Homeopathic Remedies for Grief and a Broken Heart

December 18th, 2014

My wife’s grandmother passed away on Christmas Eve morning last year. It was sudden although not unexpected. Grandma Jean had been in a nursing home with advanced alzheimer’s for the past couple of years. Her memory had declined to the point where every visit was heart wrenching because there was no recollection of the times past. Grandma Jean’s quality of life had diminished greatly. She didn’t suffer with pain and her passing was very quick. It was made easier for the family because everyone knew Grandma Jean would be celebrating Christmas (her most favorite time of year) in a better place.

Often an unexpected loss can cripple us emotionally and physically, locking us into patterns of sadness and anger. Grieving is a normal part of the loss experience. Whether a loved one dies or a relationship ends, grief will come whether we want it to or not. If we get stuck in our grief, it often will manifest in physical symptoms. When we are stuck, I believe homeopathy can play a significant role in moving past the emotions and the feeling of being trapped. I want to share three of the most commonly used remedies in my practice for grief and the traits that indicate which remedy will be best for a particular situation.

Ignatia – Ignatia is indicated when there has been a sudden and extreme change in the emotional state, the change is often to: sadness, disappointment, or anger. Consolation can lead to even deeper feelings of despair, although the Ignatia patient is typically better from affection. An Ignatia person will appreciate and possibly seek out hugs in their state of loss. Ignatia patients will generally control their emotional outbursts or limit them to small expressions. They may sigh repeatedly and involuntarily as they attempt to contain their emotional distress. Ignatia grief often manifests in the throat, the crying that is being contained feels stuck like a lump in the throat. I will often think of Ignatia for patients that developed pathology around their throat area (thyroid issues, sore throats and difficulty swallowing) after a loss. Ignatia patients are generally better from physical exertion and exercise.

Natrum Muriaticum (Nat. Mur.) – Nat. Mur. is indicated when the loss manifests in a state of silent grief for the individual. The individual often seeks solitude and desires to process the loss alone. Often the individual will carry a feeling of guilt, whether or not they actually had anything to do with the loss. Nat. Mur. individuals also generally are worse from consolation. Unlike Ignatia individuals, Nat. Mur. individuals are not better from affection. “No hugs, please leave me alone.” The Nat. Mur. person will often dwell on what happened and compound their grief and guilt around the situation. This silent rumination often progresses to a feeling of anger over what happen. Nat. Mur. individuals may play sentimental music over and over again to dwell in their loss. Even when surrounded by loved ones in a time of grief, a Nat. Mur. person feels alone and isolated. Nat. Mur. individuals often will crave salt and may state that they do or believe they would feel better at the beach.

Staphisagria (Staph.) – Staph. is a grief remedy that is indicated when the patient is stuck in a state of sadness and anger with the anger being the primary manifestation. Staph. individuals may try and suppress the emotions which will only compound the pain ultimately resulting in an emotional explosion at some slight trigger. The individual may throw or strike at things in uncontrolled rage and will often feel that they are out of control. This may be a slightly more common response in children after a loss, although adults that feel wronged may have a similar expression of their grief. Think loss of a relationship where one individual was unfaithful to the other. Staph. individuals also seem to be tired all the time from trying to contain the emotional upheaval and often a nap may make them feel worse.

These descriptions are only a glimpse into the characteristics of these three remedies I may use for loss and heartache with my patients. The dosing instructions for the patient are to take 3 to 5 pellets every twenty to thirty minutes for a few hours. If symptoms do not begin to subside after three doses of a given medicine, it most likely is not the best suited remedy for the patient. I do want to stress that there are other remedies (nearly 100) that can be helpful for grief. I would recommend that if you or a loved one is struggling after a loss please seek the help and guidance of a trained professional or group that can support you in this time of need.  The website http://www.griefshare.org/ allows you to enter your location and find a nearby group of others that have lost loved ones. As with many other instances where we struggle, there is no need to journey through grief alone.

