Professional Perspective: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Healing Mind, Body & Spirit
Posted Jun 03 2011 10:40am
The fact is (as you have probably already discovered) traditional treatments don’t necessarily get you to the point you have completely overcome symptoms of PTSD. Today, the beginning of a series about some alternative ideas…
Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. For instance, PTSD could develop from an event that involves the threat of death to oneself or to someone else or a threat to one’s own or someone else’s physical, sexual, or psychological integrity. Such traumasoverwhelm an individual’s psychological defenses. Formal diagnostic criteria require that the symptoms last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (for example, problems with work and/or relationships).
Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India, which originated over 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda emphasizes re-establishing balance in the body through diet, lifestyle, exercise, and body cleansing, bringing health to the mind, body, and spirit.
According to Ayurveda, everything is composed of five elements: air, water, fire, earth, and space. These elements combine to form the three doshas, or constitutional types: vata, kapha, and pitta. In Ayurveda, doshas account for some of our individual differences.
The vata dosha is a combination of space and air. It controls movement and is responsible for basic body processes, such as breathing, cell division, and circulation. People with vata as their main dosha are believed to be quick-thinking, thin, and fast, and are susceptible to anxiety, dry skin, and constipation.
The kapha dosha represents the elements of water and earth. Kapha is believed to be responsible for strength, immunity, and growth. People with kapha as their main dosha are thought to be calm, have a solid body frame, and are susceptible to diabetes, obesity, sinus congestion, and gallbladder problems.
The pitta dosha combines fire and water. It is thought to control hormones and the digestive system. People with pitta as their primary dosha are thought to have a fiery personality, oily skin, and are susceptible to heart disease, stomach ulcers, inflammation, heartburn, and arthritis.
Ayurvedic management of PTSD entails rebalancing the vata dosha with a multi-pronged approach that would include herbs, diet, daily routine, meditation, exercise, counseling, and the judicious use of pancha karma therapies (described later in this blog).
Herbs that are used to treat fear, anxiety, and stress include brahmi (bacopa monnieri), jatamansi (nardostachys jatamansi), shankhpushpi (convolvulus pluricaulis), vacha (acorus calamus), sarpagandha (rauwolfia serpentina), khurasani ova (hyoscyamus niger), jaiphal (myristica fragrans), tulsi (holy basil), ginko biloba, gotu kola (centella asiatica), and ashwagandha (withania somnifera). In my practice, I combine several of these herbs with Western herbs like St. John’s wort, skull cap, valerian, kava kava, rhodiola and ginseng and supplements containing amino acids and vitamins like hydroxytryptophan, SAMe, vitamin B complex, magnesium, GABA, taurine, inositol, DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), and vitamin C.
A vata reducing diet includes warming foods served with ghee, like kitcharee (see www.fernlifecenter.com for recipes for kitcharee and ghee). Keeping a healthy digestion is imperative with any Ayurvedic approach to disease. It is thought that imbalanced doshas lead to low agni, or digestive fire, which then leads to illness.
Vata-aggravating foods like caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars, raw foods, carbonated beverages, cold drinks and food, dried foods, and processed foods should be avoided. Prana- (life force) rich foods like whole grains and al dente cooked vegetables, fresh warmingspices, like ginger, saffron, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and hing, with healthy fats are good to ground the vata person, thus reducing anxiety.
A good Ayurvedic tea for reducing stress can be made by combining equal parts of chamomile, comfrey, and angelica. A purely Ayurvedic herbal tea that is good for anxiety reduction is made by adding a cup of boiling water to ½ tsp brahmi, or mix equal parts brahmi, jatamamsi, and shanka pushpi and steep ½ tsp of this mixture in hot water for 10 minutes. Drink either or all teas 2-3 times a day for stress management.
Following a daily routine is essential for treating any kind of anxiety or stress disorder. Getting up before 6 am and going to bed by 10 pm is a good place to start for many people. Don’t treat weekends any differently than week days; follow a routine no matter what day of the week it is so the mind can learn to count on stability.
Start the day with what I call a gratitude attitude. Before your feet ever touch the floor in the morning go through a list in your head of all the things that you can be grateful for and say a little prayer of gratitude to the Universe. There are more nerves that lead to the brain from your heart than from your brain to your heart. The heart is the feeling center of the body and triggers the brain into thought. This means it’s a good practice to start the day with the feeling of gratitude and eventually the mind will follow!
In addition, finish your day with forgiveness. Before going to sleep, sort through your day and find anyone you were irritated with. Bring them into your mind’s eye and try to see what it was that upset you about them. Spend a couple of moments seeing that same characteristic that frustrated you in yourself. You will manifest it differently and it can be hard to see…but the frustrating person is a mirror of you, and it is important to see that so you can forgive them and yourself. Not forgiving another person is like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Please release the poison from your mind each and every night!
“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
- Mark Twain
In our next installment, Keesha goes further into those daily routines.
Keesha Ewers, ARNP, Masters of Ayu. Sc., and host of Healthy YOU! Radio program (www.healthyyouradio.com) has been in the medical field for over 24 years. After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis-an incurable disease according to Western medicine-she began exploring alternative modalities, which led her to Ayurvedic medicine and a complete cure.
Keesha is a Certified Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) with a specialty in primary care and family practice (FNP). She has a Master’s degree in Ayurveda, extensive functional medicine education, and has traveled the world studying indigenous ways of healing. She is an herbalist, Reikki Master, trained Shaman, Angel Therapist, certified medium (Doreen Virtue), and yoga teacher.
Join Keesha and her guests live every Wednesday morning at 1 pm Pacific time on KKNW 1150 AM on Healthy YOU! Radio or listen to archived shows direct from the website: www.healthyyouradio.com.