An Ayurvedic View on Depression
by Dr. Vikas Gupta - Indian Medicine and Lifestyle Consultant
From an Ayurvedic point of view depressions are mostly caused by an imbalance of the Doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha, combined with a lack of self-confidence. Because of specific etiological factors the Doshas enter the general circulation and lodge the nervous system - Vata from the colon, Pitta from the intestines and Kapha from the stomach. This interferes with the normal functioning of the mind and can cause depression.
Certain lifestyle factors enhance the chance of getting a depression.
The main factors, which contribute to depressions are over-activity, irregular lifestyle, excessive consumption of caffeine or other stimulants, eating frozen foods, missing meals, frequent irritation or anger, daytime sleep, and many other factors that increase toxins in the body and mind.
To treat this condition appropriately, it is vital to undergo proper diagnosis.
Home Remedies to Treat Depression
- A variety of herbs, spices and bitters are used in Ayurveda, such as anise, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, licorice, nutmeg, sesame seeds etc.
- A mixture of Satavari, Jatamansi, brahmi, Amrita, Aswagandha and Vacha is very effective. Take 1teaspoon of this mixture twice a day with warm milk after food.
- 1 teaspoon Triphala powder at bedtime with warm water eliminates certain toxins from the body.
- Inhalation of 2 drops of Brahmi oil.
- Dashmoolarista or Sarasvatarista – 1 tablespoon with equal amount of water after food.
- Use Jyotismati oil for oral intake or massage over scalp.
- Another domestic remedy for depression is a tea made of Indian basil (tulsi) and sage. Use ½ teaspoon tulsi and ½ teaspoon of sage per cup of hot water; drink twice a day.
How can Eating the Right Food Make a Difference?
The main intention of a vegetarian diet (Sattvic) is to nourish the body tissues and thus prevent diseases. In order to nourish the tissues properly, the food must be digested by digestive fire. Indigestion can create a sticky toxic substance known as Ama, which is deposited in different body tissues forming a breeding ground for chronic diseases such as depression.
Which Foods to Choose and Why.
Depression is due to an extreme imbalance of Vata. Subsequently, a person suffering from depression needs more warm, oily and heavy food with a sweet, sour and salty taste. This diet will soothe the mind and balance out the Doshas.
11 Tips on how to eat when suffering from a depression:
- Eat warm food.
- Eat all sweet and heavy grains like wheat, rice and pasta.
- All sweeteners are good except honey.
- All oils are good particularly sesame oil and olive oil.
- Eat sweet and sour fruits like mangoes, bananas, grapes, pineapple, lemon, lime and oranges.
- Eat milk products, such as cow’s milk, butter, yogurt, cream, and cheese.
- Eat well-cooked vegetables like beetroot, potatoes, carrots, asparagus, cabbage, okra, and sweet potato. Avoid raw vegetables or salad.
- Cook lentils with digestive spices like ajwan, asafetida, ginger and cumin.
- Nuts and seeds balance out Vata, as they are high in oils to give proper lubrication.
- Eat spices that help in digestion.
- Use rock salt (Sandha Namak) as an alternative for sea salt.
Which Food to Avoid and Why.
Food that is light, dry, cold in nature with a bitter, pungent and astringent taste should be avoided, as it will absorb lubrication from body and mind:
- Avoid light or dry foods like corn, barley, millets, caffeine and alcohol.
- Dried fruits like apple, peaches, prunes and pomegranate should be reduced.
- No raw and frozen vegetables.
- Dried vegetables like cabbage, sweet corn, onion, garlic, turnip, celery, broccoli and eggplant should be reduced.
- Avoid heavy beans like black beans, chickpeas, peas and kidney beans.
- Heavy protein like beef, mutton and other red meats should be eliminated from the diet, as these meats accumulate Ama inside the body, which helps to aggravate the depression.
In General You Should:
- Keep warm; take warm baths or showers.
- Do mild exercises, such as walking or easy yoga postures.
- Do daily meditation and think good thoughts. This will help to settle the mind without threatening the dynamism characteristic of the Vata Dosha.
Of course these tips alone cannot fully heal a depression. If you are suffering from a depression, you should seek professional advice and use above said as an ad on to your therapy.
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