Conducting 25 years of homeopathic practise in Germany I have treated several patients suffering from traumatic experiences or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Nearly all of them were victims of abuse in early childhood, either sexual abuse, neglect or some sort of violence. Literature reviews show that 2% to 7% of the German speaking population have had PTSD once in their lifetime. (1) In the United States PTSD counts as the forth most common psychiatric disorder. (2) Thus I am sure that most of my colleagues must have a similar rate of patients with this comprehensive phenomenon. The homeopathic treatment of patients suffering from PTSD is manifold and my experience in practise, especially with the chronic form of PTSD is diverse in which case a different discussion is needed to approach these findings. Today I would like to focus on a special aspect, the acute form of PTSD.
Over a period of 17 years as an active member of Homöopathenohne Grenzen /Homeopaths without Borders, Germany (HOG) I was confronted with patients and a severity of traumatic experiences which I would have rarely seen in my hometown practise. Using two cases I would like to share and discuss with you the experiences we made in the treatment of numerous patients suffering from PTSD during our international work for HOG.
The charity organisation HOG has been conducting humanitarian and educational homeopathic projects in various countries all over the world during the last 17 years. We have been operating mostly in regions suffering from the consequences of war, political instabilities or natural catastrophes. Our initial project was the installation of a homeopathic clinic in Mostar, a destroyed city in the heart of Bosnia-Herzegovina, right after the war in the Balkans. The aim was to offer free homeopathic treatment to the numerous victims of war and torture. Nearly four years of continuous practise followed in which we have seen thousands of patients, many of them more or less severely traumatised. Over the last decade we conducted similar projects in the tsunami affected areas of Sri Lanka and in Bam, Iran after the earthquake, treating patients suffering from acute trauma.
Case 1: Hemiplegia due to severe craniocerebral injury
He suffered from hemiplegia of his left side. Due to this and his imbalance he could walk only a few steps with crutches. Since he had a catheter for a long time, he had a burning pain at the end of urination. He suffered from aconuresis; he didn’t feel the urge to pee. Recurrent convulsive movements of the eyes followed by a sort of shivering, difficulties while swallowing, and a painful hoarseness a tracheotomy created, were further complaints.
He wept a lot while talking about or listening to something that reminded him of war, and sometimes just without reason. It happened frequently that he just sat there and talked to himself and wept. He dreamed a lot about his former job. In the factory he worked at, he was known as someone fighting for the rights of others. He couldn’t stand injustice.
By this time he was on antiepileptics and antidepressants. Initially he received Stramonium 200, which brightened his mood a little. But it was Arnica 50.000 M which moved the case in the right direction: he started making jokes, his appetite increased, convulsive contractions were less. He wanted to learn how to walk again, whereas previously he was convinced that he could never do that again. He complained about headaches and the burning pain during micturation.
He was prescribed Causticum 200, three months after our first visit. This remedy helped him to reduce his urination; aconuresis was solved, the burning pain was reduced and his mood was constantly improving. But his headaches were worse, especially during cloudy and misty weather, which led to the prescription of Natrium sulfuricum M after five months of treatment. He was so happy to show us his achievements in his walking exercises six weeks after Natrium sulfuricum: he walked the corridor of his house six times. His headaches improved a lot and he urinated almost without problems. He admitted to us that he stopped all of his conventional medicine, because he felt he didn’t need it anymore.
We followed this patient another six months on a regular base. During this time he had no convulsions anymore, he was able to walk at least ten times his corridor back and forth, and the headache was gone completely as well as his depression. While initially doubting whether homeopathy could help at all in face of such grave brain injury we could now identify different phases in the process:
The chosen remedies in the beginning presented the acute consequences of trauma. Stramonium and Arnica seemed to remove the emotional numbness due to the survival of the traumatic incident. Besides the acute implications of trauma such as sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and others in the beginning, we observed subsequently a fast development of deep pathology. Overwhelming experiences like a severe trauma tend to accelerate the constitutional pathology in a patient. In this case it was Causticum and Natrium sulfuricum, well known for chronic consequences after injury and fitting well enough to the constitution of the patient to stimulate his vital force to achieve the amelioration we did not expect.
In the face of the enormous numbers of refugees seeking support in Germany HOG decided to organise homeopathic free clinics spread over the country to offer help. The first experiences of colleagues taking part in that program do show impressive results of homeopathic treatment. The following case demonstrates the influence of homeopathic treatment in traumatised patients.
