Mental disorders are conditions characterised by changes in behaviour, emotions, mood or thinking. Social problems, family or work issues, or distress are usually the causative factors for mental disorders. These disorders not only affect productivity, but also relationships, and work and home life of an individual. Ayurveda considers mind as a bridge between indriyarthas (sense objects) and indriyas (senses), which is responsible for an individual’s self-control and direction of senses. According to Acharya Charaka, manas rog or mental disorders occur due to vitiated manasic doshas (mental humours), vitiated bodily doshas, or a combination of both.

Chittodwega (anxiety), unmada (psychosis), vishada (depression), and anidra (insomnia) are some of the common mental disorders. Ayurvedic treatment comprises non-herbal therapies like satvavajaya chikitsa (psychiatric measures) along with panchakarma (five therapies) therapies of shirodhara (pouring liquids or oils over the head) and rasayanas (rejuvenatives) to improve the mental function and treat mental conditions. Herbs like brahmi (water hyssop), ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) and jatamansi (muskroot) act as brain tonics, thereby, helping manage and treat mental disorders. Herbal formulations such as unmada gajakesari rasa, ashwagandharishta, smritisagar rasa and saraswatarishta also prove beneficial in treating mental disorders. Following a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly, enjoying work, and keeping a good personal space can help prevent and manage mental disorders.

  1. Ayurvedic view of mental disorders
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for mental disorders
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for mental disorders
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for mental disorder patient as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for mental disorders
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for mental disorders
  7. Takeaway
Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for Mental Disorder

According to Ayurveda, the three manasic doshas, sattva, rajas and tamas form the three dimensions of the mind. Sattva dosha represents the purity and quality of mind, rajas dosha represents dynamism and activity of the mind, and tamas dosha represents darkness and inertia. Vitiation of these mental humours is known to be the cause of almost all mental disorders.

Mental disorders include psychiatric diseases, personality disorders, psychosomatic diseases, behavioural and neurological problems, and mental retardation.

Shoka (grief), mana (pride), bhaya (fear), krodha (anger), udvega (agitation), atattvabhinivesha (obsession), tandra (drowsiness), bhrama (vertigo), irshya (jealousy), moha (delusion) and lobha (greed) are some of the symptoms observed in people diagnosed with common mental disorders like vishada, chittowdwega, anidra, mada (mania), and unmada.

Achara rasayana (following a code of ethics) which promotes meditation and yoga, eating calming foods along with panchakarma therapies, herbs and herbal formulations help manage mental disorders. Ayurveda also promotes divine therapy and psychotherapy to treat mental disorders.

  • Virechana
    • Virechana is a panchakarma therapy, in which, bitter purgative herbs like senna or rhubarb are given to induce vomiting.
    • The herbs cleanse different organs like the gallbladder, small intestine and liver of the accumulated pitta.
    • Virechana is used to treat many health conditions such as boils, constipation, dysentery, kidney stones and gallstones.
    • It is primarily indicated in people diagnosed with pittaja unmada (unmada arising from the vitiation of pitta dosha).
    • Shirovirechana is performed after carrying out snehana (oleation) and swedana (sudation or sweat therapy) in people diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychosis.
  • Shirodhara
    • Shirodhara is the pouring of a kwatha (decoction) or medicated oil on a person’s head from a bowl suspended over the head. It helps treat diseases that affect the head, nose, ears and throat.
    • It is also beneficial in treating an enlarged prostate, asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, epilepsy and ulcers.
    • The shirodhara procedure is performed using medicated oils in people with anxiety, depression, insomnia and other mental disorders.
  • Rasayana
    • Rasayana therapy cleanses and provides nourishment to all the seven tissues of the body starting from the rasa dhatu to the shukra dhatu and improves circulation in body channels.
    • The rejuvenating herbs used in this therapy promote integrity among the tissues and improve longevity.
    • Herbs act as medhya rasayana or brain tonics, e.g., brahmi, shankhapushpi (aloe weed) and ashwagandha are effective in improving brain functions and memory.
    • Rasayana herbs harmonise body functions and enhance immunity.
    • Achara rasayana therapy aims at improving and maintaining health by promoting a daily routine, yoga, and habits such as speaking the truth and maintaining hygiene.
    • Achara rasayana also promotes foods like dry fruits, milk, apples, and almonds that contain serotonin, tryptophans and other components that work on the neurotransmitters of the brain.
  • Satvavajaya chikitsa
    • Satvavajaya therapy is useful for treating mental conditions caused due to emotional disturbances.
    • This therapy helps people process their feelings, thought processes and negative ideas.
    • It enhances atma jnana (self-awareness), kula jnana (awareness about family responsibilities), shakti jnana (awareness of self-capacity), bala jnana (awareness of one’s strength) and kala jnana (awareness of seasonal regimens and seasons).
    • According to Ayurveda, this therapy helps treat mental conditions by improving the balance between health and awareness in one’s life.

