Stress Archives – A Healthy State of Mind

In this article I want to help you to get to know your heart. Knowing more about your heart (specifically your heart rate variability) can improve your awareness of how stressors impact your mind and body. To evaluate the health of your heart and nervous system, you just need a heart rate variability monitor (typically […]

Chronic Stress In a prior blog post, I wrote about managing stress and gave some tips for gaining control and a greater sense of calm when facing short-term stress, but what about stress that is unrelenting or chronic? How does one maintain health with persistent exposure to stress? The short answer is that one typically […]

This post is to update my current and future patients and readers that I recently attended a five-day intensive continuing medical education course offered by The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), located in Federal Way, Washington. Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice addresses one of the key issues in healthcare practice today – improving the […]

With a New Year upon us, many are inclined to set resolutions for the year ahead – many of which relate to health. To ensure that your goals (health or otherwise) are more realistic and successful, I wanted to share with you about ‘SMART’ goals. The goal setting tools that it provides, coupled with the […]

‘Sensitivity’ can be a loaded term in our culture and has a number of connotations, many not very positive. Elaine Aron, Ph.D., author of The Highly Sensitive Person book, defines a sensitive person as one who is aware of subtleties in their surroundings, more readily overwhelmed after being in a stimulating environment for too long […]

The holidays are a time of increased stress for many and as year-end tasks pile up, it can make it challenging to get the support and perspective one needs to re-prioritize. As stress can be cumulative, and is also hard to objectify, I think that introducing a scale to assess the burden of stress in […]

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports month, and with the warmer days and more sun, it hopefully is easier for people to get motivated to move! Doctors have a tendency to overlook or understate the value of exercise in being busy to find the best treatment(s) for a patient’s ills, but the effects of […]

Anxiety Archives – A Healthy State of Mind

In this article I want to help you to get to know your heart. Knowing more about your heart (specifically your heart rate variability) can improve your awareness of how stressors impact your mind and body. To evaluate the health of your heart and nervous system, you just need a heart rate variability monitor (typically […]

Chocolate can nurture and nourishes. It is derived from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacoa). The word Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. Americans consume, on average, 11 pounds of chocolate per person per year and we are ranked as the 5th major consumer of chocolate worldwide. Research on the health benefits of chocolate shows it […]

Micronutrients in Mental Health Series II Vitamin B12 is nutrient is critical in proper mental functioning and overall health.  If intake or absorption of vitamin B12 is insufficient, a wide array of psychiatric (anxiety, depression, psychosis to name a few), cognitive (memory loss and confusion) and gastrointestinal (constipation and low stomach acid) can result. Vegetarians and […]

Sleep is something so many take for granted and yet sleep problems or insomnia affects a large proportion of the population, 22.1% by recent estimates .  Untreated insomnia can lead to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression and insomnia commonly occurs in those with psychiatric disorders. Treating the underlying psychiatric disorder will generally improve […]

Recent evidence suggests that the status of our gastrointestinal (gut) flora may affect mood and behavior. This evidence, derived from a study conducted by Bravo et al. and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that bacteria in the gut can communicate with the brain and vice-versa via the vagus nerve1. […]

Well it is hard to not notice the collective stir around love & relationship in February and it prompted me to reflect on the power of relationship to heal. This power is undoubtedly important in any healing dynamic (doctor-patient relationship), but as Dr. Heron so aptly states, perhaps even more so when one suffers from […]

‘Sensitivity’ can be a loaded term in our culture and has a number of connotations, many not very positive. Elaine Aron, Ph.D., author of The Highly Sensitive Person book, defines a sensitive person as one who is aware of subtleties in their surroundings, more readily overwhelmed after being in a stimulating environment for too long […]

The holidays are a time of increased stress for many and as year-end tasks pile up, it can make it challenging to get the support and perspective one needs to re-prioritize. As stress can be cumulative, and is also hard to objectify, I think that introducing a scale to assess the burden of stress in […]

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports month, and with the warmer days and more sun, it hopefully is easier for people to get motivated to move! Doctors have a tendency to overlook or understate the value of exercise in being busy to find the best treatment(s) for a patient’s ills, but the effects of […]

Optimum Health Archives – A Healthy State of Mind

In this article I want to help you to get to know your heart. Knowing more about your heart (specifically your heart rate variability) can improve your awareness of how stressors impact your mind and body. To evaluate the health of your heart and nervous system, you just need a heart rate variability monitor (typically […]

This post is to update my current and future patients and readers that I recently attended a five-day intensive continuing medical education course offered by The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), located in Federal Way, Washington. Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice addresses one of the key issues in healthcare practice today – improving the […]

Environmental Medicine Series II Is your liquid soap contributing to bacterial resistance, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), social impairment or metabolic problems? Is the ingredient that makes your shampoo lather contaminated with a carcinogenic compound? Or is the lotion that you use potentially affecting your hormones and fertility (i.e. it contains endocrine disruptors)?  The cosmetics […]

Have you ever gone to your doctor feeling that something was off, but testing revealed that ‘nothing’ was wrong? At least nothing according to conventional medical diagnosis of disease and interpretation of laboratory (lab) test results? In naturopathic and functional medicine, however, we are taught to order lab testing (along with an in-depth physical exam […]

With a New Year upon us, many are inclined to set resolutions for the year ahead – many of which relate to health. To ensure that your goals (health or otherwise) are more realistic and successful, I wanted to share with you about ‘SMART’ goals. The goal setting tools that it provides, coupled with the […]

Have often have you heard, if you eat a balanced diet, you will obtain all of the nutrients that you need? But what is a balanced diet? And in an age where our food quality is often poorer than that of our ancestors due to loss of nutrients with shipping and storage, modern agricultural practices […]

