Over the past several years, we’ve seen the popularity of natural and herbal remedies steadily rise, coinciding with the explosion of demand for organic foods and natural household and personal-care products. Consumers have come to a greater understanding of the unwelcome side effects and dangerous properties of many common products, and many lack trust in ingredients that we are commonly told are safe. This phenomenon has led even those who’ve traditionally placed their faith in modern science and medicine to seek natural alternatives for conditions such as anxiety and depression.
If you follow this blog, you know about herbs and other natural treatments for anxiety, but in the course of your research you may have heard about something called homeopathy. Today we’ll take a look at whether or not homeopathic remedies for anxiety are safe and effective.
Homeopathy is practiced worldwide, especially in Europe, and in India, where it is considered one of that country’s national systems of medicine. This medical philosophy was born for much the same reason that so many of us today are seeking alternative medical treatments. In the late 1700s, German physician Samuel Hahnemann was appalled at how medicine was practiced in his day, which at that time included blood-letting and the use of poisons. He created the practice of homeopathy based on the belief that “like cures like” – that is, that you can actually cure disease with very small amounts of the same substances that in high doses cause disease.
These very small amounts are the source of controversy and skepticism for many in the scientific and medical community (more on that later), but homeopathic practitioners and proponents believe that ultra-high dilutions are what make the remedies effective, as they are supposed to trigger the body’s natural healing response, while the very low concentration of the active ingredient makes the medicine non-toxic.
The active ingredient in homeopathic medicine is typically a plant or mineral. The
remedies are prepared in special pharmacies using a process of dilution and a type of vigorous shaking called succussion. These preparations are most commonly found in liquid solutions or in pill form, and are typically “prescribed” by trained homeopathic practitioners (called homeopaths), though the remedies are available over the counter without a prescription. Homeopathy proponents say that the remedies work immediately and recommend taking only one dose and waiting to see if symptoms are relieved before taking any more of the medicine.
Homeopathy for Anxiety
There are a number of purported homeopathic remedies for anxiety. Homeopaths tend to tailor their treatment plans to each individual patient’s circumstances, and the remedies themselves are also very specific in their indications. Rather than a few homeopathic remedies known for their general anxiety-fighting properties, there are nearly a dozen homeopathic preparations commonly used to treat highly specific types of anxiety and
anxiety symptoms. Just a handful of these include:
Argentum nitricum. This is prescribed for those who are feeling a sense of uncertainty in their lives, perhaps in the lead-up to a big event such as wedding. These people experience a great deal of “what-if” thoughts and often crave sweets.
Calcarea carbonica. This is prescribed for patients who feel overwhelmed and fear having a breakdown – typically structured people who crave routine. They are often sluggish and fatigued.
Gelsemium. This remedy is given to those who have weak muscles, often as a result of performance anxiety. It is given to those who tend to be paralyzed by anxiety, and is used to treat agoraphobia.
Kali phosphoricum. Those who are prescribed this treatment tend to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, overworked, and oversensitive.
Phosphorus. This is prescribed to social and excitable people who fear of being alone and who are highly empathetic, which often drains them of energy.
The problem with homeopathy is that it is often regarded as pseudoscience, as its effectiveness has largely been unproven in reputable controlled studies. Skeptics dismiss homeopathic remedies as being essentially useless and no different than water, as the so-called active ingredients are in such low concentrations that they cannot be described
as “active” in the true biologic sense of the word.
Noted skeptic James Randi has staged mass “overdoses,” during which he and supporters take extremely large quantities of homeopathic preparations without ill effects. However, proponents of homeopathy believe that during the manufacturing process, the properties of a homeopathic remedy’s ingredient is “imprinted” into the water in which it was dissolved.
Should I Consider Homeopathic Anxiety Treatment?
There’s no question that there are legions of homeopathy devotees, and the numbers are growing consistently. And as with any natural or alternative anxiety treatment, there are bound to be skeptics who oppose it because it doesn’t fit within the understanding of conventional western medicine. However, not all natural and herbal anxiety treatments are completely lacking in credible scientific research to support anti-anxiety claims.
Many herbs, vitamins and other compounds, such as passionflower, green tea and magnesium, have been proven to contain calming and anxiety-relieving properties. If you are very invested in finding quick and effective anxiety relief, experimenting with these research-backed options may be a better route.
Ultimately, while taking homeopathic remedies will likely not cause any harm, in doing so, you may be gambling with your time, energy and wallet. Have you tried homeopathic remedies for anxiety, or do you know anyone who has? We’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts in the comments section below!