~Dr. Swanz

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Homeopathic Medicine |

Letting Go and Rediscovering Your Health

December 9th, 2014

In 2015 I challenge everyone to let go of practices, beliefs, and ideals that limit your ability to achieve health. In particular I want you to consider those things that create an illusion of supporting your health. Here are a couple of the common examples I see in practice:

Lack of balance in our physical foundation – Our physical health requires balance. It is too easy to get stuck training only a particular area of our physical health. Running, swimming, lifting weights, and yoga are all great practices for supporting our physical health. None of the listed is enough alone. Our physical health requires harmony in strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. Only focusing on one area, on one practice will leave you drained and vulnerable. I have seen patients that limit their capacity for healing because they will not modify their exercise routine.

Lack of balance in our nutritional foundation – Diet and nutrition make me more concerned than any other area related to health. I recently started asking new patients if they are more concerned about their health or their diet to gauge their willingness to make changes. I see individuals that come to my office seeking improvements in their health, yet are reluctant to alter the way they eat. They will tell me that they are a vegetarian or vegan or paleo and that they aren’t willing to change. It is completely lost on them that if their attachment to this particular diet was working for them, they would not be sitting in my office in the first place. There is no such thing as a healthy or unhealthy diet. Food can work to promote health and limit health based on the frequency, quantity, and relationship we have with any particular food we consume. If the way you are eating now isn’t giving you the results you want, you must be willing to change.

The real issue is the attachment we have to things that are or are not working for our health. It is the attachment that limits our ability to make changes. We have a tendency to ascribe value to these things. We have a tendency to identify with the labels we create for ourselves: I’m a runner, I’m a vegetarian, etc. When we shift our priority to health it liberates us to make changes that can influence our health in a lasting and permanent way. My challenge then is to let go of whatever attachment you have at the end of 2014 that has been limiting your health and happiness. Removing that obstacle for healing is a first step towards achieving the goal you want for your health in 2015.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Holiday Eating Tips

November 9th, 2014

November is the perfect time to revisit a few of the important ideas I have written about regarding food and nutrition.  The holiday months are often a stretch where individuals just throw in the towel and consider the season a food free for all.  Folks will wait to the new year and then pledge to start eating healthy all over again.  I think the season is a fantastic missed opportunity to actually move in the opposite direction.  Because our eating is going to diverge from the norm significantly during the holidays, it provides an opportunity to change our nutritional habits.  If we embrace this moment we can not only eat the holiday meals we want, we can also feel delighted that we are two months ahead on our New Year’s resolution and laying a foundation for a healthy year to come.

Eat a warm, balanced breakfast every day.  The morning meal stokes the body’s metabolism and every day we should strive to eat a warm breakfast.  Eggs are incredibly easy to prepare and can be a wonderful pallet for adding servings of vegetables before you even leave your house.  During the holidays, a warm balanced breakfast will provide a stable blood sugar level and energy to sustain one until the large holiday meal without having to snack excessively on the seasonal treats.  It also is vitally important to have a nutritional breakfast the morning following a holiday meal that is particularly high in calories, grains, carbohydrates, and sugars.  This will bring us back on track so that we can more easily have a normal eating day even with all the leftovers in the house.

Be sure and consume protein with every meal and/or snack.  Protein is crucial for balancing blood sugar levels, stabilizing insulin, and maintaining good energy levels throughout the day.  This is a key component of the naturopathic nutritional guidelines I share with my patients.  When we eat in a manner that balances blood sugars, we help to protect our adrenals from excess stress, we minimize the storage of consumed foods as fats, we lower our systemic inflammation, and we generally feel better throughout the day.  These benefits will continue to apply during the holidays.  If we focus just a little bit more on eating healthy proteins and veggies during the big meals while decreasing the portion sizes of processed carbohydrates, grain products, sugars, and sweets we just might not need the long nap after eating with our families and friends.

