2001-09-29 / Columnists

Health and Harmony by Dr. Nancy Gahles

Health and Harmony by Dr. Nancy Gahles

Dr. Nancy Gahles graduated from New York Chiropractic College in 1979 and has been practicing in Belle Harbor since 1988.  Dr. Gahles is a Certified Classical Homeopath and a member of the prestigious Registered Society of Homeopaths, North America.

The Shock of The Attack Wreaks Havoc On Our Bodies

Shock is the emotional reaction we experience to a sudden, unexpected event such as this heinous act of terrorism wherein we watched in horror as airplanes carrying our loved ones, our countrymen, were driven into the twin towers of the World Trade Center destroying more lives of our family and friends and life as we know it in our beloved community of Rockaway. We were witnesses; we were the ones who escaped and the ones who wait for the return of those who may never come home. The feelings of loss and grief, of anger and fear, of futility and hopelessness are real reactions to shock. Common symptoms include feeling shaken and scared, or numb if the shock was severe and we are having difficulty accepting or understanding what happened.  Some people rally in a frightening situation, helping others to cope, and then suffer from delayed shock once the emergency has passed.  Others fall apart, and can even become hysterical and out of control.

Our shock response is an inbuilt safety measure, the fight-or-flight instinct where the body is flooded with adrenaline as a response to fear. This gives an energy boost for dealing with a difficult and/or dangerous situation. After that danger has passed we need to deal with the effects of this response so that we don't become ill. People who have experienced repeated shocks in their lives are more vulnerable to this type of emotional stress.

If the shocking event was particularly distressing then the response can be correspondingly severe and cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This syndrome occurs after an event that is outside the range of normal human experience such as this man-made disaster, and the witnessing of violence and death. People become detached, not wanting to think about the event, finding it difficult to remember parts of what happened and losing interest in their everyday lives. They can suffer from many symptoms including: flashbacks (with pictures and feelings intruding unexpectedly), nightmares, irritability, a persistent jumpiness, chronic fearfulness, anxiety, insomnia and an inability to concentrate.  Depression can develop if this state festers and isn't acknowledged or healed.  People with PTSD always need professional help from a psychotherapist trained in working with this particular disorder.

*Take shock seriously.  Shock can't be seen (there's no blood) but can be as serious as a physical injury.  Your nervous system and emotions are under severe strain - now is not the time to have a sweet cup of tea and carry on as though nothing has happened.

*Breathe.  Shock causes us to tense up.  Try it out next time you have to brake suddenly to avoid a car or bicyclist pulling out unexpectedly on front of you. You may feel frightened, angry or break out in a sweat - all at once!  Take a single, slow, deep breath immediately after the shock has occurred and as you breathe it out you will feel a sense of release.

*Take some physical exercise - the more vigorous the better to discharge the adrenaline caused by a fright and help you to relax.

*Relax after a shock in ways that work for you.

*Ask a friend or neighbor to stay with you until a bad shock has passed - overnight if necessary.  You don't have to go through this stressful time on your own.

*Get some professional help if you realize that you are suffering from delayed shock or from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


*Pretend that you are all right when you aren't.

*Put your head in the sand over a situation that needs some action.  Get information, get support, and get reassurance - the sooner the better.

Homeopathic Treatment-

Homeopathy, one of the most gentle and sympathetic forms of healing, has been growing rapidly all over the world, particularly during the last decade.  Homeopathy is a thoughtful practice that respects the fact that every person is unique and individual.  Homeopathic healing acts deeply on the organism, making lasting cures at all levels: physical, emotional and mental.  It is holistic, that is, it treats the whole person, not just the disease.

Homeopathic remedies will help with acute shock.  The sooner you prescribe the better, but if you suspect that you are suffering from the more serious PTSD then you will need to seek the help of a psychotherapist in conjunction with a Certified Classical Homeopathic practitioner.

The following represents a partial list of remedies that can be used to treat a person who is having some or all of the symptoms described after a shock.  The way in which an individual person experiences the shock and their particular reaction to the shock will characterize which remedy fits their state most closely.

*Aconitum Napellus: For acute shock with great fear and trembling.  There may be a fear of death because the situation was so serious. After the shock there can be fear and panic attacks in crowded places. The sensation of panic comes on suddenly and is accompanied by restlessness and palpitations. It can also occur at night, typically on waking, and is often accompanied by a fear of, or a feeling of, suffocation. People who need Aconite are distressed and restless, look shocked or even terrified and may have staring or glassy eyes.  They are tense and excitable and can have outbursts of anger.

*Arnica Montana: For delayed shock.  The person denies anything is wrong.  After an accident they may insist everything is all right. *Belladonna: For shock with great restlessness. The person appears frightened, looks terrified (like Aconite) but may be very angry at what happened.

*Calcarea Phosphorica: For fear, depression and exhaustion following hearing unpleasant or unexpected news. The person becomes restless and dissatisfied.

*Carbo Vegetabilis:  For shock with collapse.  The person breaks out in a cold sweat and feels faint. They crave fresh air and feel better for being fanned.

*Gelsemium Sempervirens: For shock after bad news with trembling. The person becomes dazed and confused and doesn't know what to do next.  May try to hide feelings.

*Ignatia Amara: For shock of losing loved ones. Grief and worry. With numbness and a desire to be alone. Hides feelings. Sighing, tearful, moody.

(Excerpted from Homeopathic Guide To Stress by Miranda Castro and Homeopathy for Common Ailments by Robin Hayfield).

If you feel that you have any of these symptoms, first clear your condition with your medical doctor, and then consult a Certified Homeopath.  The Council for Homeopathic Certification is the body, which certifies classical homeopaths. That credential is CCH, Certified Classical Homeopath.  For a practitioner in your area you can visit their website or telephone 408-421-0565.

Physical Tension: Muscular tension, tension headaches and tightness in your body can be addressed by gentle yoga stretches (take a class) or massage ( check for a Licensed Massage Therapist, LMT in your area).  If the problem persists or develops into radiating pains consult a Doctor of Chiropractic.

For information pertaining to this article contact Dr. Gahles at Ngahles@aol.com.

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