Mental Health and Ayurveda: A Holistic Approach to Well-being

Mental Health and Ayurveda: A Holistic Approach to Well-being


Mental health plays a crucial role in our overall well-being, and there is a growing interest in exploring alternative and complementary approaches to mental health care. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, offers a holistic approach that addresses the mind, body, and spirit. By integrating Ayurvedic principles, herbal remedies, lifestyle modifications, and mindfulness practices, Ayurveda provides a comprehensive framework for promoting mental well-being.

The Ministry of Ayush, India's governmental body responsible for the development and promotion of traditional systems of medicine, has taken several initiatives to integrate Ayurveda and yoga into mental health care. In this blog, we will explore the principles of Ayurveda as they relate to mental health and discuss its various interventions and benefits and the mental health initiatives of the Ministry of Ayush, institutes specializing in mental health within Ayurveda, and the research and development efforts in this field.

Understanding Ayurveda: Ayurveda views mental health as an integral part of our overall health. It emphasizes the balance between the mind, body, and spirit for optimal well-being. According to Ayurveda, mental health issues arise from imbalances in the doshas (vital energies) - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These imbalances can be caused by various factors, including lifestyle choices, diet, environmental influences, and emotional stress. Ayurveda aims to restore balance and harmony to alleviate mental health concerns.

Ayurvedic Interventions for Mental Health:

Diet and Nutrition:

Ayurveda recognizes the connection between the gut and the brain. It emphasizes a balanced and nourishing diet tailored to an individual's dosha constitution. Specific foods and herbs are recommended to support mental well-being and improve digestion, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, herbs like Brahmi and Ashwagandha, and spices like turmeric and ginger.

Lifestyle Modifications:

Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of daily routines (dinacharya) and seasonal routines (ritucharya) for maintaining mental equilibrium. This includes practices like waking up early, practicing yoga and meditation, engaging in regular exercise, getting adequate sleep, and minimizing stress.

Herbal Remedies:

Ayurvedic herbs and formulations are used to address specific mental health conditions. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) and Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) are commonly prescribed for improving cognitive function and reducing anxiety. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is known for its adaptogenic properties, helping the body and mind cope with stress.


Panchakarma is a cleansing and rejuvenation therapy in Ayurveda. It involves detoxifying procedures like oil massages (Abhyanga), steam therapy (Swedana), and nasal cleansing (Nasya). Panchakarma helps eliminate toxins, improves circulation, and promotes mental clarity and relaxation.

Benefits of Ayurveda for Mental Health:

Holistic Approach: Ayurveda addresses mental health by considering the individual as a whole, focusing on underlying imbalances rather than just symptoms. It promotes harmony between the mind, body, and spirit.

Personalized Treatment: Ayurveda recognizes that each person is unique, and treatment plans are tailored to individual needs. This personalized approach ensures that interventions are targeted and effective.

Natural and Safe: Ayurvedic interventions for mental health mainly utilize natural remedies, herbs, and lifestyle modifications. This makes them generally safe with minimal side effects compared to pharmaceutical interventions.

Long-term Well-being: Ayurveda aims to not only alleviate symptoms but also promote long-term well-being by addressing the root causes of mental health concerns and providing tools for self-care and self-awareness.

Initiatives by Ministry of Ayush

National AYUSH Mission (NAM) Initiatives for Mental Health: The National AYUSH Mission, implemented by the Ministry of Ayush, focuses on the development and promotion of Ayurveda, yoga, and other traditional systems of medicine. As part of the mission, structured public health programs have been incorporated to address mental health issues-

SUPRAJA (Ayush Maternal & Neo-natal Intervention): This program aims to provide holistic healthcare to pregnant women, lactating mothers, and infants, focusing on their physical and mental well-being.

VAYO MITRA (Ayush Geriatric Healthcare Services): Under this program, health education programs are conducted using mass media and other communication channels to promote healthy aging, physical exercise, healthy habits, and the reduction of mental stress through yoga and Rasayanas (rejuvenative therapies).

Y-BREAK APP: The Ministry of Ayush has launched the "Y-break" app, which offers working professionals a 5-minute session to refresh, re-focus, and de-stress using the Common Yoga Protocol. The app includes asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and dhyana (meditation) techniques to enhance productivity and reduce work-related stress.

PROTOCOL FOR PSYCHOSOCIAL REHABILITATION OF COVID-19 PATIENTS: The Ministry of Ayush collaborated with the Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy (CCRYN), the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), and the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA) to develop a protocol for the psychosocial rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients. This protocol focuses on the integration of yoga and other holistic approaches to support the mental well-being of individuals affected by the pandemic.

AYUSH RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HOLISTIC HEALTH AND WELL-BEING DURING COVID-19: The Ministry of Ayush published recommendations for the public on preventive measures and care during COVID-19, with a specific emphasis on mental health. These guidelines provide insights into the role of Ayurveda, yoga, and other traditional practices in maintaining mental well-being during challenging times.

YOGA INTERVENTIONS AND GUIDELINES FOR MENTAL HEALTH: The Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY), under the Ministry of Ayush, provides yoga interventions guidelines and training for mental health. MDNIY has released a Yoga Protocol for Mental Health, which is available online. Additionally, specific yoga protocols for various mental health issues, such as anxiety disorder, have been developed. MDNIY has also conducted webinars on yoga for mental health to raise awareness and promote these practices.

