Alcoholic beverages are some of the earliest fermentation products that have been produced since ages and their consumption is witnessed widespread in ancient times. Their role in Ayurveda has been stated variedly at multiple instances and has been regarded both as beneficial and hazardous to our health.
The ancient texts of Charaka Samhita provide the guidelines for the consumption of fermented beverages for therapeutic purposes. It elaborates their benefits and states the warnings and perils if their abuse or misuse happens. Ayurveda strongly states that the intake of such fermented drinks has to be regulated. Their medicinal properties can only be harnessed if taken in appropriate form and dosage. The excessive uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages leads to ill-health and dependence. It has been witnessed that excessive consumption of intoxicants cause addiction, both physically and psychologically.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism has been categorized as one of the most serious forms of addictive behaviors with uncontrollable desires to drink. When the person starts drinking, a small amount is enough to give a person the ‘high’ but gradually our body build tolerance and the person starts to consume in larger quantity. With time, the dependence crawls into the life unknowingly and the person feels obligated to consume these drinks in larger quantity.
Consequently, the person finds difficult to enjoy himself or relax if he does not drink. The body of the dependent person starts to show withdrawal symptoms like nausea shaking and sweating when their levels in the blood reduce. Such a misuse impairs the life of the person and involves health-related damages. The person is not able to manage his daily routines, social and family obligations and his professional output also gets affected.
Signs and symptoms of alcoholism:
- Have excessive concern for drinking,
- Locating excuses to drink like planning events for work, social and family drinking.
- Have compulsive urges to drink.
- Have a hard time in concluding the drink once you start.
- Bed Binging – having strong urges to begin your day with drinks just as you waking up.
- Have withdrawal symptoms like sweating, shaking and nausea that go away when you drink
It has been seen that a liquor addicted person has a high risk of developing high blood pressure, strokes, related heart and liver diseases and other mental health problems that include anxiety, suicidal tendencies, depression, and series of aggression.
Going through various research studies, it has been proved that the ethanol content in such distilled fermented beverages leads to neuro-degeneration, which changes in the neuronal functions like reward circuits and neurotransmitter system, particularly dopamine system, opioid system, gamma-aminobutyric acid system acid system, glutamate system etc.
Ayurveda and Alcoholism:
Alcoholism and its withdrawal symptoms in Ayurveda are mentioned in the section of Madatyaya and Panapakrama respectively. In Charak Siddhisthana, it is said that the Shira (vessels and arteries) present in Hridaya (heart) are conjugated with the Gyanendriya (organs of mental abilities) and Karmendriya (the organs of physical abilities). This Shira is affected by the Madya which disrupts the Ojas. Hence the functionality of the body is impaired.
Ayurveda behest the protocols of Satmikarana, a procedure of adaptation by a gradual and logical decrease in the dosage of the addicted substance, that is helpful in taking care of the addictive behavior of the addict. This equation reduction process has already become a wholesome therapy for de-addiction for many abused substances. Along with Satmikarana, another unique therapy of ‘Madya in Madya’ is used in the care of liquor addiction by administering medicated soft fermented beverages in monitored doses thereby decreasing the concentration of abused substance in the cellular levels in the body of the patient. It is performed very carefully and at a controlled rate which is a subtle balance of slow and safe equation so that the patient does not experience the withdrawal effects.
The de-addiction therapy in Ayurveda also includes ‘Padansha Krama’ which is described as the process of rejection of unsuitable substance by the body and will be necessary & useful to tapper down the consumption of addictive substance. For the rehabilitation of the addicted patient, Ayurveda has also suggested psychological counseling, recreational and motivational enhancement therapy.
In our therapies for Alcoholism, apart from ‘Satmikarana and Padansha Krama’, we focus on the detoxification of the whole body and strengthening the cerebral system. In order to avoid the withdrawal symptoms, our unique concoction of herbs for strengthening the mental activities in the day is administered along with relaxing the body.