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Pitta Dosha Characteristics

a woman with freckles, red hair and blue eyes

Characteristics of Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha is the dosha that is all about transformation.

It governs the enzymes in digestion, the synapsis of the neurotransmitters of the brain, the transformation within cells, and the quality of the blood, to name a few of its responsibilities. Keep reading to learn more about the characteristics of pitta dosha.

Pitta is composed of the fire and water elements, according to Ayurveda. The heat can be palpable in the temperature within the body, the reaction to chili peppers, or a red flush in the face. The water gives pitta the ability to spread, this can either be something good, like spreading one's name and acquiring fame, or it can be seen in skin rashes and inflammatory conditions. Just to review, Vata is composed of air and ether, and Kapha is composed of water and earth.

Like all of the doshas, pitta dosha is quite beautiful when balanced, but, when out of balance, it can create anger, frustration, jealousy, or criticism and judgment of the self or others. When pitta is out of balance over time, it can lead to acid indigestion, GERD, skin issues, high blood pressure, and more.

Pitta dosha is predominant for all of us during the middle years of life from around puberty to menopause for women (50-60 for men). This is the period of time when we're maybe growing our families and/or out in the world conquering our careers. It can easily go out of balance both at the beginning and toward the end of this period of life, especially if we have a lot of pitta in our constitution. Just to review, Kapha is predominant during the time from conception to puberty, and Vata is predominant from menopause (50-60 for men).

To read an overview of information about the doshas, please check out the beginning of this post.

fire or a black background

How to find out your constitution

Many books about Ayurveda will include a constitution test. Or you can try an online constitution test like this one from Banyan Botanicals.

My suggestion when doing these tests is to try to answer based on your memories of yourself from childhood. If the questions are answered based on current conditions, you may find your current state of balance (vikriti) rather than your constitution (prakriti).

Book recommendations to help you on this journey:

Prakriti by Dr. Robert Svoboda

Qualities (Gunas)

Ayurveda discusses the qualities, or gunas, of the doshas. The general rule of Ayurveda is that like increases like and opposites decrease.1,2

That means, if we have a lot of heat in the body, then using cooling foods, herbs, thoughts, and activities will help to reduce that heat. If, instead, more heat is added via heating foods, herbs, thoughts, and activities the heat within the body will increase and may eventually lead to disease.

The same is true for the rest of the qualities (gunas). Oily will be pacified, or reduced, with drying foods, herbs, thoughts, and activities. Sharp/penetrating will be reduced with slow. Light will be reduced with heavy. Fleshy-smelling will be reduced with sweet-smelling. Spreading will be reduced by static. And liquid will be reduced by solid.

The Qualities (Gunas) of Pitta

According to the Astanga Hridayam, one of the ancient texts of Ayurveda, the qualities of pitta dosha are:

  • oily

  • sharp/penetrating

  • hot

  • light

  • fleshy smelling

  • spreading

  • liquid.3

Following the rule above of "like increasing like and opposites decreasing," applying the opposite qualities to pitta dosha will help to reduce it. Counteract the above qualities with:

  • dry

  • slow

  • cool

  • heavy

  • sweet smells

  • static

  • solid

a woman staring off into space

Pitta Dosha is Responsible For

  • metabolism

  • digestion

  • absorption

  • assimilation

  • enzymes

  • nutrition

  • body temperature

  • neurotransmitter and neuropeptides (for processing thoughts)

  • digestion of thoughts, feelings, and emotions

  • vitality

  • learning

  • understanding

Physical Pitta Dosha Characteristics

  • medium frame and weight

  • sensitive and reactive body

  • seldom gain or lose much weight, or they may fluctuate slightly up and down with weight

