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Homeopathic Medicine: A Survival Tool for the Holidays

by Patty Smith–Verspoor.

Ah, the holiday season is upon us! Holidays have such power, such energy. They hold promise and potential, often unrealized, which can result in disappointment, anger, sadness or depression. Whether they are filled with happy celebrations with wonderful friends, family and food – or the realization that the magic has not happened for yet another year – homeopathic remedies can help ease you into and out of the season more gracefully.

I have to admit to worrying when I send a client away in November or December, knowing I may not see them again until the new year. I always ask what kind of holiday they are anticipating. I want people to have the homeopathic ammunition they will need to survive whatever comes their way, whether their challenges be mental, emotional or physical. You will well appreciate preparing a collection of holiday remedies before you need them. And they make lovely gifts, too!

Remedies for Overindulgence

With parties and family get-togethers throughout the holiday season, people often overindulge. If the food and wine has flowed freely and you later wish you had not enjoyed yourself quite so much, Nux vomica (also known as Colubrina) can help take the edge off the symptoms. This remedy is useful for everything from heartburn and stomach pain after eating to hangovers and constipation.

If you have severe cramps, diarrhea or vomiting, and you suspect food poisoning, the remedy Arsenicum is a godsend. (Save this one, too, for the summer family reunion, when the mayonnaise-based treats are left too long in the sun!)

Pulsatilla can be beneficial if you have been treating yourself to rich, creamy foods and are paying a price as it hits your digestive system. Carbo veg will help with flatulence, distension, eructation, and that feeling of fullness after you’ve only had a few bites of food.

Aids for Anxiety

Homeopathy is based on the “Law of Similars” or “like cures like.” If you keep this in mind, you’ll understand that experiencing a “coffee state” of hyperalertness is best balanced with coffee. However, choose the homeopathic form, known as Coffea. This is a magnificent remedy for little ones who cannot sleep with the excitement of anticipation, and for adults who have had a stimulant too close to bedtime.

Argentum nitricum and Gelsemium excel in dealing with ailments from anticipation. In a Gelsemium state, you tend to sit and stew in your juices, internalizing the anxiety. With Argentum, there might be more restlessness and pacing. For those holiday performances (and family dinners can be included in this category!), one of these remedies can deal with stage fright, depending on whether it is internalized or externalized.

Staying up late, attending parties, shopping for gifts, and depriving yourself of sleep calls for the remedy Cocculus. This also is an excellent choice for travel, whether for motion sickness or for jet lag.

Anger and Resentment

On the mental and emotional level, homeopathic remedies can help get you through holiday stress. For those who are alone, who have sad memories that tend to come up at holiday season, Ignatia (also called Iamara) is a wonderful remedy. (One of the keynotes of Ignatia is a deep, sad sigh.) Aconite is excellent for acute anxiety and stress, fear and worry. I will confess a secret remedy combination we often use with terrific results – Aconite and Ignatia.

Staphysagria is wonderful for dealing with anger and resentment. It helps you more appropriately verbalize things you might need to express to your family or friends during this time, or to process your emotions more internally if you choose. Staphysagria can be empowering. It’s also an excellent remedy for urinary tract symptoms (because sometimes it is more socially acceptable or safer to be “pissed off” on the physical level, swallowing resentment or humiliation and keeping it inside, than to express it verbally). It also helps gastrointestinal symptoms that might have had their origin in the “swallowing” of something that was emotionally unpalatable.

Sickness after the Holidays

After the holiday season has come to a close, I always look for “cold” symptoms in my clients. Often physical ailments express our sadness, perhaps because we’re leaving family we love or dealing with people we don’t like but wish we could love. Maybe you’re alone and feeling sad, or have lost someone during this time of celebration. The remedy Natrum mur is unsurpassed in colds that begin with sneezing, a nose that runs clear or like egg whites, and sinus infections (uncried tears, fermenting in the recesses of your head?).

If you get sick during or after the holidays, ask yourself why? Dis-ease has a purpose – it lets us know we are not at ease. Bernie Siegel, the excellent physician and author, says to ask, “How does this illness serve me?” Does it get you out of a commitment you ought to have refused? Does it keep you from situations you know will be emotionally charged?

Recommended Reading

Finally, there are two resources that have been of great benefit to many of my clients and to me as well. One is an excellent book on how to make the holidays the warm and wonderful celebrations they were meant to be. Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love & Joy Back into the Season (ISBN 0688109616), by Jo Robinson and Jean C. Staeheli, has gone through nine years and 13 printings so far. I have owned it almost a decade, and still find it of great help in getting beyond the crass commercialism and into the more spiritual essence of the holidays.

One of my absolute favourite books is The Healing Power of Illness: The Meaning of Symptoms and How to Interpret Them, by Thorwald Dethlefsen, Rudiger Dahlke and Peter Lemesurier (ISBN 186204080X). If you want to know why you are prone to (insert illness here – sinusitis, bladder infections, allergies, etc.) this is a book to stimulate your thinking.

Remember, homeopathy is a powerful tool and a gift available to us all. Happy holidays!

How to Use Homeopathics Effectively

Homeopathic remedies are available in many health food stores and pharmacies. Generally, a safe and effective potency to use for self-care is 30C.

Here’s how to take the remedy in a gentle way. Put a few granules of your remedy of choice into a few ounces of water (bottled or distilled water is preferable, but it will be fine in tap water). Sip the water as needed. (In the case of Aconite and Ignatia, I put one or two pellets of each in the same glass.)

The more intense and acute your symptoms, the more often you need to take a sip. That might mean anywhere from every few minutes to every few hours. Acute physical pain might necessitate more frequent sips, while the ongoing stress of emotional upsets might be best quieted with a sip every hour or two. It is important to remember that as the symptoms improve, the remedy should be slowed or stopped.