Ashwagandha herb for OCD, depression and Waswas is one of the most powerful natural herbs for an effective cure. In case, you have been struggling with any of these , i.e., Was’was ,OCD, Waswas al qahri (severe was'was) and depression, this herb can play a very effective role in terms of managing the symptoms. Was’was and OCD are both anxiety related conditions and can have a severe impact, emotionally and spiritually, on the people dealing with it. Ashwagandha is regarded as the best natural Herb to cure OCD, Waswas, Anxiety, Depression and Waswas al qahri, without any side effects. Minimizes stress and contains OCD.To further explain, how it works and how to use it, let’s first take a look at the background of the problem at hand, i.e., Was’was or OCD.
OCD and Was’was are two psychiatric conditions whose impact on a person is more or less similar, however the causes behind these two conditions could be quite different. The term was’was is an Arabic word, which can be translated as “whispers”. This word appears four times in Quran and seven times in Hadith books (Rahman et al., 2021). Was’was is a purely spiritual condition, in which the drivers behind Was’was can be the whispers from the meta-physical entities such as Shay’tan , its progeny, or a person’s own lower self. In Was’was, a person can be dealing with a number of challenging scenarios, such as: repetition of purification practices (e.g., Wudhu, bath, cleaning of private parts), forgetfulness and doubting over religious practices (e.g., repetition of Salah, doubts over acceptance of Iba’dah etc.), guilt over past actions and doubt over mercy of Allah (swt), extreme fear of situations beyond one’s own control (fear of punishment in Qabr, day of judgement etc.). Allah (SWT) says:
Thus, it is that We have assigned for every Prophet an enemy: The evil forces from among men as well as from among the in-visible beings (jin), that whisper to one another glittering half-truths meant to delude the mind. But had your Lord willed, they would not have done so; therefore, leave them to their own inventions (in the form of disbelief and lies).
(Surah Al-An'am 8:112)
On the other hand, OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder, is considered more of a psychiatric condition, in which a person deals with obsessions, which are repetitive ‘images, impulses, or intrusive thoughts’ in response to which a patient resorts to “repetitive mental or physical behaviors” as a compulsion. Some examples of these compulsive behaviors can be: repetitions of certain tasks (cleaning, counting, ), dealing with challenging thoughts, doubting one’s own purity, sanity and morality, religiosity (extreme views about practicing religious practices) and many other related themes. OCD is one of the fourth most occurring of the mental disorders, and nearly 2.5 % of the world’s population is suffering from it (Collie 2014).
1. General Treatments for OCD & Was’was
There can be different treatments for OCD and Was’was. Usually, the treatment recommended for Was’was is based on authentic spiritual knowledge, taught to Muslims from the authentic Ahadees and Quranic verses. In comparison, one way OCD is treated is by using a certain class of medications named as SSRIDs. Usage of medications should be supervised with the help of a professional Medical practitioner. However, medical science is not completely certain how these medications actually treat the OCD, and there can be varying degrees to the success rate of using these drugs. Some patients respond well to the use of these SSRIDs; however, other cases do not witness the same level of success.
Moreover, as the International OCD organisation notes that SSRIDs increase the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a “feel -good “chemical in our bodies, which is a “naturally occurring monoamine neurotransmitter that carries signals between nerve cells throughout your body. It plays an important role in various brain and body functions, including mood stabilization, cognition, learning, memory, and sleep” as per Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, who is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University. There is safer way to treat OCD, which is using the COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY modified as per the Islamic teachings. As per some studies, cognitive behavioural therapy has a much higher success rate and 80 % of the patients see much improvement in their OCD, if they stick to the treatment plan for long enough to start seeing results.
2. Organic Treatments for OCD & Was’was
One of the best ways to tackle Was’was and OCD, along with the Spiritual + Psychiatric method is the organic way.
Organic-way to treat OCD means that using the “Natural Substances” that naturally calm down one’s anxiety. In essence, both Was’was and OCD lead to an anxiety trigger, which in its very core triggers our natural “Fight or Flight system”. This results in the release of STRESS CHEMICALS in our brain and body, and keep us in a state of Alertness, Awareness and Awakeness. “Fight or Flight” system is actually our body’s natural response when it perceives itself in RISK or DANGER. It is as natural of an outcome as when we unintentionally raise our hand or arm to protect our faces, when we see an object flying towards our face or we close our eye-lashes automatically as soon as something tries to harm our eyes.
