
- Moonlit nights on the terrace + smelling pleasant things! (AH.Su.13.4-9)