Avoid becoming judgemental when eating holiday treats.  I have said it over and over again that foods are neither good or bad on their own accord.  It is the quantity, frequency, and relationship we have with a given food that ultimately determines if it is beneficial or detrimental to our overall health.  The holidays provide ample opportunities for the consumption of sweet treats and the seasonal traditions foster a feeling of acceptance when eating them.  This is a time of year when even the iron-willed individual will often indulge in a slice of pie.  I think this time of acceptance can be a slippery slope for many and so it is imperative to keep in perspective that there is no shortage of cakes, pies, cookies, fudge, and candies; there is no need to eat them all at once or even every day.  They are seasonal staples to be enjoyed with our loved ones at holiday meals.  My suggestion would be to consider making (or purchasing) smaller size desserts so as to avoid having leftover sweets in house for weeks at a time.  Also try and limit dessert consumption to 1 or 2 days a week.  This is another general recommendation that if carried through the year can allow us to indulge in our favorite treats while simultaneously modeling a healthy relationship with sweets to our friends and family.  At our home we normally eat dessert after Wednesday and Saturday dinner.

I encourage everyone to consider following these simple concepts throughout the holiday season.  It can lead to a more balanced and less stressful few months while increasing our energy and starting us well on our way to the healthiest 2015 we can have.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, thank you so much for reading and embracing my ideas about health and nutrition this past year.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Health is an Adventure

April 9th, 2014

Our journey to a state of health should be viewed as an adventure rather than a job. Too many of us today feel we are stuck in our jobs. We dedicate an inordinate amount of time to our jobs (work) and hence anything we even begin to imagine outside of job often falls under a similar perspective (work). I need to paint the living room… more work. I need to spend time with my kids… more work. I want to change how I am eating so I can drop a few pounds and improve my cholesterol and blood pressure… more work. This illusion so permeates our culture and our perspective that many of us are paralyzed from doing anything for ourselves. We stumble through our day working for someone else and then allow the apathy and inertia of our current state to become a prison stealing our freedom and chance of uncovering, creating, and embracing something meaningful for ourselves. This is a tragedy of the greatest magnitude and is avoidable. Health is possible. We must stop limiting ourselves with words like “impossible” and “work”. The impossible health recovery is only impossible if we limit ourselves to the standard paradigm. As soon as we stop listening to the false narrative we have created for ourselves, the world of possibility and health opens up.

I’m not implying that improving our health is easy. It does require effort and discipline. We must strive to make positive choices even when our mental and physical stamina are depleted from the stress of our day to day routines. Often the benefits are not immediate. If one skips a fast food dinner and cooks at home for the first time in 8 months, the next day will not suddenly be charged with energy and mental clarity. Cutting out wheat won’t magically eliminate allergic symptoms in the first week that have been lingering on and off for the past 3 years. Recovering and establishing a healthy and energetic life is an adventure. The reward of an adventure is encountered throughout the journey. It is not found in some trophy or paycheck at the end of the road. We must shift our mindset away from work and obligation if we desire to transform our health.

When we make this shift, before we know it the path starts to feel less bumpy. Cooking at home is easier, avoiding grains and wheat based foods are the norm, and the limitations we had from our physical symptoms are no longer restricting our day to day activities. Now the other activities that use to feel like work – maintaining our home, playing and engaging with our family, cooking and eating nutrient dense food – are no longer a burden. These practices are the norm and the benefits from these efforts are the self-perpetuating reward. We continue this adventure not because of a paycheck or some other obligation, we continue because accepting any less is living a life void of color.  What is the first adventure you want to take?

~Dr. S

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Checking In On Your Health

August 23rd, 2013

I’m sitting in a coffee shop early in the morning forcing myself to work on this article. I have a reluctance to be here today because it is a gorgeous day outside and I have an opportunity to go and kayak with some friends for a couple of hours. Most of my being would much rather be outside playing now. Kayaking has quickly become my most favorite type of exercise and recreation. I think anytime we can merge activities together we are more likely to continue to pursue them. It also takes me out into mother nature full of warm sunshine, fresh air, and cool water. This alone is healing. And today as I think about it, that is where I would rather be.

