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Anxiety is a mental disorder that is caused due to the vitiation of manasic (mental) doshas raja (attributes the mind with dynamism, activity, passion, etc.) and tama (attributes the mind with imbalance, disorder, anxiety, etc.). It is known as chittodwega in Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, certain dietary and psychological factors are responsible for causing chittodwega. Females and people that have low resources to cope with daily demands are prone to anxiety. However, it is most commonly seen among the older population. Anxiety further leads to other mental and physical conditions including depression, hypertension, fatigue, acne and constipation. Ayurvedic treatments help manage chittodwega or anxiety neurosis with herbs like brahmi (waterhyssop), mandukparni (Asiatic pennywort) and ashwagandha (Indian ginseng). Brain tonics or medhya rasayanas along with shamana chikitsa (pacification treatments) are extensively used to manage anxiety. Dietary changes like including ghee (clarified butter), grapes, white gourd, and fruits along with lifestyle modifications such as regular meditation and pranayama also help to calm the mind.

  1. Ayurvedic view of anxiety
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for anxiety
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for anxiety
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for anxiety as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for anxiety
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for anxiety
  7. Takeaway
  8. Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for Anxiety

Chittodwega is one of the most commonly seen mental conditions, which is caused due to severe emotional disturbance. Eating incompatible food combinations or contaminated food, psychological factors like upset mind, fears or worries cause anxiety. People with chittodwega experience impatience, impairment in their intellectual activities, incoherent speech and instability of the mind. Conditions like asya-vairasya (bad taste in the mouth), dhamanipratichaya (atherosclerosis), atisara (diarrhoea), twak vikar (skin conditions), and anidra (insomnia) are also associated with anxiety.

Dhyana (meditation) and dharana (concentration) help manage anxiety by normalising neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain and treating the vitiated doshas of the mind along with buddhibhramsha (loss of brainpower). Rasayanas (rejuvenatives) balance the psychological and physical factors of the body and help reduce anxiety. Achara rasayana, a code of conduct to follow the correct behaviours in the society, improves defence mechanisms in people, thereby, preventing anxiety.

Sattvavajaya chikitsa, which includes establishing dhairya (assurance) and jnana (personal awareness), sharing experiences and samadhi (diverting the mind from the cause of anxiety and developing self-control) promote better management of anxiety.

  • Nidana parivarjana
    • Nidana parivarjana (avoiding the etiological factors of a disease) is one of the basic principles used in Ayurveda for the treatment of any disease.
    • Avoiding certain social factors like violence and abuse and preventing cardiopulmonary disorders or conditions that affect the endocrine glands can help prevent anxiety. Steroids and tranquillising medications should also be avoided.
  • Rasayana
    • Rasayana treatment aims at improving the longevity of a person. It also protects the body against various health conditions by strengthening the immune system.
    • Medhya rasayanas are especially helpful in treating anxiety. Brahmi rasayana (a mixture of ghee, brahmi, gotu kola and other herbs), ashwagandha rasayana, yasthimadhu (mulethi) rasayana and mandukparni rasayana are some of the medhya rasayanas used for the treatment of anxiety.
    • The herbs used in medhya rasayana therapy have anxiolytic and disease-alleviating properties. They help prevent and manage mental conditions in people of all ages.
    • Medhya rasayanas improve the recalling capacity of brain, dhriti (retention) and induce dhi (the feeling of achievement in people). Brain tonics also promote better complexion, voice quality, brain function, digestive fire and strength in the body.
    • Achara rasayana is useful not only in treating anxiety, but also preventing it. This therapy encourages people to develop good socio-behavioural conduct by inculcating habits of respecting elders, avoiding excessive labour, being kind to people, worshipping God, balanced sleeping, eating nutritious foods, being humble, practising meditation, speaking the truth, etc., in their day-to-day life.
  • Shamana chikitsa

Following therapies under shamana chikitsa are used in the treatment of anxiety:

