HELP! I THINK I’M DYING!
If you have never experienced a panic attack, then count your blessings. If you or someone you care about suffers from this overwhelming condition, do read on, for I have a point of view toward the eradication of panic attacks and intense anxiety that may interest you.
Even though you may not actually be dying during a panic attack, it surely feels like it. I know; I used to suffer them and I’ve witnessed many others in this ghastly state of mind. When they’re over, you wonder what all the fuss was about, but no amount of mind control can bring the relief of sanity when the tsunami crashes down upon you.
I teach my students and clients that the first place to look for the source of the disorder is with inadequate nutrition and/or the use of conventional drugs. If there are not enough calming saturated fats in the diet, for example, or if statin drugs are being taken, I’ve noted time and again that this can put the mind into a state of either chronic background anxiety (as relentless as Muzak in an elevator) or throw the sufferer into all-embracing panic attacks. Coconut oil, cod liver oil and butter added to the diet have helped many of my clients as has the decision to do away with superfluous drugs. Yet some conditions are not addressed by these measures. Although psychiatric counseling might seem to be called for in the case of chronic anxiety, I contend that often panic attacks are not truly psychiatric in nature, they merely present as such.
TURN TO HOMEOPATHY FOR A CURE
The first time I witnessed a panic attack was in a young mother after she had taken a drug for pinworms. Within minutes of taking a dose of this drug, which was essentially a pesticide, Paula flew into a surge of physical and mental restlessness. She described it like this: “It was as though my body was possessed, like I had drunk a pot of strong coffee and eaten a pound of sugar all at once. My mind was racing; my heart pounding and perspiration was beading on my face. I was actually dashing about my living room like the house was on fire and I needed to escape but it was only happening to me. My family stared at me in wonder. I knew it was the drug I had just ingested and I also knew when I took it that it would be risky since I’m sensitive to lawn pesticides. They make me feel the same way, but this experience was tenfold, because I swallowed those horrible pills.”
The remedy that not only relieved Paula’s symptoms but put her in a better state for when her neighbors sprayed lawn pesticides was Arsenicum album 30. “Within about five minutes of taking the little pills, my shoulders dropped, and the intense fear and restlessness melted away. It was miraculous.” Paula has since learned how to treat pinworms with homeopathic remedies instead of submitting to toxic allopathic strategems and is prepared with her protective remedy should pesticide exposure affect her in the future.
Then there was my cousin Mary who called me one evening describing conditions similar to Paula’s. Mary had no idea what had caused her fearful sensations. She was certain, though, that she was about to die of a heart attack; she was not in pain yet she couldn’t get the thought of impending death out of her mind. She decided to call me before she left for the emergency room. I asked her what she had been doing that day to see whether we could unearth the exciting cause.
Mary’s family had been out for the day and she saw this as an opportunity to hunt through her children’s Halloween candy stash. Her intention was to eat only one or two small pieces of chocolate, but after eight morsels, her heart began pounding. She recalled that when she was a child, she had eczema and that chocolate exacerbated the rash. Ever since understanding the damning association of the two, she had always felt deprived of chocolate. Nowadays, whenever the opportunity presented itself, she would steal away and indulge in her sweet secret. Mary hadn’t considered the premise that the excess of chocolate was the problem until we began talking about it. “I never had this kind of reaction to it. In the past, it might have caused some loose stools or a little reemergence of eczema, but not a feeling that my heart was racing.”
If you are already familiar with homeopathy, you might guess the remedy that I chose for Mary. It is one that is used after overindulgence, particularly of a stimulant. If you guessed Nux vomica, you are correct. Mercifully, Mary had a homeopathy kit and I waited on the phone while she dropped a few of the little pills into her mouth. For her, it required a second dose about twenty minutes later for her galloping heart to calm and I witnessed her demeanor transform from terror to tranquility. The next day, she told me that shortly after we hung up, she slept for twelve hours. “Today I feel better than I have for weeks.” Should she ever overindulge again, she’s prepared with her remedy.
But what if the cause of panic attacks has nothing to do with what was ingested? What if they seem to appear from nowhere? This is when homeopathy can do its niftiest work because we don’t always need to discover the etiology of the condition.
OTHER CASES OF ANXIETY
Meet Elisha. She is a twenty-five-year-old mom who had panic attacks related to the delivery of her children. At the time of the birth of her first baby, she experienced gob-smacking anxiety while in labor. Certain she was destined to die, her anxiety was worse than her labor pains. She muscled through them. Then with her second pregnancy, her anxiety reappeared and the panic grew as she did, until towards the fortieth week she was beside herself with anxiety. But it wasn’t until she was in labor that her knowledgeable midwife dropped a few doses of Aconitum 200 into Elisha’s mouth and it halted the anxiety attacks within minutes. Soon after the birth, as she lay with her babe in arms, her panic reappeared only to be met with another few doses and complete resolution followed: “It was like a miracle. The anxiety never returned despite the fact that I’ve had two subsequent babies.”
