(originally published on PsychologyToday.com)
Try these safe and effective natural medicines instead of screaming at the kids or dropping from exhaustion. The FDA calls them over-the-counter meds but they are really a support for your body’s healing energy, reminding you what it feels like to function at your best.
A blend of flower essences can act as a universal remedy for stress and anxiety, and you can easily find these blends with names like Rescue Remedy and Emotional Trauma Solution. Flower essences work best for emotional traumas, but sometimes they can help with physical ones too, like dropping a pan of hot kugel on your foot. Use your flower essence blend to stay calm, and it may relieve the burn at the same time. (Normally taken internally — a few drops in a little water — it can also be applied externally to an injured spot.)
For specific stresses you may get better results with a homeopathic medicine. These medicines are made from herbs, minerals and other natural substances using a special process that turns them into informational blueprints or templates for your body’s healing energy. Here are a few of my personal favorites for the holiday season. To determine which one will work best for you, match your physical and emotional symptoms to the remedies described below.
Sepia, the “vacation in a bottle”. This is the real “mother’s little helper!” It’s used for women who are overworked and exhausted, with too many responsibilities, too many people making demands on them or too many kids tugging at their elbow, and no time for themselves. They report feeling “at the end of my rope” and tend to get snappish and irritable with their loved ones. If they do manage to get away, it’s never enough time to restore their energy, because they feel profoundly exhausted.
Women who need Sepia are also likely to be in a state of hormonal imbalance (PMS, menopause, perimenopause or postpartum depression), and Sepia will safely help to restore the hormone balance in women with these symptoms. Physical symptoms include sluggish circulation with cold hands and feet relieved by vigorous exercise, and varicose veins typically caused by standing on their feet for long hours. Women who need this remedy may include nurses on understaffed floors, teachers with oversized classes, mothers of demanding children, and just about any woman trying to cope with shopping, cooking and hostessing during the holidays.
Argentum nitricum, the “what if?” remedy. Do you constantly finding yourself worrying about “what if” a long list of things might go wrong? like, What if I make a mistake in the recipe and everyone gets sick from the punch? What if two relatives who aren’t speaking to each other show up at my open house at the same time? My teenage son isn’t home yet, what if he was killed by a drunk driver? Instead of wasting energy on all this worrying, take Argentum nitricum to help you refocus on enjoying the holidays. It’s especially likely to help if you have its typical physical symptoms of sudden diarrhea; embarrassingly loud intestinal gas; and craving sweets, which make you feel worse. And yes, it can help these gastrointestinal symptoms as well.
Arsenicum, another worrywart remedy. Arsenicum is for people with fears about illness, poverty and homelessness, in other words fears for their survival, when the fears are unfounded. While Argentum nitricum types worry about everybody, the Arsenicum types worry about themselves and who will be there to take care of them. At holiday time they’re likely to worry about credit card bills, the furnace breaking down on the coldest night, and the person sneezing on them around the punchbowl. These two remedies are also distinguished by their typical symptoms: Arsenicum types tend to get colds and shivery chilly flus, both with nose-running-like-a-faucet nasal discharge.
Coffea, for night-before-Christmas insomnia. Coffea is a homeopathic medicine with a funny raison d’etre: it’s for “ailments from an excess of joy.” How does someone get sick from too much joy? They might well have insomnia from happy anticipation, whether a bride the night before her wedding or a child listening up for Santa. Made from coffee beans, this remedy will also address caffeine-like symptoms such as a jittery wired feeling or a nervous oversensitivity to stimuli.
Gelsemium, for performance anxiety. Are you or your child weak in the knees at the thought of singing a solo in your church choir or pirouetting in The Nutcracker? Gelsemium can help relieve your anxiety, even when it’s weeks in advance of the performance. You may feel shaky-trembly inside or deer-in-the-headlights numb at the thought.
Lycopodium, for anxiety when about to go on stage. This natural medicine works better than Gelsemium for people who keep saying they’re not nervous right up to the moment they go on stage and then suddenly they’re a bundle of nerves. I used it for a client who was a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He told me he would be fine up until the moment he took a deep breath, put his instrument to his lips and was about to start his solo, then his mind would go blank! He was getting by with conventional anti-anxiety medications but wanted to try something more natural. Lycopodium helped resolve his performance anxiety and many other typical Lycopodium issues ranging from lack of self-esteem to heartburn and constipation.
Directions. These natural medicines are easily available in any health food store or online. For most people, the 30c potency (strength) will work well. You only need a couple of the tiny pellets dissolved in your mouth, two to four times a day, depending on the intensity of your symptoms. As soon as you feel the medicine working, stop taking it and let it keep working, then repeat when you feel it start to wear off. Hypersensitives (people who tend to overreact to everything) will do better with a mild 6c potency.
May these natural medicines help you enjoy the holidays for their true meaning: peace on earth, goodwill to humanity, and celebrating light even in the greatest darkness. For more information on using these natural medicines for psychological challenges, excellent resources for the general public include Homeopathic Family Medicine: Evidence-Based Nanopharmacology1 and The Homeopathic Treatment of Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, and Other Mental and Emotional Problems.2 For professionals, I recommend Homeopathy and Mental Health Care: Integrative Practice, Principles and Research.3
Research on their effectiveness can be difficult to access from the US, since most research is done overseas where homeopathy is part of the national health care system. You can find it summarized in the above books or in Dana Ulllman’s posts on Huffington Post.4
1Ullman, D. Homeopathic Family Medicine: Evidence-Based Nanopharmacology (2012) Berkeley, CA: Homeopathic Educational Services.
2Reichenberg-Ullman J, Ullman R. The Homeopathic Treatment of Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, and Other Mental and Emotional Problems (2012). Edmonds, WA: Picnic Point Press.
3Johannes C, van der Zee H. Homeopathy and Mental Health Care: Integrative Practice, Principles and Research (2010). Berkeley, CA: Homeopathic Educational Services.