Case of a 28-year -old female patient. We call her Mika:
(Case history provided by Christa Ehrlich)
Mika is of a tender complexion, very sweet and friendly. She looks rather like 22 than 28 years old. During her first visit she is accompanied by her designated caretaker who makes clear that she only wants to speak about her physical complaints and that she is not inclined to answer any other questions related to her escape or her past in general. She comes to seek help because of her horrible stomach pain. She already receives an antacid and an antidepressant, which gives almost no relief. This pain exists since February this year. The stomach feels hard and squeezes the heart. It is worse during the night, in the morning and immediately after eating. Baby food is the only thing she can eat sometimes. The pain feels like a stone in the stomach. She has nausea and the instant urge to vomit after eating.
During the night between 1:00 and 2:00 am the pain comes together with fear so she has great difficulty falling asleep. Sleeplessness generally troubles her often. The pain started during her escape a year ago. She has burning and hot sensations on her skin although she is freezing most of the time. There is a headache, exploding and drilling together with numbness, which is worse when she rests, or when she is sad and can’t control her thoughts. Taking a shower or cold water improves it; it also gets better when she has work to do and is distracted.
During the period of five months she had amenorrhoea, which then changed into a non- stop heavy bleeding. She lost a lot of blood, feels weak and has a lot of pain with her menses. That is why she is now on contraceptives due to which she developed purple spots on her extremities. The only thing she mentions about her emotional state is that she feels a lot of rage and aggression as if she is not herself. There are images coming up at the sight of men, a lot of fear and she wants to run.
The first prescription was Arsenicum C 200. Two weeks later she reported that her bad thoughts and the images were a little better and the pain in her stomach was reduced by 90%. Her bleeding stopped, the purple spots vanished and only her headaches persisted. Her inner state she described as being milder. The exercise of finding a safe place within herself is still impossible for her because in her thoughts, someone is always coming and destroying it. She starts talking about the circumstances in her life: Being an only child, she and her father flew to Germany where he was diagnosed with liver cancer in a terminal state.
This case history doesn’t claim to show a cured case. I rather want to demonstrate the process of this patient and the possible effect of homeopathy within it. Some might question the high rate of remedy repetition in this case. It almost seems as if the deep and intensive dynamic of an acute trauma leads to a consumption of the homeopathic remedy at a higher speed than a chronic process would do. Furthermore, we recognize sometimes quick changes in symptoms, at times like a pendulum, demanding a quick change of remedies in order to successfully cope with the state of the patient.
Overall it corresponds to our experience that a well-chosen remedy accelerates a healing transaction within the patient. The state of perpetual fear Mika was living in was overwhelming her resources. Thus she quite unsuccessfully tried to avoid thoughts and feelings associated with the traumatic event. She refused to even mention the circumstances she was going through. Horror, anger and guilt occurred within her from images of the traumatic events, which lead to auto aggressive behaviour. The healing process we can perceive in Mika is the careful development of resilience as she said above: “before hatred and anger was within me and now they’ve come out….I am striking back”. The cooperating psychotherapist could clearly recognize the remarkable stability and pace of Mika’s development. This corresponds very nicely to what the psychotherapist and homeopath I. Pfanzelt stated in her recent book: “ Practical experience shows that psychological treatment in combination with homeopathy is highly effective and quicker. Even in severely traumatised patients, a short time therapy can be sufficient”. (4)
To me personally two decades of experiencing treatment of various traumatised patients show clearly the safe, secure and lasting effects of homeopathic treatment. In the majority of the cases several remedies were needed to meet the changing dynamic of the patient. If the circumstances allow, the combination of psychotherapy and homeopathy is the essential prerequisite for a successful therapy of trauma.
- forschung-bw.de/Lehre/Posttraumatische%20Belastungsstoerung.pdf, last accessed 24.9.15
- YEHUDA, N Engl J Med, Vol. 346, No. 2 January 10, 2002 · www.nejm.org ·109
- Warken, Wedel, Weinmann, Homöopathiezwischen Krieg und Hoffnung, Verlag Peter Irl, München, 2003
- Pfanzelt, Homöopathie und Psychotraumatologie, HaugVerlag, Stuttgart 2015