Mental Health in Ayurveda
By Vignesh Devraj
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a period of extraordinary uncertainty, resulting in a global mental health crisis. Grief, loneliness, worry, depression, insomnia, substance addiction, and suicidal thoughts are just some of the issues that people face. All of these are either the result of extreme stressors.
What is Mental Health?
Health, according to Ayurveda, is defined as a harmonious balance of energy principles (Doshas) and a pleasant mental state. It’s all-encompassing and recognizes the mind-body-soul link. Every Ayurvedic consultation involves a psychological evaluation, as well as a look at your lifestyle and current pressures. The three Gunas, Tridosha, and Panchabhuta in Ayurveda help to study the properties of Manas (mind). An individual’s Prakriti is determined by the combination of these Doshas and three Gunas inherited at birth. Good mental health is created by the dynamic equilibrium of the above aspects.
‘Manovikara’ (mental imbalances) are treated as a disease. Our Prakruti (Ayurvedic constitution) is made up of three Doshas, and ailments are caused by their imbalances. Anxiety and phobias are common symptoms of Vata imbalance, whereas wrath, and obsessions are common symptoms of Pitta imbalance, and Kapha imbalance can lead to sadness.
Similarly, we all have periods of feeling energized, restless, or lethargic. These are mental characteristics (Gunas). Sattva is the natural mental state that we strive to achieve optimal mental wellness. It’s a productive, and well-balanced state. Rajas is ambitious and restless, while Tamas is sluggish and uninterested. While Rajas and Tamas are required for work and rest, their imbalance can lead to rage or sadness.
Genetic and environmental causes, the passage of time, a misuse of our senses, or consciously doing something harmful to our health, such as overeating or engaging in a violent fight, can all contribute to mental health imbalances. We may create better lifestyle choices by increasing our Prana (vital life energy) and consciousness through techniques like meditation.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Mental Disorders
There are three pillars – A nutritious diet, proper sleep, and a balanced lifestyle which are the underpinnings of good health. The gut-brain axis is a new branch of neuroscience that recognizes the connection between mental health and the gut microbiome. Managing digestive and metabolic fire is the first step in achieving dosha balance for mental and physical wellness in Ayurveda.
Follow a seasonal and daily routine: align with natural cycles; fall can be a stressful period due to Vata imbalance, and winter can be depressing due to Kapha imbalance. Abhyanga (self-massage), Nasya (oil or herb application in the nostrils), or Shirodhara (pouring heated medicated oil on the forehead), and a full Panchakarma treatment can help to relieve mental illnesses.
Ayurvedic Medicine for Mental Disorder
Let’s discuss a few Ayurveda herbs that help in treatment for mental illness –
Indian Ginseng is the common name for Ashwagandha. Adaptogens are compounds found in the plant that assist the body cope with stress. It also helps to increase brain function and cortisol levels while also lowering blood sugar levels. It improves your mood by promoting healthy brain activity, which eventually reduces mood swings. This aids in the prevention of depression, anxiety and is one of the best ayurvedic medicine for mental health.
Brahmi is an effective herb in the treatment of mental illnesses as well as coping with everyday tensions. Bacosides, a biochemical found in Brahmi, aids in the regeneration of brain tissues, improving memory, focus, and intelligence. Brahmi helps reduce stress and mild anxiety by targeting cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone.” The plant also helps to alleviate Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Giloy is another name for Guduchi. It means “something which protects the body from ailments” in Sanskrit. It aids in the treatment of depression, as well as stress management and memory enhancement.
Turmeric is used in a variety of dishes and home cures. The spice has anti-inflammatory benefits as well as antioxidant capabilities. Turmeric includes curcumin, which aids in blood flow and so helps to avoid heart disease. It also aids in the enhancement of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which protects against mental illnesses such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and other mental health issues.
Mandukaparni is a fragrant Indian plant that has been shown to improve mental alertness and memory. The herb can be used daily to improve memory. Mandukaparni supports the immune system by increasing and regulating it and taking two capsules twice a day will help you get rid of brain fog.