by Shannon Mooney According to Ayurveda, health is our natural, balanced state. Ayurveda defines the many substances and influences, both internal and external, that are beneficial and detrimental to our bodies. While avoiding every substance or situation that is unhealthy is nearly impossible in today's world, the wisdom of Ayurveda can boost your understanding of health and support choices that lead to a balanced state of being. Ayurveda offers knowledge to increase awareness of the factors that may cause imbalance and ways to create balance by regulating the systems of the body through diet, lifestyle, herbs, yoga and meditation. The Ayurvedic scope of health is holistic, encompassing a balanced body, mind, and spirit. The experiences we have in our relationships, including thoughts, feelings and emotions, can be equally as influential on our state of health as are foods and other ingested substances. It can be as difficult for a pitta individual to digest a hurtful criticism from their spouse, for example, as it is to digest a plate of greasy french fries. When pitta dosha flares, the body may express this imbalance as an itchy, red rash, excess heat, impatience, or even an emotional explosion of anger. Ayurveda teaches that routine detoxification can be invaluable for maintaining good health during seasonal changes. Summer is the season where pitta dosha accumulates in the body. Particularly if an individual's constitution is pitta predominant, the increase in excess heat can become reactive, settle in the tissues, and manifest as an imbalance if it is not properly eliminated. Ayurveda offers solutions to help the body dispose of toxins as nature intended before they have a chance to take hold and cause disorder. When there is an excess of pitta dosha and a health problem arises, toxins usually accompany it. Common toxins are bacteria, viruses, drugs, heavy metals, pesticides, chemicals, and other environmental pollutants. Toxins are also formed when we eat foods that are difficult to digest or of poor quality. Ayurveda defines this type of toxic material as ama, a heavy, sticky, undigested residue that can weaken digestion and disturb proper tissue formation. Excess pitta can manifest in the body as: • • • • • • • • • •
Fever Infection Inflammation Indigestion, constipation or diarrhea Skin rashes, sores or ulcers Fungi, parasites Bad breath and body odor Excessive sweating Bleeding Hyper-acidity
A person’s complexion may also be an indication of whether or not there is a toxic overload in the body. Excess pitta in the blood can result in breakouts on the skin such as hives, acne, and red rashes. Cleansing the body, particularly the liver and blood, through diet and herbs can result in clear, radiant skin and more balanced pitta dosha.
There are many causes that contribute to an excessive amount of pitta in the body including: • • • •
Eating a pitta-provoking diet Exposure to chemicals Too much sun exposure, sunburn Emotional stress
As with any imbalance, Ayurvedic treatment involves first removing the cause and then applying the therapeutic remedies necessary to bring the body back into balance. Ayurveda offers simple and gentle dietary, herbal, and lifestyle guidelines to assist the body in removing excess pitta dosha and cleansing the body of toxins. The therapies to balance pitta are both cooling and reducing. Diet The stomach and small intestine are two common sites for pitta dosha to accumulate. Ayurveda uses a pitta-soothing diet as the first line of action when addressing excess pitta. When it comes to reducing pitta, choose foods that will be cooling and cleansing to the body. Simple dietary guidelines to help your body detox: • • • • • •
Choose sweet, juicy fruits like melons, plums, and peaches. Include vegetables that are bitter and astringent such as collards, kale and asparagus. Add digestive spices to your food such as cumin, coriander, fennel and...