If you’ve spent the past few months on Vancouver Island you know that summer’s taken a little bit longer to find us this year, but I think we can safely say we’re finally in the peak of the hot season. In Ayurvedic medicine, we call this time Pitta season. Pitta is the name of one of Ayurveda’s three constitutional elements, or doshas, that classify the attributes of everything in our world from personalities to qualities of food to climate and seasons.
The three Ayurvedic doshas are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. While the Vata dosha encompasses the elements of air and ether (or space) and the Kapha dosha classifies the water and earth elements, the Pitta dosha embodies the qualities of fire and water. These elements give Pitta the qualities of being hot, sharp, mobile, light, oily and liquid. Based on these attributes, you can see why summer is considered to be Pitta season. So what does this mean? Let’s take a look at how Pitta shows up in the human body.

Everyone has attributes of all three doshas, and each person is born with a primary and secondary dosha that give them constitutional characteristics like physical build, personality traits and even food preferences. When any of the three doshas becomes imbalanced, the body tells us by creating physical and emotional symptoms.

When you think Pitta, think heat. Pitta type symptoms are pretty well anything that is red, inflamed, hot and dry like acne, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, excessive thirst, excessive hunger, insatiability, feeling overheated, canker sores, heartburn, nausea, dizziness, PMS, cramps, loose stools and even hiccups. High Pitta can also show as emotions like irritability, competitiveness, egoism, volatility, being quick to anger, insomnia, tendencies to overwork, jealousy and obsessive behaviours. However when someone has well-balanced Pitta, they have strong digestion, a healthy metabolism, ambition, passion and confidence.

It’s important in the summer months to stay cool in order to keep Pitta in check. Here are a few simple ways to beat the heat.

1.    Eat Cool

Certain foods have cooling properties that balance heat deep in the body’s systems. Sweet, bitter and astringent flavours are the most cooling while sour, salty and pungent flavours are considered to bring heat to the body.

During Pitta season, it’s best to stick to raw foods foods like cucumber, coconut, watermelon, aloe, greens, melons, cherries, pears, apricots, mangos, sweet apples, asparagus, broccoli and artichokes. Some other Ayurvedic favourites are rice, ghee, organic dairy, mung beans, light meats and cooling spices like fennel, coriander, mint and cilantro. You’ll want to avoid foods that are microwaved, spicy, and fermented and take a step back from heating foods like garlic, peppers, tomatoes, onions, radishes, spinach, dark meats, alcohol and caffeine.

2. Oil Massage

A simple self oil massage helps to bring heat to the surface and clear it through the skin. Coconut oil is used often as it extremely cooling oils and has many other benefits to the skin. Take a generous amount of oil and rub it in to the skin starting with the feet and legs and work your way up to the neck and head. Take your time and really give the oil a chance to soak in. You can either leave the oil on the skin or rinse it off with a cool shower. For an extra cool burst add a few drops of peppermint or lavender essential oil to the mix.

3. Plan Your Outfit

Believe it or not, the colours you wear can contribute to how you feel the heat. Colours like red, orange, yellow and black absorb heat and make you feel warmer while colours like white, blue and green actually reflect heat and keep you feeling cool.

4. Be a Morning Person

Being outdoors at certain times can actually affect your body temperature for the rest of the day. Wake up early and take a walk while the air is still crisp and you’ll be ready for when that sun starts blazing later on. Make sure to avoid sun exposure between 10 am and 3pm which is the hottest time of the day. Moonlight also calms Pitta and cools down the body, so after an especially hot summer day it’s a good idea to get out for a nighttime stroll under the stars.

5. Keep your Cool

As we mentioned before, the heat not only affects the body but also your emotions. Watch for Pitta dominant emotions like anger, irritability, criticism and jealousy.

An instant remedy for “emotional heat” is to hold cold water or an ice cube in your mouth for a few seconds, which helps to calm Pitta and bring the senses back into balance. You can also rub a small amount of coconut oil or ghee just inside the nostrils and do gentle breath work through the nose, inhaling for 8 seconds, holding the breath for 8 seconds and exhaling for 4 seconds.

So go ahead, get out there and enjoy those gorgeous summer days! Keep an eye out for signs of Pitta taking over and keep these tips in your back pocket for when you need to beat the heat.

Carelene has just joined Acacia and is very excited to be part of the team.  You can read more about her services here on her website.

Nutritionist appointments are bookable online and may be covered by your extended health benefits.  Check with your provider for details.