Pacifying Pitta in the Summer

In Ayurveda, there are three basic body types or constitutions.  These are known as doshas. We are a combination of all three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. In the hot summer months, Pitta dosha is very likely to become imbalanced. Pacifying Pitta in the summer is a primary concern in Ayurveda.

Photo courtesy of Eklavya Prasad @watervagabond
Photo courtesy of Eklavya Prasad @watervagabond

We differentiate the doshas by their qualities. Pitta is hot, sharp, penetrating, and spreading.  The summer heat aggravates Pitta dosha.  Elevated Pitta can lead to inflammatory conditions, overheating of the body, skin irritations, acidity, heartburn, and nausea.  

The agni or digestive fire can intensify with the heat. Those with high Pitta have a tendency to become hypoglycemic if they don’t eat their meals on time. Pitta regulates body heat through the chemical transformation of food.

The foods that we eat impact our doshic balance as well. Pitta is aggravated by eating certain foods in excess: sour foods, spicy foods, citrus, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and fermented foods. One method of pacifying Pitta in the summer is to reduce these foods, especially if you are a Pitta predominant individual or currently have a Pitta imbalance. You can take this free quiz to determine what dosha is most currently out of balance.

While we have Vata, Pitta, and Kapha all over the body, there are primary “sites” for each dosha.  Pitta is primarily situated in the small intestine. As the energy of digestion, transformation, and assimilation, Pitta regulates the stomach through hydrochloric acid.  Pitta is present in the gray matter of the brain, the liver, the spleen, and the blood.  Pitta governs our vision and gives color and complexion to our skin. Pitta is responsible for our sensory perception.

Pitta governs our faculty of judgment, rationalization, comparison, and evaluation. When Pitta is out of balance, then an individual can have their temper flare, become overly critical, judgmental, domineering, and cynical. For pacifying Pitta, it’s best not to engage in too many debates or heated arguments, stay out of the hot sun especially around noon, and avoid foods that aggravate Pitta. Also participating in intense, competitive sports in the hot sun further vitiates Pitta.

Eating cooling foods, with mild spices is one way of pacifying Pitta in the summer. Practice meditation and gentle exercises, such as walking or restorative yoga. There are specific herbs, tinctures,  home remedies , and yoga asanas which can be utilized for pacifying Pitta.  A personalized Ayurvedic consultation can help you learn how to best balance your doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.