Ayurvedic Herbs and Remedies to Relieve Stress

‘STRESS’ – reading the term itself causes a tinge of uneasiness somewhere in the back of our heads. It is something that we experience almost on a daily basis, thanks to our hectic lifestyles. There are multifarious reasons that cause stress which, in turn, makes us feel awful. However, the unpleasant psychological distress is not the only thing stress causes, it can also lead to some serious health issues and can have a serious impact on your work and social life. In this article, we will see Ayurveda’s take on stress and how to manage stress. 

The Ayurvedic Take on Stress

According to Ayurveda, stress is caused due to the imbalance of the three vital Doshas or energies – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Our daily routines and habits determine how harmoniously these Doshas function [1]. While on the other hand, the inability to handle the stress is due to the imbalance, or lack of coordination of the three main mental functions Dhi (learning), Dhriti (retention) and Smriti (long-term memory) [2]

Stress is one of the greatest threats of the modern age that is affecting the majority of the urban population including children and teenagers. Along with mental discomfort, stress also causes a variety of physical symptoms such as:  

  • Dizziness and headaches
  • General aches and pains
  • Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
  • Physical discomfort associated with indigestion or acid reflux 
  • Increased or loss of appetite
  • Insomnia and other sleep-related problems
  • Racing heart
  • A perpetual feeling of tiredness and exhaustion
  • Drastic weight gain or loss
  • Sexual health issues
  • Relationship problems 

Ayurvedic Stress Relievers

Swedana:

This is one of the practices involved in Panchkarma therapy. It’s an intense detoxification method that involves a herbal steam bath that helps clear the Ama (pent-up toxins) in the body and eliminates it via sweat glands. It is a cleansing-cum-stress relieving therapy that helps balance the Doshas, resulting in relaxed and rejuvenated mind and body [3]

Abhyanga:

It is a form of massage that promotes wellness and balance of the internal Doshas while relieving stress and enhancing skin health. This therapy involves applying warm oil induced with certain herbs to the entire body and massaging each part of the body. The massage therapy improves relaxation, blood flow and overall health. It is one of the most effective and promising stress-relieving techniques [4].   

Shirodhara:

It is also a part of Panchkarma therapy. This Ayurvedic healing technique involves a soothing flow of warm oil onto the forehead. It is often clubbed with head and body massage. This therapy is known to relieve stress and anxiety and has also shown promising results in managing insomnia and improving sleep quality [5].

 Elakizhi:

This therapy involves a generous amount of medicated oil being applied onto the body and then being massaged with cotton pouches or potlis that are filled with Ayurvedic herbs. It rejuvenates the body by relieving stiffness and calms the mind thus releasing stress.  

Ayurvedic Herbs to Manage Stress

Brahmi:

This popular herb is known for its stress-relieving effects [6]. It has adaptogenic properties, meaning brahmi can increase the body’s ability to resist stress [7]. The leaves can be used to make a herbal tea that helps you calm down and feel relaxed.

Bhringraj:

This common herb is enriched with compounds that are known to energize and rejuvenate the brain. It can be induced in oil and be used to massage the scalp for calming and stress-relieving effects [8].

Jatamansi:

Jatamansi is enriched with antioxidants which is believed to be the reason behind its anti-stress effects [9]. The roots of this herb have therapeutic effects that help soothe the mind and relax the body. Jatamansi powder is easily available in the market. Consume the powder with some honey for better results. 

Ashwagandha:

The king of Ayurvedic herbs, ashwagandha is popular for its stress-lowering effects. It lowers the levels of cortisol, the hormone produced in response to stress [10]. The herb also balances the energies and promotes sound sleep. Daily intake of 1-2 tsp of ashwagandha root powder is associated with reduced stress and anxiety.

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