Pitta dosha is responsible for maintaining body temperature, digestion and metabolism. Pitta dosha is agni mahabhuta predominant. [Code:SAT-B.401] This chapter describes the physiological functions and pathological importance of pitta dosha.
Bhojani M. K. 1,|
Tanwar Ankur Kumar 1
1 Department of Sharir Kriya, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, India |
2 Rheumatologist, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.
3Department of Kayachikitsa, G.J.Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat, India
|Publisher||Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India|
|Date of publication:||December 16, 2022|
Etymology and derivation
Pitta dosha and triguna
All the living & nonliving things originate from panchamahabhuta which originate from trigunatmaka prakriti as described in evolution process (utpatti krama). Dosha are evolved from panchamahbhuta, so these dosha bear triguna property. Pitta is evolved from agni that has sattva and raja predominance.[Su. Sa.Sharira Sthana 1/20] Sharangadhara and Bhavaprakasha opines that pitta has sattva predominance. [Sha.Sa.Pratham Khanda 5] [Bh. P. Purva Khand 3/103]
Sites of pitta
Dosha are present in every part of the body. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/9] General location of pitta dosha is the middle part of the body, marked between the heart(hridaya) and umbilicus(nabhi).[A.S. Sutra Sthana 1/4] Pitta is predominately present in body parts between the large intestine(pakvashaya) and stomach(amashaya). [Su. Sa.Sutra Sthana 21/6]
The specific seats of pitta are (Figure 02):
- Nutrient body fluid or plasma (rasa)
- Lymph (lasika)
- Blood (rudhira)
- Duodenum (lower part of amashaya)
- Umbilicus (nabhi)
- Eyes (drika)
- Skin (twacha) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8], [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 12/2], [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/11]
Among all these sites, duodenum (amashaya) and umbilicus (nabhi) are the prime sites of pitta.[Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8][K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/11] Amashaya (stomach) is located in between the breast (stana) and umbilicus(nabhi). In amashaya, the digestion of all types of food takes place. [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 2/17] Duodenum is the area of the digestive tract where maximum digestive process occurs. Acharya Chakrapani clears that the location of pitta is lower part of amashaya( i.e. duodenum). [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8]
The characteristics of pitta are:
- Slight unctuousness (sasneha or ishatsneha)[Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/60][K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/38-39] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/11]
- Hot(ushna) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/60] [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/97] [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/11] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/11]
- Penetrating or sharp acting property (tikshna) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/60] [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/97] [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/11] [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/38-39] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/11]
- Liquidity (drava) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/60] [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/97] [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/11] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/11]
- Sour (amla) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/60] [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/97] [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/11] [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/38-39]
- Mobile (sara) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/60] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/11]
- Pungent (katu) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/60] [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/97] [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/11] [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/38-39]
- Raw meat odor (vistra or puti gandha) [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/97] [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/11] [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/38-39] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/11]
- Blue color (nila) [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/11] [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/38-39]
- Yellow (pita) [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/11] [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/38-39]
- Lightness (laghava) [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 42/7] [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/38-39] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/11]
- Cleansing property (vishada) [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 42/7]
Acharya Chakrapani described the two types of pitta: 1) sadrava and 2) nirdrava. Sadrava is the natural pitta with liquidity and unctuousness. Nirdrava causes fever(jwara) and other diseases and is dry(rukshta). [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 3/217]
