Anxiety Disorders : Ayurveda to the Rescue

We all go through various emotions in our everyday lives. In the rat race of modern life, it is quite natural to feel stressful and have tensions as a part of it. Occasional anxiety is a normal emotion in everyday life, and can even be beneficial in some cases. It can act as a warning signal to be prepared and one can feel anxious with problems at work, home or before making important decisions.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anxiety is defined as an emotion, which is characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like, increased blood pressure, sweating etc. One must know the difference between an anxiety disorder and normal anxiety. While feeling anxious sometimes is fine, medical help is required if the person feels it very frequently. It becomes really problematic when a person is not able to control this emotion and feels more than temporary fear or worry.

Severe anxiety can take a toll on your health and manifests into a disorder if the fear or anxiety is excessive and hinders our ability to function normally. Some of the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders are sleep difficulties, insomnia, restlessness, concentration difficulties, panic attacks and so on in extreme levels. While you must seek medical help for severe persistent anxiety, Ayurveda offers a safe and natural way to help with mild to moderate anxiety. Ancient ayurvedic herbs are a potent remedy to lessen the worries and beat stress and anxiety. Here are some natural herbs to ease the tension and soothe your soul.

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, the magical ayurvedic herb is known for its multiple health benefits, the most significant being its ability to reduce anxiety. An ancient medicinal herb, it is known by many other names like Indian ginseng, winter cherry and its botanical name, Withania Somnifera. This root and leaves of this powerful herb inhibit the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. It blocks the stress pathways by regulating the chemical signalling in the nervous system. 500-600 mg of ashwagandha per day for 6-12 weeks can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. It is also known to fight depression; boost brain functions and balance endocrine hormones.

2. Valerian Root

A common ingredient used to tackle anxiety and sleep disorders is the Valerian root. A natural anxiety soother, it was used in ancient Rome and Greece, to treat insomnia, headaches, trembling, stress and nervousness. The active ingredients present in the valerian root help in calming the body, which is crucial in case of anxiety and insomnia. You can take up to 250mg twice a day and before bedtime to feel calmer and sleep better. Research suggests that it is as effective as modern anti-anxiety drugs, without the dangerous side effects!

3. Lavender

This perennial shrub with beautiful light blue and purple flowers packs a punch when it comes to calming the nerves! Lavender oil, famed for its perfume is also known to lessen anxiety and has a long history of healing. The lavender essential oil stimulates the olfactory nerves in the brain to soothe and calm the nervous system. Linalool vapour, present in the essential oils of Lavender, is a sweet-smelling alcohol that affects the brain through smell. Unlike some anxiety drugs, it does not impair movement while still being efficacious. Lavender also helps ease insomnia and induces peaceful sleep, unlike harmful habit forming sleep medications. You can use lavender oil in a diffuser or inhale the steam. The essential oil of lavender can also be added to the bath for a soothing and calming soak before bedtime.

4. Kava Kava

Kava Kava or Piper Methysticum, is a traditional herb which has been used in various herbal and alternative medicine remedies for generations. This plant-based relaxant offers an efficacious natural remedy for anxiety. A recent study of the plant led to the discovery of ‘Kavain’, opening the portals of its real health benefits. Kavain directly affects the mood receptors in the brain and helps reduce anxiety. Kava kava, or simply kava, has a calming, soporific and anxiolytic effect. Due to its significant calming properties, it is increasingly being used and tested for treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Kava can be used as a dietary supplement in capsule form, as a powder, or liquid extract.

5. Brahmi or Bacopa Monnieri

Used by ancient sages for centuries, Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri) or Bacopa, as it is called, is a miracle herb for treating anxiety, stress and insomnia. Traditionally used as a nerve tonic and a memory booster, this therapeutic herb works by reducing high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which further fights anxiety and stress. It also boosts brain function, enhancing memory and cognitive processes. Thus, this adaptogenic herb significantly reduces anxiety by reducing high cortisol levels and uplifting the mood. One can take 50-100mg of Brahmi extract up to 3 times a day to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety.

The last word:

Anxiety disorders can severely disrupt the way a person goes on in his or her everyday life. The many problems associated with anxiety, like insomnia, stress, mood swings and nervousness etc. can hamper the normal functioning of the human body. Ayurveda offers a natural and effective solution to treat such debilitating anxiety disorders. Therapeutic use of these cogent Ayurvedic herbs can go a long way in easing anxiety and stress, laying the foundation for a happy and healthy life, the natural way!

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