But I am conflicted and obviously I am not going to paddle today. The reason I am not going out is that my body is giving me clear signs that it isn’t the best idea this morning. I have a blister on my big toe that ripped off yesterday when I was on the water and it is oozing a red, sticky fluid. I have bruises on my right and left elbow, both knees, and my left ankle. My arms are sore and my left elbow has a tingling sensation like I knocked my funny bone and the nerve won’t stop firing. I have a scrape across the top of my left ankle. The muscles across my back are sore and I feel like my stamina isn’t nearly at the level it normally would be. To top it all off I have a slight sunburn on my nose and a spot on my bald head where the sun was able to sneak through my protective helmet. So even though today would be a beautiful day to spend a few hours out on the water, I am going to stay inside and allow myself to have a recovery day. I am just going to say no.

Saying no, setting limits and boundaries, is an important part of maintaining or recovering our health. It is not just about knowing our physical limitations when we are working out. It is also about creating space when we are being pushed emotionally or mentally passed our threshold for a particular day. That threshold will change and move depending on the other factors surrounding a particular situation. That is why we must make an effort to constantly check back in and make sure that something we are undertaking is in alignment with our greater goals. I absolutely want to continue to improve at kayaking. If I go out today while my body is clearly suggesting that I don’t, I run the risk of getting seriously hurt or possibly injuring myself in a manner that would prohibit my ability to kayak for weeks or even months.

So instead this opportunity allows me to check back in with another one of my goals for this year. I want to be sure to work on my writings well before the due date. I get to sit and imagine how my journey will translate into a lesson for others. And after I finish this piece I can watch kayak “how to” videos to inspire me with new goals for my next trip out on the river. So I can actually continue to pursue my goal of becoming a better kayaker without inhibiting my ability to kayak in the future. It might not be quite as much fun, but in the long run the benefits will far outweigh the cost. Here’s to balance and self evaluation on your journey.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

A Gift for Mom from Mom

May 23rd, 2013

Mother’s Day is approaching quickly and I think it provides an important opportunity to share my thoughts about a tendency I have observed in my female patients. Very often Moms have a disposition to externalize their needs or wants when they talk to me in my office. And I imagine this practice continues at home. I am sharing this because I believe this common attribute creates an undue amount of emotional stress around the woman’s own needs. I think women, especially mothers, embrace an unspoken agreement that the needs of their families come first in front of their own. This approach is detrimental because with this mentality mom begins to see her own needs and wants as an hinderance to meeting the needs of her family. Mom then either will neglect her own well being, or she must figure out some other way to justify her needs through an action focused around the family. Either way her stress load increases.

I make a point to emphasize to mothers that they must prioritize their needs and own this necessity for themselves and their families. The first step for many of these moms is to begin using “I” statements when talking. This makes it much more difficult to use the family as an excuse for why things are or are not happening. A recent example that pops into my head is the mom I am working with that is having a hard time giving up afternoon sweets as a daily occurrence. Her statement to me was that she “needed to continue to purchase and have these sweet snacks in the house so the kids would have an after school snack that they would eat.” I let her know that it appeared to me that she was continuing to justify her own consumption of poor choice snacks under the guise of doing what is best for her children. The issue isn’t actually the food she is eating. Instead it is the manner in which she is distancing herself from her own want. She wants to have a sweet snack in the afternoon and is not comfortable owning that desire. Being responsible for ourselves and our health requires that we own our wants and desires. I believe when she begins to acknowledge that she wants the sweet snacks and continues to purchase them for herself, she will soon be able to say “I don’t want/need a sweet snack today”.