These attributes should be considered while taking diet and lifestyle management of health. If the food and lifestyle habits having similar characteristics are followed in excess, a person may experience pitta dosha vitiation leading to pitta disorders. Kashypa stated that pitta have all colors (varna) except white (shweta) and crimson red (aruna). [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/38-39]
Functions of Pitta
- Vision (darshan)
- Digestion (pakti)
- Feeling of hunger (kshuta)
- Thirst (trishna)
- Softness within the body (dehamardava)
- Luster of the body (prabha)
- Cheerfulness (prasad)
- Intelligence (medha or buddhi)
- Maintenance of normal body temperature (matratvam ushma)
- Normal complexion of skin (prakrit varna)
- Courage (shauryam)
- Anger (krodha)
- Desire of food (ruchi)
- Discriminative power and understanding (dhi)
- Imparting normal color (ragakriit): Ranjaka pitta
- Process of digestion (paktikrt): Pachaka pitta
- Production of oja and maintenance of intelligence (ojakrit and medhakrit): Sadhaka pitta
- Process of vision (tejakrit): Alochaka pitta
- Production of heat within the body (ushmakrit): Bhrajaka pitta
Five types of pitta dosha, sites and functions:
|S.No.||Type of Pitta||Location||Function|
|01.||Pachaka||In between the stomach and large intestine (pakva amashaya madhya)|
Amashaya (lower part of stomach and duodenum)
|Impart color to blood (rasasya ragkrit)|
|04.||Alochaka||Eyes (drishti)||Perception of vision (rupa grahana)|
Pitta dominant constitution (prakriti)
- The predominance of moles, pimples, wrinkles
- Premature graying of hair and scanty hair or baldness
- Presence of brownish-reddish hair
- Strong digestive power
- Excessive sweating and body odor
- Intolerance to summer and hot things
- Intake of food and water in an excessive amount
- Full of courage
- Intelligent person
Factors responsible for abnormal states of pitta
- Season (ritu): Pitta undergoes natural accumulation in rainy season(varsha), gets vitiated during autumn(sharada) and subsides to normal during winter(hemant).
- Various stages of digestion of food: Pitta gets vitiated during the meal digestion (jiryteanne).
- Biological rhythm of day and night: Pitta gets vitiated in the middle of the day(madhyanhe) and night (ardharatre).
- Age (vaya): In middle age, pitta is in excess as compared to other doshas.
- Diet(dravya) and a particular property of diet: Food with the dominance of pungent (katu), sour (amla), and salty (lavana) taste, hot potency cause aggravation of pitta dosha. Intake of insufficient quantity at the improper time leads to vitiation of pitta dosha.
- Lifestyle and other activities: Fasting (upavasa), overstrain (ayasa) and excessive sexual indulgence (maithuna upagamana)
- Emotional and behavior factors: Anger(krodha), sorrow(shoka), and fear(bhaya).
Stages of dosha:
Hyperfunctioning of pitta (vriddhi lakshana):
- Yellowish coloration of stool(purisha), urine(mutra), eyes(netra) and skin(twacha).
- Increased hunger (kshudha)
- Increased thirst (trishna)
- Burning sensation(daha)
- Less sleep(alpanidrata)
- Fainting (glani)
- Weakness of senses or inability to work properly(indriya daurbalya)
- Vitiation of essence(ojovisramsa)
- Desire for cold (shita abhilasha)
- Bitter feeling in mouth(tiktasyata)
- Excessive anger(krodhi)
- Less strength(bala hani)
Hypo functioning of pitta (kshaya lakshana):
- Poor digestive capacity and decreased digestive functions (manda anala)
- Loss of skin luster (prabha hani)
- Pricking pain(toda)
- Less desire of food(arochaka)
- Excessive coarseness on the body(angaparushya)
- Heaviness in body(gaurav)
- Whitish coloration of eyes, nails etc.(nakha-nayana shaukalayadi)
Forty types of diseases are caused due to an imbalance of pitta dosha (pitta nanatmaja vyadhi).[Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/14][Table 02]:
|Heating (osha)||Scorching (plosha)||Burning (daha)||Intense heat (davathu)|
|Fuming (dhoomaka)||Hyperacidity (amlika)||Burning sensation (vidaha)||Internal burning (antardaha)|
|Burning sensation in arm (amsadaha)||Hyperthermia (ushmadhikya)||Excessive sweating (atisveda)||Foul smell from body (angagandha)|
|Tearing of body parts (angavadarana)||Retention of metabolites in blood (shonita kleda)||Retention of metabolites in muscles (mamsa kleda)||Burning sensation in skin (tvag daha)|
|Cracking of skin (tvagavadarana)||Thickness of skin (charmadalana)||Urticarial patches (rakta kotha)||Pustules (rakta visphota)|
|Bleeding disorders (raktapitta)||Hemorrhagic rounded patches/ echymosis (raktamandala)||Greenish discolouration (haritatva)||Yellowish discoloration (haridratva)|
|Blue moles (neelika)||Furunculosis (kaksha)||Jaundice (kamala)||Bitter taste in mouth (tiktasyata)|
|Blood-like smell from the oral cavity (lohita gandhasyata)||Fetid smell from oral cavity, or halitosis (pootimookhata)||Polydypsia (trishnadhikya)||Loss of contentment (atripti)|
|Stomatitis (asyavipaka)||Inflammation in throat (galapaka)||Inflammation in eyes (akshipaka)||Inflammation in anus (Gudapaka)|
|Inflammation in penis (medhrapaka)||Discharge of pure blood (jivadana)||Darkness in front of the eye (tamapravesha)||Green-yellow discoloration of eyes, urine, stool (harita haridra netra mutra varchastva)|
Diagnostic and assessment tools
Subjective and objective methods which may be used to assess the normal functioning of pitta dosha are:
- Test for assessment for digestive enzymes and hormones like serum lipase, serum amylase, serum pepsinogen and serum gastrin etc.