I was interviewed for the article posted below in conjunction with teaching a Nutrition-Focused Physical Exam class for Doctoral Nutrition Students at Maryland University of Integrative Health. I will share more of my teaching work in a future post/website update. For now I will leave you with this article – I hope that you find […]

Environmental Medicine Series III As the Environmental Medicine blog series draws to a close, we are working our way from toxins found outside our bodies to those that are found inside. A main route of entry to ingested toxins is through the food and water we consume. As our environment and food supply have become […]

‘Sensitivity’ can be a loaded term in our culture and has a number of connotations, many not very positive. Elaine Aron, Ph.D., author of The Highly Sensitive Person book, defines a sensitive person as one who is aware of subtleties in their surroundings, more readily overwhelmed after being in a stimulating environment for too long […]

Sensitivity, HSPs & Homeopathy

‘Sensitivity’ can be a loaded term in our culture and has a number of connotations, many not very positive. Elaine Aron, Ph.D., author of The Highly Sensitive Person book, defines a sensitive person as one who is aware of subtleties in their surroundings, more readily overwhelmed after being in a stimulating environment for too long and possessing a number of other traits; such as being more cautious, needing more downtime, being more sensitive to pain, more sensitive to caffeine and more sensitive to medications. In addition, those who are more sensitive (or Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs)) tend to be prone to being easily startled and are aggravated by loud noises and bright lights. HSPs also tend to need more sleep than those without this trait.  Dr. Aron’s extensive research has established that about 15-20 percent of the population is highly sensitive and it is a trait that tends to be inherited. HSPs are often diagnosed with psychosomatic symptoms and tend to respond well to homeopathic remedies.

Lest I give the impression that those who are highly sensitive have it all bad (or that others around them suffer as a result of their sensitivity), let me share with you some of the benefits of being an HSP. Those who are highly sensitive tend to be very creative, empathic, insightful, conscientious, reflective and detail-oriented. They are often aware of subtleties in their surroundings that go completely unnoticed by those without this trait; subtleties that may be clues to changes in their health and well-being or the well-being of those around them.

HSPs often have a history of frustrating encounters with medical professionals as they can detect subtle changes in sensation and functioning of their bodies, which the Western medical paradigm is ill-adapted to address. Thus when symptoms have no known cause or diagnosis, patients end out going through a number of tests and medical visits to no avail and may be labeled ‘neurotic’ or told that their condition is ‘psychosomatic’.

Here is where naturopathic and homeopathic care can lend a hand. Those who are highly sensitive tend to respond well to more subtle herbal, nutritional and homeopathic treatments that nourish their nervous systems and gently rebalance the functioning of their body and mind. Dr. Aron states that HSPs tend to have a harder time working mixed shifts or night shifts and recover more slowly from jet lag. Thus it can be said that HSPs also likely have more vulnerable circadian rhythms and could benefit from counsel and support in this area (chronotherapy).

I have greatly enjoyed working with a number of individuals who could be classified as highly sensitive in my practice. I find that in-depth, time-intensive and supportive care (including homeopathy, flower essences and other naturopathic modalities) can be very healing for HSPs. Naturopathic medicine, particularly homeopathy, pays careful attention to the subtle signs, symptoms and observations that patients experience and express. There are over 2,000 homeopathic remedies, many of which can be helpful for HSPs. Below I will share the picture of Phosphorus, a remedy that depicts Dr. Aron’s description of an HSP to a ‘T’:

Phosphorus, a mineral remedy can help someone who fits the following remedy picture: one who is highly impressionable, sensitive to external impressions (light, noise), easily startled, drained from too much social contact, possessing quick perceptions and prone to anxiety and fears (often felt in the pit of the stomach). Phosphorus types are sympathetic to the suffering of others to the point where they may actually feel other people’s pain. They tend to be artistic, creative and imaginative and have strong intense relationships. They generally feel better in the morning, better from sleep and worse from missing a meal and from coffee. There are a number of mental-emotional and physical symptoms which this remedy can effectively treat: anxiety and fears, colds which settle in the chest, a tendency to bleed easily, vertigo, diarrhea and vomiting… Early on, one needing Phosphorus may suffer from fatigue and concerns about their health that can seem out of proportion to their health problem. Later, indifference, apathy and dullness can set in and one can become more withdrawn.

It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss how remedies are selected, prescribed and act to effect healing, but a brief caveat: even the most astute homeopath is limited in prescribing a remedy for their own chronic condition. If you are suffering from a chronic condition and are interested in homeopathy, please seek the care of a qualified naturopath or homeopath and do not self-prescribe!

For a more detailed discussion of the HSP trait, research and case studies on HSPs, the merits and drawbacks of medication for HSPs, psychotherapeutic support and a number of helpful resources and tips, I highly recommend reading Dr. Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person book and film, ‘Sensitive: The Movie’. You may also like to do a brief self-test to see if you are potentially an HSP, you will may find this test on Dr. Aron’s website, along with newsletter archives and a number of other resources posted there, to be helpful. I am listed there as an HSP-knowledgeable practitioner.

If you are an HSP, I hope that you can find the support that you need to flourish! And if you are not an HSP, perhaps you have learned something of value to help someone you know, or just to understand HSPs and homeopathy a little more…

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References:

Aron, E. (1996 ). The Highly Sensitive Person. How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

Aron, E. (1996 ). The Highly Sensitive Person. Self-Test. Retrieved from http://www.hsperson.com/pages/test.htm

Elmore, D. (2000). Phosphorus handout (from Vithoulkas, Shore, Kent, Whitmont, Cowperthwaite, Gibson & Nash). Portland, OR: National College of Natural Medicine.

Categories: Anxiety Disorders, Circadian Rhythms, Homeopathy, Psychology Tags: Behavior, Homeopathy, HSP, Psychotherapy