Ayurveda mentioned a better concept of health giving importance not only to physical health but also mental health. In classical texts of Ayurveda are mentioned many herbs under a special group “MEDHYA” for improvement of intellectual power, memory & management of mental disorders. A lot of research is going on these plants for their MEDHYA (intellect promoting) property. These herbs are emerging as best option for reducing stress & manage psychosomatic & psychological disorders. More preclinical & clinical studies should be done by research scholars for the benefit of mankind on these plants. There is further scope for research on specific use of these plants in various mental disorders.
The drug used in the treatment of stress are mostly medhya drugs or medhya rasayanas which are believed to act as specific molecular nutrients for the brain affording a better mental health leading in turn to alleviation of the behavioral alteration and to cope up day to day stress. The herbs of adaptogenic properties are Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Brahmi (bacopa monniera), Shankh pushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Yashtimadhu (Glycrrhiza glabra), Guduchi(Tinospora cordifolia), Amalaki (Embelica officinalis) etc.
Botanical name : Celastrus paniculatus Willd.
Family : Celastraceae
Rasa : Katu, Tikta
Guna : Snigdha, Sara, Teekshna
Virya : Ushna
Vipaka : Katu
Prabhava : Medhya
Distribution – Throughout India growing wild in dry deciduous forests.
A large climbing shrub with woody stem and elongate brances. Leaves simple, alternate, ovate – obovate, crenulate, coriaceous, flowers greenish white, in terminal panicles. Fruits capsules yellow colored, become bright red when ripe, contain 4 brown seeds.
Plant pacifies vitiated vata, kapha, mental retardation, skin diseases, itching, hemiplegia, arthritis,asthma, insomnia, amnesia, urinary retention and nephritis. Seeds widely used in intellect promoting ayurvedic combinations.
Useful part : Root, Leaves, Seeds
The mechanisms underlying learning and memory include an interaction between the various neurotransmitter systems, amongst which the central cholinergic function is known to play a prominent role.Estimation of Acetyl Choline Esterase (AChE) activity provides a relatively easy and valuable assessment of cholinergic function. Jyothismati oil was used to determine its effect on the learning process in the adult male Wistar rats. A decrease in AChE activity was noted in the animals treated with CP oil (400 mg/kg body weight) leading to increased cholinergic activity in the brain. There was significant decrease in the AChE activity assayed from hypothalamus, frontal cortex and hippocampus of the rat brain. Celastrus panicluata has reportedly shown good results in treating mental depression, hastened the process of learning and memory in experimental animals and gave excellent results in hysteria without any side effects.
Botanical name : Centella Asiatica
Family : Umbelliferae
Rasa : Tikta
Virya : Seeta
Vipaka : Madhura, katu, tikta
Prabhava : Medhya
Habitat : Grown in waterlogged places throughout india.
Uses : It is tonic, diuretic and alterative. It is used in treatment of leporosy and known to ameliorate the symptoms of the disease and improves general health of the patient. It is a brain tonic and stimulates hair growth. The whole plant possesses antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifebrile, diuretic and galactagogic activity. External application in the form of poultices is prescribed for contusions, closed fractures, sprains and furunculosis.
The mode of action in C.N.S. Is mainly CHOLINERGIC.The drugs improves concentration, attention and significant improvement in Intelligence and behaviour. (Rao et al.). Drugs experimentally acting as tranquillizer may reduce improvement in mental function especially in stressed rats (R. H. Singh et al.). It is also useful in mental retardation (Kuppurajan et al.) It has also Antidepresant activity.
Botanical name : Bacopa Monnieri
Family : Scrophulariaceae
Rasa : Madhura,Tikta,kashaya
Habitat : Grown in waterlogged places throughout india.
Brahmi which occurs naturally in India and has a long history of use in the Ayurvedic medicine tradition in the treatment of a number of disorders, particularly those involving anxiety, intellect and poor memory. Traditionally, it was used as a brain tonic to enhance memory development, learning, and concentration.
It is a small, creeping herb with numerous branches, succulent, rooting at the nodes, with numerous prostrate branches, each 10-30 cm long. Brahmi leaves are petiole, oblong, sessile, and fleshy. Flowers are purple in color; axillary, solitary with peduncles. In India and the tropics it grows naturally in wet soil, shallow water, and marshes. The herb can be found at elevations from sea level to altitudes of 4,400 feet, and is easily cultivated if adequate water is available. Flowers and fruit appear in summer and the entire plant is used medicinally.
Bacopa monnieri (or Brahmi) is now widely used to improve brain function including memory, to a lesser extent to reduce anxiety, to treat epilepsy, andas an antioxidant. Modern research has shown the presence of several activechemicals like the alkaloids monnierin, brahmine, bacosides and phytosterols.These principles are scientifically verified for their(i) Cognitive effects with improvement in verbal learning,and speed of early information processing. (ii) Effects on learning and lasting effects on improvement in logical memory, and (iii) Anxiolytic effects due to presence of bacoside.
Botanical name : Withania somnifera (Linn.) Dunal.
Family : Solanaceae
Rasa : Kashaya, Tikta
Guna : Lakhu, Snigda
Virya : Ushna (1)
An erect branching shrub grows up to 150 cm in height. Leaves are ovate and alternate, up to 10 cm long. Flowers are greenish or greenish yellow arises from leaf axils. Fruits are globose berries, become reddish orange when mature and closed by the persistent calyx. Roots are fleshy, cylindrical and tapering towards the end with whitish grey color and pure white inside.
Plant pacifies vitiated vata, nerve weakness, impotency, oligospermia and arthritis. The roots are aphrodisiac and stimulant, widely used in rejuvenative ayurvedic formulae. Plant has immuno-stimulant action
Useful part : Root and Leaves
Ashwagandha, the Indian name for WS, means “odor of the horse”, probably originating from the odor of its root which resembles that of a sweaty horse. The name”somnifera” in Latin means “sleep-inducer” which probably refers to its extensive use as a remedy against stress from a variety of daily chores. Some herbalists refer to ashwagandha as Indian ginseng, since it is used in India, in a way similar to how ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a large variety of human diseases. The active principles are steroidal lactones which are responsible for its Medhya effect. It is popular for Memory enhancement, Adaptogenic and antistress activity. (i) The extract of Ashwagandha promotes growth of dendrites andbranching of nerve-like cells suggesting nerve cell-to-cell contact and communication. (ii) Antiinflammatory and immunomodulatory activity.
Botanical name : Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn.
Family : Cucurbitaceae
Rasa : Madhura, Kashaya
Virya : Seeta Vipaka : Madhura
A large annual or biennial tendril climber. Leaves simple, alternate, large, with numerous hairs; flowers yellow large and unisexual; fruits cylindrical, hairy, and covered with ashy powder throughout. Fruits contain numerous white colored embedded seeds.
Plant pacifies vitiated vata, pitta, obesity, hypercholestremia, cough, bronchitis, fever, urinary retention and general weakness.
Useful part : Fruits, Seeds. Active principle – Cucurbitine
Antioxidant role of fruit extract of Benincasa hispida – in rats with indomethacin induced gastric ulcers(due to oxidative stress)In this study, there was an apparent decrease in ulcer index when the rats were treated with fruit extract after induction of ulcer by indomethacin.