Natural Treatments for PTSD

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is caused by a traumatic event. PTSD can be brought on by military combat, violent crime, abuse, natural disasters, or accidents. Symptoms of PTSD may include severe anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

While it is common for people who experience traumatic events to feel shock and difficulty coping for a period of time, with PTSD the symptoms can get worse over time or last for months or years. Early treatment for PTSD symptoms can help prevent long-term effects.

People with PTSD often have difficulty sleeping, may feel more “on edge” than normal, and can have flashbacks or disturbing thoughts that interrupt their daily activities. Some people will block out memories of the traumatic event, or become emotionally “numb” in an attempt to avoid the stress caused by the experience. Many people with PTSD will feel depressed or detached from others, and often turn to alcohol or substance abuse to medicate their depression or anxiety. 

Conventional Treatment

Treatment for PTSD often includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy to address the symptoms and help people cope better with the triggering event. 

Common conventional medications for PTSD include:

· Anti-anxiety medications to reduce anxiety and stress

· Antipsychotics in cases of extreme anxiety or emotional outbursts

· Antidepressants to relieve symptoms of both depression and anxiety 

Homeopathic Treatment 

Homeopathy is a safe and natural method of treatment for PTSD, in the form of small sublingual pills made from natural sources, such as plants or minerals. Homeopathy helps to restore health naturally. The right homeopathic medicine for you will stimulate your innate ability to correct chemical and hormonal imbalances that are related to the symptoms of PTSD. Rather than suppressing symptoms like many conventional treatments, homeopathy helps heal from the inside out, yielding long-term results.

EMDR and Other Treatments

In addition to homeopathy, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) can be a very useful tool in treating PTSD. EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy that was developed in the late 1980s. It is primarily used to successfully treat PTSD, but has been found to be helpful for other psychiatric disorders as well. When a person experiences a traumatic event, there can incomplete or maladaptive processing of the memories related to that trauma. EMDR helps your brain to reprocess the memories related to the traumatic event in a way that allows for reduction of PTSD symptoms.

Herbal medicine can be helpful in treating symptoms of PTSD. Passionflower, lemon balm, and kava are often helpful for anxiety because they promote mental tranquility and reduce restlessness. These herbs can also be used to help with insomnia.

Additionally, acupuncture can be very helpful for some people in treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia stemming from PTSD.

Self Care

A nutritious, whole foods diet can make an enormous difference for patients with PTSD. Providing the brain and body with the proper vitamins and minerals needed for optimal functioning is the foundation for long-term health.

In addition to a healthy diet, specific nutritional supplements, such as high dose fish oil and methyl B12, can be used to promote a healthy, balanced mood.

Physical exercise can be a great mood stabilizer. Feelings of anxiety and depression can be reduced in intensity, frequency and duration by incorporating therapeutic exercise into one’s routine.

Case Study

Pamela was 38 years old when she presented to my office for treatment of PTSD. Her first traumatic experience was at 6 years old, when an older boy in her neighborhood molested her. Her parents basically ignored the situation and tried to make her forget it. She withdrew and felt lonely, helpless, and afraid. She grew up feeling like she couldn’t trust anyone.

She had a difficult time with relationships in her adult years. She would start relationships and then she would become fearful and suspicious of the man she was with. Her anxiety affected her digestive system. She would vomit from fear on a daily basis. Then she married a man who physically and sexually abused her. He would become angry and jealous if she spent any time with friends. He would force her to have sex any time he wanted. She separated from him and filed an order of protection against him, and hadn’t seen him in years. Yet she still had nightmares almost every night, about him breaking into her house and attacking her.

At the time she presented to my office, she described her PTSD to me in the following way: “I feel edgy and panicky every morning. I wake up in a startle response. It feels like someone takes a coat hanger and drags it through my nervous system. I feel restlessness in my arms and legs. I am restless and I pace. My heart speeds up when I’m anxious, and that makes me nervous that there is something wrong with my heart. When I’m like this, I want company, encouragement, and reassurance. I need to know that it’s going to go away and I can get better. I feel cold with the anxiety, and warmth feels good. This morning when I was anxious I sat by the oven after I made breakfast, because it was still warm, and then took a hot bath. I am thirsty when anxious too, for room temperature water. I want to have a hug and a warm blanket. That would be comforting.”

“I am always on edge and afraid that something terrible might happen. I am afraid that someone will attack me or my daughter. I always have a fear that someone is going to break into the house. I can’t stop the nightmares. If I hear a sudden noise, I jump. I have to avoid certain stores or restaurants where my ex and I used to go, because I will start thinking about him and that will make me nauseated. I’ll throw up if I think of him. I have to numb myself to those memories so I can just get through my day and go to work, and be there for my daughter.”

This type of anxiety, with restlessness of her hands and feet, pacing, fear of intruders, chilliness and desire for warmth, increased thirst, fear of heart disease, and desire for company and reassurance, can be treated with homeopathic Arsenicum album. I gave Pamela Arsenicum 6C 2 pills once daily. I checked in with her a week later.

She reported: “I feel better. It feels weird to not be afraid constantly. I don’t know what to do with myself now that I don’t have to spend all of my time and energy worrying. I guess I need to try to get used to this new feeling of being relaxed!” She had already started sleeping better, the nausea was reduced, vomiting had stopped, her nightmares had decreased in frequency from nightly to only twice in the week, and she was waking up naturally without a startle response. This was a very positive start.

Over several more months, Pamela continued to respond positively to Arsenicum album. We adjusted the potency of her homeopathic medicine over time if she reached a plateau in improvement. After about 6 months of treatment, her PTSD symptoms were in remission. She no longer needed daily doses of her homeopathic remedy; she continued to take a dose as needed if she had a stressful day at work, to keep herself feeling at her best. Her debilitating anxiety and PTSD had fully resolved with this homeopathic medicine. 

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