Pitta: The Genius of the Doshas

The Pitta Dosha is responsible for metabolism and transformation. The way it accomplishes these tasks is through heat. In Sanskrit, the word “Pitta” comes from Tapa, which means “to heat”. Pitta means energy that creates heat in the body. Made up of the Fire and Water elements, it is the perfect medium for creating energy. The qualities of Pitta are hot, sharp, pungent, sour, liquid, light, mobile, oily, and clear.

It may seem counterintuitive to have both Water and Fire elements, but in fact, Water is necessary to prevent Fire from overheating. On the other hand, too much Water will douse the Fire. The three Doshas work in tandem, continuously creating, transforming, and breaking down all matter in the Universe, including the components of our body. Every day, millions of cells from our skin, blood, colon, and other tissues are shed while new ones are simultaneously regenerated. The process of destruction is a result of Vata, creation is a function of Kapha, and the transformation component is the work of Pitta.

Another common translation of Pitta is “that which digests things.” Digestion, or “digestive fire”, is referred to as “Agni” in Ayurveda, meaning the strength of your digestion. Digestion, transformation, and metabolism, all functions of Pitta, naturally occur in the presence of heat.  Pitta changes things in our life every single day in a variety of ways. One common transformation we see on a regular basis is the way water goes through various stages of matter. When heat is applied, ice melts to water, then transforms into vapor. Without heat, the transformation could not happen. A chemical reaction occurs to accomplish our objective.

Pitta is constantly causing reactions in our body. Where Vata may be the Leader of the Doshas, Pitta is the Fiery Genius. Because Pitta is responsible for digestion, it makes sense that its main seat is in the small intestine, where most metabolism and assimilation takes place.  Pitta is also found in the liver, stomach, skin, blood, lymph, and eyes. In regards to transformation, Pitta governs the body’s ability to combust materials needed to warm and bring color to the body.

Pitta complexions may be fair or have reddish or coppery undertones. Their skin is soft, warm, and less wrinkled than Vata skin. It may have freckles or moles, be flushed, or blanch easily. Their hair is fair in color, thin, and has a tendency for early balding and/or greying. Pitta eyes are generally green, grey, or light brown, and penetrating in their gaze. Their lips and nose are medium in size and possibly angular.

Physiologically, Pitta individuals possess a strong metabolism, athletic body, and predictable appetite. They generally require moderate to large quantities of food and prefer cold drinks. Sleep is sound for Pittas and when they dream, it may be about fire, anger, violence, or anything intense. Naturally, Pittas have a higher basal body temperature and tend to sweat profusely and easily; they do not like being hot and their skin becomes red quickly when hot. When exposed to sunlight, their skin burns and freckles easily.

Psychologically, Pittas are very organized, meticulous, and focused. They learn quickly, are natural leaders and public speakers, and like to be the best. When well-balanced, their innate intelligence and power of comprehension land them in successful occupations such as medicine, law, politics, and management. However, when they are off-kilter,  watch out. Because of their high standards, they may become critical, irritable, competitive, and jealous.

If I was stranded on an island, I would hope that there was a Pitta with me. I would still want my Vata friend along to be my funny, creative sidekick, and my Kapha friend as my loyal BFF, giving me wholesome advice. But, the Pitta would have a map, know which plants were poisonous, and how to best execute smoke signals. She would be able to catch fish with her bare hands, start a fire without a lighter, and would surrender her leaf blankets at night when she became too hot. My best advice: never travel without a Pitta.

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