Owning our wants and needs is not a selfish practice. Shifting focus to the self and including that perspective as part of the whole is vital to creating a healthy collective. If everything remains external from the self, there is no collective. The individual is then non-existent in the family and all focus then must be directed to the family. This does not allow for space for the individual to heal. This self neglect ultimately leads to an imbalance in the health and vitality of the of family collective. It can not be addressed by continual focus on the family, it must be resolved through the individual’s own journey. When the individual’s wants and needs are being addressed sufficiently, now the focus can return back to the family collective. And ultimately that is what mom wanted all along.

So the challenge I want to issue to all the moms out there is to begin using “I” statements for anything that is related to you. Stop directing all of your efforts and activities towards your children or family. Begin to focus on your health, your healing journey, and through this increased balance in your own life see how the health of those dear to you is also transformed. You and your family are worth this effort.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Men’s Health

March 23rd, 2013

I have been told over and over by a business coach friend of mine that if I want people to be engaged in my writings, video blogs, public talks, etc., I should focus on sex. “That’s all people want to hear about.” In my experience with patients, men and women often both have questions about how to improve this aspect of their relationships and lives, although women are often more adept at discussing this topic. So I figure if we are going to broach the subject here, the month of June and Father’s Day provide a good time address sex and men’s health.

Men of all ages are generally searching for ways to improve their performance and stamina in the bedroom. A few years back I had one patient reach out to me looking for a few recommendations. Knowing that this individual’s dietary and behavioral practices could use a major overhaul I said to him, “Number one and number two are stop drinking alcohol daily and stop smoking.” Without missing a beat he said, “What’s number three?” It is funny to think back and in retrospect if I could have stopped laughing long enough to collect my thoughts I would have told him that number three was to begin exercising every day. Exercise is an incredibly important component of our overall health. Research has shown that working out daily for 30 to 60 minutes with moderate intensity can improve sexual function and testosterone levels. (J. Sex Medicine. 2013 May 1)

Physical exertion where our muscles are contracting and relaxing improves blood flow throughout the entire body. Exercise for both men and women will improve blood flow into the genital area, resulting in a heightened sense of arousal and pleasure. For men this can improve the strength of their erections; and for women the elevated pleasure from the increased blood flow can result in stronger orgasms. A potential benefit even greater than the physical manifestation is the connection and intimacy that can result when couples exercise together. Increased intimacy in relationships is not a trait unique to female partners.

This is encouraging news; both partners generally desire an increase in intimacy and sexual activity. By syncing up the desire with physical activity, it is possible to have it all. So, if you are not exercising regularly, start now. The benefits in the bedroom are in addition to the weight loss, increased energy, and improved cardiovascular health among many other benefits that we see when individuals begin exercising regularly. You just can’t lose!

Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Your Gut Your Health!

October 2nd, 2012

We are heading into the time of year when sweets abound. Every weekend and every get together provides ample opportunity for eating foods that can stress our digestive system. When we consume foods that we typically don’t eat it can throw our digestive tract into a downward spiral. Probiotics can be just the ticket to getting things back on track. Be sure to keep a high quality, multi-flora probiotic on hand to use at the first sign of digestive disturbance. You may be amazed at how significantly it will help.

Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Read This Book

September 15th, 2012

OVERDO$ED AMERICA: The Broken Promise of American Medicine,  by John Abramson, MD

Patients often ask me to recommend books on cultivating a healthy lifestyle or natural healing. I am always happy to do that, although I believe OVERDO$ED AMERICA is a much more valuable read. It is quite possibly one of the most important books on our medical system from the past decade, yet too few individuals have been exposed to this book or the message that it conveys. My intention with this column is to inspire the readers of the “SI Fitness Source” to discover this book for themselves so that they too may then share the information with those important people in their lives. The American health paradigm has to change. It is broken, and it is our responsibility to fix it. OVERDO$ED AMERICA may be just the tool we need to create a wave of knowledge and then reform the system that directly affects us all.

