Ayurveda and the mind: a new perspective in the management of mental illness

Insanity: Ayurvedic vs. Western Medicine Perspectives

By: Alexandra Compson

November 4, 2010

INTRODUCTION

    The condition of “insanity,” better known to the modern world as “psychosis,” is an illness of the mind that has been recognized throughout history within every known society. Today, insanity is characterized by the adherence to fixed, delusional beliefs existing outside the normal range of one’s subculture, including hallucinatory experiences and thought disorders in which the mind does not follow any rational line of thinking[1].
    Within the field of Western medicine, psychosis is viewed as a complex of visible symptoms and effects rather than as an indicator of a simple root cause. From this view, it appears that the primary threat posed by the condition is its potent ability to “prevent people from functioning normally and caring for themselves. If the condition is left untreated, people can sometimes harm themselves or others.”[2] The main goals of Western medicine in the treatment of psychosis includes the reduction of both positive and negative symptoms produced by the illness, maintaining or increasing cognitive abilities, minimizing side effects, reducing secondary diseases, preventing relapse, and enhancing the sufferer’s quality of life.
    In contrast, the Ayurvedic approach to insanity rests on the premise that, “All mental disease originates in a lack of clarity (sattva) within the mind.”[3] Halpern, p. 332. Thus, Ayurveda’s primary goal of treatment is the cultivation of sattva, a state of mind that, according to basic Ayurvedic tenets, can be attained through proper diet and lifestyle. Very little information can be found in Western medicine advocating either diet or lifestyle as a foundation of mental clarity or a cure for mental illness.
    In order to compare the Western and Ayurvedic approaches to insanity, we must first explore what “insanity” means within each world-view. How does the Western world’s understanding of insanity differ from that of Ayurveda’s? What sorts of treatment methods are utilized by these two medical sciences in its management? The objective of this paper is aimed towards the exploration of and answers to these questions.

WESTERN MEDICINE’S VIEW OF INSANITY

A Brief History
    As mentioned previously, “Madness, the non-legal word for insanity, has been recognized throughout history in every known society.”[4] It is known that primitive cultures turned to witch doctors or shamans to apply magic, herbal mixtures, or folk medicine to rid deranged persons of evil spirits or bizarre behavior[4]. However, it was the relatively recent years of the 18th century that saw the seeds of modern psychiatry begin to sprout. Though the Ancient Greeks and Romans had progressive ideas regarding mental illness, the Middle Ages witnessed the end of such revelations. It wasn’t until the 1700s that this tide again began to turn, as the French and British introduced humane treatment of the clinically insane[5]. The late 19th century advent of psychoanalysis led to increasingly enlightened exploration and treatment of mental illness. In retrospect, it seems inevitable that psychiatrists and their counterparts in the psychoanalytic field would soon begin to feel uncomfortable with the term “insanity” and its obscure definition within the realm of scientific medicine[6]. By the mid-20th century, insane asylums were outdated, and “Increasing disillusionment with and desire to distance theory and practice from the field’s asylum-dominated past provided further impetus for physicaians to leave the 19th century traditions behind…”[6]. Being able to define the difference between “normalcy” and insanity is part of what moved psychiatry and the psychoanalytic field to where it is today[5]. Insanity is no longer considered a medical diagnosis in the United States, although it is still a legal term[6]. “Psychosis” has become the modern medical equivalent of the term “insanity.”[4][5][6]

Insanity Defined from a Western Medical and Psychological Perspective
    According to the American Medical Association, psychosis is a mental condition defined as:
“A severe mental illness in which a person loses touch with reality, experiences unusual perceptions (hallucinations), and holds false beliefs called delusions. Psychotic disorders include schizophrenia (an illness involving delusions, hallucinations, abnormal speech, and strange behavior) and delusional disorder (in which a person has a persistent belief that seems very real to him or her but is not shared by others.”[3] pp. 575-576

Understanding Insanity from a Western Medical and Psychological Perspective
    The understanding of factors that define mental pathology and those that define “normalcy” are largely prescribed by one’s society and culture. For example, a behavior that may be seen as problematic in our society may be seen as normal within another society[8]. In Western medicine the mental illness known as “psychosis” is a syndrome classified as either “organic” (non-psychological) or “functional” (psychological). Psychosis arising from “organic” conditions are associated with numerous medical or pathophysiological diseases including electrolyte disorders [9], multiple sclerosis10] and syphilis[11], whereas “functional” psychosis can be caused by a variety of dysfunctions such as biochemical changes within the brain or differences in the brain’s ability to function and process information[8].

Western Medical Etiology
    In Western medical thinking, insanity, or psychosis, is largely known to be caused by various medical conditions and organic disorders (e.g. thyroid abnormalities[1]). In addition, the introduction of foreign chemicals into the body (e.g. alcohol, cocaine, various prescription drugs) may also disturb normal neurological processes. In Western medicine the above pathologies are known to cause structural defects and/or physiologic brain dysfunction, which, in turn, can lead to the onset of psychosis within the affected individual[1].

Signs and Symptoms
    Symptoms of psychosis may include disordered thought and speech[2], false beliefs that are not based in reality (delusions)[2], hearing, seeing, and/or feeling things that are not there (hallucinations)[2], thoughts that “jump” between unrelated topics (disordered thinking)[2], and what is known as “disturbance of affect”[1] in which a person’s apparent emotions are not consistent with their thoughts or fluctuate rapidly[1].

Western Medical Treatment
    Various treatment methods are available in the management of psychosis, though treatment depends largely upon the cause, diagnosis or diagnoses of the psychosis. Most treatment methods, however, typically begin with the administration of antipsychotic medication as the first line of treatment, while hospitalization is often required to ensure the patient’s safety. Cognitive behavioral therapy[12], family therapy[13] and animal-assisted therapy[14] is supported by growing evidence in the management of symptoms and for the patient’s general long term well-being. Electroconvulsive therapy (also known as electric shock treatment) may be applied if all other treatments prove ineffective.
    Additional treatment methods include early intervention in psychosis, a relatively new but effective concept based upon the observation that identifying and treating a person in the early stages of psychosis can significantly improve their long-term outcome[15]. This approach advocates use of intensive multi-disciplinary techniques during the “critical period” – the period when intervention is seen as critical to the outcome of the patient’s condition – and prevents long-term morbidity associated with chronic psychotic illness. Cognitive behavioral therapy during this “critical period” can aid further in the delay or prevention of psychosis[16].

AYURVEDIC VIEW OF INSANITY

Insanity Defined from an Ayurvedic Medical and Psychological Perspective
    According to the Ayurvedic text Ashtanga Hridayam, “Unmada (insanity) is of six kinds, by each dosa separately, by the combination of all of them, by sins and by poison. Unmada is mada (toxicity, disorder) of the manas (mind) produced by the dosas (vata, etc.) moving in the wrong paths (because of their increase).”[17] Murthy, p. 56. Similarly, the Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita defines insanity as the perversion of the mind, intellect, consciousness, knowledge, memory, desire, manners, behavior, and conduct[18].

Understanding Insanity from an Ayurvedic Medical and Psychological Perspective
    Ayurveda views mental disease as the result of a lack of clarity (sattva) within the mind[4]. As the quality of sattva becomes diminished within the mind, it is only a matter of time before imbalances appear within the three biological humors: vata, pitta and kapha[19]. In his book, Ayurveda and the Mind: The Healing of Consciousness, Dr. David Frawley states, “Health problems, whether physical or mental, are not merely personal problems, but energetic problems in the mind-body complex. They are not so much personal or moral failings as an inability to harmonize the forces within us.”[19]
Within the classical texts, six types of unmada (insanity) are described. These include one for each dosha (Vatonmada, Pittonmada, Kaphonmada), one for a combination of all three doshas (Sannipatonmada), one due to mental shock (Citta Ghataja Unmada) and one caused by poisons (Visaja Unmada)[17].
    According to Ayurveda, the mind, or manas as it is known in Sanskrit, is composed primarily of the air and ether elements[19]. Thus, of the three doshas vata is commonly behind most psychological disorders[19]. Excess air within the mind causes mental instability and agitation, which leads to excessive thinking, worrying, and ultimately the perception that our problems are much worse than they really are[19]. “The mind becomes overly sensitive, excessively reactive, and we take things too personally. We are prone to premature or inappropriate action that may aggravate our problems.”[19] Frawley, pp.154-155.
    Pitta-type psychological disturbances occur moderately, as pitta tends to have strong self-control[19]. However, pitta’s tendency to be self-centered and anti-social can lead to problems, while its fire and heat often creates a narrow, quarrelsome mind[19]. Excess aggression and hostility are the root cause behind most pitta-type psychological disorders[19]. “Typical Pitta is the overly critical type who finds fault with everyone, blames other people for everything, sees enemies everywhere, is always on guard and ready for a fight.”[19] Frawley, pp. 155-156
    Psychological disorders due to kapha dosha are least common to occur due to the dosha’s inherently strong, stable nature. Problems can arise, however, when vitiated kapha produces blocked channels and clouded senses[19]. Excess kapha within the mind causes mental dullness, congestion and poor perception[19].
    According to Frawley, Ayurveda sees the deluded mind as a condition dominated by the quality of tamas or darkness[19]. The mind is absorbed in a blank state in which consciousness of the body is obscured or lost[19]; it is a mindless, non-feeling state of inertia: “…like a drunk lost in a drunken stupor lying half-conscious on the floor.”[19] pp. 294-295.
    The quality of tamas generally dominates within the schizophrenic mind as well[19]. In this condition, a person goes into trances, sees hallucinations, hears voices, etc.; the mind is absorbed in its own fantasies and the patient loses conscious control over their own mind[19]. Frawley states, “All these are not merely aberrations in the brain. They may include psychic abilities or psychic sensitivities but are beyond the control of the person. The person may connect up to the astral plane and lose contact with physical realities. In these cases, the mind goes into an absorption of the dull or blank type and sometimes an astral entity comes in to use the mind.”[19] p. 297. Interestingly, according to Frawley all severe mental derangement involves some type of astral entity possession or influence[19].

