American Institute of Vedic Studies

Managing Pitta Dosha Today

This is the second of our three articles on management of the three Doshas of Ayurveda in our difficult world situation today, and  helpful lifestyle, attitude and behavioral changes to consider.


Pitta dosha is one of the three main biological forces and mind-body types at the basis of Ayurvedic medicine. Pitta is easy to understand as it primarily represents the fire element, the powers of heat, light, and digestion in the body and mind, which cause disease when in excess or when imbalanced.


Pitta type individuals are usually warm or hot in their overall energy, with a strong appetite and thirst, good circulation, sweat easily, and are sensitive to heat and sunlight. High Pitta causes diseases of acidity, fever, bleeding, and high blood pressure, including small intestine and liver disorders. High Pitta often brings rising heat to the head, but depending upon the circulation, can affect other parts of the body with different forms of inflammation.


High Pitta and Anger


Psychologically, Pitta types are intelligent, perceptive, critical and self-motivated. They are often assertive, competitive, independent and headstrong, which can lead them into disagreements or even conflict. Yet they can work in teams and make good friends and protectors. Pitta is impatient and easily erupts into anger, which is the prime manifestation of the fire element when it is out of balance in the mind.


In our pandemic era, when have suffered from lockdowns, have had to wear masks and are restricted in our activity, many people are naturally experiencing an increase of anger, particularly Pitta type individuals. With all the stress, uncertainty and blockage in the world, including division and conflict at political and social level, it is easy for anger and high Pitta to arise, whether justified or not.


It is important that we calm such high Pitta because like fire, once started it can burn out of control, harming ourselves as well as others. Such negative emotions as envy, jealousy and hatred can arise out of excess Pitta and its confrontational nature and inflame it further.


Yet we must recognize that clarity, insight, compassion, warmth and friendliness, which are the higher or sattvic qualities of Pitta and fire, can be increased to counter these Pitta and fire emotional imbalances. You don’t need to try to change your constitution, which is not possible, but must learn how to better manage it.


Treating Excess Pitta


To counter Pitta at a dietary level, we need to emphasize the anti-Pitta food tastes as sweet, bitter and astringent, and avoid the Pitta increasing tastes of pungent/spicy, sour, and salty. Best foods are cooling including cooling, whole grains and dals like rice and wheat, mung beans, also green vegetables, sweet fruits, dairy products like milk and butter. Cooling juices like coconut, pomegranate and apple are good. Use of cooling oils like ghee and coconut for cooking is important.


Best anti-Pitta herbs in the diet include mild spices like coriander, mint, cardamom, cloves, and turmeric. The Ayurvedic herb amalaki is very important, which can taken as a fruit or preparation, and bitters like aloe gel or gentien.


To reduce Pitta in the mind, brahmi is important, as well as jatamamsi and shankha pushpi, including Brahmi juice or Brahmi ghee. For building up immunity and Ojas for Pitta, tonic herbs like amalaki, bala and guduchi are helpful. Oil massage with cooling oils like Kshirabala and Chandanadi are important, or simple coconut oil. Fragrances like sandalwood, khus and rose help lower Pitta at an emotional level, like applying sandalwood oil to the third eye or spraying the head and eyes with rose water.


For exercise, cooling asanas and sitting poses are good as is swimming are good. One must avoid staying up late at night or eating late at night. One must learn to relax the mind as well as the body, avoiding violence and agitation on the screen.


To calm Pitta in the mind and emotions, the practice of forgiveness, kindness and service to others is very helpful. Pitta types need to learn the art of introspection, not simply critically analyzing others, but critically analyzing our own minds, emotions and opinions and the ego itself. Here the practice of meditation along with Self-inquiry helps.


Devotional practices and Bhakti Yoga can reduce anger and aggression and connect us with inner forces of love and bliss that calm the fires of the mind, including mantras for peace (Shanti mantras) or bija mantras like Shreem.




If you have high Pitta, remember that this excess Pitta fire first burns you and your own mind and emotions, extending to your own body and its tissues and organs, which get agitated and overheated. Above all, we need to keep our heads cool to use our minds in the best possible manner, which is only possible when the mind is cool.


Anger is an inimical state that sets in motion forces of division, whether within or around us. Though may be temporarily necessary as a protective measure, becomes problematical when it continues. And when we express our anger to others, we often arouse a protective angry response in them, as anger is usually perceived as a personal attack. Better is a calm focus and clear determination to find and follow the truth, and a clear strategy to remove negative forces, not just confront them.


We must understand that the universe is run by forces of intelligence and compassion. We human are still an immature, egoistic, and often predatory species prone to violence and even war. Let us cultivate the Divine light of truth perception, the inner fire of meditation and purification of negative emotions. In the Vedas, Agni as the sacred fire, is the inner guru. Let us seek the guidance of that Divine power before we act.


Dr. David Frawley

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