It is the height of Pitta season in the Americas and Europe: steaming temperatures and flaming tempers as the world is exploding with the pandemic and street protests. Do you have a rash, ache or insomnia from excess heat and stress?
Ayurveda offers ways to increase awareness of imbalance in our bodies and our lives and heal them through diet, lifestyle, herbs, yoga, and meditation that encompass a balanced body, mind, and spirit. Thoughts and emotions we experience in our relationships can be equally as influential as the foods and other substances that we ingest. Some people are more sensitive to heat in any form. A hurtful comment, for example, may be as hurtful to digest as greasy French fries. When pitta flares, the body may express this imbalance with an itchy, red rash, and excess heat/stress headache, impatience, insomnia, hypertension, strong body odor or an explosion of anger.
Vata, Pitta, Kapha
Pitta is the hottest, oiliest, and sharpest dosha. When feeling overheated in any way, there could be an excess of the pitta within the body. According to Ayurvedic wisdom, routine detoxification is invaluable for maintaining good health during seasonal changes. Summer is the season where pitta accumulates in the body, particularly if an individual’s constitution is pitta-predominant. Are you a hot potato, uncomfortable in summer weather? A seasonal increase of pitta from hot temperatures, pollution and stress can become chronic if not properly eliminated.
Ama and Pitta go together. Ama is heavy, sticky, undigested residue from poorly digested foods or overuse of sweets and greasy foods that can weaken digestion and disturb proper tissue formation. Here is a questionnaire for Ama. Ama is also formed when we are unable to process experiences or emotions. Toxins in the form of bacteria, viruses, drugs, heavy metals, pesticides, chemicals, and other environmental pollutants, or heavy sun exposure combine with ama. When there is an excess of pitta and a health imbalance arises, ama accompanies it. Acidic indigestion, aches, swelling, rashes, stress are signs. What else?
Chronic pitta manifests as:
- An uncomfortable feeling of heat in the body, hot feet or hands
- Red complexion, acne, rough patches that itch, thinning hair
- Acid reflux, gastric or peptic ulcers, heartburn
- Acute inflammation in body or joints
- Indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea
- Discomfort or nausea upon missing meals
- Anger, irritability, frustration
- Bad breath and body odor
- Excessive sweating
- Impatience, criticism, judgment, intolerance, stubborn obstinate behavior
- Extreme perfectionist tendencies or even obsession
- High-pitched hysterical laughter, constant chatter
- Delusion, hyper-ego, bossy or mean behavior
Tongue, Pulse, Urine Diagnosis For Excess Pitta:
- A red, dry tongue with black spots, cracks, or yellow or dark coating
- Fast or bumpy high pulse “like a frog jumping”
- Urine that is sparse, dark, oily or urgent
Certain pitta tendencies can be massaged by extraordinary people to become quite positive. For example, a perfectionist tendency for musical performance or composition, righteous anger leading to political or legislative action, a bossy temperament tempered with kindness and compassion to successfully carry through with work projects and/or direct others. Most of us just suffer lethargy or a heat rash.
Pitta Cooling, Cleansing Diet
Pitta often starts or collects in the stomach and small intestine. When it comes to reducing pitta, choose foods that will be cooling and cleansing to the body.
Simple dietary guidelines
- Sweet, juicy fruits like melons, plums, and peaches.
- Bitter and astringent vegetables: collards, kale, and asparagus.
- Spices cumin, coriander, fennel, mint, dill and turmeric
- Cool, fresh water adding lemon and/or lime juice
Reduce or eliminate:
- Hot, spicy, fermented, salty, oily, fried foods
- Alcohol and caffeine
Early To Bed, Early to Rise, Stretches, Deep Breathing, Coconut oil Massage, a Cool Shower
Water or tea with lemon or lime. I have lemon chutney (see recipe) with sweet fruit and hot tea. Melons are less sprayed by pesticides according to Environmental Working Group. I also like re-hydrated dried figs.
If you like something chewy and carb satisfying try a whole wheat tortilla spread with lemon chutney, or poppy seed filling, or black sesame paste. Or carefully soaked and cooked, mashed beans. Or a scrambled egg fixed with fresh cilantro, onion and cooling spices.
Or sprouted/soaked rice fixed with coconut oil and unsweetened coconut flakes
Simple mild lemon chutney
Cut a whole organic lemon into small pieces and put them and the juice into a jar with turmeric, coriander seed, salt, a bay leaf, and oil. Allow it to ferment out of the refrigerator for several days or keep it long term in refrigerator and add to it as you use it up. For reducing pitta omit the usual chili and garlic ingredients.
A protein. Most animal proteins are heating. You might supplement a vegetable or bean dish with chia seeds which are high protein. Moringa powder is also loaded with essential nutrients and antioxidants. Or a green drink adding protein powder.
A bitter green chutney made with a green vegetable, lemon juice, and cooling spices.
