The pitta dosha is roughly translated as fire and is experienced as bodily heat energy. It is the force that governs metabolism. It affects digestion, assimilation, and body temperature. Pitta is formed from the water and fire elements.
Those who are predominantly pitta are characterized by strong digestion, large appetites for food and drink, high body heat, and intolerance to heat and the sun. They have abundant perspiration, moderate strength and build, strong body odor, and a more coppery skin with lots of freckles, moles, and blackheads. Their skin is oily, and there is a tendency for their hair to gray prematurely. Hands and feet are usually warm. They crave cold drinks, and sweet, astringent, and bitter foods. Psychologically, people with a predominant pitta dosha have good comprehension and intelligence. They do not overstrain themselves at work. They are, however, ambitious. They have a tendency toward vanity, intolerance, pride, aggressiveness, stubbornness, hatefulness, anger, and jealousy. Their character resembles that of the archetypal tiger, cat, monkey, owl, or bear.
Summer or midday heat will cause an aggravation of the pitta dosha. During the hot season in India, these were the people the author observed to have summer colds, heart palpitations, heat prostration, skin disorders such as hives and heat rash, and general misery from the heat. It was often quite dramatic. The author’s son, who is a predominant pitta dosha, was completely healthy through all the seasons in India until the hot season. Within the first few days of 100- to 120-degree temperatures, he became sick, exhausted, developed rashes all over his body, and was barely able to attend school. As soon as the cooling monsoon season began, his health returned completely. Other signs of pitta aggravation are acidity, fainting, excessive perspiration, restlessness, increased thirst and desire for cold substances, paleness, and in extreme cases, delirium. Other causes for derangement of pitta are: emotions of anger, grief, or fear; excess physical exertion; improper digestion or acid system; too much pungent, acid, salty, and dry food; too much mustard seed, sesame and linseed oil, fish, mutton, stems of green leafy vegetables, and wine. Sweet, astringent, and bitter tasting foods help to rebalance pitta, as do moonlight and cold baths.
When a person has a tendency to “overheat,” excess Pitta is usually to blame. Just as a campfire may turn into a forest fire without proper care, the internal fire of the mind and body must be kept in check.