Manage Schizophrenia Naturally
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and are accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.
The onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood. People with schizophrenia are likely to have additional conditions, including major depression and anxiety disorders.
A person diagnosed with schizophrenia may experience hallucinations (hearing voices), delusions and disorganized thinking and speech. The latter may range from loss of train of thought, to sentences only loosely connected in meaning, to incoherence known as word salad in severe cases.
Social withdrawal, sloppiness of dress and hygiene, and loss of motivation and judgment are all common in schizophrenia. There is often an observable pattern of emotional difficulty, for example lack of responsiveness. Impairment in social cognition is associated with schizophrenia as are symptoms of paranoia; social isolation commonly occurs.
Late adolescence and early adulthood are peak periods for the onset of schizophrenia, critical years in a young adult’s social and vocational development. In 40% of men and 23% of women diagnosed with schizophrenia the condition manifested itself before the age of 19. The average life expectancy of people with the disorder is 12 to 15 years less than those without, the result of increased physical health problems and a higher suicide rate.
Combinations of genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of schizophrenia.
a. Genetic – Estimates of heritability vary because of the difficulty in separating the effects of genetics and the environment. The greatest risk for developing schizophrenia is having a first-degree relative with the disease is 6.5%
b. Environment – Environmental factors associated with the development of schizophrenia include the living environment, drug use and prenatal stressors. Parenting style seems to have no effect, although people with supportive parents do better than those with critical parents. Other factors that play an important role include social isolation and immigration related to social adversity, racial discrimination, family dysfunction, unemployment, and poor housing conditions. Childhood experiences of abuse or trauma are risk factors for a diagnosis of schizophrenia later in life.
c. Substance abuse – A number of drugs have been associated with the development of schizophrenia including cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines.
d. Prenatal – Factors such as hypoxia and infection, or stress and malnutrition in the mother during fetal development, may result in a slight increase in the risk of schizophrenia later in life.
In the ancient texts of Ayurveda, there are detailed descriptions of mental disorders known as “Unmada”. Schizophrenia can be correlated with many of the types of “Unmada”. According to the classical Ayurvedic texts, defined this condition as, “the perversion of the mind, intellect, consciousness, knowledge, memory, desire, manners, behavior, and conduct”. It is denominated as insanity because it is madness (mada) of the mind caused by a deviation of the humors”.
Ayurvedic classifications of Schizophrenia
a. Wind type of Schizophrenia (vata): An emaciated body; inappropriate lamenting, shouting, laughing, and smiling, as well as dancing, singing, playing music, talking, posturing, bursting out; repeatedly and tunelessly imitating the sound of a flute, veena, or other instrument; frothing at the mouth; constantly wandering about; ceaseless talking; using things which are not ornaments as decoration; trying to travel on things which are not vehicles; being greedy for food, but spurning it once it has been obtained; bulging, bloodshot eyes, and illness after foods had been digested. Many have various wrong imaginations, hallucinations or delusions, like hearing voices. High vata in the mind manifests as fear, alienation, anxiety and possible nervous breakdown. There is insomnia, tremors, palpitations, unrest and rapid shifts of mood. Insanity of the manic depressive type or schizophrenia is an extreme vata imbalance.
b. Fire Type of Schizophrenia (Pitta): Choler gives rise to threatening behavior, fury, and charging at people with fists stones, and the like. The patient craves coolness, shade, and water. He goes naked, and has a yellow color. He sees thing which are not there, such as ice, flames, stars, and lamps. Pitta insanity results from indigestion, excess of hot, pungent, sour, or burning foods and liquids, excesses Pitta afflict the heart of the person lacking self-control. Agitation, irritation, anger, and possible violence. The overheated body and mind seek release in venting the build-up tension. Pitta types can become domineering, authoritarian or fanatic. When disturbed, they may have paranoid delusions, delusion of grandeur or can become psychotic.
c. Water type of Schizophrenia (Kapha): Phlegm causes the patient to lose any desire for food. It causes vomiting, and a reduction in motivation, appetite, and conversation. It causes a lust for women. It causes the patient to enjoy solitude. He dribbles mucus and snot, and is very frightening. He hates being clean. He sleeps, and has puffy face. It is stronger at night, and just after eating, attachment and lack of motivation leading to depression, sorrow, and clinging.
d. Schizophrenia caused by loss: A person crushed by the unbearable loss of his possessions or of a loved one becomes pale, depressed, and swoons frequently. He wails for no reason. He loses consciousness. He thinks a lot about the qualities of what he has lost. His mind is distraught with grief and he cannot sleep for worrying. He thrashes about.
e. Schizophrenia caused by poison: Poison makes the face dark the complexion, strength, and senses are all ruined. Patient is delirious even in between fits, and has bloodshot eyes.
Ayurvedic treatment methods of Schizophrenia
Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic system of medicine that treats mental disorders from mild stress to severe condition, including Schizophrenia. Ayurveda employs a whole series of yogic and spiritual therapies, including meditation, pranayama, mantra, prayers, visualizations, and rituals. Ayurvedic treatment method is primarily aimed to balance the biological humors through appropriate physical remedial methods of diet, herbs, and exercises. One of the best Ayurvedic treatments for schizophrenia includes detoxification therapies (Pancha karma Chikitsa). All psychological disorders, including psychotic disorders reflect imbalances of the three biological humors.
Personalized approach for Schizophrenia
For mental disorders, including schizophrenia treatments are similar to neurosis type, and Pancha karma treatment is recommended as a stronger method.
a. Vata type insanity: Nourishing and sedating herbs are required; other therapies recommended are oil and ghee therapies, including oil enemas. Oil and ghee if the air passages are not blocked and laxatives which are given with the oils and ghee to remove the blocks.
b. Pitta type insanity: Purgation – even with strong purgatives – is recommended. The more violent the insanity, the more purgation is required. Oleation and fomentation therapies are recommended, then purgatives, followed by emetics.
c. Kapha type insanity: Spicy brain-stimulating herbs are recommended. The treatment is mainly expectorant, to clear phlegm from blocking the channels and obstructing mental functioning.
Other therapies for Schizophrenia
1. Abhyanga – Medicated oil application from head to toe followed by medicated water bath
2. Shirodhara – Third eye therapy
3. Shiro-vasti – Filling of medicated oil over head for 30-45 minutes with bag
4. Intake of ghee to stimulate the mind, intellect, memory and consciousness
5. Application of thick ointments
6. In addition, other Ayurvedic treatments recommend different kinds of nasal medicines mixed with mustard and oil. Face and head massage with mustard oil is also recommended along with the inhalation of mustard powder.
The available treatment aims at alleviating symptoms of the disease. Most patients, however, have to live with the symptoms all their life. It is important that their families stand by them as they require support and patience.
Text: Dr K Gowthaman, Medical Director, rVita (rVita Ayurveda Centers)
Image courtesy: Flickr/creativecommons bark