But, in case of OCD and Waswas, our Fight or Flight system is being triggered unnecessarily, as there is no physical threat outside, but inside our mind is telling us that ‘something bad is happening or something is wrong’. To top it up, intrusive thoughts, images, fears make the person remain in a constant state of anxiety and release of stress hormones. To break this cycle of consistent stress release, one of the best ways is to use a NATURAL STRESS RELIEVER.
3. #1 HERB FOR MANAGING STRESS & OCD IN AYURVEDA
Ashwagandha is considered the ‘king of herbs’ in ayurvedic medical sciences. Ayurveda is a healing system which essentially applies natural modes such as herbs, aromas, meditation and breathing to cure different diseases and conditions. Historically Ayurveda emerged in India, and since then it has spawned throughout the world, due to its natural and effective treatment plans. Modern medication systems have studied, adopted and refined many of the solutions provided by the ancient Ayurvedic health plans and offerings.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is also famously known as ‘winter cherry’ but an exact translation of the name would be ‘Like a horse’. It naturally grows as a shrub (a small tree which is densely branched ), and mostly found in Asia, Middle east and Africa. The reddish-orange colored cherries grown on the shrub as well as its roots are used in traditional medications for treating certain conditions as well as it serves as a tonic to boost mental and physical functions.
Ashwagandha, is scientifically proven to treat certain mental and physical conditions, such as stress, insomnia, muscle and body fatigue, energy deficiency and mood stabilizing. There are even claims that Ashwagandha helps to treat cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and anxiety related conditions.
In the context of OCD and Was’was, just as mentioned before that stress levels and anxiety is the main player. As a result, Ashwagandha can be an effective herb to add to your ‘personal protocol’ in order to help you with managing stress, along with other treatments that you could be undergoing, such as CBT therapy.
Let’s take a quick look, at how the Scientific Studies support the use of Ashwaganda for the treatment of OCD.
1) A review study conducted by Maryam et al., (2022) noted that Ashwagandha and other herbs can be used as stand-alone therapies for managing OCD with positive outcomes.
2) Another study conducted back in 2016, endorsed that Ashwagandha can be used as a safe substitute for pharmacutical pills (SSRIDS) to cure OCD.
3) A study conducted in 2012 on mice, also resulted in encouraging results, endorsing Ashwagandha’s ability to improve the impact of OCD.
4. How ASHWAGANDHA Lowers Stress and treats OCD?
Here again, to learn how Ashwagandha supports against the stress related mental disorders, as described in above sections, that certain chemicals induce, ‘fight or flight’ response in our brains. Ashwagandha, is known for its STRESS CALMING potency, and helps in supporting our immune system (remember, stress is the #1 killer of our immune systems), helps in managing anxiety and depression, and even in cancer and inflammation treatment.
4.1 What Causes OCD?
To explain it further, as per the mainstream scientific studies, OCD occurs as a result of abnormalities in a person’s neuro-transmitter systems’ in his brain. Neuro-transmitters are also called as “Chemical messengers”, as they carry ‘messages’ to perform certain tasks. To make it easier for you to understand, your body has a complex web-alike system of NERVES which combine to make NERVOUS SYSTEM. These ‘Nerves’ are just like electric-cables in your home which carry electric current, and Neuro-transmitters are like the current. This nervous system controls almost everything in you do, just like breathing, your heart rate, digestion, muscle movement and even you’re thinking and how you feel is related to this.
Now that you understand your Nervous system a bit better, then it’s about time to realize that GABA, DOPAMINE & SEROTONIN are three types of neuro-transmitters (just like electric currents) which perform very important functions. GABA’s role is to prevent “anxiety, depression, sleep problems, lack of focus ” by performing certain activities in your brain. Likewise, Dopamine and Serotonin are two other neuro-transmitters, which are responsible for healthy sleep, healthy sexuality, better mood, keeping away anxiety and keeping you feel motivated etc.
