Summer is a favorite time for travel, celebrations, and maybe even a trip to the beach. Will your summer activities be beneficial or a vitiating factor for pitta dosha? Is your liver quivering at the notion that those summer BBQ’s may just put that organ into overdrive?
Let me paint you a picture…
You wake up tired because you stayed up way past 10 p.m. last night. COFFEE your brain screams! In fact, better make that a Venti double bubble dose of pitta trouble. After you scarf down that morning breakfast of fruit and yogurt, you head out during the midday sun for a run (maybe you put on sunscreen). You come home “hangry” and don’t have much time to shower and get ready. You scamper off to that lunch date with your friend. You arrive just a little bit late, but your friend understands. (Planning your schedule is difficult sometimes because you are just so busy!) You order yourself a big salad, loaded with all the fixings; dried fruit, cheese, tomatoes, spinach, and some raw onions. Maybe you even have a glass of red vino with that salad.
"STOP RIGHT THERE," pitta dosha screams!!
Now let’s paint a different scenario, one that honors the brilliant light of pitta but keeps it in check. You wake up before 6:30 a.m., well rested because you went to sleep before 10 p.m. last night. Upon waking you perform your morning dinacharya routines, making sure to include Sheetali Pranayama. Remember, you can always be your own steward in self-care by doing a daily abhyanga with Pitta Massage Oil. Let your daily abhyanga become an art of tapas—a focused practice—weaving a tapestry that creates the splendid veil of tejas. This ensures the expression of inner radiance shown through self-love and compassion. It draws our hearts towards healthy emotional states of being.
After your morning cleansing routines, you head over to your local gym for some swimming. Staying out of the midday heat is vital for protecting your sensitive skin, and the cool water while swimming allows you to get some gentle aerobic activity into your exercise routine. After your workout, you head out to meet your friend for lunch. While you still love salads, you know that having warm cooked greens is better for pitta digestion. You even have some yummy grains like quinoa mixed with sweet potatoes and cooked beets to make sure your meal is balanced and offers a source of healthy protein. Knowing that alcohol will add to the drying and heating quality of pitta agni you finish your meal with a lovely cup of Cumin, Coriander, Fennel Tea (CCF).
Your Liver and Alcohol
Let’s be honest. Most people in the US enjoy an adult beverage from time to time. We are barraged from TV commercials and social media showing folks at summer BBQ's enjoying their favorite alcoholic beverages. According to many Ayurvedic food recommendations, beer is a “better” option for pitta folks—but in moderation. Yes, I know the word moderation may seem unattainable, especially for imbalanced pittas. How do we know if alcohol is creating more pitta imbalances? Are you using alcohol daily to help you wind down from your busy work day? Do you only feel you can open up and be social after downing those lively spirits? While this article is not meant as an intervention, I am asking for you to self-check from time to time when it comes to your daily habits and alcohol. Your liver is asking this of you also.
Pitta dosha exists as a combination of fire and water. Alcohol also shares those same gunas of hot and wet. Thus, pitta exists in the cellular structures of the body through our metabolic processes. According to Dr. David Frawley, excessive flow of pitta dosha may produce excess bile, which has been linked to inflammatory processes in the body (e.g. cirrhosis, hyperacidity). Reducing the excessive fiery components of the body is what is needed to aid the liver and for anyone who has major pitta imbalances.1
DIY Cooling Coconut Herb Liniment
This will be a great addition to your home apothecary! If you only have ground coriander, you can substitute about 3/4 teaspoon ground per 1 teaspoon whole seed. You may also find many of the ingredients in your local Asian grocery stores. Get creative!
- 3 parts plantain leaf*
- 3 parts mint
- 3 parts coriander whole seed
- 3 parts gotu kola
- 1 part kaffir lime leaves
- 1 part lemongrass
- Organic coconut oil
*The plantain listed in this formula is indicating the green herb, not the banana relative.
If you are using fresh herbs begin by chopping them up finely. For non-fresh herbs the ratio is approximately 1 ounce of dried herb to 10 ounces of oil.
Place the herbs in a glass mason jar and cover with coconut oil. The herbs should be packed in tight. There are two common “cooking” methods to work with. You can place the glass jar in a brown paper bag leaving it out in the sun for 5–7 days. The other option is to slow cook on a very low heat setting. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Using a stainless steel or cast iron pan, place the glass jars in the pan and add water until 2/3 full. Place the container in the oven and turn off the heat. May cook for 24 hours.
Here’s the part on patience…after cooking the herbal oil you must let the jars sit for two days.
On the third day you may begin the straining process. Prepare a clean empty jar by tying the cheesecloth over the opening of the jar with a rubber band, pressing into the cheesecloth enough to create an inch-deep well. Slowly pour the cooked herbal oil through the cheesecloth and into the clean jar. The herbs will naturally collect in the well, gradually piling up. No need to massage the oil away from the herbs, just let gravity do its job!
If you are wanting to make your formula into a balm, follow the next two steps.
Add some beeswax shavings to the herbal liniment (use organic beeswax). To test the perfect consistency, take a small spoonful and place it in the freezer for 1–2 minutes. You can adjust the firmness at this point by adding more beeswax or, if you’re happy with the firmness, move onto the next step.
While the beeswax mixture is still warm, begin to pour it into your choice of container(s). Let the containers cool completely until solid and firm.
If you are limited with prep time or there are no local suppliers near your town, Neem Oil will be a refreshing addition for your outdoor activities. (Psst! Neem is even a great natural bug deterrent.) It can be beneficial relief for pitta type skin conditions. According to Sebastian Pole, neem has a reducing quality towards the dhatus of rasa, rakta, medas, and shukra. Neem is a superb alterative herb which may support the skin and any aggravated rakta dhatu and pitta dosha, bringing soothing qualities to pitta type skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.2 The qualities of neem are light and dry, giving counter influence to the natural qualities of rakta dhatu which is liquid, unctuous, and opaque.
Remember! The role of agni does play a part in the process, so making sure that a thorough assessment of the condition(s) has been assessed by your local Ayurvedic practitioner is important. Happy Summer, friends! May each of you be healthy. May each of you be happy. May each of you be well. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
1 Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice by Sebastion Pole, Chapter 6: Herb Bhumiamalki pg 143-144 and Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide by Dr. David Frawley pg 141-142
2 Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice by Sebastion Pole, Chapter 6: Herb; Neem pg 233-243