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

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Posted in Homeopathic Medicine |

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.

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Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

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