As per scientific studies, OCD occurs when abnormalities happen with a person’s GABA, SEROTONIN, and sometimes dopamine systems, as a result of which your mood, focus, sleep, emotional wellness and anxiety levels, all become out of control. Now question is what de-regulates these three neuro-transmitters? Science is still trying to find the precise reasons; however, studies suggest that BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which simply stated is a ‘manager’ for these neuro-transmitters gets disturbed, which leads to abnormalities in performing normal functions of Serotonin, Gaba and dopamine.
4.2 What Are The Benefits of Ashwagandha?
(Top 3 Benefits)
4.2.1 Managing Neuro-transmitters (OCD/ WAS’WAS/ STRESS/ ANXIETY)
Now, if you have keenly read the complete details above, you can very well understand what’s coming forward. If not, kindly read again section 5.1, which details ‘What causes OCD ’ or read the summary ahead. Since, the scientific studies, are still making sure what causes OCD, as causes could be genetical, environmental or situational. However, medical research is clear about what happens as a result of OCD i.e., it disturbs the normal patterns of ‘neuro-transmitters’ in a persons brain. As explained above, that neuro-transmitters are like ‘chemical signals’ which control and manage a number of functions in our brain and body. Three of the most important neuro-transmitters are (1) GABA (2) Serotonin (3) Dopamine.
The same neuro-transmitters get disturbed when a person is passing through anxiety disorders, depression and other mood related disorders. What disturbs these neurotransmitters is abnormalities of another chemical in brain called BDNF, which acts as a ‘manager’ of various neurotransmitters.
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It's been scientifically proven that Ashwagandha helps to actually repair BDNF, and hence helps in regulating the 3 essential neuro-transmitters (GABA, dopamine, Serotonin) which serves to fight against OCD.
Likewise, when you are in a state of anxiety or stress, then your brain is secreting ‘stress chemicals’, most important of which are (1) Epinephrine (2) Cortisol (3) Adrenaline. Studies show that Ashwagandha acts as an adaptogen, i.e., it regulates these chemicals in your body and bring them back to normal levels. It’s just like a diabetic patient, whose sugar levels increase or decrease, and then insulin (a natural chemical in our bodies) helps to bring the sugar levels to normal. This leads to less stress levels and better management of anxiety.
4.2.2 Better Sleep Management with Ashwagandha
Sleep is nature’s best medicine, other than sunshine and water. During sleep, our brain and bodies repair themselves. During certain medical conditions, our natural sleep rhythms get disturbed. In stress and anxiety, you cannot sleep well, while during ‘depression’, you may sleep too much. Now Ashwagandha’s botanical name is ‘Withania Somnifera’, a Latin word, which means ‘Sleep inducing’, hence highlighting its abilities to improve one’s sleep.
In a normal person, the stress chemical ‘cortisol’, is highest after waking up, which is actually good for the person to feel active, while cortisol levels decrease in the evening, which enables the person to feel sleepy. In an anxious or stressed person, the cortisol levels, remain high through the evenings as well, which disrupts the natural sleeping orders. This is where ‘Ashwagandha’ performs miracles by managing the stress chemicals and inducing a quality sleep.
4.2.3 Ashwagandha Improves Over all Energy
We thrive on our energy levels. Don’t we? Let’s try to remember, how ‘active’ most of us were as kids. That’s because we had good ‘energy’ in our systems. To make it simple, your over-all ‘feelings’ change when you have energy to do things. And once you start doing things, your mind becomes busy, and it forgets its problems for a while and feels rewarded. Especially, if you are struggling with depression, OCD, anxiety, you need some ‘meaning’ to your life and keep your ‘mind’ engaged in some ‘productive’ thought patterns and actions. This is where Ashawagandha can again step in as your supporter. It helps in improving, stamina, enhancing capacity for lungs and heart, reducing fatigue and energizing your systems and muscles.
5. How Much Ashwagandha Dosage (Dose) is Good for you? How to Use Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha comes in two forms: Powder form or Capsule form. I use it, in both forms. Capsule form of Ashwagandha, usually comprises of 300 mg of the Ashwagandha content. The advantage of ‘capsule’ form is that you know exactly how much quantity you are taking. The powder form of Ashwagandha comes in different wrappings, both paper and plastic.