Ayurvedic herbs for mental disorders

  • Brahmi
    • Brahmi is known as the best brain tonic and brain cell rejuvenator in Ayurveda.
    • It helps improve impaired memory and is thus effective in treating treat mental conditions associated with disturbances in memory functions. Brahmi improves intelligence levels and nerve function as well.
    • You can take brahmi in the form of a kwatha, infusion, ghrita (clarified butter), powder with ghrita or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Ashwagandha
    • Ashwagandha is a brain tonic and immunity-boosting herb. It has anti-ageing properties and it also aids in clearing the mind. Ashwagandha helps in regeneration of hormones and improves health in emaciated and weak people.
    • It is used in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neurosis, bipolar disorder, and degenerative cerebellar ataxia.
    • You can take ashwagandha as a powder or in the form of ghrita, taila (oil), kwatha, asava (herbal wine) or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Jatamansi
    • Jatamansi is a bittersweet-tasting herb with aromatic, antispasmodic and blood purifying properties.
    • It helps reduce mental stress and anxiety.
    • This herb is useful in the treatment of many mental conditions including hysteria, epilepsy, insomnia and schizophrenia due to its sedative and brain-tonic properties.
    • You can take jatamansi in the form of a powder, infusion or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Haridra (turmeric)
    • Haridra has digestive, antibacterial, carminative (relieves flatulence), stimulant, aromatic and anthelmintic properties.
    • It is commonly used to treat skin disorders, urinary diseases and inflammatory conditions. It also improves the gut flora.
    • Haridra promotes divine energy and is useful in the treatment of epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
    • You can take haridra in the form of a kwatha, infusion, powder, or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Sarpagandha (Indian snakeroot)
    • Sarpagandha is used as the primary herb for high blood pressure treatment.
    • It helps reduce insanity and symptoms of violent manic episodes.
    • Sarpagandha acts on the central nervous system and helps treat insomnia and schizophrenia.
    • It also reduces stress.
    • You can take sarpagandha in the form of pills, kwatha, powder or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Shankhapushpi
    • Shankhapushpi is used as a medhya (brain tonic) to treat insomnia and confusion.
    • It is known to be a nootropic (brain supplement) and a memory-enhancing agent.
    • The phytoconstituents in shankhapushpi can also lower cortisol levels, thereby reducing the stress.
  • Guduchi (heart-leaved moonseed)
    • Guduchi is a bitter-tasting herb with diuretic properties.
    • This herb is beneficial for improving immunity levels in people with vata, pitta and kapha doshas.
    • It increases ojas (vital essence of life) in the body. Therefore, it is useful in treating mental conditions.
    • Guduchi helps treats many health conditions including gout, jaundice, piles, dysentery and skin diseases.
    • You can take guduchi in the form of an extract, powder or as per your physician’s direction.

Ayurvedic medicines for mental disorders

  • Saraswatarishta
    • Saraswatarishta is a herbal formulation, which is prepared using 23 herbal ingredients including ashwagandha, honey, sugar, guduchi, processed gold and shatavari (hundred roots).
    • This medicine helps treat mental disorders by improving memory and restoring mental peace.
    • It is also recommended for the treatment of fear and stammering.
    • You can take saraswatarishta with milk or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Ashwagandharishta
    • The herbal formulation of ashwagandharishta includes ashwagandha, cardamom, turmeric, yashtimadhu (mulethi), vacha (calamus) and 28 other ingredients.
    • This medicine is useful in improving vigour and physical strength.
    • Ashwagandharishta is used to treat epilepsy and insomnia. It is also indicated in people with rheumatism and heart problems.
  • Smritisagar rasa
    • Smritisagar rasa is prepared using parad (mercury), tamra (copper) and gandhak (brimstone) mixed with brahmi juice, vacha kwatha and jyotishmati taila.
    • This medicine is primarily indicated for mental disorders.
    • It helps reduce apasmara (epilepsy) and improves memory.
  • Unmada gajakesari rasa
    • Unmada gajakesari rasa is prepared from  parad, gandhak, dhatura (thorn apple) seeds and manashila (red arsenic). This mixture is combined with rasna (Indian camphorweed) kwatha and vacha kwatha before administration.
    •  Unmada gajakesari rasa is mainly indicated in people with confusion and psychosis.
  • Brahmi ghrita
    • This formulation is made using 12 herbs including trikatu (a combination of the three acrids – pippali [long pepper], shunthi [dried ginger] and maricha [black pepper], aragvadha (golden shower) and brahmi.
    • Brahmi ghrita is useful in treating mania, phobia, insanity, depression and epilepsy.
    • It improves memory power and concentration.
    • Brahmi ghrita also helps with bedwetting and stammering issues.