  • Abhyanga (body massage) and shiroabhyanga (head massage) using medicated oils or liquids.
  • Nasya karma (nasal insufflation therapy) using brahmi svarasa (juice) is performed for about a week.
  • Snehapana (consuming oil or ghee). Mahakalyanaka ghrita (ghee) is mainly used for snehapana.
  • Shirobasti (oil therapy for the head) using chandanadi taila (oil) can be done for about a week.
  • Shirodhara (pouring liquids or oils over the head) using chandanadi taila or medicated milk, water, buttermilk or oils is performed for about a week. Takra dhara (pouring buttermilk) and shirolepa (coating the head with medications) using brahmi leaves is also used to treat people with anxiety.

Ayurvedic herbs for anxiety

  • Mandukparni
    • In ayurvedic texts, mandukparni is listed among the herbs used for enhancing vigour and strength of the body. It improves medha (intellect), smriti (memory) and life span of an individual, thus helping in the management of anxiety. It is known to be a nervine tonic and has diuretic (helps remove excess water and salts from body), cardiotonic and astringent (constricts body tissues) properties.
    • Mandukparni pacifies pitta-related mutraghat (obstruction in urination) and has cooling and astringent properties.
    • Mandukparni is known to be useful in treating conditions that occur with increasing age. It improves the general immunity and boosts collagen production in bones. Therefore, it is useful in treating and managing age-related disorders like anxiety, backache, knee pain, insomnia and weakness.
  • Brahmi
    • Brahmi is one of the best brain tonics as per Ayurveda. It improves concentration, intelligence and memory. It also helps a person meditate, calms the mind and rejuvenates nerves and neuron (brain cell) function in brain, thereby, promoting better management of anxiety.
    • It improves immunity and purifies the liver and blood cells. Brahmi is known to be the best herb for detoxifying brain tissues. It is known to have anti-allergic, anti-stress and cognitive function–improving properties
    • Brahmi has been used for the treatment of depression and anxiety and to achieve relief from mental fatigue for years. It is also used in treating other health conditions including periodontal diseases, liver cirrhosis, wounds, cramps, numbness, ulcers and swellings.
  • Yashtimadhu (mulethi)
    • Yashtimadhu is known to have calming properties, which make it useful in the treatment of anxiety. It improves many health conditions including general debility, muscle spasms, bronchitis, sore throat, ulcers and laryngitis.
    • Yashtimadhu provides bala (strength) and has anticonvulsant, antioxidant, wound-healing, nadibalya (nervine tonic) and fever-reducing properties. It is also used as a heart tonic.
    • This herb has expectorant, emetic (causes vomiting), rejuvenative, and demulcent (protects mucous membrane) properties, and it is available in the form of powder, decoction or milk decoction.
  • Ashwagandha
    • Ashwagandha is a well-known brain tonic. It is also known to improve immunity levels, manage nerve exhaustion, and have anti-stress and calming properties, which are beneficial in treating anxiety.
    • Ashwagandha helps reduce cortisol levels, oxidative damage and inflammation in the nerves, thus, helping improve brain function and managing depression and anxiety.
    • It is available in the form of a powder to be mixed with ghee or oil, herbal wines or decoctions.
  • Jatamansi (muskroot)
    • Jatamansi is known as a stimulant, nervine tonic and digestive stimulant. It improves skin complexion and helps treat jaundice, digestive diseases, kidney stones, heart palpitations and flatulence.
    • Jatamansi is also used to treat convulsive nervous conditions such as epilepsy. It has soothing properties and helps improve awareness, which makes it useful in the treatment of anxiety.
    • Jatamansi is known as a medhya drug as it improves smriti, dhi and buddhi (brainpower) and has anxiolytic properties.
    • It is available in the form of powders and infusions.