- Hemoglobin level, Red blood cell count, Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin, Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration.
- Subjective assessment of Intelligence quotient like Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC).
- Subjective assessment of emotional intelligence like Mayer-Salovey-Caruso emotional intelligence test.
- Cognitive assessment-Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), Mini-Cog & ICMR-PNT(Picture naming test) etc.
- Memory test through memory drum.
- Visual acuity-Snellen’s chart.
- Perception of vision- tachistoscope.
- Skin test like sebum content, trans-epidermal water loss and melanin content through various instruments.
- Assessment of body Temperature.
- Subjective assessment of Agni-Self-Assessment Tool to Estimate Agnibala & CCRAS Agni assessment tool(http://www.ccras.res.in/ccras_sas/).
Ingestion of milk and ghee (ghrita) is best for the treatment of pitta. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 25/40] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 13/4-9]
The herbs having sweet, bitter, astringent, and cold qualities used in single or combination along with therapies like oleation, purgation, massage and shower etc. are helpful in the treatment of pitta disorders. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/16] [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/39]
Dietary modification: Three tastes (rasa) that help in controlling the vitiated pitta are – sweet (madhura), bitter (tikta) and astringent (kashaya). [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/66] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 13/4-9]
Lifestyle modification: Following modifications in lifestyles and measures help to maintain equilibrium of pitta dosha and manage its disorders.
- Frequent application of paste of cool substances like kapur (camphor), Chandana (sandalwood), and ushira (Khashkhash grass) over body
- Sitting in the moonlight in the evening
- Listening to lovely and soothing music
- Exposing to soft cool air
- Companionship of individuals who talk honestly and innocuously
- Living near ponds, parks, and fountains with fresh water
- Wearing garlands/necklaces with appealing and cooling nature.[A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 13/4-9]
Analysis of physiology of vision:
Functions of pitta dosha as per gender and prakriti:
Pitta detection using finger photoplethysmography:
Analysis of pitta imbalance using machine learning algorithm:
- Thamman R.K.(1996): Ranjaka pitta ka vaigyanika vivechnatmak adhyayana( yakrit ke paripreshya me), Dept. of Kriya Sharir, NIA Jaipur.
- Chhimpa R.(2019): Physiological study of drava and ushna guna of pitta and their applied aspect with clinical evaluation of khanda-kushmanda avaleha and patoladi kwatha in amlapitta,Dept. of Kriya Sharir, NIA Jaipur. This study concluded that guna-based research is useful for determining the appropriate medication to administer in a particular state.
- Gautam V.J. (2020): A study on effects of transcendental meditation on healthy volunteers with special reference to sadhaka pitta in ayurveda, Department of Rachana Sharir, B.H.U. This study concluded that by increasing the mental fortitude (sattva) among the healthy volunteers, Transcendental Meditation may be used to regulate and maintain mental health (sadhaka pitta functions) as well as minimize the reactivity to stressful situations.
Future area of research
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