Ayurvedic Etiology
    The Charaka Samhita states, “One of the criteria for the disease process to rapidly manifest, occurs in these circumstances: when his mind is afflicted over and over again by passion, greed, excitement, fear, attachment, exertion, and grief. In the circumstances…the mind gets seriously affected and the intellect loses its balance. So the doshas aggravated and vitiated enter the cardiac region, obstruct the channels of the mind resulting in insanity.”[20] p. 89. Furthermore, the text cautions against the disharmonious acts of Prajnaparadha (intellectual blasphemy, the failure of the intellect, or crimes against wisdom[21] p. 7) and its ability to provoke the  gods who in term cause the insanity.
Within Ashtanga Hridayam, Vagbhata relates, “Indulgence in unsuitable (unhealthy) foods and drinks, foods which are spoilt, unaccustomed, containing dirt (contaminated) and using (foods, and drinks) in improper manner; those who are dejected (due to worry, grief, etc.), who are of weak mind, by the effect of sudden increase of diseases, emaciated persons indulging in activities in improper ways, committing mistakes in the procedure of worship of the worshipful, by committing sinful acts, loss of balance of mind, by the effect of strong poisons or weak poisons -- by these causes the doshas getting increased in the heart (mind) in persons of feeble mind, produce vitiation of the mind, and destroying (invading) the manovaha srotas (channels of the mind) cause unmada (insanity); dhi (discriminating/deciding capacity) vijnana (capacity of special knowledge to understand the science, arts etc.) and smriti (power of remembrance of earlier happenings) having become abnormal (lost or impaired) make the body lose the feeling of happiness and unhappiness and like a chariot devoid of a charioteer, the person begins to resort to activities without any thinking.”[17] pp. 56-57.
    In Ayurveda two types of insanity are described: According to B.S. Venkataram in his article “Ayurvedic Definitions and Classification of Manovikara,” nija rogas, or insanity due to endogenous conditions are, “…caused by irregular food habits and psycho behavioral excess resulting in the impairment of the Sarira [body] dosha physical element.” [22] p. 60. Falling under the category of nija roga, manasa (psychological) rogas occur due to the gain of undesired objects or losing the desired object/cherished ones, resulting in the impairment of the Manodosha (mental elements)[22].
    Insanity due to exogenous conditions are caused by injuries, poison, fire, and wind[22]. The Charaka Samhita adds that exogenous insanity may be caused by the “…effects of sinful activities in a past life. Lord Punarvasu Atreya considers intellectual blasphemy as the Nidana (causative factors) of this condition.”[20] p. 93.
    As the dominant dosha within the mind, vata-type psychological disturbances occur most commonly. Fasting, irregular eating habits or insufficient food, and the excessive intake of dry, cold foods easily weaken and upset the vata-dominated mind[19]. “…Disturbing sensations are hard for Vatas to handle, particularly too much exposure to mass media, loud music or noise. Drugs and stimulants easily derange them…Excessive or unnatural sexual activity quickly drains their often low energy. Stress, fear and anxiety affect them emotionally because they lack calm and endurance. Violence and trauma leaves them hurt and withdrawn. Neglect or abuse as a child creates a predisposition for a Vata-deranged psychology.”[19] Frawley, p. 155
    Pitta-type psychological disorders occur due to conditions of excess heat[19]. Overly hot, spicy foods easily disturb the pitta mind[19]. Strong, bright colors and sensations irritate their senses[19]. Exposure to violence and aggression increase similar attitudes within them[19]. Sexual frustration, excessive anger and ambition often cause problems as well. Frawley expounds, “Too competitive an education or too much conflict in childhood are additional factors.”[19] p. 156
     The basis of kapha-type psychological disorders lies within the consumption of excess sugar and oily foods. Excess pleasure, enjoyment, attachment, too much sleep, sleep during the day, and lack of exercise add to the potential of a psychological disturbance within the kapha-type individual[19]. In addition, “Emotional problems combine with Kapha physical conditions like over-weight congestion. Educational factors include being overly indulged as a child or emotionally smothered by parents.”[19] Frawley, p. 157.

Signs and Symptoms
     “In unmada (insanity) produced by (increased) vata, the body is emaciated the person weeps becomes angry, laughs, smiles, dances, sings, plays musical notes, speaks, does movements of the different parts of the body, and makes loud sound – all these at improper time and place; imitates the sound of the flute, vina (lute) etc. violently and often; froth exudes from the mouth, roams about constantly, speaks too much, decorates himself with non-decorating things, attempts to travel on things which are not vehicles; desires foods but abuses them after obtaining, the eyes protruding and red in color and the disease (symptoms) appearing after the food is digested.”[17] Murthy, pp. 57-58. Excess vata within the mind causes the individual to become ungrounded and unrealistic, producing overactive and wrong imaginations, hallucinations and delusions[19]. Over activity of the mind results in dispersed life-force energy (prana), leaving the afflicted weak, with a diminished connection to the physical body and physical reality. Vata-type psychological disorders are behind feelings of fear, alienation, anxiety, and nervous breakdowns[19]. Insomnia, tremors, palpitations, unrest, and rapid shifts in mood are due to vata as well. Frawley adds, “Insanity of the manic-depressive type, or schizophrenia, is an extreme Vata imbalance.”[19] p.155
     “In unmada (insanity) caused by pitta, the patient threatens others, becomes angry, attacks others with the fist, stones etc. desires cool shade and cold water, remains naked, has yellow color (of the skin etc.) sees fire, flames, stars and lamp which are not actually present.”[17] Murthy, p. 58. Excess pitta (heat) within the mind produces agitation, irritation, anger, and possible violence[19]. “The overheated body and mind seek release in venting the built-up tension. Pitta types can become domineering, authoritarian or fanatic. When disturbed they may have paranoid delusions, delusions of grandeur, or can becomes psychotic.”[19] Frawley, p. 156.
     “In unmada (insanity) caused by kapha, the person has loss of appetite, vomiting, very little of desires, foods and talk; desire for the woman (sex) and solitude, copious saliva and nasal secretions flowing, terrifying activities, hatredness to cleanliness, sleep, swelling of the face, symptoms strong during nights and soon after taking food.”[17] Murthy, p. 58. Excess kapha in the mind results in over-attachment and lack in motivation and mental drive that often leads to depression, sorrow, and excessive clinging. A person becomes passive and dependent; “We want to remain a child and be taken care of…Such people often end up being taken care of by others and are unable to function on their own.”[19] Frawley, pp. 156-157. Stronger kapha types may find themselves suffering from greed and possessiveness, which renders the mind heavy, dull and depressed[19]. They want to own and control everything, but when control and ownership are lost psychological instability results[19].
In Sannipatonmada (insanity caused by the combination of all three doshas[17]), the Ashtanga Hridayam notes that symptoms attributed to all of the doshas appear simultaneously. The text cautions against the treatment of these patients, as this type of insanity is often too difficult to cure[17].
    In Citta Ghataja Unmada (or insanity due to mental shock[17]), “Loss of money, wife etc. which is unbearable, which persists for long time leads to insanity. The person becomes pale, timid, faints often, weeps making sounds such ha, ha etc. (alas, that is lost, alas, that is gone, etc.) weeps without any (other) reason; dies (loses consciousness), praises the qualities of the things lost, with the mind suffering from grief he worries much, keeps awake without sleep and does unusual acts.”[17] Murthy, p. 59.
    Visaja Unmada is insanity caused by poisons. In this type of insanity it is said that the face turns blue, the eyes become red, there is a loss of healthy complexion, strength, physical senses, and the mind is unstable even throughout the different stages of poisoning[17]. Again, the patient who presents with this condition is seen as too difficult to cure and should be rejected by the physician[17].

Ayurvedic Treatment (Chikitsa)
    In his book The Roots of Ayurveda, Dominik Wujastyk states, “Any deficiency or excess of either Doshas or Dhatus or Malas may induce disease and Ayurveda always aims at keeping an equilibrium in the level of these things. Physical diseases and mental diseases are caused by the irrevelevent contacts, intellectual blaspheme and suppression of natural urges.”[23] p. 20.
    In Ayurveda the primary treatment goal of all psychological illness is the cultivation of sattva[3], as this is the quality that brings balance to body and clarity to the mind. The principles of treating mental disease emphasize sattvic activities that bring peace and stability into one’s life. Sattvic activities include spending more time in nature, meditation, yoga, avoiding the influence of the media, and the consumption of a sattvic diet.
    Internal and external oleation therapies are the cornerstone of treatment in vata-type insanity. Should the moist, heavy qualities inherent within the oil induce channel obstruction, Vagbhata recommends mixing mild purgatives with the therapeutic oils being used[17]. Numerous vata-reducing impressions may be applied, as they help bring peace and stability to the vata-deranged mind. Such impressions include sitting or walking quietly and peacefully in a garden, listening to calming music, and gentle exercise such as Hatha Yoga or Tai Chi[19].
    For pitta-type insanity, emesis, purgation, and enema therapies administered after oleation and sudation should be administered[17]. Purgative therapy for the head is also recommended[17]. Pitta-reducing impressions include the use of cooling colors (blue, white, silver), cool, sweet fragrances like rose and sandalwood, and the use of pitta-pacifying mantras such as Shrim and Sham[19].
Similar to the treatment of pitta-type insanity, kapha-type insanity also calls for emesis, purgation, and enema therapies administered after oleation and sudation, including purgative therapy for the head[17]. Kapha benefits immensely from strong aerobic exercise, cultivating of detachment, and meditation on active, wrathful deities like Kali or Rudra.
    In the treatment of insanity due to lust, grief, fear, anger, joy, jealousy, and greed (i.e. Citta Ghataja Unmada), the patient should be exposed to the condition’s opposite qualities[17]. Lust should be met with dislike, grief with delight, fear with faith, etc.
    Patients suffering from insanity due to loss should be given that which is identical to what was bereaved, along with assurances and consoling words.
    Should the above therapies prove ineffective, alternate recommendations are described in the Ashtanga Hridayam that, while outdated, are interesting to take note of. In this section of the text Vagbhata suggests that the physician treat the patient by“…making him happy, assuring him, threatening, causing fear, beating and terrorizing him should be resorted to, oil massage, dry massage, anointing with paste, fumigation, drinking of medicated ghee should be administered; purified by these the mind becomes normal.”[17] Murthy, p. 60. Vagbhata also recommends beating the patient with lashes, binding the patient, throwing the patient into a ravine, and confining the patient in a dark room free from weapons, stones, and men[17]. The result of such therapies, he says, is the notion that the fear of death is more powerful than the troubles of the body, thus the disturbed mind becomes free of its abnormalities[17].
    According to the Charaka Samhita, “Purity of the sense organs, their objects, intellect, soul and mind and normalcy of the tissues of the body are the features of (the person) cured of insanity.”[20] Dash, and Sharma, p. 66