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

  • Follow a healthy and sattvic (mind-calming) diet.
  • Include bananas, asparagus, red rice, pistachio, carrots, milk, grapefruits, apples, almonds, garlic, broccoli, pineapples and dry fruits in your diet.
  • Eat seasonal fruits.
  • Maintain a dincharya (daily routine).
  • Keep your surroundings, including living spaces and vehicles, pleasing and presentable.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Live up to your family and social responsibilities.
  • Enjoy your work.
  • Follow a balanced physical workout routine.
  • Practice yoga (mainly padmasana), chanting and meditation to improve concentration.

Don’ts

  • Do not lie.
  • Do not be violent in actions and thoughts.

A study conducted to examine the effectiveness of brahmi on brain function proved that brahmi enhanced cognition (thinking and understanding skills) and helped in improvement of mental disorder symptoms.

Another study conducted to assess the efficacy of plant-based compounds in Alzheimer’s treatment proved that the phytoconstituents of brahmi like bacosides and flavone glycosides had anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-amyloidogenic, anti-oxidant, neuroprotective and cognition-enhancing properties, which proved beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

An in vitro study conducted to screen the therapeutic effects of some plants including jatamansi stated that jatamansi has anti-oxidant and anti-cholinesterase properties that contribute to improving cognitive function.

A study was conducted in 2016 to assess the therapeutic effectiveness of guduchi swarasa (juice). Through various laboratory procedures, it was concluded that guduchi decreased dopamine levels and increased serotonin levels in the brain, which leads to mood improvement and reduction in depression.

Most ayurvedic medicines and treatments are safe when taken under the guidance of an experienced doctor. However, certain herbs and treatments may have negative impact, depending on the individual dosha and prakiriti. For example: 

  • People with tuberculosis, diarrhoea, ulcers, poor digestion and recent fevers should not undergo virechana. It is also counterindicated in people with prolapsed uterus or prolapse in the digestive system. Virechana should not be performed in weak and old people.
  • Large doses of brahmi can cause itching, headache or spaciness.
  • People with congestion should not take ashwagandha.
  • Jatamansi should be taken with caution and under the guidance of an Ayurvedic physician as it has sedative properties and may dull the mind.
  • People with excess pitta levels should avoid taking haridra.

Modern lifestyle with sedentary habits, eating unhealthy foods and increased stress has taken a toll on our mental health. Insomnia, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease have become some of the most commonly occurring mental disorders. Ayurvedic herbs and formulations enhance memory and cognition along with improving the symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions. The psychiatric measures used by Ayurveda help induce awareness and mental peace. Practising meditation and yoga while following Ayurveda treatment has a positive effect on both mental and physical health.

Dr. Sunil Kilaniya

Dr. Sunil Kilaniya

Ayurveda
3 Years of Experience

Dr. Tanushri Yeole

Dr. Tanushri Yeole

Ayurveda

Dr. Verender Singh Chaudhary

Dr. Verender Singh Chaudhary

Ayurveda
3 Years of Experience

Dr. Ghanshyam Digrawal

Dr. Ghanshyam Digrawal

Ayurveda
6 Years of Experience

और पढ़ें ...

References

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  2. Mathew M, Subramanian S. In vitro screening for anti-cholinesterase and antioxidant activity of methanolic extracts of ayurvedic medicinal plants used for cognitive disorders. PLoS One. 2014 Jan 23;9(1):e86804. PMID: 24466247
  3. Apetz N et al. Natural compounds and plant extracts as therapeutics against chronic inflammation in Alzheimer's disease--a translational perspective. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014;13(7):1175-91. PMID: 25230232
  4. Piyabhan P, Wetchateng T, Sireeratawong S. Cognitive enhancement effects of Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi) on novel object recognition and NMDA receptor immunodensity in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of sub-chronic phencyclidine rat model of schizophrenia. J Med Assoc Thai. 2013 Feb;96(2):231-8. PMID: 23936991
  5. Oushadhi Panchakarma Hospital And Research Centre [Internet]: Thrissur; Govt of Kerala. Lehyams & Ghrithams.
  6. Oushadhi Panchakarma Hospital And Research Centre [Internet]: Thrissur; Govt of Kerala. Asavams and Arishtams.
  7. American Psychiatric Association [internet] St. NE, Washington, DC. What Is Mental Illness?.
  8. Swami Sadashiva Tirtha. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, and Longevity. Sat Yuga Press, 2007 - Body, Mind & Spirit .
  9. Subhash Ranade. Kayachikitsa: A Text Book of Medicine. Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2001 - Medicine, Ayurvedic
  10. Kumaar Dileep et al. Ayurvedic Formulations For The Management of Psychotic Disorders.. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy . 3(5) Sep-Oct 2012
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