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Ayurvedic Treatment

Attention Deficit Disorders: An Ayurvedic Perspective
Managing Cancer: Part I

Attention Deficit Disorders: An Ayurvedic Perspective

by John Douillard, D.C.

The diagnosis, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is classified by three symptomatic characteristics: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. In recent years much research has gone into identifying the cause of ADD. Thorough investigations have gone into lifestyle, sugar intake, excessive TV watching, and even chemical toxicity during pregnancy, an occurrence once thought to be the cause of minimal brain disorders or ADD. In all the research only a small and insignificant percentage of cases with ADD proved positive for such causative factors. To date, these factors remain neither proven nor disproved.

In Ayurveda, ADD or hyperactivity falls under the heading of Unmada, which is a general heading for Mania’s, or in this case a type of minimal brain disorder. The definition given by Caraka, Ni. Ch VII, V5, states that Unmada is a wandering of mind, intellect, consciousness, knowledge, memory, inclination, manners, activities, and conduct. It also describes five possible causes for this condition: vata, pitta, kapha, and sanni-pata (the aggravation of all three doshas) and exogenous factors (genetic or outside factors).

We must remember that many of our modern diseases did not exist as such in the past, therefore an exact differential diagnosis may not be drawn or quoted from the original texts. I do believe, however, that the texts will describe the underlying factors that would elicit the symptoms of ADD.

The Western classification of ADD is by three consistent symptoms. Each of these symptoms specifically relate to one of the three doshas when out of balance.

Inattention – when the individual is unable to focus on any one thing for a length of time, is primarily a kapha symptom. The mind seems dull and lethargic unless it is accompanied by physical or kinetic activity. Imbalances are an accumulation of the dosha: too much kapha creates depressed mental faculties, or inattention. However, when the mind is hyperactive, excessive vata can create inattention and/or hyperactivity.

Hyperactivity – this symptom is a classic depiction of a vata imbalance. The mind is restless and racing, legs and feet cannot be still. It seems impossible for the mind or body to settle down and relax and/or focus.

Compulsive Behavior – these symptoms of action without thought are typically controlled by pitta. Students will blurt out answers, jump up in class and show little ability to think through or control their actions.

Although everyone at times will seem either a bit compulsive, hyperactive, or unable to keep their mind on their work, this disorder is classically a combination of all three imbalances at the same time – known as sannipata. Because all three doshas are out of balance simultaneously, sannipata becomes a chronic condition and more difficult to treat. In extreme cases the disorder of sannipata is said to be incurable. ADD, however, is a minor disorder classified by no known neurochemical imbalances to date and can be successfully treated with a comprehensive Ayurvedic regime.


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