CONCLUSION

The mental condition known insanity is well known to describe a mentally unstable person. Though the term “insanity” may no longer exist as accepted medical terminology, the mental conditions that the word once described most certainly do.
    Insanity is a disease that has been common throughout history within every culture of the world, invoking diverse views of understanding and the development of numerous treatment methods. The Western approach to mental illness appears to be primarily concerned with the complicated, minute details of brain chemistry in its quest to understand the logistics of mental disease. The Western tendency is to concentrate on specific aspects of sensory impressions and brain lobes and the effect of various forms of multiple neurotransmitters and hormones within the body. On the other hand, the condition of mental illness is a much more accepted, explored, and understood concept within Ayurveda and Eastern medicine in general. Whereas Western medicine scrutinizes the minute, Ayurveda is much more concerned with the bigger, simpler picture of humoral and energetic imbalances, which it sees as a physical manifestation of karma that allows for the teaching of spiritual lessons.
    Charaka, perhaps, speculates that the avoidance of disease and conservation of health is even more simple: “The person of a strong mind who does not indulge in meat and wine; who eats only healthy food, remains clean (both physically and mentally) does not become affected by either nija or agantu unmada (endogenous or exogenous insanity).”[20] Dash, and Sharma, pp. 65-66.

References

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2.    “Psychosis.” National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 Feb 2010. Web. 20 Sept 2010. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001553.htm>.

3.    Halpern, Marc. Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine. 9. 2. Grass Valley: California College of Ayurveda, 2007. Print.

4.    Weinstein, Raymond M. “Madness.” The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Blackwell Publishing 2007. Print.

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6.    Tighe, Janet A. “‘What’s in a Name?” A Brief Foray into the History of Insanity in England and the United States.’” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online. American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2005. Web. 15 Sept 2010. <http://www.jaapl.org/cgi/content/full/33/2/252>.

7.    American Medical Association: Concise Medical Encyclopedia. Ed. Martin S. Lipsky, MD. Random House, 2003. Print.

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9.    Rossman, Philip L., and Robert M. Vock. “Postpartum Tetany and Psychosis Due to Hypocalcemia.” California Medicine 85.3. 1956: 190–93. eBook.

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12.    Birchwood, M, and P Trower. "The Future of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis: Not a Quasi-Narcoleptic." British Journal of Psychiatry. 188. 2006. 108. eBook.

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14.    Nathans-Barel, I, P Feldman, B Berger, I Modai, and H Silver. "Animal-Assisted Therapy Ameliorates Anhedonia in Schizophrenia Patients." Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 74. 1. 2005. 31–35. eBook.

15.    Birchwood, M, P Todd, and C Jackson. "Early Intervention in Psychosis: The Critical Period Hypothesis". British Journal of Psychiatry. 172. 33. 1998. 53–59. eBook.

16.    French, Paul, Anthony Morrison. Early Detection and Cognitive Therapy for People at High Risk of Developing Psychosis. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons, 2004. eBook.

17.    Murthy, Prof. KR Srikantha. Vagbhata’s Ashtanga Hridayam. 3. Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 2008. Print.

18.    Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention & Longevity. 1. Bayville: Ayurveda Holistic Center Press, 1998. Print.

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An Ayurvedic and Yogic Perspective of Mental Illness (by Gauri Eleanora Trainor C.A.S)

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Ayurvedic & Western approaches to the treatment of Schizophrenia (by Rubén Vega, MA)

Overview

Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest and most complete systems of natural healing which offers comprehensive and holistic treatment for physical and mental disorders. It promotes physical health and healing of the mind through diverse methods focused on treating all the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of each individual affected with physical and mental disorders. In a review Of the literature from the classical Ayurvedic texts to current Ayurvedic literature  As well as the most current Western Psychological / Psychiatric  Approaches to the treatment of schizophrenia. I will research the causes,  theories, and treatment methods utilized by these two divergent approaches in the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental disorders.  In addition, I will also briefly describe some of the Ayurvedic’s spiritual therapies and factors to the treatment of mental disorders.

Introduction

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 2.4 million American adults, or about 1.1 percent of the population age 18 and older in a given year have schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia is found all over the world, in all races, cultures and social classes. It affects 1 out of 100 people worldwide.  “More than two million Americans are affected by schizophrenia and approximately 1 percent of the population develops schizophrenia during their lifetime. More than 2 million Americans suffer from the illness in a given year and one out of every 10 people with schizophrenia commits suicide.” 1. (www.nimh.nih.gov).  “Approximately 10 percent of people with schizophrenia (especially younger adult males) commit suicide.”(2). (www.nimh.nih.gov). “It is generally assumed that suicide is a problem only for those with major depression.  This assumption is, unfortunately, not true. Suicide rates among people with schizophrenia are alarmingly high; in fact, suicide is the number one cause of premature death. Ten to thirteen percent kill themselves, and close to fifty percent attempt suicide at some point in their lives.”
(3). Keefe, H arvey, (1994). Number the citation+ give the page number from where you took quote.
Schizophrenia has been considered one of the most chronic, disabling, and difficult to understand of the mental disorders since ancient times.  People with this illness suffer with a loss of individual potential and personal anguish, resulting in significant psychological and social consequences.  People with schizophrenia suffer terrifying symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and distorted perceptions of reality, disordered thinking, lack of emotional expression and communication problems.

This often leaves them fearful, anxious, confused, and withdrawn for the rest of their lives.  A wide range of reason or events can and might lead some people to run a risk for suicide, although this risk may be higher for individuals with schizophrenia.  The underlying causes are the same for those who are afflicted with this disease. Some of the causes can be depression, feelings of hopelessness, being unemployed, being unmarried, experiencing deteriorating health and recent traumatic experiences and/or stress.

 Due to those reasons listed above, schizophrenia is considered a devastating disorder like no other, causing pervasive and profound social, economic and personal impact on those afflicted. Most of the people with schizophrenia continue to suffer chronically or episodically throughout their lives.  It has been estimated that no more than one in five individuals recover completely.

What is schizophrenia?  Why is schizophrenia still considered one of the most fearsome and disabling mental disorders?   What are the Western Psychiatric/psychological theories of Schizophrenia? What is the Ayurvedic interpretation of schizophrenia and mental illness?  What are the treatment methods utilized by psychiatric/Psychological approaches and Ayurvedic medicine in the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders?   And, what Ayurvedic treatments are available for people suffering with mental illness? These are just a few questions that will be answered in the following pages.      

Western definition of Schizophrenia

According to Western Psychiatry, Schizophrenia is not a split personality condition, but a chronic relapsing psychotic disorder that primarily affects thought and behavior.  According to DSM-V, schizophrenia is described as  “ a disturbance that lasts for at least six months and includes at least one month of active-phase symptoms (i.e., two (or more) of the following: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, negative symptoms)”.   DSM-IV criteria identify five subtypes of schizophrenia: Paranoid type, disorganized type, Catatonic type, undifferentiated type, and Residual type. All of these vary by their degree of severity and symptomatology.  

Ayurevedic Interpretation of Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Disorders

As noted by Dr. Halpern, Ayurvedic medicine offers the opportunity to understand the nature of the mind in a way that is completely unique and quite different from the variety of the Western Psychological and Psychiatric medicine models. “Ayurvedic medicine views psychotic disorders (schizophrenia) as the imbalance of energies on an inner level. According to Ayurveda and occult science, behind the gross physical is a subtle or astral body composed of the life-force, emotions and thoughts. The astral is a subtle form or underlying energy pattern of the physical, from which the physical is produced (3). Frawley (1989).
In the ancient texts of Ayurveda, there are detailed descriptions of mental disorders known as “Unmada”, and schizophrenia can be correlated with many of the types of “Unmada.  Ayurvedic’s physicians describe schizophrenia as a disorder of the mind caused by the doshas (vata, kapha, and vata.)  Moving in the wrong paths due to increased toxicity.  According to the classical Ayurvedic texts, the Charaka Samhita, insanity is defined as, “the perversion of the mind, intellect, consciousness, knowledge, memory, desire, manners, behavior, and conduct”.  It is denominated as insanity (umada) because it is madness (mada) of the mind caused by a deviation (unmarga) of the humors”.  Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha, (1998).

Western theories of the causes of Schizophrenia

The real causes of schizophrenia are unfortunately not known, however, there are several theories and hypotheses of the etiology of schizophrenia.  Western scientists and psychologists do not yet understand all the factors that produce schizophrenia.  An interaction of sociological, biological, and psychological factors seems to contribute to the condition. Schizophrenia also may result from various factors such as drug abuse, aging, and/or brain injuries and diseases. 

One of the more influential views of the origins of schizophrenia is the theory of biochemical and brain dysfunction.  This view attempts to “identify the biological abnormalities that are inherited or developed by persons with schizophrenia.  The two most likely candidates are biochemical abnormalities and abnormal brain structure.  It also involves disturbances of the brain’s chemistry, anatomy, and physiology, which in turn distort perceptions and subjective experiences.  This hypothesis revolves around the idea that schizophrenic symptoms might be the result of overactivity of a neurotransmitter called dopamine.” Maxmen, J. & Ward, N. (1995).   This theory is supported by the fact that drugs, which increase dopamine activity, can bring about a worsening of psychotic symptoms.