Elisha’s fifteen-year-old brother Martin also suffered panic attacks but his were different. Martin’s anxiety would appear only in the evenings and the pediatrician had given him Valium. Martin thought the name was cool; it sounded heroic. (Thank you, pharmaceutical marketing team.) It’s not so nice a name when you learn that it is a medication belonging to the drug class called benzodiazepine. Martin told his mom that he liked the high he felt from taking the pills, but the next day, he was often drowsy and ill behaved.
His mom was appalled that her son was experiencing a false euphoria and becoming interested in getting high, so she started the family on the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet, and concentrating on obtaining ingredients from only the cleanest farm raised foods. She prepared all meals from scratch, which brought Martin’s overall condition up a notch. The daytime drowsiness thankfully fell away before Martin’s family weaned him off Valium. Now with his new diet and no synthetic drugs, Martin’s school time anxieties lightened, yet the nocturnal anxieties persisted. Instead of sleep he sometimes paced at night praying for rest. Meanwhile his heart felt stepped up and he perspired profusely.
The remedy chosen for Martin was Coffea 200. When Martin learned the name of the remedy, he said it made sense in that it was derived from coffee and was in fact quite accurately the way he often felt: as though he had drunk a large quantity of coffee.
REMEDIES CAN BE INTERCHANGEABLE
Coffea 200 is a remedy that Elisha, Paula, and Mary all might have profited from as well. Just because the remedies chosen for these others were different doesn’t mean that some of them may not be interchangeable or used in different circumstances. Coffea 200 is one of our premier remedies for anxiety and sleeplessness. That might have suited any of these situations.
Martin took Coffea 200 before bed every night for a few weeks and his anxiety vanished while his sleep became fully restored. His family is relieved not only because his sleep was reinstated, but most significantly, he was not ingesting a daily dose of psychotropic drugs.
Allow me to leave you with one more important remedy that may make your choice even easier. A most ubiquitous remedy that seems to work regardless of the circumstances and is probably available at your local health food store is Ignatia amara 200. For someone who suffers long term, chronic anxiety, this may become your remedy of choice. It can be used for those who suffer fear, worry, grief, or nearly any disturbing emotion and it can safely be administered over a period of weeks and months. As improvement ensues, its use may be eliminated and then reinstated later, if the anxiety reappears. Most likely it will not be needed again and again. Remember, homeopathy doesn’t cover up symptoms; it resolves illness.
Here we have five simple homeopathic remedies: Arsenicum album 200 for when a poison has been ingested or inhaled, Nux vomica 200 for when there’s overindulgence of a stimulant, Aconitum 200 often used around birthing, Coffea 200 to resolve anxiety associated with insomnia, and Ignatia 200 when in doubt or if nothing else seems to fit. If you or your family suffers from anxiety or panic attacks, have these aids on hand and choose the one that most closely matches the circumstances and symptoms. Then watch the magic of homeopathy melt away the suffering at your healing hands.
REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY
When studying homeopathic remedies, it is wise to refer to the great medical minds of this noble art. Dr. William
Boericke’s book Homeopathic Materia Medica is as pertinent today as it was in its first edition of 1901. Here is what Dr.
Boericke tells us about the various remedies appropriate for anxiety and panic:
1. Arsenicum album: “Pulse more rapid in morning dilatation. Cyanosis. Angina pectoris. Great anguish and restlessness. Changes place continually. Fears of death, of being left alone. Great fear, with cold sweat. Despair drives him from place to place. General sensibility increased.”
2. Nux vomica: “Nux vomica is pre-eminently the remedy for many of the conditions incident to modern life. Seeks stimulants, coffee, wine, possibly in excess. These things are associated with other indulgences; at table, he takes preferably rich and stimulating food. These conditions produce an irritable nervous system, hypersensitive and over-impressionable, which Nux will do much to soothe and calm. Hypochondriac states depending thereon….always seems to be out of tune; inharmonious spasmodic action.”
3. Aconitum: “After-pains, with fear and restlessness. Great fear, anxiety, and worry accompany every ailment, however trivial. Forebodings and fears. Fears death but believes that he will soon die; predicts the day. Restlessness, tossing about.”
4. Coffea cruda: “It stimulates the functional activity of all organs, increasing the nervous and vascular activity. Great nervous agitation and restlessness. Extreme sensitiveness characterizes this remedy. Unusual activity of mind and body. Bad effects of sudden emotions, surprises, joy, etc. Nervous palpitation.”
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2014.