How to Balance the Angry (Pitta) Period
The Menstrual Cycle Part 4: The Pitta Period
In the first part of this series, we reviewed the elements of a healthy cycle, and the second part focused on the imbalanced vata period. The third part looked into the heavy imbalanced kapha period. Now it’s time to explore the pitta period.
Remember that your experience with your cycle can fluctuate month to month depending on what was going on the previous month.
Let’s dive into what a cycle with imbalanced pitta looks like and how you can bring balance and comfort.
Pitta dosha is made up of fire and water, and its qualities are sharp, penetrating, hot, liquid, mobile, and oily. It is the energy of transformation. Like increases like is one of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda, so anything with those qualities will increase pitta.
Strong triggers of pitta are the summer season (especially if you live in areas that are particularly hot); eating spicy, sour, or salty foods; eating extremely hot foods or processed foods; caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants; red meat; and alcohol more than the occasional beer or wine. Stress, anger, competition, and jealousy are important triggers as well.
And pitta can be a driving force—sometimes to the point of doing too much and pushing too hard. To the extreme, this is the quintessential workaholic who burns the candles at both ends!
When you think about the previous month, do any of these pitta-provoking qualities in your life stand out to you? Did you work long days, or indulge in foods that aggravate pitta? Were you more stressed than usual, or did you experience situations that brought out feelings of anger?
The more pitta-provoking your diet or lifestyle, the more pitta will show up in your cycle the following month. And if you generally lead a pitta-provoking lifestyle, a pitta cycle may be more your norm.
Characteristics of a Pitta Cycle
Understanding the above qualities gives a better understanding of the characteristics of the pitta cycle. The heat associated with this dosha creates fluidity, irritability, and dilation of blood vessels.
- Tender breasts
- Nausea or vomiting
- Acne accompanying the menstrual cycle or before the menstrual cycle
- Sensation of heat or burning
- Irritability, anger, or frustration
- Fleshy or foul-smelling flow
- Looser stools with the cycle
- The flow can be heavier due to the excess heat opening the channels
When pitta is elevated, you may experience additional signs elsewhere in the body, such as:
- Very sharp hunger
- Headache or migraines throughout the month
- Skin challenges
- Hives and rashes, quick to have allergic reactions
- Easy bruising
- Burning hands and feet
- Hair loss
- Excess thirst
Balance Pitta, Balance Your Cycle
As you may remember, another major Ayurvedic principle is to bring balance with the opposite qualities. In the case of elevated pitta, we will work with the qualities that are cool, smooth, and slow, with an overall focus on moderation.
Ayurveda’s approach to bringing balance is quite simple. General pitta-pacifying suggestions will have a positive impact on balancing your cycle, while balancing your cycle will cause a ripple effect throughout your body-mind.
Simple Tips to Balance Pitta
As you reflect on bringing balance, remember to focus on those qualities that are cooling and soothing, and don’t forget to practice moderation! Pitta sometimes wants to do it all, and do it perfectly. That’s not the goal here.
Here are some simple tips to get you started.
- Consider Women’s Support. While this formulation is great for overall balance for women, with herbs like shatavari, guduchi, brahmi, and aloe vera, it is particularly good for pitta in the cycle.
- Balance pitta throughout. If you need extra help with soothing pitta throughout the body, consider Healthy Pitta or taking your herbs with a tablespoon or two of aloe vera gel.
- Use Nasya Oil. If you feel a lot of heat (occasional headaches or nausea can be two examples) try Nasya Oil (medicated nasal oil added to each nostril) when you are not menstruating.
- Hydrate. Hydration is always key in menstrual support.
- Tune into a pitta-pacifying lifestyle. For example, make sure to incorporate cooling, calming, and relaxing activities, don’t overstimulate or push too hard, and focus on quality (and enough) sleep!
- Reflect on your diet.To balance pitta in your diet,avoid spicy, sour, salty, excessively hot, or oily foods. Focus on healthy foods that bring in the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes.
- Wind down with cooling breaths.Sit in a relaxed posture, roll your tongue (or grin real wide) and take a deep inhalation. Repeat several times and feel the cool air enter your body.
- Release stress, expectations, and judgments. This is so important for pitta!
- Meditate. Try Empty Bowl Meditation or focusing on your breath with gentle Nadi Shodhana.
- Practice self-massage with oil. Use a moderate amount of Pitta Massage Oil to bring some calm and cooling.
- Try coconut oil packs. Coconut Oil brings relief to pitta. You do this in a similar manner as you would a castor oil pack, but with less heat.
- Practice gentle breast massage. This will help with breast tenderness. Breast Care Balm is a great choice!
We always recommend that you work with a qualified practitioner, especially for more serious imbalances, but we hope these steps give you a good starting place to bring some comfort to a pitta cycle.
Specific Advice to Support Your Cycle
While the above focuses on how to bring balance to pitta in your system so you can remove any excess pitta in your cycle, here’s some supportive advice specifically for your cycle. This advice applies to all women, regardless of what imbalances may show up from month to month. I encourage you follow some or all of these simple steps.
- Start a menstrual calendar. Note when you start, if you have any symptoms before, during, and after, what the flow is like (any days of spotting, when you start a full flow, how many pads you use or would have gone through), and when it ends. By keeping a calendar or journal, you can also begin to decipher what a “normal” cycle is for you.
- Slow down during your menstrual cycle. Even if it means taking a ten-minute break at the end of your day where you do nothing but breathe, take some time to become aware of your body and its subtle changes. See if you can correlate changes with the fluctuations of your schedule or anything that was particularly impactful from the month before.
- Check in with your digestion. The health of your cycle is affected by the strength of your digestion, your doshas, and any toxins you may have built up. Getting in touch with your digestion can teach you a lot! How is your appetite and how well do you digest your meals?
- Focus on balanced doshas. In this instance, you’re working to balance pitta. Also tune in to your health regularly to see if you have imbalances from kapha or vata showing up. (Taking the Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz can help determine what dosha is out of balance.)
- Tune into your current attitude. What is your relationship with your cycle? Do you dread and resent your cycle, or do you appreciate it for what it is telling you? If you find you have trouble embracing your cycle, what can you do to begin to develop a new attitude toward it?
- Stick with it! It can take time to strengthen your digestion, balance the doshas, and cleanse toxins. Bottom line is—do not give up. You can always consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner for more help and personalized advice.
- Keep reading. For more information, read the Guide to a Healthy Menstrual Cycle, which has all of this information and more!
Your cycle plays an important role as a window into your health. The more you tune in each month, the better you will be able to interpret what your body is telling you. Creating change can really be as simple as making mindful adjustments as you go about your day—it doesn’t mean you have to do a complete overhaul of your life overnight. Yes, pitta, I’m talking to you!
Your body is wise—it is telling you what you need to know to come back to balance, and Ayurveda provides the tools you need. With some patience and a commitment to your health and well-being, a balanced, comfortable cycle can be your reality.