The treatment methods for schizophrenia with this biological view are based on clinical research and experience. (1)Antipsychotic medications treat the symptoms of the disorder, but do not cure schizophrenia.  “These medications reduce the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia and usually allow the patient to function more effectively and appropriately.  Antipsychotic drugs appear to be the best treatment now available, but they do not cure schizophrenia or ensure that there will be no further psychotic episodes. The antipsychotic drugs include two major classes: dopamine receptor antagonists (for example: Chlorpromazine (Thorazine), haloperidol (Haldol), sulpiride) and serotonin-dopamine antagonists’ drugs (per example, risperidone (Risperdal) and clozapine (Clozaril)). Kaplan, S. & Sadock, B. (1998)

Genetic theories state that biology produces schizophrenia and environment alters its course.  More specifically, genetic and other biological factors create various degrees of vulnerability to schizophrenia.  Whether, and how severely, the predisposed individual Becomes schizophrenic depends on a mix of biological factors (e.g., severity of heredity, prenatal complications, or slow viruses).  Genetic scientists believe that “some people inherit a biological predisposition to schizophrenia and, in accordance with a diathesis-stress model, come to develop the disorder when they are confronted by extreme stress, usually during early adulthood.” (Gottesman, 1991).  Since schizophrenia tends to be familial, but does not follow a classical pattern of inheritance, the study of genetic factors in this disorder has been complicated.  It is extremely unlikely that a single gene will ever be found that is responsible for all cases of schizophrenia in the population.

Another theory is based on psychosocial influences.  The psychological view is based on the principle that “psychological factors are critical in the development of schizophrenia, (traumatic childhood experiences, intense negative intrafamiliar communication) substantially affect the extent of recovery; probability of relapse, overall quality of life, and the symbolic meaning attributed to the disorder.” Maxmen & Ward, (1995).  The leading psychological explanations have come from the psychodynamic, behavioral, family, existential, and cognitive perspectives.

Causes of Insanity from an Ayurvedic perspective.

From the writings extracted from the classical text: the Caraka Samhita by R. K. Sharma and Bhagwan Dash, the causes of inanity are due to  “having unhealthy foods which area spoiled, unaccustomed, contamined and using (food and drinks) improper manner; those who are dejected due to worry, grief, etc.), who are weak mind due to the effect of sudden increase of disease, emaciated persons indulging in activities in improper ways, doing mistakes in the method of worship, by doing sinful acts, loss of balance of mind, by the effects of strong poisons or weak poisons due to these reasons the doshas getting increased in the mind in persons of feeble mind, produces vitiation of the mind, and invading the manovaha shrotas channels of the mind / caused insanity”. Asthanga-Hrdaya of Vagbhta: the book eight branches of Ayurveda, (1994).
     In current literatures, Dr. David Frawley describes that, “mental disorders are caused by emotional stress, poor upbringing, repressive religion, coming under the influence of disturbed individuals, sexual abuse or perversion, and taking drugs”. Frawley, (1989).   Dr. Frawley further adds that metal illness are also caused by excess thinking or by the strain in yogic or meditation practices naively opening up to the influences the astral plane, and through occult methods”. He also states that “mental disorders, including schizophrenia are caused by a vitiation of sattva; that is, by a disturbance of the inherent clear quality of the mind. This occurs though excess rajas and tamas turbulence and darkness in the mind. Too much rajas involves excess of anger, hatred and fear, excessive nervousness, worry, and anxiety. Too much tamas involves excess sleep, dullness, apathy, inertia and the inability to perceive things as they are”. Frawley, (1996).

According to the Asthanga-Hydaya of Vagbhata insanity is a toxicity / disorder to the mind caused by dohas (vata, etc.) moving in the wrong paths due to their increase”. It also said that having unhealthy foods which are spoiled, unaccustomed, contamined and using (food and drinks) improper manner, those who are dejected due to worry, grief, etc.), who is weak mind due to the effect of sudden increase of disease, emaciated persons indulging in activities in improper ways, doing mistakes in the method of
worship, by doing sinful acts, loss of balance of mind, by the effects of strong poisons or weak poisons due to these reasons the doshas getting increased in the mind in persons of  Feeble mind produces vitiation of the mind, and invading the manovaha shrotas channels  Of the mind/ caused insanity”. All these corruptions causes the intelligence, understanding, and memory to go astray.  Because of that, the body loses any sense of joy or sorrow, and wanders about purposelessly like a chariot which has lost its driver”.

According to ancient medical texts written by the first Ayurvedic physicians, There are six kinds of insanity that arise from each of the humors, from a conjunction of them, from mental anguish, and from poisoning. Regarding the development of mental illness, Ayurvedic physician’s states that “The corruption of certain mental and physical things can cause the inflammation of the humors in the heart of someone whose mental faculty is weakened. Next, it causes defilement of the intelligence, destruction of the pathways along which mind flows and, finally, insanity. Wujastyk, (1998).

Types of insanity (unmada)

Wind insanity: (vayu)
“Wind gives rise to the following: an emaciated body; inappropriate lamenting,
shouting, laughing, and smiling, as well as dancing, singing, playing music, talking,
posturing, bursting out; repeatedly and tunelessly imitating the sound of a flute, veena, or other instrument; frothing at the mouth; constantly wandering about; ceaseless talking; using things which are not ornaments as decoration; trying to travel on things which are not vehicles; being greedy for food, but spurning it once it has been obtained; bulging, Bloodshot eyes, and illness after foods had been digested.” Wajastic, (1998). Swami Sada Shiv Tirtha notes, “Vayu insanity is also caused by fasting or an excessive intake of dry or cold foods. This affects the heart and mind with worry, passion, and anger which results in distortion of memory and perceptions.” Swami Sada Shiv Tirtha, (1998). 

 Frawley states that when high vata, as excess ether, makes us ungrounded, spaced-out and unrealistic. We may have various wrong imaginations, hallucinations or delusions, like hearing voices. High vata in the mind manifests as fear, alienation, anxiety and possible nervous breakdown. There is insomnia, tremors, palpitations, unrest and rapid shifts of mood. Insanity of the manic depressive type or schizophrenia is an extreme vata imbalance”. Frawley, (1996).

Choleric Insanity: (pitta)

Choler gives rise to threatening behavior, fury, and charging at people with fists stones,
and the like. The patient craves coolness shade, and water. He goes naked, and has a
yellow color. He sees thing which are not there, such as ire, flames, stars, and lamps.
Pitta insanity results from indigestion, excess of hot, pungent, sour, or burning foods and
liquids, excesses pitta afflict the heart of the person lacking self-control. Wajastic (1988).
Frawley notes that the “fire and heat of pitta cause the mind to be narrowed and contentious, fighting either with others or with themselves. High pitta in the mind causes agitation, irritation, anger, and possible violence. The overheated body and mind seek release in venting the build-up tension. Pitta types can become domineering, authoritarian or fanatic. When disturbed they many have paranoid delusions, delusion of grandeur or can become psychotic.” Frawley, (1996).

Phlegmatic Insanity: (kapha)

Phlegm causes the patient to lose any desire for food. It causes vomiting, and a reduction
in motivation, appetite, and conversation. It causes a lust for women. It causes the patient
to enjoy solitude. He dribbles mucus and snot, and is very frightening. He hates being
clean. He sleeps, and has puffy face. This insanity is stronger at night, and just after
eating. This is caused by the overeating and excessive use of oily foods. This is
aggravated kapha afflicts the heart, troubling the mind and memory.  Wajastic, (1988)
Frawey stated that kapha type evolves attachment and lack of motivation lading to depression, sorrow, and clinging. The mind may be incapable of abstract, objective or impersonal thinking. There is lack of drive and motivation along with passivity and dependency”. Frawley (1996).

Conjunctive Insanity: (trisdosha)

When there is a conjunction of all the sources of disease, and symptoms, then the
resulting insanity is dreadful. A physician should stay away from such a patient.
This caused by the excessed condition of all thee doshas. It is considered serious because
the therapies will aggravate one or more of the doshas. Therefore, this condition is
incurable. Wajastic, (1988).

Insanity cause by loss:
A person crushed by the unbearable loss of his possessions or of a loved one becomes
pale, depressed, and swoons frequently. “oh, oh” he groans. He wails for no reason. He
loses consciousness. He thinks a lot about the qualities of what he has lost. His mind is
Distraught with grief and he cannot sleep for worrying. He thrashes about. Wajastc, (1988).

Insanity caused by poison:
Poison makes the face dark the complexion, strength, and senses are all ruined. The
Patient is delirious even in between fits, and has bloodshot eyes. He should be avoided. Wajastic, (1988).

Western Psychiatric and Psychological Treatment for Schizophrenia

The primary method of treatment for these patients is the use of psychotropic medications, which aim to mitigate symptomology such as visual and auditory hallucinations, suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression.  The proper treatment of schizophrenia may include a combination of different techniques.
 Generally, medications for treating psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia are referred to as antipsychotic, or sometimes neuroleptics.  Examples of standard antipsycotics include Thorazine, Mellaril, Modecate, Prolixin, Navane, Stelazine and Haldol.  The newer antipsychotic drugs are called atypical antipsychotic medications are being used more and more frequently.  They are called “atypical” because they do not have the same chemical profiles as standard medication and seem to work in a different way causing fewer side effects while helping patients to stabilize.  Examples include Risperdone, Clozaril, Zyprexa and Seroquel.   Most patients have to take medication regularly to keep their illness under control. It is not possible to know in advance which medication will work best for an individual.  Many medication adjustments may be required.  This period of trial and error can be very difficult for everyone involved. Some medications have unpleasant side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, stiffness, restlessness, muscle spasms, tremor, and blurring vision.

I have also observed that even patients who respond well to psychotropic medication continue to have secondary symptoms such as lethargy, disinterest, excessive sleep, lack of spontaneous emotions and other symptoms of relapse. In addition, patients often develop multiple medication adverse effect, but these can be corrected by lowering the dosage or controlled by other medications.  Different patients have different treatment responses and side effects to various antipsychotic drugs.
“Other biological therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy, although less effective than antipsychotic drugs, may be indicated for catatonic patients and for patients who for some reason cannot take antipyshcoitc drugs.  In the past, schizophrenia was treated with insulin and barbirute-induced coma, but these treatments are no longer used because of the associated hazards.  Psychosurgery, particularly frontal lobotomy, was used from 1935 to 1955, and is no longer considered an appropriate treatment.”
Kaplan, S. (1998).

