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Depression is one of the major havocs to human health today that has engulfed a major part of the population. What’s more alarming is the fact that it is prevailing in a lot of young and middle aged people.
Depression is a condition that is characterized by a group of feelings that are mostly negative, making one feeling low, hopeless and life and everything associated with it just worthless and dull.
Depression is very often associated with anxiety which is a constant tension that makes one’s mind to keep on thinking and fidgeting with almost anything, as a result of which the person ends up over analyzing things and his mind is never at rest.
Some level of anxiety is good which makes one concentrate and perform well under stress. But it may turn into a disorder if it continues to linger on making him feel fatigued, exhausted, irritable and worrisome.
Both depression and anxiety are inter linked making differentiation of symptoms pretty difficult in most patients. Seldom do we find people who are either anxious or depressed, for these conditions quite often lead to each other.
Herbal medicines are gaining popularity in such mental conditions as they not only calm down the mind and body but also strengthen them to be able to better adapt to stress and anxiety in tense situations.
According to modern medicine, depression occurs as a result of the imbalance of the neurotransmitters present in the brain such as serotonin.
Therefore, to control this condition we need to bring this balance back and prevent further damage of the brain cells. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) helps to control the negativities troubling the mind of a depressed person and transform them into more positive ones, helping him to relax and ease out. There are certain chemicals that are secreted in the brain which are responsible for developing the symptoms of depression. These are also neutralized by the healing effects of Ashwagandha which in turn boosts the serotonin receptors to maintain optimum levels of serotonin in the brain.
In higher doses, Ashwagandha induces sleep which in itself calms down the mind of a depressed and anxious person. Therefore, it is great for depressed and anxious people who also have issues with normal sleeping patterns.
Ashwagandha also helps to control and normalize the cortisol levels in blood which are known to cause stress. Cortisol is popularly known as stress hormone for the same reason.
Gotukola or Mandukparni is known by the latin name of Centella asciatica. It is a well-known brain tonic popular in Ayurveda for its neuro protective functions. There are evidences that suggest that the herb has anxiolytic properties helping the person to calm down and exercise better control on his nerves. Anxious people are usually found to show a very startling response to even the slightest of disturbance. Gotukola specifically works by controlling this particular reaction.
It is also found to have induced improvement in the cognitive functions and mood swings. It is also a rich anti – oxidant source, which prevents brain cell deterioration.
The tripenes are the active chemicals present in gotukola which are responsible for its anti – depressant and anxiolytic activity.
Brahmi is also known as Bacopa moneri. It is a famous herb in Ayurveda which is used for treating all kinds of mental conditions and brain disorders. Brahmi has a cooling effect on the mind which helps it to relax and calm down the continued mental agitation, a major problem faced by depressed and anxious people. Several studies have been conducted based on the claims in various Ayurveda texts that suggest that brahmi plays a role in relieving anxiety and depression especially in aggressive states of depression and anxiety (Maniac depression) given its pitta vitiating effects. It also improves memory recall and learning ability.
Brahmi is also a rich antioxidant source which specifically have their action on the brain cells. This action of Brahmi can prove to be helpful in maintaining long term memory and preventing age related mental deterioration also, a cardinal symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.
Nordostachys Jatamansi also known as Jatamansi is an effective nervine tonic. The roots of this plant are responsible for this calming activity. It has a mild tranquilizing and sedative action which helps manage stress effectively.
Jatamansi helps bring down the raised blood pressure levels calming the mind down and inducing and regularizing sleep patterns. Jatamansi can be used in the form of root powder or oil or decoction for use in depressed patients. Like other herbal brain tonics Jatmansi is also a rich source of anti –oxidants which are beneficial for the mind and body.
It improves concentration and memory helping one to focus better on the essential tasks without feeling negative or stressed out. It is also a great rejuvenate for brain tissues.
Celastrus panniculatus, better known as Jyotishmati is another nerve stimulating and brain rejuvenating herb which has a renowned name in Ayurveda for this action. It improves the power of endurance of the person by making him able to adapt to stressful situations, at work place. It also helps the person to relax and enjoy life and helps him to improve performance at home and at work. It is a potential nervine tonic helping in many disorders of the brain and nervous system.
Jyotishmati improves the retention power of the brain, improving memory on a long term basis. It is also useful in case of convulsive states in which it relaxes the mind and acts as a sedative in higher doses. For managing depression and anxiety, Jyotishmati in low doses helps maintain a calm and composed state of mind without inducing excessive sleep or drowsiness. It is also non- habit forming which again is a benefit over modern medicines.