  • sharp, yellowish teeth

  • soft, perhaps bleeding gums

  • bright eyes that are sensitive to light

  • strong appetite and thirst

  • fine, thin hair, which often turns grey early in life or goes bald

  • sharp facial features

  • heart-shaped face

  • fair, shiny skin

  • tends toward loose, liquid stools

  • prone to rashes, acne, and inflammation

  • soft, oily skin that reddens and flushes easily

  • soft, oily feces and hair

  • heartburn, acid stomach

  • fetid smell under armpits, feet, and socks

Behavioral Pitta Dosha Characteristics

  • attached to principles, maybe to the point of fanaticism

  • may give a wrong answer with great confidence

  • love noble professions

  • make good money and spend it on luxuries

  • enjoy perfume and jewelry

Psychological Pitta Dosha Characteristics

  • excellent leaders

  • very disciplined

  • excellent capacity for learning, understanding, and concentrating

  • blessed with wisdom

  • intelligent

Pitta Dosha Characteristics When Balanced

  • understanding

  • intelligence

  • courage

  • determined

Pitta Dosha Characteristics Out of Balance

  • jealousy

  • anger

  • hatred

  • frustration

  • irritation

  • judgment and criticism of the self or others

  • inflammatory disorders

  • acidic digestion

Now That You Know the Characteristics of Pitta Dosha, How to Find Balance?

a waterfall with a pool of water and stacked rocks

  1. Spend time in nature. People with a pitta constitution or a pitta imbalance often spend a lot of time in their heads. I often think of pitta as a head walking around without a body. It's as if people with pitta in their constitution don't even know that they have a body. Going into nature helps to take an individual out of their head and into their body. Any activity that has this effect is good for reducing pitta.

  2. Take time to slow down. The pitta mind is amazing at making lists. In my own experience, my pitta mind can make so many "to-do lists", which are filled with unimportant items that feel really important to my pitta mind at the time. When I find myself making these lists for myself today, I try to hone in on what is truly important. Those lists have stolen a part of my life away from me, and ultimately injured relationships. I no longer want to be checking off my lists at the expense of living a vibrant, connected life.

  3. Swim or spend time near water. The coolness of water helps to calm pitta dosha. Whether swimming in a pool or lake, sitting by a burbling brook, or even sitting in a cool bathtub, water helps to balance pitta.

  4. Avoid spicy, sour, and salty foods. Favor sweet*, bitter, and astringent foods. Spicy, sour, and salty foods increase the heat of pitta, which can lead to acidic digestion and increase inflammatory disorders. Sweet*, bitter, and astringent foods help to cool and soothe pitta.

    1. *Sweet in Ayurveda denotes foods that are building, such as milk, grains, oils, meats, sweet fruits, sweet veggies, and natural sugars. White sugar is so processed that it loses the qualities which balance pitta, and is instead acidic. Maple syrup and coconut sugar are good sugars to use for pitta.

    2. Bitter foods include many leafy greens (except spinach, mustard, and nettle which are heating), many herbs, dandelion, and aloe vera.

    3. Astringent is less of a taste and more of a feeling of dryness in the mouth. Pomegranate, turmeric, green banana, chickpeas, and alfalfa sprouts are good examples of the astringent taste.

a pomegranate split open

Consider booking a consultation to learn more about how to find balance in your life

Now that you understand a little bit about the characteristics of pitta dosha, the qualities that affect it, and some ways to balance pitta dosha, you can begin experimenting with these recommendations to balance pitta to see what kind of difference they may make in your life.

  1. Vagbhatta, and K. R. Srikantha Murthy. Astanga Hrdayam. 5th ed., vol. 1, Krishnadas Academy, 2001, 10.

  2. Singh R.H., Singh G., Sodhi J.S., Dixit U.. "Deerghanjiviteeya Adhyaya". Charak Samhita New Edition, edited by Dixit U., Deole Y.S., Basisht G., eds., 1st edition, CSRTSDC, 2020, pp. 3, Doi:10.47468/CSNE.2020.e01.s01.003

  3. Vagbhatta, and K. R. Srikantha Murthy. Astanga Hrdayam. 5th ed., vol. 1, Krishnadas Academy, 2001, 8.


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This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, website, or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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