Although antipsychotic medications are the mainstay of the treatment for schizophrenia, research has found that psychosocial interventions can increase the clinical status.  One of the main modalities used in psychosocial therapies is behavioral therapy.  This therapy uses techniques such as token economies and social skills training to increase social abilities, self-sufficiency, practical skills, and interpersonal communication.  Skills-based programs can lead to an improvement in life functioning and the subsequent discharge of people with schizophrenia who have had long-term stays in psychiatric facilities. 

Cognitive therapy is used to improve cognitive distortions, reduce distractibility, and correct errors in judgment.  Group therapy focuses on real life plans, problems, and relationships.  “Because patients with schizophrenia frequently become ill during the critical career forming years of life (e.g., ages 18 to 35), they are less likely to complete the training required for skilled work.  As a result, many suffer with lack of social and work skills and experience as well.” (www.nimh.gov).  Rehabilitation programs emphasize social and vocational training to help patients and former patients to overcome difficulties in these areas.  These programs include vocational counseling, job training, problem solving, money management skills, use of transportation, and social/communication skills training.

Although schizophrenia is not yet a “curable” disease, the treatment for this illness is more effective today than ever before, largely because of the careful thinking and research that has gone into it.  The most successful treatment programs are the ones that use a multimodal approach.  They use the proper treatment of schizophrenia that includes the following: medication, education, family counseling, residential and rehabilitation programs, self-help groups, nutrition, rest and exercise. 

  Ayurvedic Medicine Treatment methods of Schizophrenia

 Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic system of medicine that treats mental disorders from mild stress to severe condition, including insanity (psychosis). “Ayurveda employs whole series of yogi and spiritual therapies, including meditation, pranayama, mantra, prayers, visualizations, and rituals called “spiritual therapy” (daiva cikitsa).’ Frawley, (1998).

Ayurvedic’s treatments methods first works on balancing the biological humors through appropriate physical remedial methods of diet, herbs, and exercise. One of the best Ayurvedic’s treatment for schizophrenia includes panchakarma chikitsa. Some Ayurvedic formulations are Mahakalyanak ghrita, Vachadi churna, Purana ghrita, and Saraswatharistha. According to Frawley, all psychological disorders, including psychotic disorders reflect imbalances of the three biological humors. He says, “Health problems, whether physical or mental, are not merely personal problems, but energetic problems in the mind-body complex. They are not so much personal or moral failings as an inability to harmonize the forces within us” Frawley (1996). The imbalances caused by the lack or harmony in our lives weaken the doshas that afflict the heart where there is less sattwa in ones’s life and the mind. The disease develops through the  manovaha srota that sends psychic energy to the mind”

Treatment differentiation: Vata, pitta, and kapha type insanity

Frawley reports that for mental disorders, including schizophrenia treatments are similar that neurosis type and  Pancha karma treatment is recommended as a stronger method.

Vata type insanity: Dr. Frawley states that nourishing and sedating herbs are required, especially ashwagandha and its various preparations. Sarpagandha, rauwolfia serpentine, is an important ayurvedic herb for mental disorders. Other good herbs include valerian, guggul, jatamansi and calamus. Other therapies recommended are oil and ghee therapies, including oil enemas. Oil and ghee if the air passages are not blocked and laxatives which are given with the oils and ghee to remove the blocks.

Pitta type Insanity:  purgation is recommended, even with strong purgatives, is often helpful. The more violent type, the more purgation is required. Good herbs for this include rhubarb root, senna and aloe. Gotu kola is generally the best herb others are bhringaraj, sandalwood and passion flower. Shatavari is good for promoting a sense of love and compassion and is better for weaker pitta types. Also, oleation and fomentation therapies are recommended, then purgatives, followed by emetics. Also, medicated enemas evacuation from the head with jatamashi and gotu kola.

Kaph type insanity:  is recommended spicy brain-stimulating herbs. The treatment is mainly expectorant, to clear phlegm from blocking the channels and obstructing mental functioning. Important herbs are calamus, basil, bayberry, sage, myrrh, and guggul, which have good expectorant action. Other formulas include trikatu with ghee or calams ghee.

Other important miscellaneous therapies:

Other miscellaneous therapies describe in current Ayurvedic texts include, Abhyanga, shirodhara, shirobasti, ghee to stimulate the mind, intellect, memory and consciousness; and applying thick ointments. In addition, other Ayurvedic treatments recommend different kinds of nasal medicines mixed with mustard and oil. It is also recommended face and head massage with mustard oil and the inhalation of mustard powder. Other more intrusive treatments recommended were bloodletting and shock treatment. Some alternative treatments recommended for the insanity by the first Ayurvedic physicians were to help the patient’s mind to become still by throwing the patient into a dry well and keep him hungry until he/she is emaciated; send a policemen to grab the patient and take the patient outside and intimidate him/her with corporal punishment, and threatening him/her in the name of the king; terrify the patient with name lions, elephants or snakes whose fangs have been drawn or with knives in one’s hands or with tribesman, enemies, or robbers; tie the patient up, flog him and then cast him/her into a pit or into a completely dark room which has no knives, stones, or people in it; and to  friend may comfort the patient with conversations that inculcated virtue and profits; “  Wujastic, (1998).

Ancient ayurvedic herbal formulations for any mental disorders.

1. brahmi ghee-( 4 days worth).
Ingredients: Brahmi- 50 mgs., shankha pushpin-50 mgs., Ashwagandha-50 mgs.,  jatamanshi 50 mgs., and Ghee -100 mgs. Dose: 1 tsp. 2 times daily.
Preparation: make a paste from the herbs and roll into a ball, boil the ghee and add the paste and cook for1/2 hour, and filter. Swami Sada Shiva irtha (1998).
2. Cow’s urine potion:
“Cow’s urine is cooked in about three kilograms of ghee, together with about 200 grams of asofoetida, dark salt, and a mixture of black pepper, long pepper and dried ginger this is the best thing for banishing insanity” Wajastic, (1998 ).

The principles of treating mental disease

In the current body of literature, Dr. Marc Halpern writes, “All mental disease originates in a lack of clarity (sattwa) within the mind”. He adds, “The primary goal of spiritual healing is the cultivation of sattwa through proper lifestyle and through all five senses”. In addition, Dr. Halpern points out that some general principles are needed to heal the mind, including spending more time in nature, mediation practices, and yoga (8 limbs). He also adds that avoiding the influence of the media and eating a sattvic diet helps to restore the mind. Finally, it is also recommended to increase ojas and balance prana, tejas.

Summary

As noted by Psychiatric professionals, schizophrenia is not yet a “curable” disease, but the treatment for this illness is more effective today than ever before, largely because of the careful thinking and research that has gone into its main treatment method,  antipsychotic medication.  However, it is well known the multiple short and long-term mental and physical side effects caused by anti-psychotic medication.  Some of the of the “less serious” side effects include dry mouth, diarrhea, constipation, cough, and blurry vision. And some of the more serious long term side effects include, tardive dyskinesia, low white blood cell count, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, memory loss, uncontrollable body movements, unexplained muscle weakness, suicidal thoughts, liver failure, diabetes, weight gain, digestive problems, heart disease, sexual dysfunction,  degenerative disorders, among others. I believe the most successful treatment approaches are the ones that use a multimodal and holistic approach.

Ayurvedic medicine can be of great assistance to the treatment of people suffering from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. In addition to all the therapies described above, Ayurvedic Medicine employs a whole series of Yogic and spiritual therapies not yet explored by Western approaches for the treatment of mental illness. Some of these spiritual therapies include meditation, pranayanma, mantra, prayer, and visualizations besides its regular physical healing means and modalities to treat mental conditions such as herbal medicine, education, yoga, diet/nutrition, aromatherapy, and color therapy.
Unfortunately, Ayurvedic medicine is not totally yet incorporated as a complementary therapy to the treatment of mental disorder by Western Medical establishment. Although Western treatment methods for the treatment of schizophrenia are more effective today, still there is no cure and not a single effective Western treatment method for schizophrenia. Most of the western methods are more focused on improving their quality of life, minimize symptoms, prevent suicide, avert relapses, enhance the patient’s self- esteem, and to improve social and occupational functioning.  In addition, Psychiatric treatment methods are to stabilize the patient’s symptoms, reduce the need for psychiatric hospitalizations and to increase the patient’s social and independent living skills.  Unfortunately there is no scientific research done on Ayurvedic treatment for schizophrenia that can validate the effectiveness of its treatment methods. Finally, Ayurvedic medicine offers a great hope for people with psychotic disorders that can help them to live a more balanced life. As noted by Frawley, “Ayurveda teaches harmony with nature, simplicity and contentment as the keys to well being. Ayurveda shows us how to live in a state of balance in which fulfillment in a matter of being, not becoming. It connects us with the wellsprings of creativity and happiness within our own consciousness, so that we can permanently overcome our psychological problems”. Frawley, (1998).