Institutes for Mental Health in Ayush:

Ayurveda and other traditional systems of medicine have dedicated institutes and research centers focused on mental health. Some notable institutions include:

GOVT AYURVEDA RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR MENTAL DISEASE, KOTTAKKAL: This institute specializes in mental health within the Ayurveda stream, providing specialized care, research

MD MANAS ROGA: Ayurveda offers a specialized post-graduation stream in mental health known as MD Manas Roga. This program focuses on comprehensive approaches to manage mental disorders.

NATIONAL HOMOEOPATHY RESEARCH INSTITUTE IN MENTAL HEALTH (NHRIMH): The NHRIMH, under the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH), provides quality services and conducts clinical research in the field of psychiatry. It offers homoeopathic treatments for psychiatric disorders and runs postgraduate courses in Psychiatry and Practice of Medicine.

The details of various research studies are as under:

Psychiatric Disorders

  1. Bhargav, H., George, S. Varambally, S. & Gangadhar, N. (2021) Yoga and psychiatric disorders: a review of biomarker evidence. International review of psychiatry (Abingdon, England), 33(1-2), 162-169.
  2. Bhargav, H,. Jasti, N., More, P., Kumar, V., Chikkanna, U., Kishore Kumar, R., & Varambally, S., (2021). Correlation of prakriti diagnosis using Ayusoft prakriti diagnostic tool with clinician rating in patients with psychiatric disorders. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 12(2), 365-368

Cognitive Deficit:

a.       Clinical evaluation of Brahmi Ghrita and jyotishmati Taila in the management of Cognitive Deficit-The research outcomes have been published. Ref. -

b.      Clinical evaluation of Sarasvata Ghrita in the management of Cognitive Deficit-The research outcomes have been published. Ref.-

c.       Randomized Placebo Controlled Double Blind Clinical Trial on the Efficacy of AYUSH MANAS in the management of Smriti Daurbalya (Cognitive Deficit)-A Randomised double blind placebo controlled trial clinical study is ongoing at RARIMD, Bengaluru to assess the clinical efficacy &safety of AYUSH MANAS in the management of SmritiDaurbalya (CD).The study site is  NIMHANS Bengaluru. The study is in progress.

Mental Retardation

a.      Double blind placebo controlled clinical evaluation of Ayurvedic coded drug (AYUSH MANAS) in the management of ManasaMandata (Mental Retardation)-

b.      Clinical Evaluation of Brahma Rasayana in the management of ManasMandata (Mental Retardation)- an Open Clinical Trial- The study has been published. Ref.-

c.       Efficacy of Brahmyadi Yoga in the Management of Manasamandata (mental retardation) - An interventional, clinical study was conducted at ACAMHNS, NIMHANS Bengaluru to assess the clinical efficacy of Brahmyadi Yoga in the Management of Manasa mandata (mental retardation)

Generalized Anxiety Disorders

  1. More, P., Kumar, V., Usha Rani, M. R, Philip, M., Manjunatha, N., Varambally, S, & Gangadhar, B. N. (2021). Development, validation, and feasibility of a generic yoga-based intervention for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Complementary therapies in medicine, 63, 102776.
  2. Clinical Evaluation of a comprehensive Ayurvedic intervention in the management of Manodwega (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)-The research outcomes have been published. Ref.


a.      Efficacy of Brahmyadi Yoga in the Management of Unmada (Schizophrenia) - The research outcomes have been published. Ref.-. -

b.      A clinical comparative study of Brahmyadi yoga &Tagara in Unmada-An interventional, clinical comparative study was conducted at ACAMHNS, NIMHANS Bengaluru to assess and compare the clinical  efficacy ofBrahmyadi yoga &Tagara in Unmada. (Reference: Ayurvedic management of Unmada (Schizophrenia, CCRAS1999)

Alcohol Dependence

a.      Effectiveness of the Role of Astangalavana and Srikhandasavaas Add On Treatment On Madatyaya (Alcohol Dependance) - An Open Level Clinical Trial- This research study is being initiated involving administration of Astangalavana and Srikhandasava as add on to conventional treatment with a view to scientifically document the efficacy and safety of the said Ayurvedic formulations that have been in use since thousands of years for the Management of Madatyaya (Alcohol Dependence). The study site is NIMHANS Bengaluru.

Occupational Stress

a.       Evaluation of Ayush-SR Tablet in Occupational Stress among IT professionals –A Randomized double blind placebo controlled clinical study- A Randomised double blind placebo control trial is ongoing at CARI, Bengaluru to assess the clinical efficacy & safety of AYUSH –SR in patients suffering with occupational stress. The study site is NIMHANS Bengaluru. The study is in progress.

b.      Collaborative clinical research project entitled “Evaluation of Ayush-SR tablet in occupational stress among nurses –A randomized double-blind placebo controlled clinical study”-at RML Hospital, New Delhi ..

Subjective Wellbeing

a.       Evaluation of effect of yoga on subjective feelings of well-being and quality of lifeon Forty-eight healthy volunteers over a period of 4 months. A significant improvement in 9 of the 11 factors of the SWBI was observed at the end of 4 months in these participants


a.       Efficacy of yoga in the treatment of patients with epilepsy: The results of this study were as follows: (1) Four patients treated with yoga were seizure free for six months compared to none in the control groups. (2) Nine patients in the yoga group had more than a 50% reduction in seizure frequency compared to only one among the controls. (3) There was a decline in the average number of attacks per month compared to the baseline frequency among the patients treated with yoga. (4) More than a 50% reduction in seizure duration was found in seven of the 10 patients treated with yoga, compared to none among the 22 controls.


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