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Ayurvedic Stress Management
The term "stress" is difficult to define and may mean different things to different people in different circumstances. Stress is the uncomfortable gap between... how we would like our life to be and how it actually is .if this gap is persistent (or even worse: growing) - despite our efforts to reduce it then our mind feels uneasy, restless, disturbed, agitated, frustrated, tense, heavy or strained, we are said to be under stress.
We are living in the society in which worries, stress and strain are too rich. Worries about security, economic difficulties, and emotions are becoming more common and will effect on health and longevity of life. Body and mind, are subjected to more stress.
It is important to target the etiological factors while managing such cases. Therapies aim to bring the mental and physical conditions to normal state. Nevertheless, one must be careful not to create imbalance in other factors to avoid negative and adverse effects.
Causes of Stress --
The causative factors of stress are broadly divided into two types
- External stressors: include adverse physical conditions (such as pain or hot or cold temperatures) or stressful psychological environments (such as poor working conditions or abusive relationships) , rules, regulations, "red tape," deadlines. It also includes major life events: death of a relative, lost job, promotion, insults, being ignored etc.
- Internal stressors: can also be physical (infections) or psychological.
Lifestyle choices: caffeine, not enough sleep, overloaded schedule.
Negative Thinking: Pessimism, self-criticism, over-analyzing.
Mind traps: unrealistic expectations, taking things personally, exaggerating, rigid thinking.
Stressful personality traits: perfectionist, workaholic, pleaser.
Vata and Pitta constitution people.
Type of stress: Stressors can also be defined as short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic).
Acute stress is the reaction to an immediate threat, commonly known as the fight or flight response. The threat can be any situation that is experienced, even subconsciously or falsely, as a danger. Common acute stressors include: noise, crowding, isolation, hunger, danger, infection, and imagining a threat or remembering a dangerous event.Under most circumstances, once the acute threat has passed, the response becomes inactivated and levels of stress hormones return to normal, a condition called the relaxation response.
Frequently, however, modern life poses on-going stressful situations that are not short-lived and the urge to act (to fight or to flee) must be suppressed. Stress, then, becomes chronic. Common chronic stressors include: on-going highly pressured work, long-term relationship problems, loneliness, and persistent financial worries.
Common manifestations of stress
Digestive system It's common to have a stomachache or diarrhea during stress. This happens because stress hormones slow the release of stomach acid and the emptying of the stomach. The same hormones also stimulate the colon, which speeds the passage of its contents. Chronic stress can also lead to continuously high levels of cortisol. This hormone can increase appetite and cause weight gain.
Immune system Chronic stress tends to dampen the immune system, making one more susceptible to colds and other infections.
Nervous system If fight-or-flight response never shuts off, stress hormones produce persistent feelings of anxiety, helplessness and impending doom. Oversensitivity to stress has been linked with severe depression, possibly because depressed people have a harder time adapting to the negative effects of cortisol. The byproducts of cortisol act as sedatives, which contribute to the overall feeling of depression.
Cardiovascular system High levels of cortisol can also raise your heart rate and increase your blood pressure and blood lipid (cholesterol and triglyceride) levels. These are risk factors for both heart attacks and strokes.
Other systems Stress worsens many skin conditions — such as psoriasis, eczema, hives and acne — and can be a trigger for asthma attacks.
Ayurvedic Stress Management
Providing understanding and guidelines for balance in body, mind and spirit, Ayurveda gives us Panchakarma Therapy as well as herbal healthcare to maintain the 'Tridoshas' in balance throughout our mind and body.
Pancha Karma therapies has been used for centuries in the Ayurvedic management of disease. Pancha Karma 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 Shiroabhyanga, Shirodhara, Shirovasti, and Abhyanga.
The drug used in the treatment are mostly medhya drugs or medhya rasayanas which are believed to act as specific molecular nutrients for the brain affording a better mental health leading in turn to alleviation of the behavioral alteration and to cope up day to day stress. The herbs of adaptogenic properties are Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Brahmi (bacopa monniera), Shankh pushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Madhuyashti (Glycrrhiza glabra), Amrita(Tinospora cordifolia), Amalaki (Embelica officinalis) etc.