References

Keefe, R., and Harvey, P. (1994).  Understanding schizophrenia: A guide to the new research on causes and treatment. New York: The Free Press.
Manxmen, J., and Ward, N., (1995). Essential psychopathology and its treatment. New York: Norton.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Liberman, R. (1988). Psychiatric rehabilitation of chronic mental patients. Washington, DC: American Psychology Association.
Comer, R. (1992). Abnormal Psychology. New York: Freeman and company.
Kaplan, H., and Sadock, B. (1998). Synopsis of Psychiatry: Behavioral Science / Clinical Psychiatry. Pa: Rose Tree Corporate Center.
British Columbia Schizophrenia Society. (2001, April). Basic facts about schizophrenia: National Institute of Mental Health. (1999, June 1). Schizophrenia. Retrieved from http:www.nimh.gov/publicat/schizoh.htm
A Review of Schizophrenia by Dr. B. Green, consultant Psychiatrist, UK. (1995). Schizophrenia an independent review article in Psychiatry on-line. Retrieved from http://www.pol-it.org//schizo.htm
Schizophrenia Research at the National Institute of Mental Health. (1999, April 14). Schizophrenia research. Retrieved from http://nimh.gov/publicat/schizresfact.htm

American Institute of Vedic Studies
Frawley, (2004) Ayurvedic Healing Course for Health Care Professionals Part IV
Santa Fe, N.American Institute of Vedic Studies.
.Frawley, (1989). Ayurveda and the Mind the healing of Consciousness
Salt Lake City, Utah. Passage Press
Wujasty, (1998). The Roots of Ayurveda.  London. Penguin books
Halpern. (2005)  Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine.  8th edition.
Grass Valley CA. California College of Ayurveda.
Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha. (1998). The Ayurveda Encyclopedia. Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, & Longevity. First edition. Bayville. NY. Ayurveda Holistic Center Press.

Ayurvedic Approaches to the Treatment of Depression: By Laura Perlin

Ayurvedic Management of Bipolar Disorder

By: Josh Greene

Introduction
    Bipolar disorder is a Western psychological diagnosis, characterized by mood swings between elation or mania and depression. It has an extensive amount of symptoms and manifestations that can vary greatly depending on the constitution, environment and imbalances of the individual. In susceptible individuals, bipolar disorder is primarily amplified by low ojas (immunity, strength, contentment, ability to cope) and high vata (biological principle of movement and dryness) in the mind and nervous system. As we shall discover, Ayurveda offers a multitude of holistic tools and ways of approaching this disease that can restore health so as to not rely as heavily on conventional treatments.

Western Definition
    “Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time.”   Modern psychology defines several subcategories of bipolar disorder that make up a spectrum of possible manifestations. All of these types are characterized by extreme mood swings that alternate between mania, hypomania (elevated, euphoric, hyperactive or irritable mood) and depression or can exist in a variety of combinations simultaneously. Bipolar I disorder involves episodes of the most severe high and low mood swings and is your classic manic to depressed presentation.  It is defined as: “One or more manic episodes.”   Bipolar II disorder is a milder form, involving episodes of hypomania that alternate with depression. It is defined as: “No manic episodes, but one or more hypomanic episodes and one or more major depressive episode.”   Cyclothymic disorder describes even milder mood changes. It is defined as: “A history of hypomanic episodes with periods of depression that do not meet criteria for major depressive episodes.”   When the episodes do not fall into the previous three subcategories, the term Bipolar Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) is used and defined as: “A catchall category, diagnosed when the disorder does not fall within a specific subtype.”   Another subcategory is “rapid cycling,” which can pertain to any of the aforementioned subtypes. It is characterized by frequency and is defined as: “A patient who presents with more than four or five episodes in 1 year.”    This disease is quite different from normal mood states of happiness and sadness that everyone experiences, symptoms of bipolar disorder can be quite severe and potentially life threatening.

Ayurvedic Definition
    Traditional Ayurveda has no specific equivalent disease for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder written in the classical Ayurvedic texts. One of the main ancient treatises on Ayurveda is the Charaka Samhita. It uses the term “Unmada” as a very general term for insanity. Insanity according to the author Charak is “wandering about of mind, intellect, consciousness, knowledge, memory, inclination, manners, activities and conduct.”   Charak goes on to describe five different types of insanity. While none of these perfectly correlate to the western description of bipolar disorder, some of the descriptions and symptoms are similar and some parallels can be drawn. Fitting a set of symptoms into the diagnosis of a particular disease is not a prerequisite to treating it using Ayurvedic methods.  Bipolar disorder manifests due to imbalances in the three fundamental biological qualities that govern the body and mind; vata, pitta and kapha; and the mental principles of sattva, rajas and tamas, which are the “qualities of consciousness.”  
    Some modern Ayurvedic practitioners liken bipolar disorder to being a lack of stability or ojas, which leads to difficulty sustaining emotional responses.   Ojas is defined to “maintain immunity, strength, integrity, and vitality.”   It acts as the container that holds the other two energies in the body: tejas, the energy of intelligence and discrimination; and prana, the body’s life energy. These three subtle energies are the forces that govern the functioning of the mind.  During the elated or manic phase, prana and tejas are high and during the depressive state, prana will be low and tejas can be either high or low.

Signs and Symptoms (Rupa and Laksana)
    Bipolar disorder is a disease in which individuals experience periods of elation, either manic or hypomanic and periods of abnormal depression that interfere with functioning in daily life.  In general, men tend to have more frequent elated or manic episodes, while women more often depressive episodes. The peak age of onset is in the early thirties. 
The elated and vata symptoms of bipolar disorder include talkativeness, excessiveness, racing thoughts, hyper-sexuality, euphoria and impulsive over-spending (of money, time, energy). Some other manic and more pitta type symptoms include over-confidence, irritability, aggression or anger directed outwardly against other people, under-sleeping and hyperactivity. On the other side of the coin are the depressive (more kaphic) symptoms of bipolar disorder, including feelings of sadness, lethargy, lack of enthusiasm, apathy, lack of appetite, lack of sexual interest, over-sleeping and hypoactivity. It should be noted that while there are typical vata, pitta and kapha symptoms, you could have for example a depression that is primarily governed by vata, pitta or kapha. “There are many people who say, "well if anxiety is due to vata then depression must be due to kapha, because it is heavy." Well, that’s sometimes true, but not always true in fact severe depression tends to be more of a vata condition.”   Emptiness, hopelessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, insomnia, restlessness, memory problems, uncontrollable crying, weight loss, despair and even suicidal thoughts are also all symptoms of depression that are chiefly vata symptoms.  All of these listed symptoms can manifest in the short term as well as the long term and can appear in countless combinations, making each patient a unique case.

Etiology and Pathology (Nidana and Samprapati)
    In western medicine the exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. Genetics are a substantial factor in the disease manifestation, but it rarely appears without environmental circumstances such as traumatic life events or extreme social stressors. It is found to be more common among individuals who are affluent, extroverted, achievement-oriented and use activity to combat depression.  Outwardly, bipolar disorder is seemingly two opposing high and low conditions that have a pendulum type correlation to each other. However there can be aspects of anxiety, elation or mania even during depressive states and vise versa.  While multiple doshas will likely be involved in the oscillations of bipolar disorder, the very changeability of this disease points to an underlying variable vata imbalance as the principal doshic disturbance. “High Vata in the mind manifests as fear, alienation, anxiety and possible nervous breakdown. There is insomnia, tremors, palpitations, unrest and rapid shifts in mood. Insanity, of the manic depressive type or schizophrenia, is an extreme Vata imbalance.”   More specifically, the cause is primarily samana vayu (vayu is another word for vata).   Dr David Frawley refers to samana vayu as “the equalizing life energy.”   Samana vayu literally means, “balancing air.” “In the mind, the role of samana vayu is to balance and stabilize the other vayus. When it is healthy, the other vayus find greater stability. When it is disrupted, a person loses control of his thoughts and feelings. Samana vayu is also responsible for absorbing sensory impressions into the workings of the brain and mind.”   The other two vayus that play an essential role in this disorder are prana and vyana. When prana vayu is disturbed it affects our thoughts and emotions. Prana is also responsible for the intake of impressions into the brain and mind as well as movement of neurotransmitters through the nervous system. Vyana is also responsible for movement in the nervous system and circulation of thoughts and emotions.  Aggravated pitta pushed by vata leads to the mental principle of rajas, which may result in mania. Rajas is defined as “quality of consciousness; the principle of kinetic energy; active, mobile.”   It is responsible for all movements, changes and excitability. Aggravated kapha pushed by vata leads to the mental principle of tamas, which may result in depression. Tamas is defined as “quality of consciousness; inertia.” and is responsible for sleep, heaviness, dullness and depression.   These two principles of the three basic mental states are destructive. The third being sattva which brings balance, light and purpose. The higher the air element in the vata, the faster the individual moves through the different cycles.
    Regardless of the doshic imbalance, all patients suffering from bipolar disorder are likely to have low ojas (contentment, ability to cope, vitality and immunity). This low ojas is the instability that is allowing the vata movement from one mood state to another. The patient will also be more susceptible to vata changes in mood when they are under stress. It is this stress that wears down the “container of ojas.”    As was mentioned previously, bipolar disorder usually doesn’t manifest until one’s twenties or thirties.  It is possible that as the patient moves out of the kapha phase of life into the busier more stressful pitta time of life, they lose the grounding of the water and earth elements and become more susceptible to the heat of pitta, which in turn contributes to the drying of vata. Changes in the underlying emotions are brought on by vata-provoking qualities in the individual’s lifestyle, habits, foods and activities. These qualities are dry, rough, light, cold, subtle and mobile.  Some specific etiologies include: Eating while anxious or depressed, eating on the run, taking in stimulants such as coffee or cigarettes, using intoxicants such as alcohol or recreational drugs, following irregular routines, traveling frequently, going to bed late, loud music or noise, engaging in excessive physical or sexual activity, failing to change with the seasons (especially autumn), overloading on stimulation such as TV, mass media, suppressing inner creativity and emotional sensitivity.  Bipolar disorder affects as many as 5.7 million American adults, which is about 2.6 percent of the population over the age of eighteen.  The disease is also quickly on the rise especially in children; one study showed as high as a 40-fold increase between 1995 and 2002.  One of the reasons for this could be the increasingly vatagenic environment to which today’s children are exposed.  “The fact that we have more of these problems is because our culture is over stimulating people.” “Wherever there is excess stimulation, the natural consequence is long term depression once the stimuli gets removed.”  
    The pathology path of vata’s movement through the body begins when vata accumulates and becomes aggravated in the purishavaha srota (colon). From there it overflows into the rasa dhatu (plasma tissue), and rakta dhatu (blood tissue). If the bodies’ tissues and pathways have preexisting weaknesses due to genetics or in the case of the brain and mind, emotional trauma, then under the right conditions repeated doshic disturbances will relocate to those sites. In the case of bipolar disorder, vata moves from the plasma and blood and relocates to the mano vaha srota (pathway of the mind) resulting in loss of awareness of one’s situation and fluctuations in emotional states. It also secondarily relocates into the majja dhatu (nervous tissue) and majja vaha srota (pathway of the nervous system), resulting in biochemical changes to the neurotransmitters being released effecting our thoughts.  Once vata has taken root in these tissues and pathways, it starts to manifest the myriad of signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Diagnosis (Nidanam)
    The Western diagnosis of bipolar disorder is based on symptoms and how they change and progress, as well as life and family history. There is no definitive biological test and diagnosis can be difficult even for an experienced psychologist or psychiatrist. The diagnosis is primarily based on the self history as well as what is reported by friends, family and co-workers “using the criteria for both manic and major depressive episodes.”   Both of these must have been present, and the subtype of bipolar disorder will depend on the frequency, severity and duration of the episodes.
    In Ayurvedic medicine the label of bipolar is not really relevant to treatment. Diagnosis is based on the patient’s prakruti (underlying constitution) and the past and present history of vikruti (short-term symptoms and doshic imbalances).  The practitioner must consider the long- and short-term state of doshas and subdoshas; the patient’s levels of ojas, tejas and prana; as well as the state of mental principles, sattva, rajas and tamas.  Ayurvedic practitioners must also identify the major stressors that are pushing the patient’s mental states to opposite poles. 

