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40 Pitta Dosha Diseases

Why does Ayurveda always talk about keeping the doshas balanced?


It's because once the doshas go out of balance, there's a higher chance of disease setting in.


Not every "disease" has a name in Ayurveda, according to the Ashtanga Hridayam.1 Therefore, when you see a practitioner, they may not be fixated on the name of the Western diagnosis with which you may be dealing. A practitioner will instead look at the effects of the doshas on your body, both with respect to that particular disease and with the overall functioning of your body.


healthy woman smiling


The Six Stages of Disease


According to Ayurveda, there are 6 stages of disease, which are known as Samprapti.


In the first stage (Sanchaya), the doshas accumulate in their main sites within the GI tract. This is a mild imbalance that will create cravings for foods that will return the body to balance and aversion for foods that will further the imbalance. For vata, this accumulation occurs in the colon; for pitta, in the small intestines (some also say the lower part of the stomach); and for kapha, in the stomach. You may or may not notice something is off with your digestion at this point. But perhaps your stool is too loose (pitta) or you have some acidity (also pitta). This type of thing happens to us all of the time, and we usually crave foods and activities that will return us to balance.


In the second stage of disease (Prakopa), the affected dosha spreads to secondary sites that are controlled by that dosha. The body's cravings for balancing foods and activities from the first stage have been ignored and foods and activities that take the person out of balance have continued to be enjoyed. It is still easy to reverse this stage by diet and lifestyle.


In the third stage of disease (Prasara), the affected dosha spreads out of its own sites and begins affecting other areas of the body. This is now becoming more serious and requires the attention of a skilled practitioner or doctor.


In the fourth stage of disease (sthansamshrya), the affected dosha spreads to a weak area in the body and lodges there creating more disease symptoms. It may lodge in the joints, creating pain; or the skin, creating rashes; or any other part of the body.


In the fifth stage of disease (vyakti), the full-on disease is apparent. Treatment aimed at managing the doshas may not be enough to make a change.


In the sixth stage of disease (bheda), complications may arise. It is much harder to reverse diseases that have reached this point.


40 Pitta Dosha Diseases According to the Charaka Samhita


Ayurveda states that there are a total of 80 main diseases attributed to vata dosha. 40 attributed to pitta dosha. 20 attributed to kapha dosha.2


According to the Charaka Samhita, the 40 prevalent diseases of pitta are:

1. heat

11. excessive sweating

21. bleeding disorder

31. excess thirst

2. scorching

12. foul smell from the body

22. discoloration of the skin from bleeding underneath

32. loss of contentment

3. burning

13. tearing of body parts

23. greenishness

33. inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth

4. intense heat

14. retention of substances produced by metabolism in the blood

24. yellowishness

34. inflammation of the throat

5. intense anger

15. retention of substances produced by metabolism in the muscles

25. blue moles

35. inflammation of the eyes

6. hyperacidity

16. burning sensation on the skin

26. boil caused by an inflamed hair follicle

36. inflammation of the anus

7. burning sensation in the GI tract

17. cracking of skin

27. jaundice

37. inflammation of the penis

8. internal burning

18. thickness of skin

28. bitter taste in mouth

38. discharge of blood

9. burning sensation in the arm

19. hives

29. blood-like smell from the mouth

39. darkness in front of the eye

10. hyperthermia--body temp greatly above normal

20. pustules

30. halitosis

40. green-yellow discoloration of eyes, urine, or stool3


Let's translate the list above into some common complaints (some in this list may also be influenced by vata and kapha):

  • hot flashes associated with peri-menopause and menopause

  • acid indigestion

  • acid reflux

  • peptic ulcers

  • hypoglycemia

  • fever (although there can also be vata and kapha types of fever)

  • many cases of inflammation are caused by pitta

  • acne

  • eczema

  • photophobia

  • near-sightedness, or far-sightedness

  • hepatitis

  • jaundice

  • chronic fatigue

  • mononucleosis4


woman's face with a red skin issue

Signs of Pitta Dosha Diseases


The Ashtanga Hridayam gives us additional signs of pitta dosha diseases.


