Homeopathy for the panic attacks following the L’Aquila earthquake
30 December 2017 (online)
I write to report my personal experience of treating children with panic attacks after the devastating earthquake (6.3 on the Richter scale), which struck L’Aquila, capital of the Abruzzo Region in the center of Italy at 3:32 a.m on the 6th April 2009. The city and many surrounding villages were severely damaged causing the death of 300 and injuring 1500 people. 65,000 people were forced to leave their homes for emergency camps. Many survivors had panic attacks and were emotionally disturbed.
My immediate intervention was in a situation of real emergency and I could not plan a controlled clinical study. Nevertheless, I believe my experiences may be of interest. Homeopathic medicines were administered to children showing symptoms of acute psychological trauma: feelings of fear, pain and bitterness for the loss of their relatives. “Fight, Flight, Freezing” are the result of the trauma and may evolve from acute Panic attacks to chronic PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disease) after 4 or 5 weeks. Fear is a natural and understandable reaction and has an important adaptive function (alert) if it is limited to the period immediately after the traumatic event. But if not of short duration, it may cause anxiety, dissociation, or PTSD.
Homeopathy may help recovery of body and mind homeostasis and, without toxicity and addiction, it can precede or support drug treatment and/or Psychotherapy. I started working on organizing aid within hours of the quake. S. Bernardini, scientific coordinator of the Pitigliano Hospital project and president of Italian Homeopathic Association of Integrated Medicine (SIOMI), entrusted me with the distribution of homeopathic remedies for fear-related symptoms. The initiative was supported also by Tuscany Region, and Italian Civil Emergency authorization. Homeopathic medicines were made available by Laboratoires Boiron.
A team of SIOMI homeopaths chose three drugs: Arnica, Gelsemium and Ignatia. I administered at Arnica 30 cH for physical and mental traumas, Ignatia for bitterness, restrained pain, Gelsemium for suppressed fear; it was very helpful for children, improving their nightmares and reducing their morbid attachment to their mothers. In my view the therapeutic aim of homeopathic treatment is not to erase an event from memory, but to change our emotion so that the resulting reaction does not create suffering but let us grow inwardly in good and bad fortune.
The coincidence of the effect noted in our experience in the field and the evidence accumulating in rigorous laboratory studies on Gelsemium sempervirens is particularly provocative and stimulating for future controlled studies.[ 1,2 ] It suggested to me that I should communicate this experience to the scientific community to emphasize the need for further research.
- 1 Bellavite P., Magnani P., Zanolin E., Conforti A. Homeopathic doses of Gelsemium sempervirens improve the behavior of mice in response to novel environments. eCAM 2009 10.1093/ecam/nep139.
- 2 Bellavite P., Magnani P., Marzotto M., Conforti A. Assays of homeopathic remedies in rodent behavioural and psychopathological models. Homeopathy 2009; 98: 208-227.