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An Ayurvedic Guide to stress management

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

Stress is a feeling you have ,when you face a situation you think you cannot manage. You can feel anxious, irritable, forgetful, sleepless and unable to cope. Stress is a process, not a diagnosis. We experience stress when there is an imbalance between the demands being made on us and our resources to cope with those demands.

At first this stress is manifested as irritability, nervousness, sleeplessness etc. If the process is not checked the person gets additional symptoms like palpitation ,raised blood pressure etc. As these changes continue he becomes a victim of one of the Psychosomatic disorders such as Hypertension , Ulcerative colitis Ischaemic heart disease ,Peptic Ulcer , Diabetes mellitus , Bronchial Asthma , Migraine , Rheumatoid arthritis etc. How familiar these names sound to us !!!

Concept of stress in Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, there are three sub-doshas that govern the mind:

1. Prana vata is the sub-dosha of vata that governs the brain, sensory perception and the mind

2. Tarpaka kapha is the sub-dosha of kapha that governs the cerebro-spinal fluid.

3. Sadhaka pitta (the sub-dosha of pitta that governs the emotions and their effect on the heart)

There are three states or operational qualities of mind. These are sattva, rajas and tamas. Sattva (goodness) is the healthy state of mind. Rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance) are the unhealthy states of mind. When the mind is dominated by rajas and/or tamas, the sub-doshas go out of balance. Sadhaka pitta begins to create a burning effect and prana vata creates a drying effect. Then tarpaka kapha generates extra cerebro-spinal fluid to counteract this effect and protect the brain.

But when our mental capacities are repeatedly overused (due to excess of tamas and rajas), the lubricating value of tarpaka kapha becomes excessive, and begins to diminish the metabolising or digestive fire or agni. This is similar to the effect of too much moisture in the digestion - it can put out the digestive fire or agni. When this happens, ama (toxins) start to be created. Ama accumulates in the gaps and channels of the brain, and mixes with the fluids created by tarpaka kapha, creating a harmful type of cortisol, the indicator of stress. Cortisol in itself is not harmful; in fact, it is created by the body to protect the brain. But when tarpaka kapha becomes excessive and there is ama in the physiology, it does more harm than good. That's when anxiety attacks and other signs of stress take over.



The drugs promoting medha ( intellect) are termed as medhya drugs. Ayurvedic System of Medicine has mentioned several naturally occurring medicinal plants under the category 'Medhya' .

They are known to not only individually nurture certain areas of the brain (mind) sensitive to stress effects, but also to nurture coordination among them.

1 . Brahmi'(Bacopa monniera) and Vacha' (Acorus calamus) are the important plants in the group 'Medhya Rasayana'. They are widely claimed as restorative , and mental tonics. They have got prominent action on Central Nervous System where they improve grasping power, memory, intellect and speech and correct aberrations of emotions, mood and personality of an individual

2. Mandukparni'(Hydrocotyle asiatica) - It is indicated to be used in the treatment of mental retardation, speech disorders, insanity , epilepsy etc.

3. Shankhapushpi'(Convolvulus pluricaulis) - One of the best brain tonics. strengthens the brain, brightens the memory and intellect. It is indicated in the treatment of loss of memory and associated mental disorders like insanity and epilepsy.

4. Jyotishmati'(Celastrus paniculatus) - Powerful nervine and brain tonic which stimulates the intellect and sharpens the memory

5. Jatamansi'(Nardostachys jatamansi) - Highly aromatic plant bearing a biphasic action on Central nervous system indicating nerve stimulation and nerve sedation (sedation to spinal cord specifically).

6. Ashwagandha or winter cherry enhances the mind's overall ability to fight stress, because it helps overall mental functioning.

PanchaKarma is the process which gets to the root cause of the problem and corrects the essential balance of 'Tridosha' in body.The therapies specific for Stress conditions are:





Since stress reduces the body's immunity, nutritious diet is very beneficial in counteracting this depletion. Following the right diet for dealing with stress is also very important. In Ayurvedic terms reduce 'rajasic' and 'tamasic' foods and add 'sattvic' diet.

Ayurveda integrates Yoga, meditation and Pranayam (breathing exercises) to manage stress.


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