Pitta when increased creates:

  • yellow stools

  • yellow urine

  • yellow eyes

  • yellow skin

  • excess hunger and thirst

  • burning sensations

  • reduced sleep5

While we talk about a decrease in pitta less often, a decrease of pitta creates:

  • weakness of the digestive system

  • coldness

  • lack of luster in the complexion6

The effects of increased pitta are:

  • reddish discoloration

  • heat

  • increased digestion

  • formation of pus and ulcers

  • perspiration

  • moistness

  • oozing

  • decomposition (putrefaction)

  • debility

  • fainting

  • toxicity

  • bitter and sour taste in the mouth

  • yellowish discoloration7


How to Deal with Pitta Dosha Diseases

If you are in the early stages of imbalance, then changes to diet and lifestyle can make a huge difference, and easily prevent you from experiencing the full-blown disease. Read on to get some suggestions. If you are in a later stage of disease, these recommendations will still help to balance pitta, but you may need to seek help from an Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor to deal with the disease.


Eat more foods that are predominantly sweet*, bitter, and astringent.


This doesn't mean that you need to exclusively eat foods with these tastes. You need all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) in your diet in order to digest your food properly and obtain the nutrients that you need. Just eat more of the foods that are sweet, bitter, and astringent, and less of the foods that are sour, salty, and pungent.

wheat stalks

Sweet

Sweet in Ayurveda does not mean only white sugar (white sugar is actually pitta aggravating), but, rather, foods that are building. Grains, milk, oils, meats (some are better than others for pitta), sweet veggies, raw forms of sugars, and sweet fruits are some examples of the sweet taste, according to Ayurveda.



Bitter

Examples of bitter foods include turmeric, dandelion greens, kale, bitter gourd, bitter melon, green tea, and many herbs fit into this category. Coffee and tea would also fit into this category of bitter, but the acidity of these two can be aggravating to pitta.



Astringent

Astringent, as it has been described to me, is less of a taste and more of a feeling of dryness in the mouth. Think about the feeling of dryness associated with eating pomegranate, legumes, turmeric, lotus seeds, okra, and most raw vegetables.


Avoid foods that are predominantly sour, salty, and pungent

two jars of kombucha

Sour

Sour foods include sour fruits, kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, vinegar, cheese, and sour cream. These increase the heat of pitta which can lead to an imbalance of pitta dosha.



Salty

Salty is basically anything that contains a lot of salt. This does not mean that we should cut out salt completely, just eat it in moderation to balance pitta dosha. The body needs salt in order to digest the food properly Avoid processed foods and salty snacks like chips, pretzels, and crackers. Use tamari and soy sauce sparingly.



Pungent

Pungent foods are foods that contain a lot of heat. Chili, ginger, black pepper, mustard, radish, onion, and garlic.


Just to reiterate, you need all six of these tastes in your diet at all times to digest your meal properly. But if you find yourself predominantly eating foods that are sour, salty, and pungent and you have an increase in pitta, which may look like anger, frustration, judgment and criticism of the self and others, skin rashes, loose stools, acidity, or any precursors to any of the other diseases of pitta dosha listed above, then you may want to reduce your consumption of these tastes and eat foods that are predominantly sweet, bitter, and astringent in order to bring your pitta back into balance.


The Ayurvedic Institute offers this comprehensive list of foods to favor and avoid according to your constitution or current imbalance. For a pitta imbalance, eat more of the foods on the pitta "favor" list, and less of the foods on the pitta "avoid" list.



a white rope hammock with a white blanket strung up between trees.

Take Time to Rest and Do Nothing

The pitta mind is quite strong. I often think about it as a head moving around without a body because pitta often forgets that it has a body to maintain. The pitta mind thinks that it can move any mountain and that it is invincible.


