It's Pitta Season!
Here in the northern hemisphere it's getting hot, which signals the official start of Pitta season. Whether or not you are dominant in Pitta dosha, it is important to keep cool during this time to balance out all the excessive fire that is around us. Too much Pitta can mean heartburn, ulcers, acid indigestion, acne, or skin rashes. It can also exhibit itself as irritability or anger.
To pacify Pitta there are a few simple things we all can do.
Pitta Balancing Foods
- Cool, but not ice cold, drinks help to keep Pitta in balance. The idea is to calm that fire, but not put it out completely. Avoid carbonated drinks that tend to disrupt digestion. Pitta tea is delicious chilled!
- Choose sweet fruit and juices, like peach and pear, and pure water to stay hydrated.
- The Pitta diet calls for more sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Salads with leafy greens are a great way to get these tastes in. Salads are also cool - ideal for this time of year. It is not uncommon for people to have difficulty digesting raw foods, but during Pitta season, when there is more fire in the environment to support digestion, salads can be a real treat.
- Cooling spices, such as mint, fennel, and anise can be added to foods.
Pitta Churna is a wonderful spice blend that makes it easy to get all of the recommended six tastes in Ayurveda in each mean, with emphasis on the tastes that help to balance Pitta. Here's a recipe for Pitta Churna to try if you'd like to make your own:
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves (chopped), or dried mint leaves
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar
- In a dry skillet, roast the coriander and cumin seeds until nutty.
- Transfer to a spice grinder and add the cardamom and fennel seeds; process to a fine powder.
- Put the spices in a bowl with the turmeric, mint, ground ginger and sugar and mix all together.
- Transfer into a shaker bottle to use whenever you'd like.
During Pitta season it is best to avoid super spicy foods, as the abundance of fire can create a Pitta imbalance. When the digestive enzymes are out of whack we get too much acid. It's best to eat three meals a day to keep the digestive fire burning nicely, don't skip meals.
Pitta types especially need to avoid those pungent spices such as chilies, cayenne, and black mustard seed; these increase acidity. It would seem like heavy, cold, or sweet foods would cool the acidity. But in reality heavy, cold foods will only make the acidity problem worse by blocking the channels of digestion and metabolism. It's better to cool the digestive fire by cooking with cooling spices, and by eating light desserts with our meal such as fruit crisps. Just a little sweet to balance all that hot and spicy that comes naturally to Pittas!
- Get to bed before 10 pm. At 10 pm Pitta time kicks in and we tend to get the munchies. Eating right before bed can disturb sleep. It's important to get that sleep during Pitta time, the hours between 10 pm and 2 am, so that the body gets the restorative rest it needs.
- Swimming and other water-based sports are cooling, and therefore ideal during Pitta season. Moonlight is especially soothing, so take that evening stroll after dinner.
Skin Care During Pitta Season
During the summer, the sun is hot and the days are long. The sun gives us energy for our mind and body, and as a source of Vitamin it has some benefits for our skin. The trick is to protect our skin, without over-protecting it. Ayurveda has some tips for us.
- Skin is more sensitive to the sun during Pitta season, so make sure to wear sunscreen when you're out during the day. You can also protect your skin with clothing, hats, long sleeves, and sunglasses. Avoid the mid-day sun. Early morning sun is more gentle to the skin.
- Avoid exposure to the sun when angry, hungry or upset. These factors increase Pitta, which makes the skin more susceptible to sun damage.
- Cool down skin with a mask made of watermelon puree. Avoid the eye area, and rinse off with lukewarm water after about 15 minutes.
- Rosewater is wonderfully soothing to the skin. Dab some on with a cotton ball after exposure to the sun. The healing properties of rose are especially Pitta balancing: cooling, moisturizing, and soothing.
The eyes are governed by Pitta, which becomes less balanced as we age, so it's a good idea to implement some Ayurvedic recommendations for eye care now.
These days, we spend so much time in front of the computer screen, watching TV, driving, reading, we're using our eyes all the time, and yet we tend to take them for granted and not give them the care they deserve. In Ayurveda, we learn that it is important to take care of our health, and the health of our eyes, while we are healthy. This way we can prevent problems from occurring and improve our vision.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Your eyes need rest just as the rest of your body does.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from direct sunlight.
- Make sure you have proper light to work or read in, not too dim or bright.
- Take a break from the computer every 30 minutes. Get up, walk around, and look at objects in the distance for awhile.
- Try this Yogic eye exercise. Look up for two seconds, then look down for two seconds, then close your eyes for two seconds. Open your eyes, look right as far as you can for two seconds, then look left as far as you can for two seconds, look to the front again, and close your eyes and breath for 10 seconds. Repeat.
- Make sure to include foods that are rich in vitamin A in your diet, like carrots, and green, leafy vegetables.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep the eyes moist. Avoid caffeine.
- In the evening, rest with two cotton balls dipped in rosewater placed over your closed eyes. Rosewater is cooling, and the fragrance is balancing for Pitta.
Aromatherapy for Pitta Season
Roses have always been associated with love and romance, so it's no surprise that Ayurveda uses roses as a remedy for the heart. Roses balance Pitta, and particularly Sadhaka Pitta, which is the subdosha of Pitta that governs the emotions and their effect on the heart.
In the summer time, Pitta can easily go out of balance, so it's a good time to break out the roses!
Roses are cooling, and yet they enhance agni, the digestive fire. This quality makes roses balancing for all three doshas. Rose water is used to cool, moisturize and tone the skin. And the fragrance of the rose enlivens inner beauty as well. If you feel your anger rising, or your Pitta getting out of control, sniff some rose petals and watch the heat of the moment subside.
Roses also intensify the experience of happiness and bliss! You can use dried rose petals to make a tea, or put rose petals in your bath water to help distribute the essence of rose to your mind and body.
Sandalwood is known in Sanskrit as chandana, which is also a word meaning "excellence." Sandalwood is wonderful at reducing Pitta, as it is cooling and calming for mind and body. The Sandal tree is highly regarded in the Vedic texts, and the heartwood is considered to be sacred.
It is an evergreen tree that grows only in some areas of India, Indonesia and Australia. In India, the Sandalwood tree is under the protection and ownership of the Indian government, even when grown on private land.
The oil from sandalwood is used in cosmetics, soaps, candles, medicines and perfumes. The outer wood is used mostly for making beads, boxes, and small decorative items. The oil or paste helps to heal skin problems like acne and rashes. Sandalwood acts as a disinfectant, diuretic, expectorant and sedative. It balances the circulatory, digestive, respiratory and nervous systems.