Wise sages throughout history have been known to say nature provides humans with all the medicine we may need for every illness. While it may be so that we haven’t yet decoded all of Nature’s elixirs – or perhaps we’ve collectively lost much of this wisdom through our industrialization and domestication – nothing coaxes me into the depths of nature’s wisdom quite like homeopathy.
Betty* called me a few months ago asking for help from debilitating grief and depression. She experienced the loss of her husband after his tragic death. Like many patients in my practice, she knew nothing of homeopathy and called hoping at best to receive nutritional guidance to support her mood, and then herbs for insomnia.
I asked Betty to describe her experience of grief and depression. After all, these are emotions that may manifest themselves in a million different shades in different people: Does her grief and depression cause inertia? Anger or rage with over-eating? Numbness with lack of appetite?
Betty describes herself as a passionate, ambitious woman who’s always been highly productive and run many businesses in her life along side her husband, who she described as her best friend. “losing him was like losing a part of myself. I don’t know how I’ll go on.” When her husband died, she immediately kicked into over-drive taking care of the estate, nurturing his adult children (her step-children) through their grief, sold the house they shared together, and opened a charity in his name. I asked her if this was unusual behaviour for her during stress. She answered, “oh no, when a classmate in college committed suicide, I started a suicide support group, facilitated co-counseling, and created handbills for mental health awareness. My response to tragedy is to take action for fear of falling apart.”
How a person reacts to a situation is an important clue to guiding a homeopath to their patients remedy. I want to point out that her response to take action is certainly not bad or wrong. What’s notable is her pattern of over-drive then collapse. This takes a toll on a person.
She said she’s not one to confide in friends, instead she keeps her feelings all to herself. When alone, she breaks down, literally collapsing on her living room floor in hysterical wailing, and then when needing to be “on” she gets up and presents to the world that all is okay. She finds it hard to cry, but when it happens it’s like the flood gates open and she feels taken under by a tidal wave. This scares her. She dwells on all the ways she could have saved him. She binge eats after a day or so of not eating at all. She finds herself snappish at one moment, then disappointed and sad the next. I asked her if she was experiencing any notable physical symptoms. She replied, “I haven’t slept more than 4 hours a night since he died, and all I want to eat, when I eat, is toast and tea.“
Without delay, I gave her the homeopathic remedy Ignatia Amara (Strychnos ignatia) also known as the St .Ignatius bean. Ignatia is a very effective remedy for heartbreak, grief and loss, particularly in passionate people who tend to feel life acutely. They are sensitive individuals, who can have a passionate aversion or desire to particular smells or sounds – notably an intolerance to the smell of tobacco, like Betty. Those needing Ignatia can have changeable, or even contrary emotions or physical symptoms when unwell. Ignatia is a great remedy for insomnia, and cravings for toast. (Yes, homeopathy is that specific!).
Three weeks later Betty came in for a follow-up appointment: “Well, I’m not sure if I can quite believe it but I feel like something significant has happened.” I asked her to elaborate.
“The first three or four days after the remedy I cried more than usual. I simply stayed home, and let myself cry, and cry. I seemed to empty myself of all the tension and hidden grief lurking in my cells. It’s as if I cried and let go of every heartbreak and loss. Then, with this unfamiliar sense of calm I went through all the boxes of my husbands belongings, and reviewed our life together. I made scrapbooks and collages of the memories I want to hang on to. I faced the reality that he’s gone, and through this, was able to let go of all the resentment I only then realized I had, for all the things we didn’t get to do together. Since then, I’ve been able to sleep normally, feel optimistic for my future, and can actually imagine a new chapter. In retrospect, I see how draining the ups and downs are, and I’m glad to say I feel stable emotional and physical energy.”
The purpose of homeopathy is to support a person through the natural healing process. Grief and sadness are normal and healthy emotions. It’s when a person is drowning in prolonged grief or depression that homeopathy may be called upon to assist so they do not get stuck in it, but move through all the phases of healing, and regain a sense of inner freedom to live life to the fullest.
Want to learn how to use homeopathy? Check out my online course (go to my classes page here on my website). This is one of the most popular classes I teach. It’s so well loved. I’ve been teaching it since 2007 and an incredible community has formed from taking this class. I’d love to you have join our tribe! You’ll have access to asking me direct questions and have my guidance, plus you’ll be able to join my private Facebook group.
* Printed with permission by this patient. Her name and identifying details have been changed to protect her identity. Note the herb St.Ignatius aka Ignatia must be prepared as a homeopathic remedy to be used as described above. It is otherwise toxic as a herbal product.