As per the studies, for treating OCD, stress and depression related symptoms, 600 mg/ day of Ashwagandha for 8 weeks shows best results. This helped to reduce stress, anxiety and other OCD related symptoms.
My Personal experience is that Ashwagandha helps to CALM YOUR MIND; you start to sleep better and that MONKEY MIND condition, which means that, our minds produces continuous thoughts in circles and brings such stress as a response, becomes controlled.
Many people wonder about how to use ashwagandha? I sometimes add Ashwagandha in warm milk in Powder form (almost 1/4th of a teaspoon) along with 1/4th teaspoon of Haldee /Turmeric. Also, the second most important question is when to take Ashawagandha? In my case, I take it one hour before I go to sleep. It helps in quality sleep, and you wake up in the morning refreshed and feel much rejuvenated.
However, if anyone is using ashwagandha root extract, pills or powder to treat depression, anxiety and then its better to go with what the scientific studies suggest, i.e. one ashwagandha dose of 300 mg ( 1 tablet/ or 1/4th tea spoon powder) in the morning and one in the night. In summation, If you plan to get Ashwagandha dose in tablet form, then as studies show that 1 tablet (300mg) of Ashwagandha gets you the best results.
6. Is Ashwagandha Safe/ Who Should Avoid?
1) Ashwagandha is safe to take in ‘recommended amounts’ i.e., 2 pills a day, each of 300 mg. Since, Ashwagandha is a natural therefore, there are not many side-effects of it noticed in the medicine studies. However, if taken in LARGE QUANTITIES, it may cause stomach related complexities, such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. Therefore, it’s always advised to take it in small dosages, as recommended above.
2) Also, in case of pregnancy, Ashwagandha is not advised. This is advised on account of the fact that Ashwagandha may result in “pre-mature labor” & “Fetus distress”.
3) One MOST IMPORTANT care is that you should only trust getting Ashwagandha from the recommended sources. Reason is that, in case of Herbs and natural tonics, usually the regulatory laws are not very strict, as a result, sub-standard quality herbs are rampant in the on-line market shelves. So, trust only the source, which is proven to have a great track record and is fully transparent from where they sourced the products from.
OCD, Was’was, Was’was al qahri and depression can be categorized under the mental disorders related conditions, which require effective treatment and sometimes prolonged therapy. Conventional methods to treat OCD and depression require the use of anti-depressant medications, which are effective on a certain proportion of patients, however their usage has many side effects. As a result, natural treatment methods which can be psycho-therapies and natural herbs are advised as alternate healing methods, which show better results and less side effects.
Ashwagandha, is a powerful herb, used in the ayurvedic medications for hundreds of years and offers amazing benefits in terms of treating depression, anxiety, relieving stress and even against obsessive compulsive disorders. Along with this, Ashwagandha helps in managing better sleep patterns, enhances sexual libido, provides more energy and acts as an adaptogen, which helps to think clear and better.
All in all, ashwagandha is an amazing body and brain tonic. However, since this class of herbs is not regulated by any medical authority, therefore, it is extremely important to source Ashwagandha from trusted brands. The safe dosage of ashwagandha in 2 pills (300 mg /pill) in morning and night for at-least 8 weeks. The usage can be continued as a general health supplement even after recovery from stress, depression, OCD and Waswas.
Abrishami, M.H., Noras, M.R., Soltanifar, A., Salari, R., Jarahi, L. and Pazhouh, H.K., 2022. Clinical Evidence for the Effectiveness of Herbal Medicines in the Treatment of an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Review Study. Current Drug Discovery Technologies, 19(5), pp.70-77.
Collie, R.D., 2014. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder: A Guide for Family, Friends, and Pastors. Routledge.
Jahanbakhsh, S.P., Manteghi, A.A., Emami, S.A., Mahyari, S., Gholampour, B., Mohammadpour, A.H. and Sahebkar, A., 2016. Evaluation of the efficacy of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) root extract in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 27, pp.25-29.
Rahman, M.Z.A., Zulkiply, S.R.I. and Mustapha, A.M., 2021. The Term Waswas and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) In Islamic Perspectives. Al Hikmah International Journal of Islamic Studies and Human Sciences.