Is Bitter Better for Pacifying Pitta?

“I read online that for pitta people, particularly in the summer time, in order to keep things cool, bitter things are good. So I ordered a bitter ghee preparation called “pancha tikta ghritam” and I started using it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. I Screenshot 2015-07-17 08.34.01immediately developed nausea and felt like I had a hangover. It felt like instead of pacifying my pitta, it aggravated it? Can you please address this? If ayurvedic texts and experts say that bitter is good for pitta then why did it not help me?

Also, how should I take care of my pitta in the summer? I read your article on cooling pitta in the summer and it gave a different approach. You were recommending sweet things like rose petal preserve. Is the sweet taste enough for pacifying pitta in the summertime? Can you please comment on this?

Thank you,

Christina P. “

 

 

Vaidya answers:

 

In Ayurveda we acknowledge six total possible tastes. Verse #171 from Bhava Mishra’s Bhavaprakash, lists them in hierarchical order:

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madhur or sweet

amla or sour

lavana – salty

kattu – pungent

tikt or bitter

and kashaya or astringent

 

As the verse explains, these tastes are hierarchical in the sense that the first 3 pacify vata dosha, and last three pacify kapha. In roseaddition, “kashaya” astringent, “tikt” or bitter, and “madhur” or the sweet tastes pacify pitta. So, in theory, to say that the bitter taste is pacifying for pitta is correct. Based on the ayurvedic ancient texts, the 3 tastes: astringent, bitter, and sweet, pacify pitta. However, knowledge needs to be applied. In practical situations, many times, knowledge needs to be adapted to specific conditions.

It looks like in the process of pacifying your pitta dosha, you aggravated your vata dosha. To address your situation, I would like to highlight two major aspects according by referring to the same text, the same shastra-s.

Based on my experience as an ayurvedic expert practicing in the West for the past almost 20 years, in 90% of situations where pitta was aggravated, it was a case of also high agni, or digestive and metabolic fire element in the body, particularly in the digestive system.

When kledak kapha (the balancing kapha subdosha in the stomach that keeps things moist and lubricated) goes low in the stomach, then saman vata (which also resides in the stomach area) also gets aggravated.

When Samana Vata is aggravated, it pushes udana vata (that resides in the chest) more forcefully upwards and then one experiences nausea. In such scenarios, in most cases, wherever pitta is aggravated, vata also gets aggravated. 4a231211045c5acc78116d272b472fe0

Thats why there are three options in terms of rasa, or taste, for pacifying pitta. Those three tastes as indicated in the shastra-s are: astringent, bitter and sweet. Practically speaking, you have to choose among those three, based on the specific condition or situation.

Verse #171 says that the first three rasa-s or tastes: madhur (sweet), alma (sour) and lavan (salty) pacify vata dosha. So madhur or sweet rasa pacifies both vata and pitta, and that’s why I personally use madhur rasa or the sweet taste to pacify pitta in the summer time. With rose – and intelligent rather than dumb or dead sweets loaded with preservatives and synthetic chemicals such as white sugar – and sweet juicy seasonal fruits like pears, blueberries and blackberries, as well as a little amla or sour rasa like orange, or lime, one can work wonders for pitta and vata. Of course, the sour taste has to be in moderation, specially in the summer time, because it contains more agni, and can thus aggravate pitta as well. It has to be in balance in minimal quantities in relation to the sweet taste.

 

Another point to consider comes up in verse number #190 that says:

 

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The bitter rasa, or bitter taste, can aggravate vata. That’s why, when you consumed that bitter ghee to pacify your pitta dosha, it aggravated your samana vata and udana vata, resulting in nausea. So you see, theory or just knowledge are not enough. In practical daily applications of the knowledge, we need to have acquired skills and have guidance to know how to use that knowledge for optimal results. Even though the texts prescribe the bitter taste for pacifying pitta, if we follow the text without considering actual conditions, we will end up aggravating pitta further. I learnt such practical applications of the ayurvedic shastra-s while interning with my father in our family practice in India. I am always happy to share what I learnt during those years as well as in my life experience as an ayurvedic healer, since the opportunity to intern with ayurvedic experts is much more hard to come by in the western cultural context. I thank you for your question as it has given me the opportunity to clarify a crucial point for all.

Top 11 Ayurvedic Properties of Rose: The Queen of Flowers

Did you know that a rose not only pacifies your sadhak pitta – even as it balances your sadhak agni – but also carries a “somnasya jana” or bliss-enhancing property in its aroma? These properties bestow upon rose its supreme position in the flower kingdom.  This is probably why our hearts open wide to love when we see or smell a rose, or when we eat its petals.

In Ayurveda, we know that sadhak pitta is the pitta subdosha that governs the emotions in the heart. It is aided by sadhak agni, the metabolic principle, sitting in the heart, that helps us “digest” and “process” emotions and thoughts. When sadhak pitta and sadhak agni are out of balance, we will tend to feel down and blue, unable to appreciate or enjoy anything. We may try hard as we can to chase away the blues, mentally listing things we know we are grateful for, our heart will not follow suit and allow us the liberating feeling of gratitude unless we balance sadhak pitta and re-ignite sadhak agni.

pink roseIn life, many times even though things maybe be going great or smooth, if our sadhak pitta is aggravated due to external circumstances – stress from work; sleep deprivation; a fatigued overworked physiology; family pressures; etc, we may feel down and lack the readiness to tackle a new day, or our projects, with zest. Things can be even more challenging in conjugal life, if one partner’s sadhak pitta is off and the other just can’t understand why he or she is not able to enjoy or appreciate…

  Aggravation of sadhak pitta is common. When sadhak pitta is aggravated, our outlook on life will remain grim and grey despite our best mental and other efforts. Or we may just not feel up to anything. Sadhak pitta aggravation takes the spark out of life.