Western Medical Treatment
    There is no known cure for bipolar disorder. The two main Western methods for treatment are medications and psychotherapy. When used in conjunction, they have shown to be effective at preventing relapses and reducing the severity of the patient’s symptoms.  As Dr David Frawley states: “Modern Medicine attempts to change the consciousness through altering the chemistry of the brain.” 
    The main medications used are mood stabilizers such as lithium, valproic acid (Depakote) and lamotrigine (Lamictal); antipsychotics such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel) and aripiprazole (Abilify); and lastly, antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and bupropion (Wellbutrin).  These medications are an amazing product of modern science. They have a strong effect on brain chemistry and are often very useful for managing this disease and improving the lives of individuals. Any medical doctor can prescribe these medications, but typically a psychiatrist, rather than a family practice or other specialty physician, would manage bipolar disorder. The downsides to these medications include countless known side effects and imperfect research as to how they affect the body and mind in other ways especially long term. From an Ayurvedic perspective, these medications do not treat the deep doshic root causes of the disease, but rather they balance and suppress the manifesting symptoms. “One of the main problems with modern medicine is that acute care has become the primary care both for the physical and the psychological medicine, which often causes more trouble with the chronic diseases.”   It is also very possible that these medicines simply move the doshas into other parts of the body, only to negatively affect the health of the individual in other ways. For example, vata being pushed into the medas or asthi dhatu could cause wasting, osteoporosis, or arthritis; vata staying in the majja dhatu could lead to other types of brain problems, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s; vata entering the shukra dhatu could cause sterility or low libido. 
    The other main Western treatment is psychotherapy or “talk” therapy.  Some common psychotherapy treatments that have been used to treat bipolar disorder are:
    “Cognitive behavioral therapy, helps people with bipolar disorder learn to change harmful or negative thought patterns and behaviors.  Family-focused therapy includes family members. It helps enhance family coping strategies, such as recognizing new episodes early and helping their loved one. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy helps people with bipolar disorder improve their relationships with others and manage their daily routines. Regular daily routines and sleep schedules may help protect against manic episodes. Psychoeducation teaches people with bipolar disorder about the illness and its treatment. This treatment helps people recognize signs of relapse so they can seek treatment early, before a full-blown episode occurs.”  
    Usually a licensed psychologist, social worker, or counselor provides these therapies. The efficacy of therapy and medications was highlighted in the largest treatment study ever conducted for bipolar disorder. Researchers compared people in two treatment groups: the first was treated with three psychoeducation sessions over six weeks, while the second was treated with medication and thirty of the above mentioned types of intensive psychotherapy sessions over nine months. The results showed that group two individuals were more likely to get well faster and stay well longer with fewer relapses, lower hospitalization rates, and greater adherence to their treatment plans.   Some other Western treatment methods include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), sleeping medications, increased omega 3 fatty acid intake, ketogenic diets and canabanoids. All of these have mixed results or insufficient data to show significant usefulness.

Ayurvedic Treatment (Chikitsa)
    In management of any psychological disease, Ayurveda works to change the energetics of the mind.  The two main Ayurvedic treatments for managing bipolar disorder center on increasing our ojas and reducing our stressors. The stronger our ability to cope and withstand the stressors of the world, the less likely our moods will fluctuate between highs and lows. When ojas is strong  we are less likely to be buffeted by the doshas.  The more we identify our stressors and reduce them, the less ojas will be worn down.  The patient’s therapist and family are good allies in helping the patient identify these stressors. The main tools used in managing the mind are “diet and herbs on a physical level, prana and the senses working at a more subtle level, and mantra and meditation working more at the level of the mind itself.” 
    In dealing with the doshas, vata must be balanced first even if there are other current imbalances. The practitioner does not want simply to treat the current vikruti, only to drive the movement from one mood to another. It is no coincidence that many of the treatments for vata will also build ojas.  The main thing that helps both is to develop regular solid routines and stability. This includes: waking and sleeping times, eating times and food choices, work schedules and one’s general activities throughout the day.  Irregular patterns place stress on our body’s ability to function at its best. Some examples of this are regular mealtimes and bedtimes. When our body’s biological clock can anticipate meal or sleep times, it will release chemicals such as amylase, pepsin and acid needed to digest food in the former and chemicals such as melatonin needed to sleep in the latter. When the body is subject to irregularity, we will be prone to problems like indigestion and insomnia that put great stress on our bodies and reduce ojas. This is especially true of digestion, since we identified samana vayu as being the main causative factor in changes from one mood to another and the digestive tract as being the primary site of all doshic disturbances in the body.  Sleeping times are also important. Going to bed around 10:00pm and awakening near sunrise will help the body change mental states in the kapha times of day when it is more stable. The morning should be devoted to steady and healthy morning routines, including meditation and exercise.   Since vata has the qualities of: “cold, light, mobile, dry and piercing, and follows a transverse course,”  it is necessary to implement the opposite qualities in any treatment. Regardless of the type of treatment, an emphasis on warm, heavy, stable, moist, oily and dull qualities should be made.
    The best place to start in dealing with bipolar disorder is to identify and minimize stressors that trigger changes in the mood states. Family and friends may be useful in helping to identify what these are as patients may have some denial about this. Our society is largely work driven and it may be necessary for patients to reduce their workload in order to reduce stress and focus on their health. Prioritization of all the things one wants to do in order to create a more laid back and relaxed schedule can often be difficult. The patient’s surroundings at home can also be a major source of stress. Keeping the home tidy, free of clutter and clean helps to cultivate a more sattvic and stress free environment. Time in nature is also an excellent method for reducing stress, building ojas and pacifying vata.
    The most important factor concerning meals is eating at regular times each day and also making sure not to go without eating. Food pacifies vata and diet should emphasize whole grains, cooked vegetables, mung beans, meats, fresh dairy, nuts and oils in order to ground the patient and build up ojas. Generally, sweet, sour and salty tastes should be emphasized, as well as the qualities of warm, moist and heavy foods. When one is having a pitta manic phase, then cooler and blander foods may be useful, and during depressive states, spicier foods can be used. Canned, frozen, old, processed, microwaved and rancid foods should be avoided.   It is also important to stabilize blood sugar.  Increasing the ratio of fats and proteins in relation to carbohydrates and keeping simple carbohydrates to a minimum will help with this.  Coffee and other stimulants should be avoided since they will only serve to keep someone going artificially without getting true rest and will lead to more vata imbalance. Lunchtime should be the main meal of the day. It should last at least one hour and be taken at the same time, everyday while seated in a peaceful, distraction free environment in order to let food settle and digest before moving on to other activities. Some form of grace and blessing should be given before eating in order to help center ones mind. 
    When treating bipolar disorder with herbal therapies, nervine tonics become the most important for building stability and mental ojas. Nervine sedatives may be useful for elated or manic episodes and nervine stimulants may be useful for depressive states; however, the intent is not to force the brain out of a particular episode by providing herbal uppers or downers. While having sedatives and stimulants on hand is okay, the goal should be to balance the doshas and normalize the production of neurotransmitters using tonics.  A specific formula should depend on the particular constitution and state of the patient. Some generally good herb choices for tonics are ashwagandha, brahmi, shatavari, ginseng, shanka pushpi, nutmeg, skull cap, kappikacchu, haritaki and bhringaraj.  Also, jyotishmati, ginkgo, jatamamsi, oat straw, valerian root, St. John’s wort and Gotu Kola may be useful in some patients.   Brahmi is a great choice for any mood state since it can both act as a mild stimulant and sedative depending on what mood state needs to be balanced. Ashwagandha is very useful for building ojas and pacifying vata in the nervous system and mind. All of these herbs should be taken with herbs that aid in their digestion and absorption.  Triphala is a useful combination of three fruits that not only strongly reduces vata in the intestines, but also helps with the absorption of the other herbs and foods that are being taken and will exponentially multiply their effects. Since bipolar disorder is partially rooted in the nervous system, medicated ghees are an ideal medium for enabling these herbs to penetrate deeply into these tissues.
    The five sense therapies (vision, sound, taste, touch and smell) can be used to place the patient in balancing and restorative surroundings. Color therapy may be useful for the visual sense. Yellow, green, gold, blue, white, violet, and pastels in general are considered sattvic colors; gold and brown are considered to raise ojas; and yellow, green, gold, brown and purple are considered to decrease vata.   Colors can be applied to clothing, home décor, meditation and flowers. Music that the patient finds enjoyable or mantra therapy may be beneficial sound therapy. Since vata is rough, dry cold and sharp, touch therapy should have the opposite qualities. Clothing worn and bedding should be soft and warm. Regular, gentle and steady massage with lots of oil is also an excellent therapy for the touch sense. While professional massage is also excellent, daily self-massage with sesame oil is more affordable, easier to implement and offers the added benefit of self-love needed for more insecure vata type individuals. Aromas that may be useful to calm the mind during elation include sandalwood, chamomile, clary sage and jatamamsi.  For depression, rosemary, cinnamon, thyme, mint and eucalyptus may be useful to help get moving. Rose, basil and lavender may add balance to bipolar disorder.   They can be taken in the form of essential oils with an infuser, or by adding a few drops to a warm bath.
    Exercise can also be an important factor in managing the doshas, as well as helping one relax and sleep well. It is; however, important not to over exert oneself since that can deplete ojas. Generally, working out to half of one’s capacity is advised. Calming exercises like Yoga, Qi Gong, Pilates and Tai Chi are generally wise choices for all three doshas. Aikido, gardening, walking and gentle hiking are also good activities. When the patient is experiencing more pitta manic symptoms, then slow and cooling exercises are best like a cool walk in nature or slow swimming.  When the patient is in a more depressive state, mild running, team sports or Bikram Yoga may be of use.
    Panchakarma (“the five actions”) is the main Ayurvedic method for purification. “Owing to the subtle nature of its processes, it penetrates deep into the nervous system. It is useful for psychological problems caused by excess of the three doshas. Yet it can also be helpful for psychological problems caused by internal factors, emotions and karma.”     The practitioner must of course evaluate the state of the patient’s ama (toxins) and strength of ojas, before deciding on a plan for how aggressively to pursue panchakarma. Since the patient is likely to be low ojas, a slower palliative plan that focuses on strengthening the patient during purification is more likely to be useful. Since the primary problem is vata imbalance, a program with an emphasis on bastis (therapeutic enemas) should be adopted. If the patient is in a manic phase, virechana (therapeutic purgation) may be used and if the patient is in a depressed state, vamana (therapeutic emesis) may be an option. Oleation with medicated oils through abhyanga (Ayurvedic massage) is also a key therapy in palliation, as well as for managing vata whether or not it is a part of panchakarma. Shirodhara (flowing oil on the forehead) and shirobasti (oil in a crown on the head) are also highly recommended for their direct action on the brain, mind and subtle energy fields.
    In Ayurveda sleep is considered one of the great pillars of health. Sleep builds ojas and pacifies vata. Its importance for treatment of bipolar disorder cannot be understated. “There is also a connection between mental health and deep sleep.” “It is the state of deep sleep that allows the mind to renew itself.”   Sleep allows the body and mind to naturally rest and heal. Many of the other therapies, foods and herbs listed here help to regulate the body so that it can get enough quality sleep. Most sleeping pills are a class of drugs called “hypnotics” that put the body into trance-like states that do not go through the normal sleep stages. They do not provide the same quality of sleep as a natural, healthy sleep cycle.
    Meditation, breath, pranayama, as well as other yogic practices, are also of great importance in managing bipolar disorder. They have the ability to cultivate a sattvic mind, as well as to teach the patient how to manage the internal channels and energy moving through their body and mind. Meditation brings us back to a state of awareness that allows us to see the transient nature of things including our own moods and emotional states. Repetition of these practices actually has the ability to change our internal biochemistry, lessening the large fluctuations in our minds. While diet, herbs and lifestyle practices can do much on an outer level to pacify doshas and prevent disease, practices like meditation work on a much deeper and more fundamental level to change the subtle energies in our consciousness.
    Since Ayurveda is not a quick process and relies on the development of healthy routines and habits over a lifetime, it is important for a patient already diagnosed as bipolar to continue with the treatments laid out by his or her physician. If the patient has not received a formal diagnosis and the Ayurvedic practitioner, patient, or a patient’s family has concerns about a severe mood disorder, the patient should be referred to a primary care physician for evaluation.  Even if a patient currently seems stable, if there is a history of severe mood states and he or she falls back into them, then the patient will likely be unable to follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Western pharmacology can often provide the acute stability needed for the individual to work on developing long-term habits and routines.  A year on an Ayurvedic treatment plan would be a reasonable minimal timeframe for a patient to follow before talking with his or her physician about coming off medications. 

