Natural Remedies for Emotional Health

How easily available remedies can support us in emotional crises

School Shootings: Calming Kids Naturally

Natural medicines for kids who can't sleep, have nightmares, won't go to school.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, I'd like to suggest some natural remedies for kids who are traumatized - kids who can't sleep, or are having nightmares, or afraid to go to school - times when talk is not enough. We don’t want to overmedicate our kids, like the hovering, overprotective parents described by Hara Estroff Marano in A Nation of Wimps. But when kids are too frightened to function, these natural homeopathic medicines can provide some support.

Rescue Remedy, a blend of five flower essences, is a universal stress-reliever for any kind of trauma. It's mild enough to be safe for kids of any age, yet it's often strong enough to relieve anxiety and fears. It usually comes in an alcohol base, so I would not drop it directly into a child's mouth. You could dissolve a few drops in a little water and have kids sip it; rub it on their temples or wrists; put a dropperful in their bathwater; or buy the lozenge form.

Calms Forte is another universally-useful remedy: a blend of several homeopathic remedies and nervous-system-soothing minerals. Anyone in the family can use it to calm anxieties by day and get to sleep at night.

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Sometimes, though, you'll get better results with a specific homeopathic remedy targeted to individual symptoms. All the products mentioned here are easily available in health food stores or online and are safe for kids (and of course I have no financial interest in any products I recommend).

Argentum nitricum has been called the "what if" remedy, as in "What if this happens? What if that happens?" Kids might be imagining all kinds of scary scenarios. When they need Argentum, they may create especially unlikely scenarios, and they may be impulsively drawn to reckless actions. Argentum is an especially good match if they have the typical physical symptoms of rumbly intestinal gas, diarrhea, sore throat and/or hoarseness. 

Calcarea carbonica (or "Calc carb" for short) is a great remedy for kids who are sturdy, stalwart and robust physically (sometimes even pudgy), kids who may be deliberate and even slow in their actions but hard to budge once embarked on something. These kids may have "bowling ball heads", sweat on their heads, and be slow at everything from teething to walking; yet they usually have great perseverance and stamina. They like the comforts of home, being close to mom, and eating lots of carbs. In the homeopathic literature, kids of this (very common) type are known to ask a lot of questions about death, God and the afterlife. If you have a child of this type who seems especially rattled by the recent tragedy, Calc. carb. is likely to have a calming and strengthening effect.

 Stramonium is a kind of "extra strength" remedy for kids who are really frightened, typically with nightmares or night terrors (in which the child looks awake but is unresponsive). These kids are much more afraid of the dark, monsters, and big black dogs than most kids. (A normally phlegmatic Calc. carb. child can turn into a shaky Stramonium child when really frightened.) If you think your child needs this remedy, try giving a pellet of the 30c potency just once before bed, at most two nights in a row, and if you don't see improvement, please take your child to a professional homeopath. This Stramonium terror state needs to be taken seriously before it turns into symptoms like tics, cramps or stuttering.

For Argentum nitricum and Calc. carb. you can also give a pellet daily of the 30c potency. Kids like dissolving remedies in their mouth as they taste like tiny candies. If you don't see results in a week, consider taking your child to a professional homeopath. These remedies are not harmful if you keep giving them, but you would be missing out on a chance to find a remedy tailor-made for your child, one that you could use over and over in the coming years to support your child in times of extra stress.

Burke Lennihan, the author of Your Natural Medicine Cabinet, is a former health food storeowner and a holistic practitioner at the Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge.

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