Properties of Ayurveda Pitta Dosha in Ayurvedic Medicine
The Pitta dosha in Ayurveda is one of the three body types along with Vata and Kapha, that are responsible for health and disease in Ayurvedic medicine. It support the thermodynamic and metabolic processes in body during health and inflammatory disorders during sickness.
By: Arjun (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery With Modern Medicine).
Etymology Of Pitta Dosha In Ayurvedic Sanskrit Language:
The etymological description of any word suggests many useful and original information. Let us dissect the word Pitta.
“Tapa Santape.” (Sushruta Samhita, Sutra Section, 21/5)
This root is modified by the prefix ‘ita’ in place of ‘Ta’ to get the word Pitta.
This word suggests the action of burning or heat. All the actions in our body that are related to heating or burning are related to this ayurvedic humor.
Another word used for this humor is ‘Mayu’.
“Minoti dehe ushmanam.”
One that is responsible for the heat or temperature in the body.
Qualities of Ayurveda Pitta:
Charaka described the qualities of this humor. (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, 1/59)
- Somewhat unctuous
Sushruta described some more qualities of this humor.
- Dryness Or Non-unctuousness.
- With bad odor
- Blue-yellow in color.
- Pungent in taste when normal.
- Sour when vitiated.
Psychological attribute that is associated with Pitta is Satva.
Pitta in general refers to metabolic processes in our body. Metabolism or metabolic processes are the sum of all bio-chemical or bio-physical processes in our body. They are usually of two types.
Anabolic processes refers to the building up of the body substance, the constructive phase of metabolism by which a cell takes from the blood the substance required for repair and growth, building it into a cytoplasm and thus converting a nonliving material into the living cytoplasm of the cell.
On the contrary, Catabolism is the destructive phase of metabolism and the opposite of anabolism. Catabolism includes all the processes in which complex substances are converted into simpler substances, usually with the release of energy.
Unctuousness & Ayurvedic Pitta Dosha:
This property is useful to make something wet or oily or sticky or smooth. This produces in our body tenderness, softness, smoothness and wetness or suppleness.
Unctuousness is Anti-Vata and increases Kapha. This property increases tissue mass, strength and promotes complexion.
The expulsion of waste materials from the body is promoted by this property. It exerts aphrodisiac effect.
Water is dominant in Unctuousness. Sweet, sour and salt taste are dominant with this property.
Overuse of unctuous substances in diet or supplements might cause vitiation of Kapha and lethargy, indigestion, Obesity, Mucus disorders, Asthma and Bronchitis.
This property of is of great use in keeping the structures in optimum health and together. The lipids are essential components of our diet and all the structures of cells – cell membranes; for providing energy and growth. Our nerve tissues use quite a good portion of this property. This is essential for emollient function.
Psychologically this property supports tenderness, love and steadfastness and deep intent.
Hot or Heat:
This property increases heat or burning sensation and it is opposite of Cold. This increases the temperature or heat or feeling of warmth in body.
Pitta is increased by this humor and Vata and Kapha are pacified. This property reduces the tissue mass and promotes the tendency for bleeding.
Excretory materials like stool, sweating and urine are expelled out readily. This property supports the appetizer and digestive function.
Overuse of this property causes Pitta aggravation and unconsciousness or syncope, thirst and burning sensation.
Psychologically this promotes restlessness, agitation, unnerving, drooping or sinking feeling.
Fire primary element supports this property. Sour, salt and pungent taste are dominant with this property.
This is helpful for conditions like obesity, atherosclerosis and Kapha and
Sharpness of Pitta Dosha:
This property is opposite to dullness or slowness. This applies when some action is completed speedily.
Sharpness assists the purification processes in body. This increases Pitta and pacifies Vata and Kapha. This reduces the tissue mass and makes the body lean and thin.
Excretory waste materials are expelled out of body. All the herbs used for Therapeutic Vomiting and Purgation of panchakarma therapy possess this property.
This property exerts agitating effect and it causes burning, inflammation and discharge.
Fire primary element supports this property. Pungent taste is dominated with sharpness.
Psychologically Rajas supports this property with aggressiveness, easily agitated, harsh, rough, zealous and passionate behavior.
Poisons and toxic substances and pungent tasting herbs like black pepper, long pepper and dried ginger have this property. This is judiciously useful in various disorders of Kapha and Vata disorders like lethargy of mind, obesity, atherosclerosis and other blockage related conditions. It facilitate easy discharge from inflammatory condition. Rubefacient and Counter-irritant actions are also supported for the skin.
