Every one deals with stress and its related problems on a regular basis. Stress is always concerned with the mind. As per Ayurveda, not only a healthy body but a healthy mind is also required to enjoy a healthy life. Its only in Ayurveda, that the concept of a ‘healthy mind’, anxiety and stress relief is discussed.

All branches of Indian Philosophy believes in the existence of mind. Ayurveda also accepts that the presence of a mind is essential for perception. It is said that even in the presence of soul (Atma), Senses (Indriyas) and objects placed before us, we cannot perceive objects, if the mind (manas) does not participate.

Stress means a state of affair involving demand on physical and mental energy.

Catastrophic events can create severe stressful conditions. In such cases, immediate medications i.e., pharma products are required. But it is observed that standard pharmaceutical therapy is not indicated for management of daily stress because of the side effects.

The common anti-anxiety medicines like benzodiazepines and buspirone can be given only for a short term as these medicines produce side effects like drowsiness or lethargy. Pharmaceutical drugs work only after the problem has developed, they do not try to prevent problems.

Ayurveda is particularly helpful in treating chronic metabolic and stressful conditions. To avoid or to overcome stress related problems, herbal alternatives are always helpful. Certain herbs are also clinically proven for this stress relieving activity. Modern science has also accepted this fact.

Among the 120 active compounds currently isolated from the plants that are widely used in modern medicine today, 80% show a positive co-relation between their modern therapeutic use and the traditional use of the plants from which they are derived. Ref: Fabricant DS, Farnsworth NR (March 2001). “The value of plants used in traditional medicine for drug discovery”. Environ. Health perspect 109 supp 1: 69-75. PMC 1240543, PMID 11250806.

Stressful conditions, whether long term or short term, produce a series of emotional symptoms such as a feeling of personality disintegration, anxiety, irritation, phobia, poor concentration. Stress also creates exaggerated emotional responses such as depression, confusion, disorganization depression, forgetfulness, lack of motivation etc.

As per Ayurveda, when the functions of Pran Vayu, Vyan Vayu, Sadhak Pitta and Tarpak kapha get disturbed, then it affects the mental abilities and aforesaid problems occur. In such a situation, the herbs under the ‘Medhya Gr’ are helpful to relieve stress and strain related problems without any side effects. Typical examples of these herbs are Ashwagandha, Bacopa and Jatamansi.

Stress can also be described as the response to taxing physical and emotional demand. Chronic stress can also take a heavy toll on the immune system.

The herb Ashwagandha acts as an Adaptogen. An Adaptogenic herb means, an agent that improves the body’s natural ability to fight emotional and physical stress. The active constituents of Ashwagandha are known for stress attenuating activity. Cortisol is a hormone related to stress. Ashwangadha delays the release of cortisol by the adrenals, which prevents the negative effect of long term cortisol production and prevents exhaustion of adrenals. This is the direct anti stress effect, recognized by the scientists.

Seeds of Ashwagandha or Withania (100mg/Kg. Ip) showed a sparing effect on stress- induced adrenal cortisol and ascorbic acid depletion and on adrenal weight increase. They also show protective effect against aspirin and stress induced ulcers. Ref. Singh N et al: Int J crude Drug Res 2029(1982)

A recent pharmacological comparison of withania and Panax ginseng, Demonstrated that Withania had similar potency to Panax in terms of adaptogenic tonic. Ref. Grandhi, A et al: J Ethanopharmacol 44, 131 (1994). It also boosts immunity.

Bacopa Monniere or Bacopa increases concentration ability and creativity. It decreases fluctuation of attention and distraction.

Nardostachys Jatamansi, promotes awareness, relaxation and strengthens the mind. Jatamansi is known as one of the best herbs for nervous disorders. It calms the muscles reduces spasms and is effective in relieving stress and strain during menopause.

Anxiety disorders may include restlessness, feeling tense, impatience, irritability, muscles’ tension, disturbed sleep, dry mouth, chest tightness etc. There is a harmless way to minimize the negative effects of anxiety or stress and strain i.e., through Ayurveda (Herbal remedies).

Neurotransmitters are the substances (as norepinephirine) that transmit nerve impulses across a synapse. Serotonin – a phenolic amine neurotransmitter – is a powerful vasoconstrictor and is found especially in brain blood serum.

I thought that all the herbs which relieve stress, strain related problems can support a healthy neurotransmitter balance. But what is the mechanism? How do these herbs provide energy to the brain cells? How do they keep the mind healthy? All these queries are an area for research in the Ayurvedic field as well as in the Pharma field. There are so many herbs which Ayurvedic practitioners use for stress and strain as there are no side effects, but the mechanism is unknown. Plenty of Research work is required for this.

Dr. Veena Deo, B.A.M.S. (M.D.)
Dr. Veena Deo is an Ayurvedic Doctor in India. All the information provided above and opinions expressed above are her own and should not be construed as medical advice. This information is provided for educational purposes only.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Ayurveda, Herbal supplements and formulations.
Career Focus: Teaching, Ayurvedic Chemist, new products development.
Education: B.A.M.S., M.D.(Ayurveda); 1984 Nagpur University, India.

Experience:

Consultant on new herbal products development with Herbal Destination, New York.
Worked as a Medical Officer in “Matru-Sewa-Sangh” Nagpur 1987-88.
Worked as a Research officer in Datta Meghe’s Medical College, Wardha 1989-92.
Food & Drugs Cosmetic-Act-1940, Approved chemist from 1996.

Research:

Presented paper in International conference “Update Ayurveda” at K.E.M. Hospital Mumbai on “Efficacy of herbomineral formulation on Diabetes”.
Presented paper in International conference “Role of Indian Medicinal Plants” at Banaras Hindu University on “Management of Diabetes”.
Present paper on “Pain Management” in National Conference at Nagpur.
Presented paper in National Symposium on Research Methodology in Ayurveda Field, Pune.
Regular contributor of articles on Ayurvedic Topics to various magazines.
Talk shows on Radio & TV on Ayurvedic Topics, mostly relating to women's Health Problems.