Stress is a complex concept that has both mental and physiological components. Though most forms of stress are psychological, they trigger a variety of physiological changes. These changes include ones in the immune function, indicating a link between the stress and immune system.Stress-related cases have grown phenomenally over the last couple of decades. Psychiatrists believe that the growth has been about a thousand times in the last ten years. Medically, stress is defined as a perturbation of the body's internal equilibrium.
Today, stress and fatigue are like household commodities. Practically everyone has to face stress to some degree. Everyone needs to cope with the specter of a scarily frenetic lifestyle, which includes punishing work schedules, incessant travel, collapsing relationships, breakneck competition, a battle against age and illness, and the desire to remain ever-youthful and glamorous.
According to Ayurveda, there are three sub-doshas that govern the mind. Prana vata is the sub-dosha of vata that governs the brain, sensory perception and the mind. Tarpaka kapha is the sub-dosha of kapha that governs the cerebro-spinal fluid. And because acquisition, retention and recall originate in the heart, sadhaka pitta (the sub-dosha of pitta that governs the emotions and their effect on the heart) is also involved.
Typical symptoms of stress can be insomnia, loss of mental concentration, anxiety, absenteeism from work, depression, substance abuse, extreme anger and frustration, family conflict, and physical illnesses, such as heart disease, migraine, headaches, stomach problems, and back problems.
There are several kinds of Ayurvedic treatment that alleviate stress.
Herbs known as adaptogens are beneficial in alleviating stress. These herbs that promote adaptability to stress, include Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), ginseng (Panax ginseng), wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), borage (Borago officinalis), licorice (yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), and nettle (Urtica dioica). Traditionally, Ayurveda recommends the root of winter cherry or ashwagandha, shakpushadi, brahmi (gotu kola), jatamansi (muskweed), shakhpushpi, dhatri rasayan, praval pishti and the fruit of emblic myrobalan, among other herbs, to reduce stress and fix the imbalance in the vata dosha.
Research shows that certain Ayurvedic formulas made from herbs such as brahmi (gotu kola), shankapushpi (aloeweed), and guduchi (heart-leaved moonseed) reduces generalized anxiety, calms stress, while heightening alertness and preventing mental stress from mounting.
These special Ayurvedic herbs are called medhya herbs in traditional Ayurvedic texts, and are known to not only individually nurture certain areas of the brain (mind) sensitive to stress effects, but also to nurture coordination among them.
Ashwagandha or winter cherry enhances the mind's overall ability to fight stress, because it helps overall mental functioning. Jatamansi (muskroot) and greater galangal are additional herbs that clear the channels. These keep our mind and body free of toxins and blockages. Ashwagandha or winter cherry is a sharp, naturally cleansing herb, but in combination with jatamansi (muskroot) and greater galangal, it becomes an extremely effective agent for clearing the channels, enhancing agni or digestive fire and reducing ama (toxins).