Ashwagandha ghrita, Brahmi ghrita in dosage of 5gm with hot milk and Amrut Bindu nasya is of great help.
Proprietary Ayurvedic medicine 'Prasham' has also got best results in stress reduction
Yoga - Progressive deep relaxation , i.e., Shavasana (Corpse posture) brings about a relaxed state of mind and practicing it daily is very useful in reducing stress. Daily practice of 'Yoganidra' is also useful for making your mind calm and tension free.
Protect Your Kidney with the help of Ayurveda
The kidneys have important tasks to perform in the human system. These are (i) regulation of the volume of the body fluids, (ii) elimination of inorganic ions both cations (e.g. Na+, K+) or anions (e.g. Cl', phosphate, SO4) from the body, (iii) maintenance of appropriate plasma concentration of non-electrolytes such as glucose and urea, (iv) maintaining electrolyte balance by H+ and OH- ions and thus adidity or alkalinity of the blood, (v) elimination of waste products especially the nitrogen and sulphur containing substances as well as the toxic substances (e.g. drugs) which have entered the body, and (vi) retention of substances vital to body economy. These also have some more functions. Major diseases or Kidney disorders are Anuria or oliguria (complete to cessation or less formation of urine), polyuria (frequent passage of small quantities of urine), abnormal constituents in urine (e.g. blood, pus etc.), Nephritis, pyelitis (inflamanation of the parenchyma & pelvis of the Kidney) uraemia (i.e. renal failure causing retention of abnormal amounts of urea in the blood), renal colic due to calculus or such other condition, Dysuria (painfull passage of urine).
A simple Urine test for Albumin and a Blood test for Serum Creatinine. The increased level of Albumin and Serum Creatinine will tell if the kidneys are getting effected. Other symptoms which show kidney problems are: High Blood Pressure, Decreased Hoemoglobin and High Blood Urea.
Causes of Kidney Damage :
Basically human health miseries could be attributed to
- (i) abnormalities in anatomical and physiological level,
- (ii) interaction or stress of biotic factors (various in fections),
- (iii) Abiotic stress which includes Ahar, Vihar and Achar,
- (iv) mental imbalance due to predominence of tamsik and rajsik bhavas rather than Sattvik and
- (v) easy entry of microvita owing to suitability of mental and physical bodies.
Besides above a new dimension is added by adverse side effects of modern allopathic medicines. Most probably this is due to administering active ingredients in pure form. This certainly provides quick action but at the same time damages the system in other ways. The crude medication system of Ayurveda allows the human system to assimilate the active ingredient as well as some related compounds in a natural way and thus avoids any such bad effects on the system. One of the potent causes of increasing incidences of kidney disorders, today, is the side effects of modern medicines or wrong medication or over dosages in certain cases.
Ayurvedic Care & Cure - Ayurveda provides the best treatments. Ayurveda adopts three approaches to tackle a human malady. These are (i) toning up the weak bodily system, (ii) prevention of disorder, and (iii) treating the disorder or disease through medicines or surgery.
Useful herbs are:
- (i) Dry fruits : Pistachio, almonds and chilgoja are useful to tone up weak kidneys,
- (ii) fresh fruits: Mango is beneficial to remove weakness of Kidneys. Fresh pine apple 60 g daily is useful for the cure of Kidney stone.
- Flacourtia ramonohii L. (Governor's apple or Kantai) bark is astringent and diuretic.
- Cordia myxa Roxb. (Lisora) fruits are poison antidote and diuretic, its decoction relieves painful micturition.
- Coconut water is very efficacous in urinary troubles.
- Eugenia jambolana Lamk : Stones of fruits are very useful to relieve diabetes and polyurea.
- Punica granatum Linn. (Pomegranate): Outer fruit skin dried in shade, powdered and taken 4g with water twice a day for 10 days cures polyurea. Rice food must be avoided.