A salad with coconut flakes, frozen cranberry or blueberries
A vinegar digestive beverage made with water and 1 tsp apple cider or Balsamic vinegar.
Bitter Green Chutney
Chop a bitter gourd removing the seeds or spinach, collard greens, kale or dandelion greens. Add lemon, sweet curry powder, salt and oil. Allow it to ferment for a couple of days or keep it in the refrigerator.
A mild vegetable soup
Home made jello using real fruit juice and unflavored Gelatine
Fresh fruit or vegetables and pate
Wine, Kombucha or tea
Meditation, breathing, prayers, music or deep relaxation
Avoid the internet (a challenge) turn off the wifi.
Cool the mind and emotions by putting a drop of cooling oil (jasmine or sandalwood) on the third eye. Soak your feet in cool water adding lemon juice.
Seven Herbs to Curb Pitta Problems
There are many cooling, bitter detoxifying herbs that balance pitta. Here are some of my favorites. The powders can be added to apple sauce for ease and to help act on the liver.
- Triphala (aka trifala) power or pills made from three fruits that balance vata, pitta and kapha. A digestive remedy that enters and helps prevent stress in organs, supports healthy weight, complexion and vision. You can add the powder to yogurt or apple sauce daily to stay in balance and trim.
- Neem leaf or bark powder added to coffee. Neem is a sacred tree in India and grows in Florida (neemtreefarms.com) It is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. Extremely bitter leaf is best taken as capsules of pills. Neem powder, pills and oil are also sold as complexion remedies.
- Brahmi (aka gotu kola) tea said to balance both hemispheres of the brain, enhance circulation and give the wisdom of the sages. It can be used for reducing stress and improvement of sleep and meditation
- Manjistha powder for acne, hives and facial redness, a blood cleanser with pleasant taste, often used with delicious anantamul power to cleanse acid toxins from blood. See Banyan Botanicals Healthy Skin pills.
- Shatavari, wild Indian asparagus powder or pills a source of female hormones that rejuvenate post-menopausal sexual organs and sexuality. Helpful for men who need more semen. (helps balance pitta and vata)
- Sarpagandha, an extremely bitter herb for reducing stress, anger and hypertension. Add ¼ tsp to water or apple sauce to help regulate hypertension
- Maha Sudarshan (powder) or capsules, a cooling, bitter somewhat pleasant tasting herbal combination to reduce fever, indigestion and stress and many aspects of excess pitta.
Mid-Summer can be a joyous time to extend our usual boundaries and refresh body and mind. Wear light cotton clothing, dip in a cool bath scented with a cooling lovely oil like lemon grass, ylang ylang or rose.
We all love to eat watermelon during summer; its full of minerals and water to keep us hydrated. Have you heard that watermelon seed oil is popular throughout Africa and the Middle East? It is used for cooking but do not ignore its topical use. It has valuable nutrients for beautifying hair and skin. It is a heavy, rich oil perhaps most easily used for skin and scalp massage while in the bath tub.
- Detoxification & Acne-Fighting. Watermelon seed oil deeply penetrates the skin and removes impurities, dirt and dead skin, making it an ideal oil for cleansing. Oils high in linoleic acid help to clarify pores by dissolving dirt and impurities, leaving your skin cleansed and nourished, helping with oily skin and acne by acting to clarify and remove excess sebum.
- Anti-Aging. The high linoleic and oleic acid content in watermelon seed oil also make it a dynamo in fighting wrinkles and premature aging. This oil contains a healthy amount of Vitamin E as well, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage. The omega 6 essential fatty acids and phytosterols encourage new collagen production and cell regeneration in the skin.
- Good for All Skin Types. Watermelon seed oil works wonders for all skin types, as it is light, fast-absorbing, and clarifying for those with oily skin. But it’s also nourishing and effective for dry skin, as it protects and moisturizes with antioxidants, minerals, and unsaturated fatty acids.
- Fights uneven skin tone. Also known as hyper-pigmentation, skin looks uneven when some areas of the skin have more melanin than others, which make some parts of the skin appear darker that the rest. Trace minerals and omega acids found in watermelon seed oil have been shown to reduce the appearance of hyper-pigmentation.
- De-puffs and promotes blood circulation. In addition to fighting free radical damage, the Vitamin E in watermelon seed oil also promotes blood circulation and has been shown to reduce puffiness in any area of the skin due to excess water retention.
You can order organic essential watermelon seed oil (not a perfume oil) online from Amazon and at specialty shops like this: https://forkandmelon.com/blogs/the-latest/the-wonders-of-watermelon-seed-oil
Which of these cooling, detoxifying recommendations are the easiest for you to use? Are you ready to begin your adventure of good health and healing? Learn many ways to build health and balance with AcademyHealingNutrition. The Fall session in New York begins in October and registration is OPEN