Conclusion
    Bipolar disorder is a multi-faceted disease consisting of periods of elation and depression. It is a condition of low ojas and high vata in the mind and nervous system. A regimen of Ayurvedic treatments to tonify, develop regularity and reduce stressors can help to build ojas and pacify the vayus. Ayurveda is useful for managing bipolar disorder because it is a holistic approach that looks at the constitution, the state of current imbalances, and the whole environment of an individual before deciding what is the best regimen to bring him or her into a balanced state.  It provides a complete package of useful everyday tools such as lifestyle, diet, herbs, purification and meditation that best suits the specific individual. This is contrasted with Western medicine, which has the tendency to put everyone with similar symptoms into the same box and provide them with pharmacological solutions that suppress symptoms but don’t solve the underlying problem. Ayurveda not only has the ability to treat symptoms of a psychological disease like bipolar disorder, but it can also move past the disease to identify its root causes and the underlying patterns affecting the individual. Combined with meditation and other yogic practices, Ayurveda works on the subtle aspects of mind to heal consciousness and release individuals from disease.

References

  "NIMH • Bipolar Disorder." NIMH • Home. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 06 Oct. 2009. Web. 02 June 2010. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml>.

  American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th, text revision (DSM-IV-TR) ed. 2000. ISBN 0-89042-025-4. Bipolar Disorder.  DSM-IV-TR. Bipolar I Disorder.

  ^ DSM-IV-TR. Diagnostic criteria for 296.89 Bipolar II Disorder.

  ^ DSM-IV-TR. Diagnostic criteria for 301.13 Cyclothymic Disorder.

  ^ DSM-IV-TR. Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)

  Judd, Lewis L., and Leighton Y. Huey. "Part Thirteen Psychiatry." Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. By Eugene Braunwald. 11th ed. New York [etc.: McGraw-Hill, 1987. 2085-087. Print.

  Charaka. Charaka Samhita Handbook on Ayurveda. Ed. Gabriel Van Loon. Vol. 2. Chaukhambha Orientalia, 2002.  1100. Print.

  Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda. Albuquerque, NM: Ayurvedic, 2002. 308. Print. 

  Thompson, Mary. "The Nervous System." AHP Level 2 Class. California College of Ayurveda, Grass Valley. 16 Sept. 2010. Lecture.

  Ibid Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda. 306.

  Halpern, Marc. Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine. 9th ed. Vol. 2. Grass Valley: California College of Ayurveda, 2007. Print. Textbook.

  Frawley, David, and Marc Halpern. Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression. Rec. 18 Nov. 2006. California College of Ayurveda, 2006. CD.

   Ibid Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 2086.

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression. Disc 4 “Anxiety and Depression”

  ^Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression. Disc 4 “Anxiety and Depression”

  ^Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression. Disc 4 “Anxiety and Depression”

  Frawley, David. Ayurveda and the Mind: the Healing of Consciousness. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus, 1997. 155. Print.

  Ibid "The Nervous System."

  Ibid Ayurveda and the Mind. 316.

  Halpern, Marc. Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine. 9th ed. Vol. 1. Grass Valley: California College of Ayurveda, 2007. Print. 81. Textbook.

  Ibid Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine. 9th ed. Vol. 1. 78-83.

  Ibid Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda. 308.

  Ibid Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda. 8.

  Ibid "The Nervous System."

  Yarema, Thomas, Daniel Rhoda, and Johnny Branningan. Eat-taste-heal: an Ayurvedic Cookbook of Modern Living. Kapaa, HI: Five Elements, 2006. 28-31 Print.

  ^ Eat-taste-heal: an Ayurvedic Cookbook of Modern Living. 31.

  Moreno, C., G. Laje, C. Blanco, H. Jiang, A. B. Schmidt, and M. Olfson. "National Trends in the Outpatient Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder in Youth." Archives of General Psychiatry 64.9 (2007): 1032-039. Print.

  ^ “National Trends in the Outpatient Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder in Youth.”

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression.

  Ibid Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 11th ed. 2086.

  Ibid "NIMH • Bipolar Disorder." How is bipolar disorder treated?

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression.

  Ibid "NIMH • Bipolar Disorder." Medications.

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression.

  Ibid Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda. Chapter 6.

  Ibid "NIMH • Bipolar Disorder." Psychotherapy.

  Miklowitz DJ, Otto MW, Frank E, Reilly-Harrington NA, Wisniewski SR, Kogan JN, Nierenberg AA, Calabrese JR, Marangell LB, Gyulai L, Araga M, Gonzalez JM, Shirley ER, Thase ME, Sachs GS. Psychosocial treatments for bipolar depression: a 1-year randomized trial from the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program (STEP). Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007 Apr;64(4):419-426.

  Ibid "NIMH • Bipolar Disorder." Other treatments.

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression.

  Ibid "The Nervous System."

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression.

  Ibid "The Nervous System."

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression.

  Bhishagratna, Kaviraj Kunjalal. An English Translation of Sushruta Samhitá: Based on Original Sanskrit Text with a Full Comprehensive Introduction, Additional Texts, Different Readings, Notes, Comparative Views, Index, Glossary and Plates. Varansi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1981. Chapter 1. Print.

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression.

  Ibid Psychology of Ayurveda: Treatment of Psychological Conditions.

  Ibid "The Nervous System."

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression.

  Ibid "The Nervous System."

  Frawley, David, and Vasant Lad. The Yoga of Herbs: an Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus, 2001. Print.

  Halpern, Marc. Psychology of Ayurveda: Treatment of Psychological Conditions. Grass Valley: California College of Ayurveda, 2006. Print.

  Ibid Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine. 9th ed. Vol. 2. 442.

  Ibid Psychology of Ayurveda: Treatment of Psychological Conditions.

  Ibid Ayurveda and the Mind. 203.

  Ibid Ayurvedic Psychology: Anxiety and Depression. Disc 3. “Prana, Tejas and Ojas”. Track 4.

Bipolar Disorder: from Western Medicine and Chronobiology to Ayurveda By: Lucia Pagani