- Banana (Musa sepientum) : Take a banana fruit and 25 ml juice of amla with sugar cures urinary and spleen troubles.
- Phyllanthus emblica L.( Aunla or Amla) : Juice of green fruits 50 g with 20 g honey given 2-3 times during the day cures urinary troubles.
- Bel : Take fresh pulp of ripe bel (Aegle marmelos L.) and mix with water, add some milk and sugar to it, drink after straining. This will relieve retention of urine in no time.
- Grape (Vitis vinifera): Take three raisins and remove their seeds then enclose one black pepper in each of them. These should be taken at bed time for a few days continuously to cure strangury (urination by drops).
- (i) Leafy : Punarnava (Borhavia diffusa), Palak (Spinacia oleracea L), Corchorus capsularis L., (calsak), Patua sak (Corchorus olitorius L.), Portulacar oleracea L. (Kulfa or Lona Sag), chuka (Rumex vesicarius L.), Ramdana (Amaranthus caudatus L.).
- (ii) Fruits: Sanke cucumber (Cucumis utilissimus Roxb.) Seeds are efficacious in curing urinary and kidney diseases. Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschaxa L.) : Pulp is slightly warmed after crushing and then applied to relieve painful kidney problems. Similarly seeds of Cucumis melo Linn. (Muskmelon or Kharbuja) and Kheera (Cucumis sativus Linn.) are efficacious in urinary troubles. Water melon (Tarbuj) fruit juice with kalmisora and sugar placed overnight in glass tumbler in the moonlit night and taken first in the morning for about 7 days. It is very beneficial in urinary problems. Lauki (water gourd): Juice & pulp with Kalmisora very efficacious in relieving kidney and urinary troubles.
- (iii) Root vegetables:
1. Carrot (Daucus carota L.) fruit juice cures kidney troubles.
2. Radish (Raphanus sativus L.): Leaves & small sized roots are efficacious to effect cure.
3. Alocasia indica (Roxb.) Schott. Mankand use of corms is beneficial in the form of vegetable.
4. Onion (Allium cepa L.) juice of bulb is beneficial.
- (iv) Flowers of red variety of Moringa i.e. Sahanjan is highly efficacious as cure of kidney disorders.
Ayurveda and Yoga
Ayurveda is connected to yoga. But, not that yoga, which seems to be a set of strange poses and exercises. In reality, yoga isn't just physical exercises, it requires spiritual progress. In Hindi, yoga means "connection", which directs our mind in the right direction and control our emotions.
Those, who think that just by practicing a set of difficult physical exercises, they achieve a state of enlightment, are deeply mistaken. Working with the body is only the first step on the way to spiritual progress. When one controls the functions of one's organism, he prepares himself for the transformation of the soul.
Yoga is only a part of Ayurveda, one of the steps to achieving a righteous way of life. Practicing only yoga will give results and will have a good effect on the organism, but the meaning of "lifestyle" is a lot wider. A set of physical exercises, meditation exercises, aromatherapy, diagnostics by the pulse, Ayurvedic recipes, individual mineral additives and other food additives - all these are bricks of a beautiful and slender building, which we know as Ayurveda.
This is the way, which is hard to finish for many people. Everyone has a chance to get an experience on the way to perfection of body and soul.
STRESS MANAGEMNET: An Ayurvedic Perspective
Stress is a demanding situation where an individual is struggling to cope-up to the expectation. It can be psychological, financial emotional, social, biological or constitutional. A highly efficient or capable individual may also be stressed if the situation demands more than his limits. Stress essentially originates at the level of mind and emotions and percolates down bringing imbalances at physical body level.
Continuous long time stress leads to a breakdown of the system resulting in various mental and physical health problems. Unless the imbalances are corrected at all levels there is no escape from the stress and its hazards. Ayurvedic sages like Charaka and Susruta were royal physicians and there are references in the classics written by them of special therapies and herbal preparations called Rasayanas given to enhance the physical and mental efficiency.
