What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The damage brought on by traumatic memories and pressure on human psychology is hard to assess with precision. Ayurveda has always claimed that mental health is an integral and essential part of health, and the capacity to deal with anxiety is the cornerstone of psychological well-being.

Most of us have to deal with tension and unprecedented events during our lives, though some professions face challenges frequently. Repeated exposure to stressors can profoundly affect the mind and quality of life. Service members are often confronted with a range of unique challenges and situations, which might hamper their bodily health and psychological well-being.

Among the many mental challenges they face, post-traumatic anxiety disorder (PTSD) is common and can be debilitating. During deployment, it's prevalent for military personnel to witness traumatic events, life-threatening circumstances, acts of violence and, atrocities that challenge their fundamental beliefs about the world and humanity. This crippling challenge to a person's world view constitutes the gist of the injury and can be gotten by any individual in an extremely stressful situation. Let us explore the Ayurvedic approach to addressing this imbalance.

See: Electro-Acupuncture Medicine In The Treatment Of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Resulting From A Gunshot Wound.

See: Quantum Medical Hypnosis for PTSD

History of PTSD awareness

The diagnosis of PTSD didn't exist until after the Vietnam war. Its effects were downplayed at the time due to the stigma surrounding mental health ailments. It was described as only battle fatigue or shell shock.  It was a former misunderstanding that only the weak-willed soldiers suffered from PTSD. Diagnostic improvements and studies of Post-Vietnam syndrome afterward resulted in a broader comprehension of the link between traumatic events and their long-term emotional outcomes.

PTSD can happen to any person who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Even though it can happen to anybody, it is more prevalent among war veterans than civilians, because of the numerous hardships they face during installation. The amount of veterans who suffer from varying levels of PTSD but do not seek help because of the stigma attached to psychiatric disorders is unaccounted for and could be much bigger than we know.

See: Ashwagandha for sleep before bed

See: Acupuncture & TCM For Sleep Disorders

Ayurvedic view of mind and body

A holistic perspective in mind, body, and soul

Ayurveda takes a very holistic approach. It has described the complex equilibrium of Manas (mind), Shareera (body), Atma (soul), and Indriyas (perceptions ) as being the epitome of health. Ayurveda focuses on truly optimizing physical, emotional, and religious well-being. The insightful perspective of handling both body and mind together and a joint approach of preventative care and disease management forms the exceptional basis of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda describes three principal qualities of the brain (Manogunas) similar to the Tridosha idea. The three Manogunas are:

Sattva - clarity

Rajas - arrogance

Tamas - inertia

Rajas and Tamas are considered as brain vitiators, Manodoshas. The imbalance of these Manodoshas affects the brain and contributes to mental imbalance and improper diet, faulty lifestyle, and anxiety. 

Exactly like every individual is born with a unique equilibrium of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which decides one's Prakriti (unique psychosomatic constitution), the connection of three Manogunas decides the psychological form of an individual that's subjected to change over time based on our daily diet, anxiety amounts, and lifestyle options.

Manas has subtle and minute stations that carry sensory and thoughts energy, and therefore are crucial in maintaining a balanced frame of mind. An interplay of Doshas, psychological condition, and Gunas (qualities) results in brain diseases. These ailments ultimately lead to Manovaha Srotodushti or blocking of energy flowing channels of thoughts. In this dynamic, the way Hridaya (heart) interacts together with sensory pathways, is thought of as the origin of the brain's energy channels. This significance within Ayurvedic science clearly highlights that unfortunate encounters leading to negative emotions contribute to the derangement of psychological media, causing emotional imbalances.

See: Anti Anxiety Diet to Reduce Stress

See: Ayurvedic Detox For Stress

Understanding PTSD's impact

PTSD is a long-term and lasting effect of a traumatic event in which severe bodily harm occurred or was threatened. For most people who undergo this event, the after-effects usually fade out with time, but for someone with PTSD, the feelings do not go away. They may even increase, resulting in difficulty in day to day activities. Each individual has his/her distinctive ability to deal with stress and injury. While not everyone develops PTSD, apparent physical and mental symptoms mark it. The assistance and support a person receives after injury and repeated exposure will influence the development and severity of PTSD.

PTSD symptoms can be grouped into four groups:

- Reliving the ordeal through intrusive recollections of those events, flashbacks, hallucinations, and nightmares. Words, objects, or situations that remind of this event can cause re-experiencing symptoms.

- Emotional numbness, avoiding places, people, situations, and actions that remind of the injury. This may cause detachment and social isolation.

- Increased stimulation and reactive signs like excessive emotional outbursts, acting peacefully, being jumpy or easily startled, difficulty concentrating,  difficulty sleeping, and being easily irritated. There could also be some physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure, rapid breathing, nausea, and muscle strain.

- Veterans with PTSD can undergo functional impairment, depressive episodes, anxiety, alcohol abuse, and occasionally feel suicidal.

See: Diet & foods for depression

See: Yoga & Psychotherapy For Depression

How Ayurveda can help PTSD

Ayurvedic view of PTSD

The three causes of all diseases in Ayurveda are described as Asatmya indriya, Artha samyoga (incompatible terms of perceptions with their items ), Kala (time), and pragyaparadha (intellectual mistake ). In PTSD, seeing unpleasant or fearsome events, such as loud noises, cause perverted unison of vision and auditory senses. Unlawful activities relating to mind, speech, and body like bodily assault, torture, fear, anxiety, and unpleasant words constitute intellectual blasphemy. This initiates a chain of Doshas vitiation equally, Shareera Dosha (bodily ) and Manodosha (psychological), manifesting as PTSD.

Ayurveda adopts a holistic approach in treating PTSD, focussing on various aspects of health based on individual needs.  Ayurveda provides a wide variety of therapeutic measures, including herbal formulas, Panchakarma, Yoga, nourishment, exercise, and daily routine that improve overall health catering to the spiritual well-being of the person.

Ayurvedic diet & lifestyle: Nutrition plays an essential part, not just in physical states but also in emotional wellness. PTSD and other mental health disorders are linked to unhealthy dietary habits and stress-related eating disorders, ultimately affecting physical health.

Manovikaras arising because of fear and grief leads to Vata Pradhana Tridosha Dushti, the vitiation of Tridoshas and Vata Dosha especially. Vata Dosha, in its balanced condition, results in joy, creativity, and positive mental capacities. When imbalanced, it contributes to despair, fear, feeling nervous, and inhibits Agni or digestive fire. Ayurveda considers that lifestyle and diet that calms Vata together with fair use of herbal and body will lead to an enhanced state of mind. Following a suitable dietary and daily routine is a cost-effective and effortless way to relieve stress levels related to PTSD. Developing the right regimen with sufficient time to practice exercise, meditation practices, and rest will help us prioritize ourselves and help in quieting our mind, irrespective of what happened before and what's happening in our lives now.

Yoga and breathing techniques such as Pranayama are getting worldwide recognition in the sphere of Psychotherapy for their capacity to support individuals addressing the irreparable injury, which may manifest as PTSD. Helpful lifestyle and dietary modifications for individuals suffering from PTSD include:

- Avoid eating when you're stressed and eat food in a peaceful, calm atmosphere with all your focus only on food.

- Avoid raw, uncooked foods such as salads because it vitiates Vata, and use spices such as garlic, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and oils such as ghee, sesame oil to prepare your meals.

- Warm, nourishing, reasonably sober, buttery food. 

- Moderate exercise and gentle, calming, and slow-paced Yoga postures that don't aggravate Vata, such as Ardha matsyendrasana (half spinal twist pose), assist in relaxing and soothing the senses.

- Practice Pranayama (breath control) and deep relaxation techniques such as Shavasana (corpse pose) and meditation, which help clean the channels of the mind and revive the brain's energy channels.

- Maintain a correct daily routine or dinacharya, which assists in balancing vita.

- Wake up and sleep at the same time, and concentrate on the needs of your body.

supplements and remedies for handling trauma and anxiety

- Ayurveda draws a strong link between digestive strength and total well-being. Maintaining strong Agni supports the system's immunity, which is vital for managing day-to-day frustrations. The ability to digest also applies to ideas, feelings, and experiences. Healthy digestion generates strong Ojas, or energy, and is connected with a calm and peaceful mind because of this.

- Brahmi and Ojas-increasing herbaceous: Brahmi is a traditional Ayurvedic herb known for its brain nourishing capacity. It makes a peaceful sense of calm that may be immensely beneficial for anxiety and injury. 

See: Ayurvedic herbs for digestion & gut health

See: Ayurveda For Gut Health

Ayurvedic treatments for PTSD

Time-tested Ayurvedic therapies for PTSD 

Ayurveda has plenty of processes that assist in soothing and calming your senses and supply complete relaxation of the body and mind that may be of immense use in PTSD.

- Shirodhara

Dripping of treated oil or buttermilk over the forehead at a slow, steady flow -- Shirodhara calms the senses, brings normal functioning of body and mind, and gives you a feeling of tranquillity. It balances Vata dosha, clears Srotas (energy channels), and the constant pouring of oil provides a sense of deep relaxation by working on Marma (vital energy points) and eliminating sensory overload.

- Abhyanga

Abhyanga, or daily massage, is tremendously helpful in Vata's imbalances and is contained in Dinacharya (daily routine ) in Ayurveda since it guarantees optimum power to senses and rejuvenation. Regular body massage using naturally occurring - Vata-pacifying herbs like Licorice, Indian ginseng in sesame oil and is refreshingly light and nourishing. It's a mix of carefully selected ingredients, as stated in the Vedic text, and the ingredients are well-known alleviators of Vata.

- Dhanwantharam Thailam is also a fantastic recipe for relief from fatigue and anxiety, thus makes you feel energized.

It's an ongoing challenge for those suffering from PTSD to recoup from the past injury and cure its effects in their lives. Ayurveda is a comprehensive system with many different tools to create a window of resilience through various simple yet powerful measures to soothe the entire system. The Ayurvedic way offers affected people the capability to rebuild their lives, expecting a new base for health and chances.

See: Panchakarma

See: Detox Yourself With Panchkarma

Ayurvedic home & lifestyle remedies

Since Vata provocation and majja Gati Vata (intrusion of Vata to majja dhatu) are fundamental to this illness, Ayurvedic treatment approaches will probably involve Vata calming diet and lifestyle interventions. As the amygdala is involved with anger and fear, there might be a powerful pitta element and pitta Ojo vyapat. Proper diet and lifestyle suggestions should consequently be individually tailored inside the Prakriti-Vikruti paradigm.

- Ayurvedic Herbs

Ashwagandha is always of use where there's Vata in majja dhatu and is proven to increase dopamine levels, thus mitigating the amygdala's over-activation. Bacopa or Brahmi may help regulate serotonin production and may be combined with other nervine and adaptogenic herbs. 

- Oil remedies

Vata soothing oil remedies that are beneficial in PTSD include abhyanga using dosha specific massage oil.  Shirodhara has been shown to normalize serotonin and noradrenaline levels and decrease stress and is traditionally thought to eliminate Vata from majja dhatu.

- Meditation

Meditational remedies are of great significance in aiding the prefrontal cortex send calming messages into the amygdala. Although relative level practices might be of more use initially, both relative and absolute ways have their place. Comparative methods include visualizations, affirmations, aspirations, and relaxation techniques. Visualizations work right on the limbic brain, and clinics using words operate on the prefrontal cortex. Visualization can consist of creating a picture of protected space and picturing oneself being relaxing and there. This sends messages of security and comfort to the limbic system. They also have been proven to regulate prefrontal activity in favor of positive emotions.

See: Vata Dosha Balancing

See: Guided Body Scan Meditation For Stress Relief

Summary

Although described in psychiatric literature just recently, PTSD has been recognized by Ayurveda for centuries. It involves dysregulation of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex and contrasts Ayurvedically with Vata invading majja. Ayurveda's multifaceted approach provides hope for PTSD sufferers as it offers an integrative and holistic method to normalize brain function via diet and lifestyle modifications, specific, proven herbal remedies, relaxing oil remedies and meditational therapies.

See: Yoga Poses To Heal Trauma

See: Quantum Medical Hypnosis for PTSD

References

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2. Kazuo Uebaba, Feng-Hao Xu, Hiroko Ogawa, Takashi Tatsuse, Bing-Hong Wang, Tatsuya Hisajima, Sonia Venkatraman. Psychoneuroimmunologic Effects of Ayurvedic Oil-Dripping Treatment The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. December 2008, 14(10): 1189-1198. doi:10.1089/ACM.2008.0273.

3. T Allen Gore, MD, MBA, CMCM, DFAPA http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/288154-overview

4. GL Gupta, AC Rana Plant Review Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review - Pharmacognosy Reviews, 2007 - phcogrev.com

5. Fenghao Xu, Kazuo Uebaba, Hiroko Ogawa, Takeshi Tatsuse, Bing-Hong Wang, Tatsuya Hisajima, Sonia Venkatraman. Pharmaco-Physio-Psychologic Effect of Ayurvedic Oil-Dripping Treatment Using an Essential Oil from Lavendula Angustifolia The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. October 2008, 14(8): 947-956. doi:10.1089/ACM.2008.0240

6. Antoine Lutz,1* Julie Brefczynski-Lewis,2 Tom Johnstone, three and Richard J. Davidson1Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise PLoS ONE. 2008; 3(3): e1897

7. Lisa M. Shin, Ph.D.; Scott P. Orr, Ph.D.; Margaret A. Carson, Ph.D., R.N. et al., Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in the Amygdala and Medial Prefrontal Cortex During Traumatic Imagery in Male and Female Vietnam Veterans With PTSD, Arch. Gen. Psych. 61, 2, 2004.

8. Semple WE, Goyer PF, McCormick R, Donovan B, et al., Higher brain blood flow at the amygdala and lower frontal cortex blood flow in PTSD patients with comorbid cocaine and alcohol abuse compared with normals. Psychiatry. 2000 Spring;63(1):65-74

9. Lisa M. Shin, Scott L. Rauch, B, And Roger K. Pitman, Amygdala, Medial Prefrontal Cortex, and Hippocampal Function in PTSD Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1071: 67-79 (2006).

10. Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. et al. Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation Psychosomatic Medicine 65:564-570 (2003)

See: Anti Anxiety Diet to Reduce Stress

See: Bhramari Pranayama To Reduce Stress & Anxiety

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