Oldest System of Mental Health
Ayurveda is the oldest healthcare science with an elaborate mental healthcare system, right from prevention to management of serious mental disorders like mania (Unmada), epilepsy (Apasmara), etc.
The definition of swasthya (healthy) in Ayurveda highlights the importance of comprehensive mental health in a healthy person. The definition of healthy according to Sushrut Samhita says -
The one with a balanced dosha (biophysical forces), ignited agni (digestive system), balanced dhatu (body tissues), and excretory system; and endowed with a cheerful soul, senses and mind only can be truly called healthy!
This definition underlines the deep psychosomatic approach of Ayurveda towards health, long before any other medical system. Ayurveda offers an extensive preventive mental healthcare system that primarily included satvavjay (victory over the mind) or Ayurvedic psychotherapy. This treatment comprises of
- Counseling (ashwasana chikitsa),
- Herbs like Brahmi, Jatamansi, Shankhapushpi, etc.;
- Dyana (meditation),
- Sangeet (Music therapy),
- Kala (Arts therapy) etc.
Ayurvedic mental treatment also included procedures like Tadan (shock therapy), etc. in emergency management of mental problems.
Most of the Ayurvedic mental therapies are now being revived based on a scientific review of the available ancient text and folk practices.
However, today the easiest and safest prevention for mental disorders lies in the proper usage of Ayurvedic herbs. Multiple Ayurvedic herbs like Brahmi, Jatamansi, Shankhapushpi, Mandukaparni, Vacha, Jyotishmati, Ashwagandha, etc. are scientifically proven to have a tremendous neuroprotective effect.
Let’s explore the incredible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing effects of these Ayurvedic herbs -
One of the best gifts of Ayurveda is the concept of adaptogens. These herbs are called Rasayana in Ayurvedic terms. After decades of scientific research, modern medicine has accepted their tremendous healing potential and classified them as adaptogens.
Adaptogens are herbs that help to normalize the entire metabolism of the body. Therefore, they bring relief in multiple health conditions, without any side effects.
Ayurveda also has a sub-category of Rasayana that is called medhya (cognitive-enhancers). These herbs are specially recognized for their excellent effect on overall brain functions.
Some of the notable Ayurvedic cognitive enhancers are -
Brahmi is scientifically proven to contain powerful antioxidants that help to prevent early neurodegeneration and enhance overall nervous health. Brahmi also helps to reduce chronic inflammation. It is immensely effective in the prevention of severe mental disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, dementia, etc.
Mandukaparni and Endri are other species closely related to Brahmi with similar neuroprotective benefits.
The neuroprotective function of Ashwagandha is specifically visible in cases of stress, depression, and anxiety. It helps to lower cortisol or the stress hormone and protects the hormonal balance in the body. In this manner, Ashwagandha protects not only the nervous system but the entire body from the degenerative effects of stress.
Ashwagandha is also very effective in sustainable and long-term improvement in concentration and memory, without any side effects.
Shankhapushpi is also called Sarasvati (goddess of wisdom) in Ayurveda. Its name highlights its tremendous capacity to improve concentration and memory.
Shankhapushpi is a complete brain tonic that protects the neurons and enhances overall brain functioning.
It works on the parasympathetic system and brings a natural anti-stress effect on the body. Hence, it relaxes body the body and the brain. Its natural sedative action is the foundation for effective concentration improvement.
The excellent cognitive-enhancing impact of Shankhapushpi is helpful in the prevention of mental disorders like dementia. Its relaxing effect helps in anxiety, chronic stress, PTSD, insomnia and other stress-related disorders.
Stress is the major cause for ninety-nine percent of mental disorders. That's why stress relief is the very foundation for effective relief from any mental disorders.
The natural sedative action of Jatamansi sets it apart from all other neuroprotective herbs. Its deep and natural neuro-relaxing effect helps to shut down the emergency mode (sympathetic nervous response) and turn on the repair and rejuvenate mode (parasympathetic nervous response).
And the best part is that Jatamansi is not a habit-forming herb. Besides, it is free from harmful side effects and addiction tendency normal to all synthetic sedatives.
On the contrary, it brings multiple side benefits - like natural liver and digestive detox, enhanced cardiac function, improved appetite, relief from skin disorders, etc.
Another excellent Ayurvedic cognitive enhancer is Jyotishmati. The name Jyotishmati (the one that brings the light of wisdom) accentuates its efficacy as a natural cognitive enhancer. Multiple scientific studies have proved the excellent anti-oxidant and anti-nociceptive effects of Jyotishmati.
Its antioxidant effect helps to protect the neurons from chronic inflammation and early death. At the same time, its anti-nociceptive action prevents nervous hyperactivity.
Jyotishmati is also a natural analgesic that helps in pain relief.
Why Ayurvedic Prevention for Mental Disorders is Important
Most of the modern medicines available for mental disorders like depression, anxiety, dementia, and multiple other disorders have a habit-forming effect. Besides, they do not provide permanent relief. Instead, they alleviate the immediate symptoms temporarily.
Gradually, the patient becomes more and more dependent on these medications. What's worse is that these medications have serious side effects over the long term. They can even turn fatal on overdoses.
With the rapidly growing incidences of mental health disorders, it is critical to find a side-effects free and permanent solution for effective mental healthcare. Ayurveda provides a perfect preventive option for almost all kinds of mental disorders safely and effectively!
Ayurveda is the oldest healthcare system to practice the concept of holistic mental treatment. All Ayurvedic herbs or herbal combinations have a unique blend that balances all the metabolic functions, instead of creating side effects.
Ayurvedic mental treatment is not standardized for all. Instead, Ayurveda cures all disorders on the basis of individual body and mind type (shariric and manas prakrati). For this reason, Ayurvedic mental treatment has a highly personalized focus.
Ayurvedic neuroprotective herbs can play a significant preventive role in mental healthcare. Besides, their side effects free and non-addictive impact on the body makes them a safe and practical option for prevention of even severe mental disorders like dementia, anxiety, chronic stress, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc.