Homeopathy for Mental Health
NATURAL, SAFE, EFFECTIVE
Many people are unaware what natural medicine may offer in the way of healing and support for mental, emotional wellbeing and as part of the therapeutic process. Over the last 30 years I have experienced the benefits of talk therapy and natural medicine , whether on their own or simultaneously.
Psychotherapy and homeopathy have been my personal support system for the last 30 years. Now I offer them to my clients, and the more I learn as both client and therapist, the more I see how well they work together to create better health and wellbeing.
Homeopathy is a holistic, natural medicine system developed by German doctor and chemist Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in the early 1800’s. A statue of him still stands in Washington D.C.
Homeopathic remedies are made from natural substances which are prepared in a very specific way. Like all holistic therapies, homeopathy recognises the mind-body-spirit connection and considers the whole person to find solutions to health problems, rather than symptoms in isolation. Like acupuncture it is based on the understanding of a flow of energy, a ‘vital force’ which underlies all of our mental, emotional and physical functions, keeping them balanced and working well. Homeopathy, like psychotherapy, looks at the patterns which are expressed in our thoughts, behaviour, dreams, feelings, verbal and body language as well as the presenting symptoms. A well-chosen remedy can often shift underlying patterns to allow healing to occur. The belief that we possess innate abilities to heal and flourish under the right circumstances is intrinsic to holistic medicine. Carl Rogers, the founder of person-centred therapy called this ‘the actualizing tendency’.
Homeopathy treatment looks to gently remove anything that might be blocking someone’s system from finding a healthy balance. These include inherited/genetic factors, environmental factors and in particular any experiences of stress or trauma whether recent or historic. The emotional factors in chronic illness are seen as significant.
HOW CAN IT HELP WITH MENTAL HEALTH?
For many clients who wish to avoid taking medication or struggle with side effects, homeopathy offers another, often safer, option. It can work in conjunction with conventional medication and can be used to help alleviate and minimise side effects.
A remedy can be fast acting in acute situations like panic attacks. It can help to clear trauma, even old and intergenerational trauma, which is often a contributing factor to many mental and physical problems. It can penetrate deeply In chronic conditions, working beautifully alongside talk therapy to address old wounds, to unblock, release and process the layers of dis-ease which have been held in the body and the unconscious.
While each person’s process is different, and treatment may be ongoing, I have seen dramatic shifts, for example in a child hearing voices which resolved after four days on a remedy and only one consultation, who might otherwise have entered the psychiatric system.
For those who are non-verbal or for young children, homeopathy works gently and safely without the need for talking. For those who may not want weekly talk therapy, remedies can offer another way to heal.
HOW CAN NATURAL MEDICINE SUPPORT SOMEONE IN TALK THERAPY?
Natural medicine, including homeopathy, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine and energy therapies can offer added support when someone in therapy is ‘stuck’ or struggling to hold and process what is coming up. They can calm the nervous system and support the adrenals when someone is anxious or stressed. Remedies can also support and strengthen the endocrine (hormonal) system, the brain and the organs through which this processing also happens. In holistic medicine organs are seen to correspond to emotions eg. lungs process and hold grief, the liver - anger, the kidneys - fear, the spleen - worry. Supporting the body helps the mind and vice versa.
WHAT EVIDENCE IS THERE THAT THIS WORKS?
Homeopathy is widely used in countries such as Britain, Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and India where it is an integrative part of the national health system. Over 40% of French doctors refer patients for homeopathy and it is used by 300 million people worldwide. Like many forms of psychotherapy it is often difficult to measure this very individualised approach, however there are an increasing number of clinical trials which show its effectiveness for a variety of conditions. These can be found at:
Examples of such research are:
A 2014 meta-analysis of placebo-controlled double-blind randomised controlled trials which found that homeopathic medicines, when prescribed during individualised treatment, are 1.5- to 2.0-times more likely to have a beneficial effect than placebo.1 This study is one of the four most recent comprehensive systematic reviews conducted by Dr Robert Mathie within a ten-year programme of work
Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Tunbridge Wells (2008)
In this pilot study, data from 1602 follow-up patient appointments at all five NHS homeopathic hospitals were collected together over a one-month period.4 At their second homeopathic appointment, 34% of follow-up patients overall reported an improvement that affected their daily living. For patients at their sixth appointment, the corresponding improvement rate was 59%. Eczema, chronic fatigue syndrome, menopausal disorder, osteoarthritis and depression were the “top five” most referred conditions.
The EPI3 study: Homeopathy is widely used in France and a major study – referred to as the ’EPI3 study’6 – following 8559 patients attending GP practices was used to assess the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment in various illnesses. In the category of Sleep, anxiety and Depressive Disorders (SADD), homeopathy was found to decrease the necessity for the use of psychotropic drugs.
HOW CAN I ACCESS A REPUTABLE PRACTITIONER?
Homeopathy in Ireland is regulated and it is important to find someone who is qualified and registered with the Irish Society of Homeopaths. You can find a list of practitioners on their website www.irishhomeopathy.ie. Many homeopaths now work remotely giving wider access to homeopaths in other countries. Some specialise in particular areas such as developmental issues, menopause, trauma, or mental health. Some homeopaths are also qualified medical practitioners, or psychotherapists like myself, although this is uncommon in Ireland.
Resources and Further Reading
Some books on homeopathy and mental health:
Dr. Edward Whitmont: Psyche and Substance
Jane Cicetti: Dreams, Symbols and Homeopathy (Linking Jungian archetypes and homeopathy)
Dr. Philip M. Bailey M.D.: Homeopathic Psychology (How remedies correspond to specific personality types)
Elizabeth Adalian: Touching Base with Trauma (Homeopathy and intergenerational trauma)