When summer temperatures rise, almost everyone experiences increasing pitta dosha in the body and mind—those whose constitution is already dominated by pitta even more! Irritability, impatience, skin problems, and general overheating are just a few ways pitta imbalances manifest. Fortunately, there are herbs known in Ayurveda to reduce excessive pitta quickly and easily.
What’s the difference between pitta and pitta dosha?
Fire and water are individual elements that when combined become energized. Pitta is the name derived from this energetic combination.
It is useful to take note that pitta is made up mostly of fire element but requires some of the water element for balance, helping to avoid burning itself up!
While the amount will differ from person to person, everyone’s constitution contains some pitta. When pitta over-accumulates in the body, it becomes pitta dosha—dosha meaning “that which is out of balance.”
How does pitta become pitta dosha?
A pitta imbalance can be caused by various factors. Insofar as summer is concerned, pitta becomes aggravated and accumulates in the body if we become overheated. Adding more heat to pitta’s naturally hot personality can send it into a sizzling snit! Some activities that would create pitta dosha might be tanning in the heat of the midday sun or performing an activity vigorously, such as manual labor or playing sports outside.
Pitta dosha can lead to imbalances causing
- Skin eruptions such as hives, rashes, and rosacea
- Mood disruptions—anger, irritability, being judgmental or overly critical.
Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
You may recognize some of the herbs in this article as fruits, vegetables, or spices. In Ayurveda, these substances are synonymous with the word “herbs” as well.
Ayurveda applies opposite qualities to bring balance back. Therefore, pitta dosha calls for cooling herbs.
Herbs for Summer
- Gooseberry. Gooseberry or Indian Gooseberry is also known as the Amalaki fruit. It helps scrape excess pitta from the body, provides antioxidant benefits, serves to stimulate the digestive fire without overheating the body, and is anti-inflammatory. Gooseberry is processed into a powdered ground herb or tablet and can be used on its own or in conjunction with two other popular herbs called haritaki and bhibitaki in the Ayurvedic compound, triphala.
- Fennel. Fresh fennel stalks are delicious as is or cooked (braised fennel is great). Raw fennel on its own or in a salad adds a great unexpected flavor. Toasted fennel seeds also make for a great digestive and breath freshener. Fennel is appetizing—it helps to stimulate digestion, detoxify, and is tonifying for the spleen. Ground fennel sprinkled on a raw apple is a very tasty end-of-summer internal “scraping” cleanser and cooler.
- Coriander. Coriander induces sweating to aid in detoxification. Pitta dosha can cause insomnia in the form of not being able to fall asleep. Coriander soothes the mind to relieve stress and promote better sleep. In the case of gas, coriander reduces flatulence. Summer swelling can be ameliorated by coriander’s diuretic property. Sprinkle ground coriander on anything! Cilantro (the leaf associated with coriander) ground into a pulp, provides a potent poultice in treating hives, rashes, and sunburn.
- Lavender. While lavender can be eaten, another therapeutic use is for aromatherapy. The nervine property of high-quality lavender essential oil dabbed on a pillow case or the center of the forehead is soothing, calming, and grounding for over-stimulated pitta and also relaxes muscles.
- Rose. Tired, burning eyes will love being bathed in rose water and a rose sugar scrub will do wonders for the skin and sweeten your mood. Rose essential oil dabbed on the center of the forehead heals the emotions of anger and agitation.