Column: Arti Gaur

Getting Your Digestion Going

Last time we had discussed in detail vat, one of the three factors that are responsible for maintaining balance in the body. This time we’ll discuss pitt, the factor responsible for digestion or metabolism (primarily) in the body. Pitt can also be translated as heat or fire in the present context. Pitt is also said to cause as much as 40 kinds of diseases in the body and many more when it combines with the other two doshas.

Pitt is sharp by nature; hence the imbalances caused by it are also sharp and intense in nature. Therefore, a person of pitt prakriti can be identified by observing the characteristics of pitt dosha. The natural characteristics of pitt being sharpness, slight unctuousness, heat, fluidity, sourness, and bitterness, and it is of all colours except white and red, fishy smell and acrid taste. Therefore, it has to be reconciled by drugs having opposite qualities. A person of pitt prakriti is generally fond of sweets, cold foods, and cold things in general, dreams of fire or light and more of red colours, and has glowing skin. He/she is sharp minded, active, quarrelsome, short temper, sweats more, greys prematurely, has a radiant complexion, strong power of digestion, and proper metabolism, therefore, with a good appetite.

Pitt primarily aids sight, digestion, appetite, thirst, and proper metabolism, maintaining radiance and unctuousness in the body. Foods that are pungent, hot, sour and saline in nature aggravate pitt and foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent in nature alleviate pitt. The natural actions of pitt are fluidity causing burning sensation, heat, suppuration, perspiration, sloughing, itching, discharge, redness and exhibition of its inherent smell, colour and taste. These actions are the indications for a competent physician to diagnose the paittika type of diseases.

It is pitt that is mainly responsible for transformation of food into tissue elements in the body. The other factors being vat, moisture, unctuousness (in the food), the time of digestion, and proper administration of food. 

Vat transports the food to the place where pitt resides, the moisture loosens and unctuousness softens the food particles, time brings about maturity of the process of digestion called pachak pitt or pachakagni. After digestion, food gets divided into two parts called the prasad bhag (containing the nutrients) which is absorbed by the body, and mala bhag, which is thrown out.

In seasons it is summer, and in a day it is the primarily the afternoon that is dominated by pitt. Therefore, it’s advisable to sleep in the day time in summer, as kaph dosha increases in the body when one sleeps, preventing aggravation of pitt in the summer.

A person of pitt prakriti should resort to diets that are cool, sweet, and less spicy in nature. Hot, spicy food, excessive intake of tea, coffee, and hot drinks should be avoided. As the digestive fire is very strong in persons with pitt prakriti, light meals at small intervals are beneficial.

— Arti Gaur will continue to unravel the world of ayurved for you. She can be reached on

March 2006

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