Natural Remedies for Emotional Health

How easily available remedies can support us in emotional crises

Anxious Mothers-To-Be: Natural Options

Anxiety during pregnancy can be relieved by safe, natural over-the-counter meds.

For a pregnant woman with anxiety – including anxiety about taking tranquilizers – and wishing to avoid unnecessary prescription drugs, homeopathic medicines can provide a safe alternative. The FDA regulates these medicines as over-the-counter drugs, as described in the previous blog on depression, and their safety has been demonstrated by 200 years of continuous use. Here are some good options, available in any health food store or online.

Argentum nitricum is called the “What if?” medicine because the person who needs it constantly spins out ever-more-implausible scenarios. “What if I have a miscarriage? What if the baby is premature? What if he is autistic? What if he is born with a birth defect because the cat jumped on my lap?” Someone in this state is impossible to reassure with rational arguments, plus she is always inventing more scenes of imagined dangers. The physical symptoms accompanying an Argentum nitricum-type of anxiety are primarily gastrointestinal, ranging from loud rumblings and embarrassingly offensive gas to debilitating Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The woman who constantly frets about everything that could possibly go wrong with her pregnancy may well have a history of IBS-like symptoms – or at least of bouts of diarrhea so sudden and urgent that she maps out the public bathrooms in advance every time she leaves the house. Argentum nitricum is likely allay both the anxiety and the digestive symptoms.

Arsenicum is one of the best homeopathic medicines for anxiety – yet it may be difficult to persuade the anxious person to take a drug that sounds like a poison! As with any homeopathic medicine, there is no measurable amount of the active ingredients, which makes it extremely safe. (Cutting-edge technology has recently detected nanoparticles of the active ingredient in homeopathic medicines, but the substance is not measurable by any conventional method nor present in amounts that could possibly cause poisoning, even if a child were to swallow the whole bottle.) The person who needs Arsenicum worries about everything that has to do with survival: income, housing, health, insurance and the like. She may worry that her partner will lose his/her job and that they will become homeless. Or she may worry that she will develop a previously-undiagnosed condition that will cancel her insurance policy. Or she may envision a chemical spill that will poison her child with invisible, odorless toxins. She can fret about endless toxic scenarios, like the Argentum nitricum person, but hers are likely to be more survival-oriented and less dramatic. Her physical symptoms can include burning diarrhea, or a cold or hayfever with a watery nasal discharge – the kind that makes you want to wad up tissues and stuff them up your nose. Arsenicum can relieve her worries, her nose and her diarrhea. 

Ignatia is known as the “rehearsal remedy” because the woman who needs it is likely to lie awake at night brooding over every emotional slight and turning it into a major emotional upset. She is likely to have dramatic mood swings including hurt feelings, anger, humiliation, frustration and abandonment. Her inner life is filled with imagined conversations, whether reviewing the hurt feelings of the past (“I wish I had said that!”) to practicing the best comebacks for possible future showdowns (“I’ll show him!”). The physical symptoms associated with Ignatia generally include cramps and spasms, whether a psychosomatic stomach upset/vomiting episode, intestinal cramps, spasmodic coughing, or a lump in the throat. Ignatia can help this type of person regain her inner poise while calming the muscle spasms.

Pulsatilla, best known as a medicine for small children, can also be used for adults who use a child-like strategy to get what they want. They are likely to be sweet, clingy, a little teary but easily consoled, and happy in their dependence on a stronger person in their life, whether mother or mate. When pregnant, they worry that they won’t know how to care for their baby (because they don’t feel capable or old enough) and they are likely to wish their mother would come and take care of them. These people are basically very sweet and congenial, likely to make wonderful mothers. A few doses of Pulsatilla will help them to grow up and gain confidence in their strengths.

Rescue Remedy is not technically a homeopathic remedy, although it shares similarities in how it is made and tested. Made from a blend of plant extracts, it is labeled as an over-the-counter med by the FDA. Rescue Remedy is like a universal medicine for any kind of trauma or upset, whether physical, mental or emotional. It can be used for anyone who is stressed or anxious, without having to match specific symptoms as with the above medicines. The only choice is the form it comes in. Originally it was only made as an alcohol extract. Now those who wish to avoid even a few drops of alcohol can get Rescue Remedy in lozenge form to dissolve in the mouth.

Directions for taking homeopathic medicines: Get the 30c potency (strength) commonly available in health food stores and online, unless you know yourself to be hypersensitive (sensitive across the board to medications, supplements, odors and vibrational energies). Hypersensitives should get a mild 6c potency, even if you have to special-order it. Dissolve two pellets in your mouth as one dose. Take it once a day if your symptoms are mild and ongoing; up to four times a day if they are sudden and severe. Basically you want to take enough until you can feel it starting to work, then back off and let it keep working (like coasting on a bike). Do not repeat until the symptoms start to come back. If you do not get benefit from your self-dosing, seek a professional homeopath for the best possible results.

Resources

Castro M. Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby’s First Year.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.

Johannes CK, van der Zee H. Homeopathy and Mental Health Care: Integrative Practice, Principles and Research. Haren, The Netherlands: Homeolinks Publishers, 2010.

Reichenberg-Ullman JL, Ullman RW. The Homeopathic Treatment of Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar and Other Mental and Emotional Problems: Homeopathic Alternatives to Conventional Drug Therapies Edmonds, WA: Picnic Point Press, 2012.

Ullman D. Homeopathic Family Medicine. Ebook available from www.homeopathic.com.

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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