Fluidity of Pitta Dosha:
This is the property that makes one subtle and permeate all the space. It is the cause behind flow and storage.
Fluidity is responsible for wetting the body and its parts, for permeating all of it and for the dissolving power. This increase Kapha and Pitta. The tissue mass is gained with this property particularly those tissues in fluid medium like blood, lymph and plasma.
Fluid excretory wastes like urine and sweating is promoted and their excretion is increased.
Water primary element supports this function.
Psychologically this property stands for easy adaptability and mixing with new environmental and social conditions. However this implies many times assimilating unwanted or undesirable or harmful behavior from social contact.
Sour & Bitter Taste:
Pitta renders the taste of the person along these two lines. When normal quality of Pitta is increased, the taste will be bitter. When Pitta is vitiated, the taste will be bitter.
This taste refers to the taste that we feel in our mouth. Even eating something is not necessary. Many times we feel sweet taste, sometimes acidic or bitter or astringent or salty. We can sense the natural taste of our mouth any time.
This also means that if we consume too much of food or herbs with Pitta aggravating properties, the normal taste of our mouth will be bitter or sour depending upon the condition of Pitta.
The Hydrochloric Acid (HCl from stomach wall based glands) in our stomach and bile (in duodenum and rest of intestine from Gall bladder and Liver) are responsible for such perception and taste. When we feel acidity, burning in stomach, heartburn, nausea and vomiting due to Hyperacidity or Gastric or Peptic ulcers, the HCl is dominant. When bile is dominant or it is refluxed into the stomach or esophagus, bitter taste is more prevalent.
We need to be slightly introverted and self-aware to find the natural taste of our mouth. It will help to assess what kind of taste do we need.
The Place or Locations of This Humor in Body:
Though Pitta activity is present in all the parts of body. Its gross action is manifested specifically in some parts they are described as.
- Stomach with small intestine. (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, 20/7)
Sushruta summarized these places in the place between Large intestine or Colon and Stomach. (Sushruta Samhita, Sutra Section, 21/5)
Vagbhata added some more places like eyes and skin and described Ayurveda Pitta to be centered in the parts of abdomen around the navel or the small intestine and stomach. (Ashtanga Hridaya, Sutra Section, 12/ 1)
On examining the diseases of these organs, we can see that these parts are affected primarily by Pitta based disorders. Most of the infections are carried out by blood and lymph. Stomach and duodenum are the seats of Peptic ulcers. Small intestine is the seat of ulcerative colitis. Further Gastro-intestinal infections are also very common.
The General Actions Of Ayurveda Pitta Humor:
Pitta, in normal and un-vitiated healthy conditions, is responsible for many important physiological actions in our body.
- It supports our Vision.
- Digestion of food is dependent on this humor.
- The maintenance of body temperature is the responsibility of this humor.
- It is responsible for hunger and thirst.
- The suppleness and softness is maintained by this humor.
- The normal complexion and the luster is contributed by this humor.
- Mentally happiness is supported.
- The retention aspect of memory depends on this humor (There are three aspects of memory – grasping power, retention and recollection).
- The metabolism of tissues results with its support.
- Psychologically some attitudes are governed by the condition of this humor. Courageous or brave outfit of mind, fear, anger, ignorance or delusion or perplexity, composure of mind, happiness and favorable condition of mind are some of the dual conditions of mind. They depend on the condition of Pitta.
We see that each of Ayurveda doshas support physical, chemical, biological and psychological qualities as well.
Ayurveda Pitta Dosha As The Manifestation Of Fire Element:
Charaka has rightly mentioned that the primary element fire under the name of this dosha functions in our body favorably and unfavorably – non-vitiated healthy form promoting health and happiness and vitiated form causing diseases and unhappiness. (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, 12/14)
Sushruta supported this concept thus, “There appears to be no other than Pitta as the manifestation of Fire primary element in our body. Ayurveda Pitta manifests its various states during normal, reduced and aggravated forms. Similarly the treatment of both of them are also same.” (Sushruta Samhita, Sutra Section, 21/8)
There is a clear difference in the action of outside fire and internal Fire element. Both are same in one aspect that they deal with heat and temperature or thermal energy. The difference is in the form. Outside fire act on specific temperature for individual substances.
The Biological fire in the form of this humor functions under strictly regulated temperature range. This is the normal range of body temperature. Various biochemical processes occur optimally in this range of temperature only.
The purpose of Bio-chemical processes in body is also different – to maintain our healthy condition, to get rid of disorders, to provide energy for cellular activities, to take care of repair, growth and development requirements. These are very regulated activities that are controlled by Ayurveda Pitta.