Dr. John Abramson is a research fellow and faculty instructor at Harvard Medical School. In many ways he epitomizes the conventional medical system. Yet this physician is smart enough to question the conventional research methodology and brave enough to voice his concerns to his peers and the public. In his book he shares both the research and the concerns in a manner that is concise and easily discernible to the average reader. At the core of the concerns is the monetary interests of the businesses that control our disease based medical system.

Doctor Abramson writes:

The American health care system keeps edging ever closer to the breaking point. Many factors are contributing, but in the eye of the storm is a single factor: The transformation of medical knowledge from a public good, measured by its potential to improve our health, into a commodity, measured by its commercial value. This transformation is the result of the commercial takeover of the process by which “scientific evidence” is produced. (p. 91)

Our health care system today is best described as a  “disease care industry”. The industry as a whole is driven by its component parts. The primary parts of the disease care industry are the pharmaceutical, insurance, medical supply and equipment, and hospital provider groups. These component parts are measured individually by the ability they possess to generate revenue and profits. When it comes to making money, these components are often an obnoxious success.

The success of the medical industry should be measured by the overall health of the end consumer, not the revenue the system generates for the businesses involved. I repeat, the quality of health of the consumers should indicate the overall success of the industry. As a whole, we don’t make the grade. And by tracking our overall level of health over the past decades, it is obvious that the system is becoming more and more broken. Our health care system is absurdly priced and the product does not stand up with the other industrialized nations. Something has to change. And I believe it is up to us, the consumer, to instigate the change.  Read this book and pass this information on. Thanks!

Posted in Naturopathic Medicine, Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Eggs – Are They All They Are Cracked Up To Be?

September 1st, 2012

In mid August the LA Times published an article titled “No Yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking?” This article epitomizes egg-zactly what is wrong with our healthcare system today and the abundance of poor information that is disseminated to the general public. I went to the primary source article to see if this study was all it was cracked up to be. Here is what I found.

The study is a measurement and survey analysis looking at Canadians that were already participating in a program for the prevention of vascular disease. These participants had already had some sort of vascular complications that qualified them for this program. So most participants had a stroke previous to the survey. The average age for participants was almost 62 years old. Participants completed a survey evaluating their frequency of smoking and consuming eggs. Participants then had their carotid plaque area measured (this is a measure of the thickening of the walls of carotid artery in the neck presumably by cholesterol plaque) with by duplex ultrasound. The results showed that the total area of plaque increased related to the number of pack-years for smoking and to the average number of eggs consumed each week by the participants.

Case closed? As a conclusion the researchers propose that there should be a “a prospective study with more detailed information about diet, and other possible confounders such as exercise and waist circumference.” [(http://www.atherosclerosis-journal.com/article/S0021-9150(12)00504-7/abstract)]
Here is why this upsets me. This research study doesn’t warrant an article in a major newspaper. If anything it creates the need for a more detailed investigation into the findings. If we investigate participants that already had some vascular complication and don’t consider their overall diet, weight and waist size, and exercise frequency in the study; how can we possibly point the finger at eggs? These weren’t healthy individuals that were eating eggs and had a stroke. This study looked at unhealthy people that had strokes and asked them if they ate eggs. Finally the article does not even mention the quality of the eggs and how that may influence the findings. Free range, organic eggs are a totally different food from the industrial raised, grain fed variety. I wonder how many of the study participants had their weekly egg servings on a fast food breakfast sandwich.

This is a rant I just had to get off my chest. I appreciate your indulgence as I vented my frustration at the continuous supply of poor information that the public is “fed” regarding health and nutrition. I hope as we continue to explore and learn together that we can do something to educate ourselves and those we care about regarding real food nutrition. I am off to have my free range, organic, three egg omelet with a side of contentment and confidence.

Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Next Page »« Previous Page

areas of practice

connect with dr. swanz

the latest from dr. swanz on facebook

Join us on Facebook

the latest from dr. swanz on twitter

Join us on twitter