ALTERNATIVES FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Natural & Ayurvedic Alternatives
A number of years ago, I worked as an office manager for Tender Mercies in Cincinnati, Ohio. This organization developed housing for the mentally-ill homeless population. It was started by two Catholic priests and two Catholic sisters, but it was a non-profit not affiliated with the church. It was staffed by Mennonite and Jesuit Voluntary Service Volunteers and also staffed with people with human services degrees. Their recreational programs and one-on-one interaction with residents were wonderful.
From working there I came to realize the side effects of some of the medications used by the residents. Later on in my life, when I became more aware of natural alternatives to these medications, I thought that a whole new system was needed to provide the best care in mental health in which yoga, diet, exercise, chant, meditation, use of natural alternatives, along with social interaction and musical/arts/recreational opportunities were incorporated into a program for each individual. Talk therapy, hypnotherapy, light-box therapy, past-life regression and other appropriate alternatives should also be incorporated in these programs at SROs (Single Room Occupancy), group homes and hospitals.
What often happens to many people is that they often are not medically evaluated adequately. Drugs are often used by psychiatrists as the only solution for the mental health problems the person is experiencing in their life. My Bachelors degree in Social Work (BSW) is from the Wholistic School of Social Work, based on systems theory which became popular in the 1980's. You consider the whole person: body, mind, spirit, family situation, cultural influences, racial influences and other related environmental factors which will self-empower the person to solve his or her problems.
Diet is very important in the whole health of the individual. A person can be consuming foods they are allergic or intolerant to, or which set them off mentally. Sugar, additives, pesticides and hormones effect one's mental and physical health. As a chemically and environmentally sensitive person, I have to stay away from these types of foods. Organics are definitely the best for all of us. There are cases of people with schizophrenia who have wheat allergies who are cured when they omit wheat from their diets. Gluten and milk can also cause mental affects for some people.
In Ayurvedic Medicine there are three body types (doshas): Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Certain foods work better for people of each body type. There are certain foods which aggravate one's health. For example, I'm the Vata-Pitta type, so eating chilis at night causes me to be too hyper and interferes with the amount of sleep I may get that night. It's better for me to eat foods with chilis in the afternoon or morning, not at night. It's better to have them as an occasional food rather than a every day food.
Exercise is so very important for your mental health. Several studies have been conducted on exercise vs. anti-depressants. Most studies have revealed results which show that they are equally as effective. However, exercise has no side effects and is free. These studies were on people with mild to moderate depression.
Some other health conditions effect mental, such as nutritional deficiencies, allergies and sensitivities, yeast overgrowth problems, hormonal imbalances, hypoglycemia, diabetas, hypothyrodism and adrenal conditions. All these can effect your mental health.
Ayurvedic Medicine is an ancient annd modern system of healing, developed originally in India. In Ayurvedic Medicine health is achieved through balancing body, mind and spirit. When there is an imbalance, ill-health can occur. Mental disorders are considered to be caused by physical (doschonmada) and mental (doshonmada) forces. Ayurvedic also recognizes personality disorders (prakriti).
Various treatments are used to balance body, mind and spirit: massage, corect diet for dosha type, yoga, chant, herbs, Transcendental Meditation, exercise, developing virtuous qualities, steam baths, herbal oils and other natural medicines. One of the most famous mental hospitals is in Kerala, India, where all these ideas are applied to help a person get well. Some common treatments for depression are: Ashwagandha, Brahmi oil, Tumeric, Guduchi and Janatmansi..
I encourage you to contact a qualified Ayurvedic Medicine professional. In the United States go to www.ayurvedanama.org to find a practioner affiliated with the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. Your local Hindu priests or swamis and natural health organizations also woulld know Ayurvedic professionals in your community.
There are also come other natural treatments available. In Minneapolis we have the Alternative Medicine Clinic, which is affiliated with the Hennipen County Medical Center. I used this clinic for acupuncture for my ears about a couple years ago. They take different types of insurance, including Minnesota Care, our low-income state health insurance program. Another clinic in Minneapolis for those with alcohol addiction is the Health Recovery Clinic, based on medical evaluation and diet analysis.
There are also many individuals who are natural health practioners. My Qigong teacher, Master Lin, has worked with the Mayo Clinic doing research for pain and depression. Look under natural or alternative health in the phone book. Many natural health organizatios have lists of practioners in the community. National and international lists are available via the internet. Look under alternative medicine & mental health.
Environmental toxins are a big challenge for many of us. Removing mercury amalgam fillings can help many indivduals regain their mental health. I had mine removed and replaced with bio-compatible dental fillings in 1995. It greatly improved my mental and physica health. I went to a wholistic dentist to have this done. Regular dentists do not know the safety proceedures, not do they have the right equipment. Go to a wholistic dentist in your area. DAMS can help you find a wholistic one in your area. Their phone number is 651-644-4572.
Here is a list of some books available on alternatives. 1. 55 Most Common Medical Herbs, by Heather Boon and Micheal Smith. 2. The Metabolic Plan by Stephen Cherniske 3. The Enzyme Cure by Lita Lee, Lisa Turner and Burton Goldberg. 4. The Wholistic Approach/Treatment of Depression by David McMillin 5. The Yeast Connection Cookbook by William Crook and Marjorie Hurt Jones. 6. Nutrition and Mental Health by Carl D. Pfeiffer. 7. Menopause Without Medicine by Linda Ojeda. 8. Potatoes not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons. 9. Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra. 10. Message from the Masters by Brian Weiss and 11. The Prozac Alternatives by Ran Knishinsky.
I had a former roomate who was bi-polar. He wanted to reduce his medications to help his kidneys function better. I gave him about three different books to read. Then he gave them to his psychiatrist who was open-minded to incorporating natural methods with the medications. The doctor developed a diet, natural supplemts, exercises along with a medication plan for him. They worked together and he was able to reduce the dosages of his medications enough to help his kidneys function much better with less toxic side effects. When you use natural methods with medications, you have to find a doctor who is willing to work with you.
St. John's Wort and Kava are two common herbs used for mind to moderate depression and anxiety. If you use them with medications without being under a practioner's care, you may get negative side effects. So it's important to contact a qualified practioner. My blog is for educational purposes only, so that you can intelligent discuss it with your qualifed practioner.
Psychotherapy can also be very helpful in helping you talk through your problems. A good psychologist or social worker with a wholistic philosophy and training can also refer you to other appropriate practioners. Your priest, pastor, rabbi, swami or minister can also provide spiritual counseling and names of professionals which are appropriate to your situation.
JAI SHRI MENTAL HEALTH! JAI SHRI AYURVEDIC!
More by this Author
Last week I was waiting for the bus when two young men on bikes pedalled towards me and stopped to talk to me. They were Mormon missionaries trying to convert me to their religion. If you know anything about the Mormon...