Ayurveda is the oldest form of medicine in the world, practiced by ancient Rishis who could be termed as supernatural scientists. These superhumans measured the speed of light, counted the total number of constellations, and even measured the orbital period of Haley’s comet, all without any technological devices. They also established medicinal practices that have minimal or no side-effects at all. To this day, Ayurveda medicine is well practiced in India and Nepal, but modern medicine has shadowed its potency in healing methods.
Ayurveda mentions that “a bad mental health can create a bad physical health and vice versa.” This means that a person who has mental instability can have poor physical health. In modern-day medicine, this is known as the Psychosomatic theory. Ayurveda describes it in a more surprising way. It says, “a living body is composed of five components of the earth system. If any component has an anomaly, the whole body gets disturbed.” This is indeed true, and we have long understood it. In this writing, we will primarily focus on how mental stress brings an anomaly in the body and produces physical effects.
A recent clinical research study discovered that people who have mental illness have high death rates from chronic diseases. For example, people who have Schizophrenia are twice as likely to die from cancer. However, it is equally important to understand that the reverse is true as well. People who have chronic diseases can heal themselves by improving their mental health. Several incidents have been reported where people have beaten life-threatening diseases that have no medicinal cure through mental improvement.
But we need to understand what mental stress is and why it is so bad in the 21st century. In human evolution, stress played an interesting role in protecting us from danger, like from predators. With a short-term stress response, the body would remain hyperactive, which was useful to evade deadly predators. But in modern society, stress has occupied a large portion of human life. The stress that was meant to last a very short time now lingers for hours. In such a long period, the body responds to maintain homeostasis for an abnormal response that affects the brain and central nervous system. This affects the gut environment and reduces body immunity. When the body has weak immunity, it becomes a victim of all pathogens.
You can observe this in your society. Take a close observation of people who have severe mental stress. They are often the ones who have weak immunity and poor physical health. In India and Nepal, an interesting but disheartening pattern exists. A woman who has been divorced by her husband has terrible gut health. In Hindu culture, divorce comes at a great price. A woman who has been married once cannot marry again. The orthodox Hindu society does not allow a second marriage. For that region, a divorce has a huge mental cost to a woman. Upon bad mental health and depression, important gut bacteria like Coprococcus spp. and Dialister species die off, which invites weak physical health.
The stress response provides significant adaptive benefits and has remained evolutionarily conserved for over 500 million years in vertebrates. However, due to an evolutionary mismatch and the loss of critical microbiome species, individuals may experience immune and stress-related disorders, which scientists have referred to as microbiome insufficiency syndrome. If the stressor persists or becomes too intense, the organism may enter the “stage of exhaustion,” whereby its ability to cope with the stressor diminishes, resulting in negative health consequences.
To sum it up, mental stress can have a significant impact on our physical health. Therefore, it’s crucial to take care of our mental health to improve our physical well-being.