HOW AYURVEDA AND YOGA THERAPY CAN HELP RESOLVE THE GROWING MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS– PART 2 OF 4
Mental Health Crisis – How Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy can Help!
In this follow-up blog (Part 2 of 4) we look at how evidenced based Ayurveda and Yoga therapy can help improve our mental health.
Stress, anxiety and mild depression can be helped by natural herbs commonly advised by practitioners of Ayurveda and Yoga. Scientific studies have shown that natural herbal supplements can assist with improving one’s mood. In this brief review we discuss commonly prescribed Ayurvedic herbs.
Anxiety Relief with Ayurvedic herbs
Withaniasomnifera is also known as ‘ashwagandha’. The pharmacological activities of Aswagandha are attributed to its natural composition of alkaloids, flavanol glycosides, glycowithanolides, steroidal lactones (withanolides), sterols, and phenolics.
There are many studies that have shown the therapeutic benefits of Ashwaghanda as a nerve tonic, memory enhancer, and anti-stress agent. For example, a clinical trial by Pratte et al in 2014 showed that Ashwagandha is effective as an anti-stressagent.
Brahmi is a commonly used Ayurveda medicinal plant. It too has widespread use in Ayurveda but is mainly used as ananti-anxiety, relaxing, memory-enhancing, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agent. Brahmi has been shown in human trials to significantly improve the speed of visual information processing, learning rate and memory consolidation, and state of anxiety.
A recent 2013 clinical study on 72 healthy urban adults, both men and women, in the age range of 35-60 years revealed that a single dose of 450mg extract of Brahmi lowered the state anxiety in the B. monniera (Brahmi) group as compared to placebo group.
This plant has been traditionally used nervous disorders such as stress, anxiety, mental fatigue, and insomnia. Its biological function may come from alkaloids, flavanoids, glycosides, and steroidal content within the plant. The Ayurvedic explanation for its therapeutic value lies in the fact that Shankpushpi moves directly into the nerve channels and nourishes the tissue within.
Other recent scientific studies have suggested that Shankhpushpi has:
1) A calming effect by regulating the body’s production of the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol (Sethiya et al 2009).
2) Shown significant anxiolytic activity comparable to diazepam (standard drug) in mice (Malik et al 2011).
Take home Message
This is avery brief insight into how Ayurvedic herbs can help with stress disorders. Experienced Ayurveda and Yoga practitioners often prescribe a combination of herbs depending on symptoms presented by the client. As an integrative medicine practitioner,depending on the type and severity of the symptoms,I also may include other western medicine herbs into the herbal formulationsuch as Kava, Passiflora, Melissa, Scutellaria, Magnolia.
So, while amazing results can be achieved with herbal therapy, it is recommended that herbal therapies should be under the guidance of an experienced practitioner.