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Herbal Solutions for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

28 November, 2017
Q I have been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have been having these disturbing thoughts for a year now but seeking help for just over a month. I am on herbal medication but stopped the counseling; should I continue? I am currently at the stage of accepting the problem and having the necessary patience until my condition improves. I still don’t feel emotions and I don’t have my motivation back yet (the world is still confusing and at times unrealistic), but I am being patient. I am no longer obsessed with my faith being weak since I am able to realize that I can only get my love for my religion back once I have got my love for life back. I want to know whether there is anything that can speed up the recovery process. (I don’t want to see a psychiatrist who won’t understand my Islamic background). I would also like to know of the success rates for people recovering from this condition and whether they ever make full recoveries because before this illness my life was excellent. I would also like to know about the normal feelings during recovery and thoughts I should have to assist recovery. Al-hamdu-Lillah, your advice to others has helped me a lot. It was comforting to know that these negative thoughts are because of the condition that Allah might be appreciating my prayers and that this is not a sign of weak faith although it can lead to a weak faith. I would like to just receive some clarification on the questions asked. JazakAllah Khayran.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

“it is important that you do continue to attend suitable counseling sessions in order to help you process and manage these emotions. Cognitive or behavioral therapy has a greater success rate than other forms of therapy (even drugs) in OCD. With OCD, there is no full understanding of its cause, and you will need assistance to help you understand the importance and manage the negative emotions like anger, frustration, irritability, insomnia, and withdrawal from society.”


As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum sister,

We pray that you will continue to find strength and guidance, in sha’ Allah.

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I agree with you that the world is confusing and at times unrealistic. I can assure you that your disorder has nothing to do with that perception. You have done well to seek the answers for yourself. This matters very much because at the end of the day you are the only one who can say precisely what you are experiencing. The more you can equip yourself to solve your problem, the more likely you will be able to find the most appropriate solutions. The problem has taken time to develop and by emphasizing the need to be patient with yourself, you are allowing for what has been done to be undone.

As far as your lack of motivation is concerned, this is a normal consequence of excessive fat. You will be slower to respond not just physically, but also spiritually as the senses and your reflexes have become dull. The result is to slow down all functions which are compounded by excess sleep. If you are changing or have changed your diet, this will help greatly especially if the foods were eaten are fresh fruits and vegetables most importantly along with cereals and pulses like rice, barley, and beans. The valuable nutrition in these foods will help to replenish the necessary vitamin and mineral content in your bloodstream. This nourishes all vital organs as well as increases the efficiency of your nerves to receive and send the all-important messages back and forth within your body physical and psychological. This will also help to eliminate any toxic build-up in your body as a result of over-eating.

As far as your thought processes go, the treatment that you are under using herbal medication should help matters greatly. Not knowing which herbs are available in your country has to be born in mind with the following recommendations (hence why the Latin names are given as a reference), but this should be discussed with your healer/doctor:

Cedarwood Oil (Thuja Occidentalis/Cedrus Atlantica). If you place a couple of drops in water and place the container of the mixture over a lighted candle, it can help stimulate the nervous system. Also, in this manner, it will help you to be more focused.

Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare/Officinale) as a herb can decrease your appetite and at the same time increase your digestion. There might also be an increased flow of urine so be prepared to drink a lot. The oil helps you to cope with the emotional swings that you might be experiencing.

Yam more known as a vegetable in Vibrational medicine (see below) helps to increase balance in the body as you go through differing emotional states. Also, you will find less difficulty in dealing with your negative emotions and strengthen your personal will.

Tamarind as a drink helps to release anxiety and stress as you work on your inner self-development which increases one’s patience.

Pomegranate as a fruit and as a flower essence is used to help you manage and understand your emotions.

Pumpkin here we refer to the seeds which assist in un-blocking deep-seated emotions, the kind of emotions that you keep trying to bury through your compulsion. This will also help in gaining self-expression.

In fact, with the pomegranate, yam, and pumpkin, it would be helpful if you could take up a little gardening as I think these vegetables are indigenous to your country. Grow them yourself. This would help to put you in touch with your Creator and the rhythm of nature itself.

Prophet Muhammad said:

“There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” (Bukhari)

As you may have guessed there are many issues that may come to the surface, issues that you have placed in a state of denial. Given this, it is important that you do continue to attend suitable counseling sessions in order to help you process and manage these emotions. Cognitive or behavioral therapy has a greater success rate than other forms of therapy (even drugs) in OCD. With OCD, there is no full understanding of its cause, and you will need assistance to help you understand the importance and manage the negative emotions like anger, frustration, irritability, insomnia, and withdrawal from society.

Additionally, you can try to:

  • Avoid stressful situations and situations that cause you to be anxious or causes you to have low self-esteem. Do not punish yourself and feel shame. This will increase low self-esteem.

 

  • Certain kinds of music, art-therapy, meditation (without words or pictures) will help to calm your state of mind.

 

  • Avoid drugs not prescribed. Some drugs can act as a trigger through your blood chemistry.

 

  • Avoid caffeine.

 

  • Exercise is effective in relieving stress whilst building-up your ability to relieve stress.

 

  • Try to keep a written record of how you feel/what happens before you do something compulsively. This will help you to observe what is going on. It is important to avoid actions on your symptoms (compulsive behavior rituals). Willpower alone will be difficult, so once you can identify a pattern that occurs before the compulsive act, you must prepare a range of things that you can do instead. For example, listen to the Qur’an, go to the garden, go for a walk, swimming, paint how you feel inside etc.

 

  • There needs to be some kind of change in your environment. Educate yourself about the disorder as much as you can so that you can teach family members as well. The more informed everyone, the more likely you will have a support mechanism that does not reinforce your compulsive behavior.

 

  • Regulate your sleep. Try not to sleep too much, just enough. A family member can help in this regard.

 

  • Try to avoid withdrawing from society. Spending time alone leaves you free to indulge.

Please do not be surprised that amidst any progress, a slight regression occurs. The worst you can do is to allow yourself to be disappointed and angry with yourself. This phase can pass if you allow it too by not clinging to those negative feelings. All in all, remain positive and do things that help you stay positive. It is the one thing that can make a difference between having a good day or a bad day.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Hwaa Irfan
Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.