If you have red inflamed skin or a burning sensation in your abdomen, chances are, your pitta dosha is imbalanced. In Ayurveda, every imbalance can be checked by looking at the characteristics of a person or her current experiences. So, what exactly are the symptoms of pitta dosha imbalance which can help you self-diagnose?
In Ayurvedic terminology, pitta is the combination of the two elements of fire and water. Pitta is the “heat” in the body which is responsible for metabolism and transformation. It is pitta that controls our digestion and absorption of the nutrients from our food.
Pitta is responsible for ‘Ojas’ or ‘Tej’ or ‘Life energy’ in your body and gives the person a lively appearance. If a person has optimum levels of pitta, his face shines and looks angelic.
Pitta is a very important dosha or body humour. To gain a better understanding of this dosha, I have a detailed guide on Pitta dosha which discusses their characteristics, their preferences and what they can do to balance it.
Now, there are a lot of characteristics of pitta you can look at and identify if you are a pitta dominant person. But what we also need to look at are the symptoms of pitta imbalance to keep it in check using complimentary food and herbs.
But can you suffer from pitta aggravation only if you are a pitta dominant person? Let’s find out.
Who can suffer from a Pitta imbalance?
Anyone can suffer from pitta dosha aggravation even if they are not pitta dominant.
In Ayurveda, a person is born with a basic constitution that defines her personality and her appearance, mental and emotional state.
However, we have all three doshas in our body at every stage of life to support our body (because each dosha has a specific function).
Your body’s constitution can change multiple times during your life based on your environment, temperature, work, lifestyle and food. This gives rise to dosha imbalances in the body. A person with a dominant Kapha or Vata can also get a pitta imbalance.
Now, if you are a Pitta dominant person and your pitta dosha becomes imbalanced, you will feel a greater sting than the others. The symptoms of pitta imbalance will also vary depending on the dominant dosha and the level of aggravation.
Symptoms of Pitta imbalance
Physical symptoms of pitta imbalance
1. Acid Reflux
One of the first symptoms of pitta imbalance can be seen in the form of sudden changes in your stomach and your comfort. Some people report sudden acid reflux while others experience mild episodes of bloating after eating. When pitta becomes aggravated in Pitta dominant people, it can even cause ulcers in the stomach.
2. Skin inflammation/acne/ rashes
Skin troubles are a very common symptom of pitta imbalance in teenage children. During the first few years of development, children are high in Kapha dosha as it supports muscle development and growth.
When the child hits puberty, the pitta becomes the governing force in the body. Now, if you are a pitta type you are more likely to develop acne, inflammation and rashes on your skin.
But pitta imbalance also affects adults. Adults who have a bad lifestyle and a stressful job can develop excess pitta in the body. This can aggravate with spicy and sour food choices.
Excess pitta in the adults can cause skin rashes like eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. Some even suffer from hormonal imbalances and cystic hormonal acne.
3. Burning in the gut
Some people feel a burning sensation near their stomach. Although it is difficult for them to identify where the burn actually is, it is actually your gut burning. Excess bile or pitta in your gut burns and dissolves the inner lining of the gut.
Your gut carries good bacteria which helps in breaking down food. Excess pitta kills these good bacteria which damages your digestive symptom and makes it difficult to break down food.
Your gut is directly related to your skin. Any problems in the gut affect your skin and your mind. The strong connection between gut and brain is now being recognised by western medicine as well. This is known as the gut-brain axis.
4. Food intolerances
Continuing from the above discussion, the undigested food creates a lot of toxins in the body known as ‘Ama’ in Ayurveda. ‘Ama’ is a sticky substance which can accumulate in organs, muscles, nerves and cause problems like food tolerances.
There is a sudden spike in the people who are Gluten intolerant. A lot has to do with increased pitta due to our lifestyle and work habits. Pitta aggravation over time can cause increased ama in the body.
This is one of the factors causing auto-immune disorders and inflammation in the body. This ama is difficult to remove and there is no mention of it in western medicine. Ayurveda usually suggests a Panchakarma treatment to remove accumulated Ama from the body.
5. Premature hair greying
Increased pitta results in premature greying. Your blood carries nutrients to the hair follicles through tiny capillaries. But excess pitta accumulates on your scalp and makes it difficult for the hair follicle to absorb any nutrients from the blood.
Lack of nutrition to the hair follicles results in hair damage. This results in premature balding or greying. Coconut oil is recommended for people with high pitta as it moisturises the scalp, has cooling properties and removes pitta debris from the hair follicle.
