Inflammation

The heat is rising in Southern CA, and it’s so nice out that many of us are taking the opportunity to soak in the sun. For some of us, however, we already have signs of heat excess in our systems. This really applies to anyone that has a good amount of pitta in their constitution. One of the hallmarks of pitta excess is inflammation. (Check out other signs of pitta excess.)

I have a lot of clients whom, like myself, are showing signs of inflammation in their nervous and digestive systems. So let’s take some time to learn about inflamed guts and feelings. In ayurveda, the mind and digestive system are the first place you will see signs of imbalance. If left unchecked, imbalance, or doshic excess, then travels to deeper tissue systems. So if you are already seeing inflammation in your skin (acne or psoriasis) or joints, the issue has been accumulating for some time. By tuning into the first signs of inflammation in your being, you can begin pitta balancing sooner and prevent the heat from going into deeper tissues.

PLAYDOUGH POOP

My kids have this playdough fun factory and the way the playdough comes out of that thing is just like classic pitta-inflammation poop. It’s flattish, ribbon-like and much narrower than a nicely formed log. It also resembles soft-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt coming out of the dispenser–somewhat sludgy in consistency. As pitta rises in the digestive tract, the stool becomes more loose and soft.  When the walls of the colon are inflamed, the lumen narrows and the stool takes the shape of the narrowed intestines. Pitta excess in the colon, without inflammation, is more loose or like diarrhea and more frequent. If you are having more than 2 bowel movements a day, you likely have heat excess.

PEOPLE ARE OVERRATED

Usually concomitant with playdough poop is an easily incensed mind. So for those of us that are pitta predominant, this means being more reactive than usual (akin to the immune system’s reactivity in inflammation). More specifically, if you feel you are defending yourself more often, feeling like you need to confront others a bit more often, or finding yourself irritated at people not getting to the point or having to repeat yourself–these are all classic representations of inflamed pitta in the nervous system. Overall, like any inflamed tissue, the mind is less tolerant and more sensitive. This usually leads to a disgruntled attitude (people are overrated). Of course, on the physical level, heat in the nervous system could mean more tension in the jaw and neck, getting hot when asleep, and hot flashes for perimenopausal women.

So, as Dr. Lad would say,”what to do, what to do?” Well, all pitta reducing will help. This means cultivating the qualities of soothing and cooling in every way you can. Below are some examples of reducing pitta in the nervous and digestive systems.

  • avoid confrontation
  • aromatherapy with sweet cooling scents (rose, sandalwood)
  • avoid over-working (e.g. evenings for relaxing)
  • drink lemonade (agave and lemon decrease pitta and inflammation… a dash of rosewater is bonus)
  • avoid alcohol
  • avoid sour, tart, and pickled foods
  • avoid spicy food
  • avoid spicy people
  • back off on sexual frequency (think once a week as a max)

In addition, anti-inflammatory herbs are wonderful. Turmeric is perhaps the most popularly recognized anti-inflammatory herb in ayurveda. Interestingly, it is heating in nature and I like to use this one at the end of summer/beginning of fall. At this junction of pitta and kapha season, the cooling bitters are perfect. Think dandelion, nettle, burdock, echinacea, goldenseal….these are also all liver/blood cleansers (alternatives). In ayurveda, the “house” of pitta is in the liver, so this makes sense. There are many others, but the above can be easily found in tea form at a Whole Foods or health food store.

Ultimately, the things that irritate us the most are those which reflect parts of ourselves we are uncomfortable with. See if you can dig deeper and make peace with these facets of yourself, and you’ll have less of a reaction when you encounter similar patterns externally.

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