Considered as one of the most serious mood disorders, bipolar disorder is characterized by severe mood swings between mania and depression that is distressing and disruptive for the patient, and in some cases, life-threatening.
In ayurvedic terms, bipolar disorder is the imbalance between the fundamental biological doshas or forces i.e. vata, pitta and kapha, and mental properties governing the mind i.e. satva, rajas and tamas. Apart from manic and depressive episodes with normal moods in between, some patients even go through episodes that are a confusing mixture of elation and depression.
Ayurveda intends to balance the doshas that govern the body and regularize the amount of neurotransmitters produced. It is also focused on reducing stress since it causes wildly fluctuating moods. Balancing the vata comes first when one is dealing with doshas. Bipolar disorder may be treated with the help of Ayurveda by making a few lifestyle changes and using herbal medicines…
1. Fruits, vegetables (raw or boiled), fresh juices, buttermilk, sprouts, ghee and fresh butter, honey, nuts, dry fruits and milk must be consumed because they enrich the mind by increasing the sattva. Food items such as caffeinated drinks, white flour and white sugar products, hot spices, deep fried foods, fish, meat, eggs and chocolate need to be completely avoided or limited since they balance the vata dosha.
2. Breathing exercises are very important for relaxation of the mind. Extreme mood swings can be controlled by proper breathing. Breathing sessions through right nostril can help with depressive episodes and manic episodes can be controlled by breathing through the left nostril.
3. Herbal medicines such as brahmi, shirodhara, jatamansi, kushmund, ashwagandha, jyotishmati, shankhpushpi, sarpagandha and vacha should be used for manic episodes. For depressive episodes, laxmi-vilas-ras, shrung-bhasma, makardhwaj, tankan, arjun, shilajit, vishwa, tagar, chitrak and amalaki need to be taken. Guduchi, vacha, musta, amalaki, trivang-bhasma, suvarna-bhasma, and abhrak-bhasma need to be taken in small doses for a long time to avoid the recurrence of such episodes.
4. Persons suffering from bipolar disorder are mentally agitated and they need to calm their minds. Yoga offers therapeutic exercises that calm the mind and alleviate mood swings. As there is no aberration in brain tissue, as in the case of schizophrenia, yoga exercises can be used for diverting the thought processes of the bipolar patient in a productive direction. Yoga fights depression by increasing serotonin and gamma aminobutyric levels in the brain.