6. Heat intolerance
Because pitta is fire, it is natural for people with pitta imbalance to be intolerant to heat and hot weather. They either have an increased body temperature or they perspire profusely. People with symptoms of pitta dosha find it difficult to go in the sun with bare skin. They either get sunburns or rashes on their skin.
7. Increased thirst
Since pitta is fire, people with symptoms of pitta imbalance often feel thirsty. They may be drinking lots of water but they feel a constant thirst.
Some people even experience a warm sensation on the tongue. It is important that people with aggravated pitta drink ample water to subdue the fire.
8. Tongue plaque or redness
Another subtle symptom of pitta aggravation is accumulated plaque on your tongue. In Ayurveda, your tongue can quickly tell about how your body is behaving. Yellow to the green plaque on your tongue is often a sign of pitta.
Some people might notice redness along the sides of the tongue. This is a typical sign of aggravated pitta and toxins in the circulatory system.
Ayurveda recommends removing tongue plaque every morning either with a toothbrush with a tongue cleaner or a copper tongue cleaner. This is by far the best tongue scraper you can get on amazon.
9. Increased appetite
Pitta governs digestion and metabolism. People with increased pitta often experience increased hunger pangs. They also feel burning if they don’t eat every 2 hours.
10. Lacklustre skin
Pitta is responsible for the colour and lustre of your skin. Since Pitta controls your metabolism and nutrient absorption, it directly affects how your skin looks. People with a balanced pitta have a radiant complexion, bright skin and lustre. The skin looks nourished and moist. But when pitta goes out of balance it can cause pigmentation, dull and strained skin.
Emotional symptoms of pitta imbalance
1. Irritable/ Cranky
People with a dominant pitta have a tendency to get irritated or angry at the drop of a hat. In Ayurveda, your emotions are directly affected by your constitution and vice versa. When pitta is aggravated, excess heat inside the body manifests in the form of anger, irritability and crankiness.
If you are suddenly becoming quite irritable either when you miss a meal or on a petty issue, you should check for the other symptoms of pitta.
Pitta dominant people are competitive in nature. But when this dosha becomes aggravated in any person, they get a feeling of excess competitiveness. You might have seen a lot of people in your workplace who get obsessively competitive.
Because of chronic stress, there is more number of people with aggravated pitta in offices in general. This type of competitiveness can also be observed in siblings or friends.
Another symptom of pitta imbalance is Obsession or OCD. Pitta has this fiery quality of being focused but when it gets out of balance it can quickly turn into an obsession. Some people become obsessed about their bodies, looks, clothes, cleaning or even workout. They end up doing more harm to themselves than good.
4. Criticism/ Jealousy
Pitta causes extreme feelings of negativity and jealousy. Now the common understanding is that if something is troubling your body from the inside, it will affect your mood as well. Think of it like a wound. If you cut your hand, you will display emotions of pain and irritability.
Similarly, in pitta people, these negative emotions are manifested as criticism or jealousy. Some people become overly critical of other people’s life choices and decisions. Some people display constant envy within their friends or family.
Remember the old saying, “Green with envy”? Why green? Maybe because Pitta or bile is green in colour. Just saying.
Now that you have a checklist of basic symptoms of pitta imbalance, go and check if you or a closed one has it. Ayurveda is the science of a youthful body and longevity. Observing tiny changes in your body will tell you a lot about what is going on inside.
Pitta imbalance, when detected at an early stage can easily be corrected with simple changes in food and lifestyle. Introducing Yoga, cooling pranayamas as Sitali and meditation can drastically improve the speed at which your body heals.
Additional help can be taken from Ayurvedic herbs and supplements to bring your doshas back to normal.
One transformational change you can introduce is Ayurvedic self-massage or Abhyanga using coconut oil. You can read about doing a daily massage here. A daily self-massage is beneficial for balancing all your doshas.
Summary of Symptoms of Pitta Imbalance
Effects of Balance
|Effects of Imbalance|
Clear glowing skin
|Inflamed skin, rashes, eczema|
|Acidity, Acid reflux, Burning|
Frequent hunger pangs
Hot flashes, profuse sweating
Premature balding, greying
Critical, irritable, obsession
Have you noticed any of these symptoms in your body? How did you balance your pitta? Let me know in the comments below.
Chakshu is a US alliance certified yoga teacher, a biotechnologist and an Ayurveda evangelist. Her passion is to help people live a toxic-free life, emotionally and chemically. She loves reading self-help books. When she is not writing, she is busy thinking about life.