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Ayurveda > Ayurveda and Psychiatry
By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

 Ayurved has differentiated our organs into dnyanendriye (organs of perception) and karmendriye (organs of action.) It has given the special status of ubhayendriya (organ of both, perception as well as action) to man or manas (mind.) Ayurved also says that in our body-mind apparatus, our mind controls our body and is more important than the body. The mind is responsible for perception, thinking, understanding, taking the right decisions at the right time, etc.

If the mind is sick, then the body-mind apparatus is in danger. When the mind is in a status of health, it contains positive feelings like those of love, affection, sharing, caring, etc. Due to improper diet and actions, the natural state of the mind is disturbed and these positive feelings are driven out. They then give place to negative feelings like those of anger, jealousy, cruelty, laziness, etc., which further lead to mental disorders.

Ayurved also says that these negative feelings are emotional toxins. If they are not driven out of body in a stipulated time, they give rise to chronic mental disorders like anxiety neurosis, depression, etc. If this is further ignored, it turns into permanent mental disorders like unmad (unreasonable and irrational state of mind, for example, hysteria.) Ayurved has also included apasmara (epilepsy) in the category of mental disorders.

As for the causes, ayurved mentions improper diet, actions committed in this birth, bad deeds done in the last birth, physical illnesses and overindulgence in sex. It also includes severe mental or physical stress and unfavourable personal, familial and social environment in the causes of mental disorders. All these hamper the natural vitality of a person and lead to disturbed health.

A person suffering from mental disorders becomes incapable of conducting himself/herself according to situational demands and social norms. He/she has visual or aural hallucinations instead of coherent thoughts. Social withdrawal, antisocial behaviour or extreme violence on the personal, family or social level is seen. A few physical symptoms like tremors, irregular eyeball movements, oblivion of one’s own body, excessive perspiration and salivation may accompany these behavioural aberrations.  Seeking attention and avoiding attention are two extremes of the mental pendulum. All the in-between stages like diverting attention, distracting attention, etc. are seen in various mental or psychosomatic disorders. Purposeless movements or compulsive, obsessive movements can also be observed at times.

For the treatment of these disorders, ayurved has prescribed a list of herbs and shrubs. Cooling medicines prepared from rose, khus, brahmi, kevada (pandanus odoratissimus) etc., as well as mixtures such as gulkand (rose petals treated with crystal sugar and sunlight), chyavan prash or morawala (a mixture made from amla i.e. emblica officinalis, sugar, etc.) are recommended to keep the mind balanced, fresh and active.

Almonds are also beneficial. Badampak (a mixture made from almonds, butter/ghee, sugar, etc.) is a very good mental tonic and should be given as per the ayurvedic physician’s advice.

Ayurved also strongly recommends avoiding alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other intoxicating substances. This is a very important part of the treatment. Very hot, spicy food and too much of non-vegetarian items should also be avoided. Cow milk, homemade ghee (preferably made from cow milk), apples, pineapples, grapes, etc. are recommended because they enhance mental strength and vitality.

General hygiene maintained by taking a daily bath and changing one’s clothes regularly is also recommended. Social interaction is advisable and the patient is encouraged to keep himself/herself busy in some productive activity. Negative feelings should be kept away by involving the patient in religious or social thoughts and activities. Positive thinking, support from family members and a moderate response to the patient’s mental tempers and tantrums helps the patient and gives him/her space for recovering from the illness. To regain one’s social position and lead a normal life again is a difficult task but not impossible. It can be achieved with the help of family members.



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Pathology - Ama
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 Agad Tantra
 Kaumar Bhrutya Tantra
 Shalya Tantra
 Shalakya tantra

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