Anxiety is known as Chittodvega in Ayurveda as described by Master Charak. It is a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, emotional, somatic and behavioral components.
Aging and anxiety is not mutually exclusive but it is as common in the elderly as in the young. In the older people, differentiating a medical condition such as dementia, fears, depression from physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder is more complicated. It comes under Manas Roga in Ayurveda.
What are the Factors Responsible for Anxiety?
- Hormonal or biochemical imbalance such as: imbalance of serotonin and dopamine.
- Genetics and Hereditary: Anxiety neurosis tends to run in families.
- Social Factors: Those who are exposed to abuse, violence are more prone to these types of disorders.
- Personality type: Certain types of personalities such as people who have low esteem, poor coping skills are more prone to anxiety disorder.
- Medical Causes: Certain medical causes such as: endocrine and cardio pulmonary disorders.
- Frequent intake of drugs and other substances such as: tranquilizers, steroids also cause anxiety.
What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
- Dry mouth
- Nervousness and Breathlessness
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastro-intestinal problems
What is the Treatment of Anxiety according to modern medicine?
In modern medicine, there are two main treatments for anxiety disorders:
- In psychotherapy, there is a focus on teaching specific skills to improve the symptoms.
- Medication includes certain anti-depressants are prescribed. These medications are for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms are not intended to be used long term.
What is the Cause of Anxiety According to Ayurveda?
According to Ayurveda, anxiety disorder can be caused due to an underlying health condition such as heart diseases, respiratory disorders, past trauma, mental health problems and life experiences.
What is the Treatment of Anxiety Aaccording to Ayurveda?
Ayurvedic treatment of anxiety takes a comprehensive view of an individual’s physical, emotional and spiritual conditions because these attribute have an effect on Prana Vata of an individual which become aggravated with stress.
- Prana Vata further weakens the nervous system and also triggers mental imbalance.
- It further weakens the neuro-hormonal system and nerve impulses.
Thus, Ayurvedic treatment focuses on curbing aggravated Vata which envisages a stable and peaceful mind by making appropriate changes in diet and lifestyle.
Pathogenesis: Sympathetic nervous system may always be poised to react, a crisis pulling in a state of constant tension. The above said factors may cause over-reaction of sympathetic nervous system resulting in anxiety.
Differential Diagnosis of Anxiety:
- Social Anxiety Disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorders
Single Ayurvedic Herbs for the Treatment of Anxiety are:
Master Charak has advised to use Medhya Rasayanas for the treatment of mental disorders.
1. Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis): Shankhpushpi is a very famous Ayurvedic herb used to improve memory and intelligence.
- It is used in Ayurveda to treat psychiatric disorders and useful in mental disorders such as depression.
- It enhances mood thus useful in relieving anxiety, migraine and tension headaches. Its leaves and flowers are used to treat high blood pressure.
- As per Charak Samhita, regular intake of 2-3 grams of paste of Shankhpushpi is explained as an excellent brain tonic.
How to use: 1-2 grams of powder can be taken with plain water.
2. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri): Brahmi is one of the famous and very common herb used in improving intelligence since ages.
- It is regarded as an excellent anti-aging and anti-oxidant herb. It is widely used in the treatment of dizziness, confusion, lack of mental composure, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, nervousness, phobia and manic depressive psychosis.
- It controls stress and anxiety by protecting the nerves, heart and blood vessels.
- Brahmi is extensively used in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) in children.
How to use: 1-2 grams of Brahmi powder can be taken with water.
3. Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi): Jatamansi is used to improve brain function since ages. The roots of Jatamansi stabilizes the mental conditions and serves as a wonderful brain tonic.
- As per Ayurveda, it is one of the Medhya Rasayans (rejuvenates the brain tissues).
- It also improves strength and immunity.
- This herb is quite effective in neuro-psychiatric conditions.
- The rhizome and roots of Nardostachys jatamansi are used as anti-stress agent in Ayurveda.
How to use: 500 mg or 1 gm powder should be taken with milk after meals.
4. Gotukola (Centella asiatica): The word “kola” makes most people think it contains caffeine but in fact gotukola is a relaxant that contains no caffeine at all.
- It has been used to treat disorders of mind including mental fatigue, anxiety, depression, memory loss and insomnia.
- Gotukola is an effective herb against anxiety and depression. It is rich in anti-oxidants such as: superoxide desmutase.
- Therefore, it protects the brain from the harmful effects of free radicals.
- Various researches indicate that gotu kola increases the levels of feel-good neurotransmitters known as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and reduces the levels of stress hormone cortisol.
- By bringing balance to these brain chemicals, gotukola can help to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression.
How to use: Take 1-2 gm powder with water after meals.
5. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Ashwagandha has been popular in Ayurvedic medicine for millennia. It was traditionally used to treat anxiety, low energy and combat aging.
- In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is considered to be an adaptogenic. Adaptogens are herbs or botanical substances that help to balance the body’s physiological systems such as adrenals and nervous system to better adapt to stress or unfavorable conditions.
- More specifically, Ashwagandha helps in balancing the hormones that contribute to anxiety.
- The hormone-modulating effect of Ashwagandha is due to naturally occurring phytochemicals such as: alkaloids and lactones in it.
How to use: 3-5 grams of Ashwagandha powder should be taken with cow’s ghee and sugar before meals.
How to Prevent Anxiety?
- Practice yoga and Meditation
- Avoid excessive consumption of coffee, tea, alcohol, hot spicy food, alcohol and smoking
- Avoid stressful conditions
- Certain medications such as: tranquilizers and steroids must be avoided.
- Body massage and head massage with medicated oils are recommended.
Is anxiety related to aging?
Can Ayurveda helps in treating anxiety?
Are Ayurvedic herbs safe to consume?
How Ayurvedic herbs help in treating anxiety?