By Karima Burns
Homepath, doctor in Naturopathy and Herbalist

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 00:00

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a form of anxiety disorder. Treatment may include exposure therapy (with prevention of compulsive rituals) and antidepressants.
The obsessions are usually related to a sense of harm, risk, or danger, so one needs to confront these fears in the same way a person frightened of flying must take airplanes and face these fears. Anxiety disorders are very common in today's world, and it is not surprising. There are so many factors that can contribute to them, and almost everyone is exposed to multiple factors.
Although they most commonly exhibit themselves as simple anxiety where a person will obsessively avoid doing the thing they are scared of, they can exhibit themselves as OCD in about 2 percent of the population. However, in OCD a person will obsessively try to prevent what they are scared of. So, if one is scared of airplanes, one would not avoid them; one would be more likely to have elaborate rituals, insist on sitting in certain seats on the plane and say extra prayers, and wear certain clothing or any number of other things.

In anxiety, one might pray but be so nervous that one forgets the words or becomes scared to pray. This can go on for days on end. With OCD, one is so scared of praying that one believes that something can be done about the fear by finding solutions to the fear. These solutions can become elaborate rituals within themselves.

However, the treatment and prevention of OCD is similar to that for other anxiety disorders — face your fears, fix lifestyle and dietary factors that may be contributing, and take natural medicines that will help balance one's emotions on a physical and spiritual level.

Here are some tips:

One should not avoid Praying. However, one should avoid doing anything in Prayer that could even slightly be taken as a compulsive behavior. So, one should perform the five Prayers daily. However, for some time, one should avoid doing any extra Prayers or "make up" Prayers for those are considered invalid. Put ones intention forth from now that one will do one's best each time one prays; thus, one's Prayers will be accepted. Almighty Allah will know that one has done one's best, and that is all one can physically do.

With all the behaviors one needs to list them on a paper and then write next to each item why one does it. One might not know the reason right now, but if one thinks about it for some time, one will be able to find the root cause of that behavior.

· Are you scared of germs?

· Of being rejected by Allah?

· Of being seen as a bad person?

· Of failing school?

· Of being in an accident?

What are the fears associated with the behaviors?

Once, one has a list of these fears, one needs to plan out a program to confront them. This is best done with a therapist, a healer, a family member, or an understanding friend. It is best not to do this alone. One should only tackle one item at a time. If "germs" is the fear, list them, for example, one can practice touching things that would contain many "germs." Do this on a regular basis (with one's person of support nearby), and do not allow one's self to engage in the compulsive behavior afterwards.

A good way to do this might be to take a walk in the woods, far from any bathrooms (where you can wash) and then touch the "germy" item. Even, if one cannot stop one's self from washing when one returns home, at least one has prevented one's self from doing it immediately. It will take some time and regular exposure for one to become more comfortable. When one tackles one thing, one should go onto the next.

The second part of this "facing one's fears" is through emotional feedback. Sit in a quiet place, alone, and imagine doing the thing that is feared. Imagine it to the very end. Imagine the worst will happen. Once, one has reached the end of that fear, and then imagine what one will do about it at the end. What will one do if one becomes ill and has to visit the doctor to only end up in the hospital, for example? What is the worst that could happen?

One will start to realize that even at "worst," one will be protected by Allah, and that there is nothing to fear. If one needs to do this practice with a friend or a family member nearby that is fine. However, one may also do this exercise alone.

The third part is to make the first two tasks easier for one's-self by making lifestyle changes that will be more conducive to a calm, balanced life. To do this one must:

1. Sleep eight hours every night. If you can't sleep take relaxing herbs like chamomile, skullcap, hops, valerian, or others.
2. Avoid all caffeine in tea or coffee. One should not even drink decaffeinated for some time. Drink only herbal teas, water, and perhaps a little organic milk or freshly made juices.
3. Have only one serving of an item with sugar per day at the most e.g., one cake, one candy bar, one of anything sweet. Ideally, this should be reduced to once-a-week; however, this is difficult for most people, so reducing to only one a day will help.
4. Avoid any foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG) — a lot of canned soups, pizza sauces, Chinese food, salad dressings, frozen foods, canned foods, prepared mixes, etc., have this ingredient.
5. Avoid any foods with chemicals or dyes.
6. Make sure one's cholesterol is not too low, and that one's diet has some good fats in it from olive oil, flax seeds, fish, etc.; a body without enough healthy fat will not be able to maintain a healthy nervous system.

7. Making these lifestyle changes will decrease one's episodes and make it a lot easier for you to help yourself.

Last but not least, one can take some herbs for support and naturally reduce one's anxiety and urges on a physical and an emotional level. A good formula is as follows:

  1. St. John's Wort tincture or capsules (take as directed on the bottle).

  1. Aromatherapy oils of vanilla, rose, clary sage, sandalwood, lavender, chamomile, or patchouli are all good. They work on an emotional level as well as a physical level. To use these, add three drops to a tablespoon of massage oil and rub this mixture on one's wrist.

  1. The nervine herbs mentioned above (to aid sleep) are also OK to take during the day in smaller amounts.

The amount of herbs each person needs is different. One can tell if one is taking the right amount if one is sleeping so well that one dreams. The ability to dream at night is a very good gauge to determine if the body has an adequate supply of nutrients for the nervous system. It has been shown that results are not seen unless the amount of herb is increased until one is dreaming every night and remembering that dream for about 20 minutes upon awakening.

Remember, above all, that one's intentions are very important. If one starts Prayer with the correct intention and is unable, for reasons of OCD, to finish the Prayer in a perfect manner, it is still acceptable as a Prayer, as one's best according to one's ability.

Kristie Karima Burns has been counseling as a Homepath for over 9 years. From the U.S. she is a doctor in Naturopathy, a Master Herbalist, and teachs with inspiration from the Waldorf school. She uses art, health and education to heal others.(