Pacification of sadhak pitta with the proper food, or proper aroma therapy, can work wonders! By “proper” Vaidya Mishra means for us to make the best choices of least processed foods, non-synthetic scents, etc.

When sadhak pitta is aggravated, we will crave sweet and cool or cold foods. We  usually reach for the freezer door and take out the ice cream tub! If your ice cream is made with white sugar (white sugar depletes our bodies of minerals and lowers our pH bringing in more sadness!) and contains processed ingredients, flavorings, the sweet taste may pacify your sadhak pitta temporarily, but at the same time it will put out the flame of your sadhak agni. Sadhak agni is the wick which helps to fuel your sadhak pitta so that your thoughts and emotions are processed. When you eat heavy, cold, clogging foods that are processed, your sadhak agni flame goes low, and in a little while, after eating the ice cream, you will experience a new low and even though you will feel immediate joy from eating the sweet and cold ice cream, after a little while, you will crash. You may then crave more ice cream, and then crash again. At the end of the day, your sadness will be coupled with guilt at eating so much ice cream!

We need to fan the sadhak agni flame and keep it up and running in order to maintain our daily joy.  So when you are down and out, it’s important to not reach out for that chocolate bar or the ice cream, instead choose fresh juicy fruits. Or run  yourself a nice hot water bath with rose essential oil. Or apply rose oil on your wrists and inhale. Or inhale the rose aroma with Vaidya’s portable aroma inhalers. Or have a spoonful of SVA rose petal preserve.

Making preserve out of rose petals is an old tradition in many cultures. In India, in the Middle East, as well as Europe. In India, rose preserve is very popular and is called: Gulkand.

Vaidya Mishra has carefully formulated his SVA Rose Petal Preserve according to his ancient ayurvedic family precepts, with Rosa centifolia and raw organic cane sugar. He uses natural ascorbic acid to balance the sugar molecules. In addition, he uses pectin which micro-encapsulates the sugar molecules, so that they do not rush into your blood stream and give you a sugar high. Pectin also modulates the sugar molecules to give sustained release into the body.

But you can introduce more rose into your life for other benefits as well. Rose does much more than sooth the emotions. Here is our list of the top 11 Properties of the queen of flowers:

1. Pacifies Vata and Pitta Dosha: Since it carries the sweet and unctuous properties, it pacifies Vata dosha  – the sweet rasa, or taste, pacifies vata. The rose’s snigdha or unctuous property also balances vata, since vata that tends to be dry. Any dravya or item that has the unctuous lubricating guna or property is pacifying to vata. Then due to its cooling virya or potency, as well as bitter and astringent taste, it is pacifying for Pitta dosha.

2. Enhances brain health: rose is known to be a medhya, that is, it enhances  dhi dritti smriti. These are the 3 primary functions of the brain for the actions of registering, storing and recalling knowledge and information. When they are operating in a balanced and coordinated manner, the brain is in a stress-free state of bliss.

3. Uplifts spiritually: A unique property rose has is called “Som Nasya Janana.” This means that rose creates good coordination between the mind and Satwa, the light of the soul, so it’s an instant bliss generator!

4. Strengthens the stomach: according to Ayurveda, rose is balakarika, meaning it strengthens the stomach, intestine and liver organ systems. Bala means strength. In addition, due to its deepana properties, it balances appetite. It is also pachana – it enhances overall metabolism.

5. It is anulomana: it  helps pacify apana vata by making sure the downward movement of apana is maintained – make note, however, that it does not act as a laxative, unless you consume excessively large quantities of rose. When consumed in small but regular quantities, it enhances absorption of nutrients.

6. Balances the metabolism: consuming rose petal products is particularly beneficial when people have high pitta and high vata imbalances. These imbalances are also usually associated with low agni or low metabolic fire in the stomach and tissues. Low agni results in toxic build-up, weight gain, body aches and pains, etc. Eating rose will pacify these two doshas and help reset the physiology on its way to blissful balance.

7. Supports everlasting youth: Rose is also known by the name “taruni” – ever young. Because it pacifies pitta dosha, soothes our emotions, supports the metabolic fires, aids in elimination, and acts as a hridya – rasayana for the heart – it is commonly known to help keep us younger and healthier.

8. A Great Pitta Pacifier: Other specific ailments that Rose has been known to help with are amenorrhea (absence of menstrual flow), inflamed eyes, dizziness, headache due to Pitta aggravation, sore throat, enlarged tonsils, nervousness, grief, dullness of the skin and acne caused by Pitta imbalances.

9. Nurtures and Supports Beautiful Skin: Whether ingested orally or applied transdermally, Rose is used in Ayurveda for individuals who experience heat or burning sensations in their limbs, or their body overall. This is one of the most important uses of rose for the skin. When taken internally, it purifies the sweat of hot acidic toxins that cause harm on the surface of the skin when a person sweats. Regular transdermal use of rose either in poultices or cream formulas cleans the sweat externally, by neutralizing the pH of the sweat, so that when it is released through the skin, it does not cause irritation.

10. Helps Heart Health: In Ayurveda, rose is also used as a remedy for the physical circulatory system. It is a cardio-tonic, called a “hridya.”

11. Enhances Romance: Rose is also known for its vajikarna properties: we find a lot of recipes in Ayurveda that use Rose to enhance as a remedy to support romantic conjugal life.

Rose is great for vata and pitta doshas. Kapha body types may feel they do not fare so well with too much rose. They can use less of it, however, if they want to enjoy the rose petal preserve, they can sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on top.

Here’s to more of everything turning up roses in your life!