What Are Ayurvedic Doshas?
In Ayurvedic philosophy, the five elements (air, earth, ether, fire, and water) combine in pairs to form three dynamic forces or interactions called doshas. Dosha literally means "that which changes." The word is derived from the Sanskrit word, 'dus', which is equivalent to the English prefix 'dys,' such as in dysfunction, dystrophy, etc. Here, dosha can be regarded as a fault, mistake, error, or a transgression against the cosmic rhythm. Dosha is also known as the governing principle of every living being in nature.
In Ayurvedic medicine, body types are classified into three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. But, it's important to understand that although we may be dominant in one dosha, we have the energy of all three present in our body. Most people will actually be a combination of two of these doshas, with the third only playing a minor role. Because our bodies contain all three, any of them can get out of balance. The element combinations of each dosha are as follows:
- Vata: Air and Ether
- Pitta: Fire and Water
- Kapha: Water and Earth
I will be going into detail about the Pitta dosha only, as it would take volumes to write about them all!
What Is the Pitta Dosha?
Elements and Energy
Pitta is the force created by the dynamic interplay of water and fire. These forces indicate transformation. They influence and control each other, but their balance is vital. If you had too much fire, it would boil your water away. If you had too much water, it would put out the fire.
What May Cause an Imbalance in Pitta?
- heat and humidity
- excessive movement
- too many hot foods—both in terms of spice and temperature
- overconsumption of oil, caffeine, salt, red meat, and alcohol
Characteristics of a Pitta-Dominant Person
- good digestion
Associated Parts and Processes of the Body
- small intestine
- sweat glands
- body temperature
- skin coloration
- brightness of the eyes
- intelligence and understanding
- feelings of anger, hate, and jealousy
What Foods Balance Pitta?
You can balance excess pitta with foods that are cool, dry, and heavy with a mild, naturally sweet, bitter, or astringent taste. For example, milk, rice, beans, steamed vegetables, and sweet, ripened fruit are good for the Pitta dosha.
- Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, green beans, green (sweet) peppers, leafy green vegetables, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, parsley, peas, potatoes, sprouts, squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini
- Fruits: apples, avocados, cherries, coconut, figs, dark grapes, mangos, melons, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins
- Grains: barley, oats, wheat, white rice (preferably basmati rice)
- Meat: chicken, shrimp, and turkey (all in small amounts only)
- Eggs and Dairy: butter or ghee (clarified butter), egg whites, ice cream, milk
- Beans: chickpeas, mung beans, tofu, and other soybean products
- Nuts and Seeds: coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- Oils: coconut, olive, soybean, and sunflower
- Herbs and Spices: Spices should be generally avoided as they heat the body. In small amounts, the following sweet and astringent spices are okay: cardamom, cilantro (green coriander), cinnamon, coriander seed, dill, fennel, mint, saffron, turmeric, and small amounts of cumin and black pepper.
- Sweeteners: All sweeteners are acceptable except honey and molasses.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
Pitta types should avoid pungent and oily foods such as curry, fried foods, and spices such as cayenne, garlic, and dry ginger. Stimulants like smoking, alcohol, coffee, pickles, vinegar, fermented foods, curds, til, and mustard oil should also be avoided or reduced.
- Vegetables: beets, carrots, eggplant, garlic, hot peppers, onions, radishes, spinach, tomatoes
- Fruits: sour and unripe fruits, apricots, bananas, berries, sour cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, green grapes, oranges, papayas, peaches, persimmons
- Grains: brown rice, corn, millet, lentils
- Eggs and Dairy: buttermilk, cheese, egg yolks, sour cream, yogurt
- Meat: red meat and seafood
- Oils: almond, corn, safflower, sesame
- Sweeteners: honey and molasses
- All pungent herbs and spices should be avoided.
Avoid processed and fast foods as they tend to be heavy on salty and sour tastes. Japanese and Chinese food are good choices. Avoid highly spicy food such as what is often found in Mexican restaurants.
Other Tips for Balancing Pitta
- To bring down aggravated Pitta, put two teaspoons of ghee (clarified butter) in a glass of warm milk (skip the ghee if you have high cholesterol).
- Pitta energy is increased during the summer. During hot, dry seasons, all doshas would benefit from increasing Pitta-friendly foods and decreasing Pitta-aggravating foods.