Modern age fast life is exciting as well as overtaxing. So the level of stress is also high lots high and lots of people are suffering from its hazards. Stress can cause various mental and physical health problems that manifest in different ways. It may appear as excessive hunger leading to overeating where in some people it cause lack of appetite or anorexia. Stiffness of neck and shoulders, headache, lower back pain, vision problems, irregular bowels, hyperacidity, extreme tiredness are some of the physical manifestations of stress.
Mental manifestations include high irritability; sleep disorders, nervousness, lethargy, giddiness, vertigo, laziness, abnormal dreams, etc. It is observed that a group of people having same nature of work in the same atmosphere probably with same stress level develops different symptoms. The above study reveals the need of considering each individual as a particular entity and the management should also be personalized. Every being has resources to make him capable to cope with these conditions. The holistic approach of Ayurveda and Yoga tackles these hazards through multidimensional solution in its own natural way. It focuses on the impact of the mind on body are not two independent units and any problem affecting the mind affects the body. Since life is a combination of Sareera, (physical body), Indriya (Sense organs), Sathwam (mind) and Athma (soul), all the aspects of life should be considered during assessment of any health condition and its treatment. An individual assessment and management would be ideal for stress that manifest as mentioned above.
Ayurveda believes that there are only two controllable factors for health and disease – Ahara (food) and Vihara (life style). Life style means the routines including sleeping pattern, exercises, nature of work, habits, bath, etc. Food and routines planned according to the individual constitution (prakruthi) and health status help to prevent possible health problems and to improve the sense of well-being.
Carefully planned programme with traditional Ayurvedic therapies, Rasayanas, Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation in combination with planned food and routines will definitely help to overcome the stress, rejuvenate oneself and to build up self confidence to face any situation. Therapies such as Abhyanga (Soothing massages with special herbal oils), Sirodhara, Kadevasthy, Greevavasthy, etc, initially work at the physical level to soothe the aching muscles and tensed nerves and then making an impact upon mind. Administration of Rasayana strengthens the body, mind and provides high energy levels. At the same time, individually selected yoga, meditation and Pranayama (breathing techniques) programmes calm down the mind and bring back the natural rhythm of the mind and body to start a new life afresh. A planned food and lifestyle as per the basic body type (Prakruthi) and doctors recommendations will help to prevent the impact of stress.
TIPS TO REMEMBER
Your body is not a machine. Give sufficient rest to body and mind after a stretch of work for self- repairing and recharging.
Whenever you are in a crisis never be panicky as excess mental tension or nervousness deteriorate your efficiency. Assess the situation, find a proper solution and go for it.
Proper food and daily routine is the foundation of your health. Eat balanced food in moderate quantity in correct timing. You can fix the time according to your schedules but stick on to it. Our body has a tendency to get tuned to the regular routines. If you are having breakfast at 8 am for a week your stomach will be ready to receive the food in the same time on the 8th day. If you are not taking food at that time it may cause hyperacidity or even ulcers.
Drink sufficient quantity of water, as it is the best medicine to cleanse your system. A proper intake of water improves the urine out put, motions and sweat- the three routes of elimination. Water reduces Pitta which is the manifestation of fire in our body and responsible for high irritability, hyper acidity and problems with increased urine and sweat take more sodium out.
Better to continue regular, moderate and suitable exercises as it helps to tone up the system, relieves the tension and improves the sense of well- being. Note that excessive exertion can cause deterioration of health. Sudden stoppage of regular exercise is worse than not doing it at all.
Proper sleep is very important as it gives relaxation to your body and mind. It is like pouring water in the radiator of your car after driving up a steep mountain road. Sleep at least six hours a day.
Continue regular yoga, Pranayama and meditation as it will help you to impart both physical and mental balance, improve concentration and work efficiency.
Note that smoking and alcohol intake is not the remedy to relieve stress. Regular indulgence in these deteriorates the condition.
Dr. K. Jayarajan
Chief Medical Officer,
AyurvedaGram Heritage Wellness Centre, Banglore
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