Ayurvedic medicines for anxiety

  • Mamsyadi kwatha
    • Mamsyadi kwatha contains jatamansi, parasika yavani (stinking nightshade) and ashwagandha in its herbal formulation. It is known to be very useful in psychiatric conditions.
    • This formulation produces anxiolytic effects with long-term administration and is useful in treating depression.
    • Mamsyadi kwatha also produces pain-relieving effects in the body.
  • Rasayana ghana vati (tablet)
    • Rasayana ghana vati includes amalaki (Indian gooseberry) guduchi (heart-leaved moonseed) and gokshura (small caltrops).
    • Rasayana ghana vati has rejuvenating properties and an anti-ageing effect. It is used to increase longevity and improve immunity. The anti-stress property of this formulation makes it useful in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
    • This tablet can be taken with honey, ghee or as per your physician’s directions.

As treatments vary according to numerous factors and an individual’s prakriti (constitution), consult a qualified Ayurvedic doctor for the appropriate medications and treatments for your specific complaints.

Do’s

  • Maintain sadvritta (mental hygiene) and personal hygiene.
  • Practice meditation, pranayama, deep relaxation methods, light physical activities and yoga asanas like shavasana and pranayama. They will help develop self-control.
  • Avoid stressful situations.
  • Listen to music and read.
  • Visit religious places.
  • Sleep for appropriate duration to prevent stress.
  • Include wholesome foods like wheat, old ghee, grapes, old rice, coconut, pointed gourd, white gourd, and raisins and other fruits in your meals.

Don’ts

  • Avoid incompatible food combinations.
  • Do not consume soft drinks, tea, coffee, or overly hot or spicy foods in excess.
  • Do not stay awake at night.
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Do not eat heavy foods.
  • Do not suppress natural urges such as hunger, thirst, urination, bowel movements and emotions.
  • Do not eat stale foods.
  • Do not consume wine.

A preliminary study showed that administration of dried brahmi reduces anxiety by virtue of its anxiolytic effect. Another double-blind study was conducted in healthy adults using brahmi extracts. After assessing this people on a questionnaire, it was concluded that the feelings of anxiety were significantly reduced after the administration of brahmi.

In a clinical study, 108 individuals with stress were given rasayana ghana vati for a certain period of time. At the end of the study, all the individuals reported an improvement in their emotional and mental state, and their overall quality of life significantly improved.

Mandukparni churna was given to 33 patients with chittodwega. After 30 days of treatment, all the patients showed significant improvement in signs and symptoms of anxiety with a reduction in insomnia and fear.

An investigational study conducted to assess the effects of medhya rasayana in mental disorders proved that medhya rasayana is a safe and effective treatment for a wide range of mental conditions including insomnia, anxiety, nervousness and irritability.

Jatamansi was studied in 40 patients with anxiety neurosis. The administration of jatamansi improved their mental health, decreased catecholamines (hormones produced by the adrenal gland) in the body and had anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects. It also produced an adaptogenic effect (helped the body get adapted to stress).

Another study conducted among patients with generalised anxiety disorders proved that a combination of mamsyadi kwatha and yoga provides relief from anxiety symptoms. It also showed significant improvement in the anxiety rating scale.

Yashtimadhu should not be given to people with high blood pressure or osteoporosis. Its de-glycerized form or yashtimadhu along with boiled milk can be given to such people. Yashtimadhu should be avoided in pregnant women as well.

People with congestion should not take ashwagandha. One or more ounces of ashwagandha should be used in people with cancers or other serious illnesses.

Anxiety is a psychological condition that is characterised by a constant state of worry, which may lead to behavioural and emotional changes. Ayurveda’s holistic approach to treating anxiety aims at reducing stress levels and promoting longevity. The herbs and medications used in Ayurveda aim at improving brain function, reducing anxiety and enhancing cognitive function.

Lifestyle changes like practising meditation, relaxation techniques, ethical conduct and including healthy foods in the diet play a significant role in managing anxiety. De-stressing, maintaining mental peace and enjoying life is the key to improving the quality of life and preventing anxiety.

Dr. Hariom Verma

Dr. Hariom Verma

आयुर्वेदा

 Dr. Sarita Singh

Dr. Sarita Singh

आयुर्वेदा

Dr. Amit Kumar

Dr. Amit Kumar

आयुर्वेदा

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