- Mental and emotional peace and constructive lifestyle routines are important to restoring and maintaining balance between all the doshas.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
nadine on April 20, 2019:
my ayurveda doctor gave me an another list regarding PITTA !
Devadas on December 22, 2018:
yoginijoy from Mid-Atlantic, USA on July 24, 2012:
What an informative and descriptive hub on the pitta diet. Thank you for the recommendations. I am just learning about Ayurveda the past few years and it is quite interesting. Take care!
amy on April 07, 2012:
Thanks So much. Am hoping you have written on the other doshas too!
ron on January 16, 2012:
thks for publishing it was helpful
Jilliankay on January 09, 2012:
Is an all juice detox ok if it's using the ok veggies and fruits?
email@example.com on December 06, 2011:
very informative. thnks. s.jiwani
Cgreen on October 19, 2011:
Great article !
Yara on June 22, 2011:
Of course I will love to follow the diet,now that I know the type of doshas i belonged!
Gobi Obi on June 21, 2011:
it is very good though as I am a very firey, easily aggitated person who hates summer and hot sun, I now know I am not a freak because summer is so bad for me and I need the dark and coolness to be calm.
Gobi Obi on June 21, 2011:
I am very much a Pita dosha but I have borderline Diabetes and tend to drink too much fruit juice and eat too much fruit, I see certain fruits are good for Pita types how would I balance it with Diabetes?
sariga on December 17, 2010:
These are very good tips to know about our body. Everyone should study their own body. Understanding own body is great. Thanks for the post.
Ravin on November 30, 2010:
Very useful and beneficial for good health. But with due respect, I don't think that you had to mention non-veg food when referring to ayurveda. This book only refers to vegetarian food.
val on October 31, 2010:
hi!!! they told I'm a pitta type and I'd like to know if you can suggest some books in order to understand more about it!
Thank youuuu alot.
Jasleen on September 19, 2010:
Very well put together. Very handy for me just now.
I have a predominant Kapha with a minor Pitta. However, just now, the Pitta in terms of gastric & duodenal ulcer is out in full force & I need to quieten it down.
Can I take fresh alma juice as it is in season? Any other diet suggestions or things to avoid particularly? Do let me know if you would prefer I could write to you seperately for this clarification. Thanks.
Liz Holman on September 01, 2010:
Great Information. I tired two tests to determine my type, though do you know of a test that is the most accurate in determining your body type?
naveen on May 28, 2010:
dear sunsen ,i saw the comment of one respectfull person ,i dont think he is fully right ,ayurveda never says a person as to be fully vegiterian,thanks for your effort
Yashendu Goswami on May 25, 2010:
Dear SunSeven, it is very nice work you did by providing this all information to people but I would ask you not to put non-vegetarian food in the name of Ayurveda, as it is not really suggested by Ayurveda and if you do that then somehow it is misguiding. Hope my suggestion will not trigger your anger. sending you lots of Love and Blessings.
jaishe from S.India on April 30, 2010:
Good information. It is better to avoid meat. If can not Occasionally in small quantities.
Buttercup on April 29, 2010:
Is ginger acceptable for a pitta diet?
ceholmes from Chicago on March 31, 2010:
This is awesome. I love learning about ayurveda. I an naturally a Vata and I have had great success in health improvements by switching to the Vata diet. I will save this as a fav and send it to my pitta bro. He'd love this. great hub.
DELIGHT on March 16, 2010:
Hi it is realy useful.
sriman on April 07, 2009:
Information is very useful
reneng2 on February 23, 2009:
reneng please do not spam the comments section. This page is NOT for junk spam.
reneng from Singapore on February 18, 2009:
Do you know the real reason why you are FAT and why most diet may not work for you? The reason may shock you so be prepared.
spacebull from Space on June 21, 2007:
There was an Ayurveda themed talk show on TV the other day and I find the perspective it has on the world interesting.
cgull8m from North Carolina on June 20, 2007:
Great Post, I read Healthy Body and Healthy Mind by Chopra it was a good book. It makes sense about human body.
Jason Menayan from San Francisco on June 20, 2007:
Thank you so much, SunSeven. Very informative!!!
Cory Zacharia from Miami Beach, Florida on June 20, 2007:
Very interesting, SunSeven! I've always wanted to know more about the doshas. Thank you.
BEEPEE on June 20, 2007:
Hi Dear, this is so useful and I thank you and appreciate to put such informations online....