Ayurveda 101 // Anatomy of Pitta

Liver watercolour


The liver is the master organ of biogenesis, metabolism an detoxification. Your body knows it. 25% of your total cardiac output is passing through your liver at any moment.

According to one of the Ayurveda's legends, Sushruta, the liver is the site that Pitta transfers its characteristic pigment "Ragakrit" to chyle. "Raga" means more than colour or red. It also translates directly to Sun, harmony, King, loving, passion and melody.

Chyle is oh-so Kapha. Wet, thick, fatty, heavy. Your liver takes this weighty chyle and transforms into something light. Red hot fuel that is super charged with the energy of desire.

How? It is the powerhouse of Pitta. You can get the full low down on Pitta dosha here.   

Pitta is fire and water, fire and water are molten lava, molten lava is the home of transformation.

According to chemist Michael Cannon, there are around 37 thousand billion-billion (that’s right, billion BILLION) reactions in the human body every second. The rate reaction depends on the abundance of reactants, heat (in the case of endothermic reactions), pH, and the availability of catalysts. Enzymatic and small molecule catalysts are examples of the fire element. They work by reducing the amount of energy a reaction takes to kick-off.

Remember, Pitta dosha is one-part fire. It is also the ONLY dosha made of fire. The availability of catalysts depends entirely on your Pitta. That is to say how dominant Pitta dosha is in your constitution.

You got some high Pitta?

That means you secrete high levels of digestive fluids. Think bile, stomach acid and metabolic enzymes. You also have an abundance of enzymes and small molecule catalysts. That means less (cellular) work is required for any one reaction.

Your cellular response is immediate. Your turnover of reactants is higher. You need more fuel, more frequently, than people with a dominance of Kapha or Vata doshas. You also produce more products (yes Pittas, you can claim it, you are more productive), and you generate more bi-products to recycle and waste to eliminate. That means the demand on your organs of detoxification is higher, and you are more sensitive to xenobiotics (environmental toxins).

The liver does not just metabolise environmental toxins. It processes toxic emotions, patterns of thought and experiences too. If there is too much to deal with it holds on to it. And every time the liver is under stress you feel the burn of repressed emotion. Bitter, resentful, frustrated and angry.

The best herb for liver support and detoxification is Bhringaraja aka Eclipta alba.
You will find that little gem in The Masc-lete.

It may come as no surprise to you Pittas, that every one of those 37-something-billion reactions produces heat. So you are also prone to over-heating, and cycle between explosiveness (good and bad) and burn-out.

The simplest way to cool your Pitta is to drink coriander seed tea. Or if you're feeling a bit apathetic, a squeeze of lemon or few drops of apple cider vinegar in warm water will get that Pitta flowing. Which of these is best for you depends on the state of your doshas.

MA // Modern Ayurvedic TM

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