Understanding Pitta in a simple way is easy – Imagine Pitta as a liquid fire which in the form of digestive fire helps in digestion and provides energy to the body.
Functions of Pitta as per classics are as follows:
- There is a Pitta involvement in regulating the body temperature
- Among the sense organs, the fiery pitta rules the Eyes. So, Pitta is related to Vision.
- Skin complexion and Aura because there is a direct relation between Pitta and Raktha dhathu (blood tissue)
- Pitta controls hunger, thirst, and appetite of the person
- Mental factors like intelligence and courage are governed by Pitta.
In this article, we are going to discuss Pitta and skin in detail.
We have already discussed how to keep your Pitta in balance for radiant skin. If you haven’t gone through that blog before, please check out the link below.
Ayurveda perspective on Skin
Ayurveda considers skin as a mirror of one’s physiology. The skin has been classified into seven distinct layers as per Acharya Susruta. The explanation about the layers of skin is so detailed that understanding these layers helps in knowing the basic physiology or functions of skin as well as the diseases that can be caused to the skin.
Skin Layer Functions
- Avabhasini – This layer reflects the health of the individual and helps in maintaining the health of deeper layers. While it does not have its own color, it reflects the aura of the individual.
- Lohita – This layer indicates the quality of blood.
- Shweta – It balances the color of the skin.
- Tamra – Nurtures and protects the top layers
- Vedini – The pain sensation is felt due to the presence of this layer
- Rohini – This layer is responsible for healing and regeneration.
- Mansadhara – This layer provides firmness to the skin.
This description of skin in Ayurveda classics can easily be correlated with the modern anatomy of the skin. The following parallels may be considered: (a) Avabhasini with stratum corneum of the epidermis; (b) Shweta with stratum lucidum of the epidermis; (c) Tamra with stratum granulosum of the epidermis; (d) Vedini with the papillary layer of the dermis; (e) Rohini with the reticular layer of the dermis; and (f) Mansdhara with the hypodermis.
According to Ayurveda, the health of the skin relies on the nutrients provided by the Rasadhatu (nutrient fluid, the first of the seven tissues of the body). The food we eat has a great role in the generation of rasa dhathu. The beauty, health, and texture of the skin depends on our diet as well as the health of our digestive system.
Read more about Gut health in Ayurveda here – Importance of gut health in skincare
If there is a predominance of Pitta in the skin, you will probably face the following problems.
- Oilier Skin
- Prone to blemishes
Ayurvedic wisdom advises routine detoxification that 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. In order to address the excess Pitta, you can follow a Pitta – soothing diet.
- Juicy fruits like plums, melons & peaches
- Vegetables like collards, bitter greens, Kale and asparagus
- Spices like fennel, coriander, turmeric and cumin
- Usage of herbs like Amalaki or Indian gooseberry, neem, etc.
See the yoga procedures to reduce excess Pitta here – Yoga for Pitta
According to Ayurveda, several factors determine skin health and youthfulness. These include proper moisture balance (Kapha in balance), effective functioning of the metabolic mechanisms that coordinate all the various chemical and hormonal reactions of the skin (Pitta in balance) and efficient circulation of blood and nutrients to the different layers of the skin (Vata in balance). The health of the following three dhatus (types of body tissue) is especially reflected in the skin: nutritional fluid (Rasa), blood (Rakta) and muscle (Mamsa). Rasa supports all the body tissues, particularly keeping the skin healthy, Rakta, in association with liver function, helps detoxify the skin of toxins, while Mamsa provides firmness to the skin. 1
It is important that for pitta skin, good sunscreens for protection from the sun, and good facial skin oils should be used daily. Tanning treatments and therapies that expose delicate sensitive skin for extended periods of time to steam/heat should be avoided.
Skin complexion and Pitta
In Ayurveda, the process of formation of skin in the foetus is attributed to pāka of rakta dhātu. Agni mahābhūta is said to be at the root of varṇa utpatti (skin color formation) and pitta being the main seat of agni is responsible for the same. Prabhā or maintenance of body complexion is one of the functions of pitta and bhrājaka pitta seated in the skin radiates the glow of one’s natural complexion that is expressed through varṇa. Hence the herbs which alleviate pitta, rakta in general either acting through their rasa, vipāka or prabhāva are considered as varṇya. 2
We can discuss the herbs used in Ayurveda for enhancing skin complexion and beauty in a detailed blog post later.
- Datta, H. S., & Paramesh, R. (2010). Trends in aging and skin care: Ayurvedic concepts. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 1(2), 110–113. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.65081
- Sharma, K., Joshi, N., & Goyal, C. (2015). Critical review of Ayurvedic Varṇya herbs and their tyrosinase inhibition effect. Ancient science of life, 35(1), 18–25. doi:10.4103/0257-7941.165627