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Ayurveda: A Brief Introduction and Guide to the Three Doshsas

© Dr.Vasant Lad

Pitta: The Energy of Digestion and Metabolism
Pitta people have many of the qualities of fire. Fire is hot, penetrating, sharp, and agitating. Similarly, pitta people have warm bodies, penetrating ideas, and sharp intelligence. But they can also become very agitated and short tempered. The pitta body type is one of medium height and build, with ruddy or coppery skin. They may have many moles and freckles. Their skin is warm and less wrinkled than vata skin. Their hair tends to be silky and they often experience premature graying or hair loss. Their eyes are of medium size and conjunctiva is moist. The nose is sharp and the tip tends to be reddish.

Pitta people have a strong metabolism, good digestion, and strong appetites. They like plenty of food and liquids. They tend to love hot spices and cold drinks. However, their constitution is balanced by sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Pitta people sleep well and of medium duration. They produce large quantities of urine and feces, which tend to be yellowish, soft and plentiful. They easily perspire. Hands and feet stay warm. Pitta people have a lower tolerance for sunlight, heat or hard physical work. Mentally, pitta types are alert and intelligent and have good powers of comprehension. However, they are easily agitated and aggressive and tend toward hate, anger and jealousy when imbalanced. In the external world, pitta people like to be leaders and planners and seek material prosperity. They like to exhibit their wealth and possessions. Pitta people tend to have diseases involving the fire principle such as fevers, inflammatory diseases and jaundice. Common symptoms include skin rashes, burning sensation, ulceration, fever, inflammations or irritations such as conjunctivitis, colitis, or sore throats.

Since the attributes of pitta are oily, hot, light, mobile, and liquid, an excess of any of these qualities aggravates pitta. Summer is a time of heat, the pitta season. Sunburn, poison ivy, prickly heat, and short tempers are common. These kinds of pitta disorders tend to calm down as the weather gets cooler. The diet and lifestyle changes emphasize coolness-cool foods, avoidance of chilies and spices (especially difficult for New Mexicans), and cool climates. People with excessive pitta need to exercise at the coolest part of the day.

Dietary guidelines for pitta are:

  • 50% whole grains--whole grain breads, cereals, cooked grains
  • 20% protein--beans (except lentils), tofu, tempeh, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, raw milk, egg white, chicken and turkey (white meat), shrimp, rabbit, venison
  • 20-30% vegetables with an optional 10% for fresh fruits

    Other guidelines:

  • Avoid excessive heat
  • Avoid excessive oil
  • Avoid excessive steam
  • Limit salt intake
  • Eat cooling, non-spicy foods
  • Exercise during the cooler part of the day

    Kapha: The Energy of Lubrication
    Kapha people are blessed with strength, endurance and stamina. They have sweet, loving dispositions and are stable and grounded. Their skin is oily and smooth. Physically, kapha people tend to gain weight and have a slow metabolism. They shun exercise. They have thick skin and their bodies and muscles are well developed. Their eyes are large, dark, and attractive with thick, long lashes and brows. Kapha people evacuate slowly and feces tend to be soft, pale and oily. Perspiration is moderate. Sleep is deep and prolonged. Kapha types are attracted to sweet, salty and oily foods, but their constitutions are most balanced by bitter, astringent and pungent tastes.

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    About The Author
    Vasant Lad is an Ayurvedic Physician and Executive Director of the Ayurvedic Institute. Dr. Lad brings a wealth of classroom and practical experience to the United States. A native of India, he served for three years as Medical Director of the Ayurveda Hospital in Pune, India. He was Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Pune University College of Ayurvedic Medicine for 15 years. He......more
     
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    Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.