My own pitta mind is quite capable of coming up with lists of things to do that seem so very important in the moment, but tend to just be busy work that my pitta mind thinks up to keep me busy. Taking time to let go of these lists and only do those things that are really important has become a daily practice for me. When I think of all of the years that I spent trying to accomplish everything on my pitta mind's "to list", I see an incredible amount of wasted time and energy.


Experiment with seeing what it is like to sit for 5-10 minutes (or even 20 minutes) with no agenda and nothing to do. It can be a life-altering experience and so very pitta pacifying.



a babbling brook

Spend Time In or Near Water

The water element is extremely soothing for pitta dosha. Sit by a babbling brook, a river, a lake, or the ocean in the shade. Listen to the sounds of the water and feel pitta being soothed. Swimming or standing in water also helps to reduce pitta dosha. Swim in natural water whenever possible, although swimming in a pool can also be quite calming.



a woman in a robe with a cucumber over her eyes

Cover the Eyes with a Cool Compress

The eyes are a site of pitta. If you spend time in front of screens, the eyes can become quite fatigued. Cover the eyes with a cool compress, or even a slice of raw cucumber, to rest them for a while, and to reduce pitta dosha.



Enjoy Sweet, Soothing Scents

Pitta dosha is soothed by sweet scents. Burn incense of rose, sandalwood, nag champa, or other sweet smells. I recently purchased and am really enjoying this Triloka brand of incense.





Essential oils are another way to incorporate sweet scents into your life. Lavender, rose, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, and chamomile are a few essential oils that are cooling and help to calm pitta dosha. Anima Mundi is the company that has bought out my favorite essential oil supplier. Check out their oils here.


Abhyanga--Self-Massage with Warm Oil

I know I am always talking about oiling your body, but really, it helps!


You can read more about how to do this practice here.


Oil specific to pitta dosha can be used for this practice.


Banyan Botanicals offers a lovely Brahmi Coconut Oil that I use during the summer.


a bottle of kottakkal balaguluchi oil

Kottakkal Ayurveda offers this wonderful Balaguluchyadi Oil that I've been using with clients. It contains both bala and guduchi, two herbs that are excellent for reducing pitta dosha, and it also helps to calm vata dosha.










40 Pitta Dosha Diseases

These 40 pitta dosha diseases help us to see when pitta dosha is heading out of balance or already out of balance. Applying some pitta pacifying techniques can help to soothe pitta dosha and reverse the early stages of disease. An Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor may be needed to reverse a disease once it is in full effect.


If you would like to book an online consultation to see how you can begin bringing balance to your pitta dosha, you can do so here:






  1. Vagbhatta, and K. R. Srikantha Murthy. Astanga Hrdayam. 5th ed., vol. 1, Krishnadas Academy, 2001, 179.

  2. Byadgi P.S., Saini N.. "Maharoga Adhyaya". Charak Samhita New Edition, edited by Kar A.C., Rai S., Deole Y.S., Basisht G., eds., 1st edition, CSRTSDC, 2020, pp. 22, Doi:10.47468/CSNE.2020.e01.s01.022 [10]

  3. Byadgi P.S., Saini N.. "Maharoga Adhyaya". Charak Samhita New Edition, edited by Kar A.C., Rai S., Deole Y.S., Basisht G., eds., 1st edition, CSRTSDC, 2020, pp. 22, Doi:10.47468/CSNE.2020.e01.s01.022 [14]

  4. Vasant Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles, Albuquerque, NM, The Ayurvedic Press, 2002, 57-65.

  5. Vagbhatta, and K. R. Srikantha Murthy. Astanga Hrdayam. 5th ed., vol. 1, Krishnadas Academy, 2001, 156.

  6. Vagbhatta, and K. R. Srikantha Murthy. Astanga Hrdayam. 5th ed., vol. 1, Krishnadas Academy, 2001, 158.

  7. Vagbhatta, and K. R. Srikantha Murthy. Astanga Hrdayam. 5th ed., vol. 1, Krishnadas Academy, 2001, 176

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