Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Ayurveda As Alternative Anxiety Treatment
Whenever someone speaks of something like an alternative system of medicine, such as Ayurveda, most people think of the physical aspects of health. Most people don't associate things like emotional development, psychology, and anxiety medication to a system like Ayurveda. This is a reasonable assumption to make, mainly because systems like Ayurveda have always focused more on a combination of the physical and spiritual. Matters of the mind were viewed as outside the physical realm and, in a Western context, were seen as affairs to be handled by religious authorities. Other problems, such as anxiety and depression, may not have been recognized and, thus, were not studied under the purview of medicinal systems. Some doctors, most notably neurologist Dr. David Simon of the Chopra Center, believes that Ayurveda might be a legitimate alternative to anxiety medication and treatment. Anxiety, in the context of Ayurveda, is rooted in movements of things within a person's perception of what he is and what is in his domain. In theory, things that enter into a person's sphere of influence by force, such as a critical comment or pressures from work, can cause an imbalance in the mind and body. In a similar manner, a person would also need anxiety medication if something that was within their sphere of influence was forcibly taken from it, such as their sense of security or ability to perform certain tasks. These unwanted gains and losses can create imbalances in the harmony of the body that will persist until properly treated. Ultimately, the pain caused by this violation of one's sphere of influence causes pain that people must deal with. However, by ignoring it, bottling it up inside, denying it, or not dealing with it, that pain can cause further imbalance. Such imbalances, in the context of Ayurveda, can cause problems like depression, mood disorders, and anxiety. How, then, would Ayurveda propose to fix this problem? Like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda is about restoring balance to the body. Problems that create the need for medical intervention, whether it come in the form of antihistamines or anxiety medication, are caused by imbalances of certain factors in the body. These imbalances can be corrected using a variety of means, which include herbal tinctures, special massage techniques, meditation, and even the appropriate dietary adjustments. However, anxiety is a problem firmly rooted in things like emotions and thoughts, factors that Western medicine views as being controlled by the chemical balance of the brain. To the average patient, who likely does not have too much knowledge of Ayurveda or how it works, there is very little that any alternative medical system can do to alleviate psychological or psychiatric conditions. Ayurveda's philosophy with dealing with something like anxiety reflects a staple of psychiatric therapy: release. Practitioners, as stated above, believe that pain caused by violations of a person's sphere of self can cause anxiety – among other mental and mood conditions. This build-up of pain and emotions causes more than just cognitive effects; it also touches upon a person's physical well-being. Ayurveda practitioners help their patients locate this physical manifestation and proceed to attempt to correct it. They also promote finding ways to physically release that pain, but are not specific on how. It could be taking a walk or hitting a pillow, so long as it allows the patient to acknowledge, accept, and release the emotional build-up inside them.