Skin picking disorder (Dermatillomania) and hair pulling disorder (Trichotillomania) can be a consequence of trauma, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders.

Compulsive skin picking  is  characterised by the repetitive picking of the skin to an extent where damage is caused. Skin picking can be repetitive and ritualistic and it can be a way to reduce tension.

It usually starts in the face, however it can be carried out on any part of the body such as scalp, lips, nails, cuticles and nose. Acne and scab picking is a form of skin picking disorder.

Trichotillomania (trich), is when someone can’t resist the urge to pull out their hair,  they may pull out the hair on their head or in other part part of the body, such as eyebrows or eyelashes. It is more common in girls than boys. People with trich feel an intense urge to pull their hair out, after doing so, they feel a sense of relief (NHS, 2020).

Homeopathy  for Trichotillomania and Skin picking 

These conditions are often linked to trauma, anxiety, obsessive compulsive behaviours and considered chronic issues (not just isolated episodes) consequently the homeopathic prescribing may need to be reassessed over time and usually more than one remedy is used over various consultations. Homeopathy  can’t be considered as a quick fix in these situations.

To prescribe a homeopathic remedy  is important to understand what is unique about the person skin picking, what characterises it  and makes it possibly  different from other peoples.  Here below are some examples of remedies that have  proved most useful for these conditions. This is not an exhaustive list. 

Silica 

Common skin remedy 

The anxiety is usually around being tested and fear of being evaluated. Silica is a good acne remedy and potentially indicated for a person with acne and skin picking, low self confidence with a tendency towards perfectionism, indecisive, insecure,  the person usually  spends time choosing the right thing rather than what they want. They look easy going on the outside but they are actually stubborn. The person usually is not very  assertive.

Conium

Overworked, weak, fatigued, overstudied  and grief struck, the person doesn’t want to be alone, but at the same time dreads the company of strangers. There can be unsatisfied sexual desires.

Ignatia 

Anxious feeling in the chest with possible palpitations there is grief after losing a person or a possession, Feelings of frustration are present and also there can be a sensation of a lump in the throat, people needing Ignatia are hypersensitive with a tendency to spams – this is a remedy for shock and  disappointment. 

Stramonium – (Datura Stramonium)

The theme that needs to be presentwith this homeopathic remedy is fear, fear on the verge of terror,  (fear of water can be a theme), there can be restless sleep and a sensation on the skin as if insects are crawling over it. Skin picking could have started since  shock, fright, high fever, head injury, hydrophobia or childbirth. 

There is scratching and picking. A pins and needles sensation on the skin may be present.

Tarantula hispanica

There is extreme restlessness, they find it really hard to keep still, they keep moving. They are erratic and often impulsive, crafty, canny and sly, reason for what goes on can be due to a punishment, there can be anger or depression. Moods can alternate quickly. Thre is the sensation of insects creeping and crawling over skin. They can feel better from pressure and rubbing body parts (eg brushing hair and head in case of hair pulling or skin in case of skin picking).

Belladonna: 

All five senses are affected, skin picking/ hair pulling  is usually due to sensory overload,  The person lives in his/her own world, there is restlessness, excitement, talks fast, There is fear of imaginary things and he or she can become quarrelsome.

Cuprum Metallicum: 

Bad tempered and sulky. Nervous, uneasy, weeps violently, fears society, shuns everybody, there can be confusion, fear restless and anxiety.

Aurum Tryphillum 

Constant picking of nose and lips until the area bleeds even if painful the picking is constant and even if painful and make them screams the picking is continuous.

As already highlighted remedies that are useful in Triochotillomania and Dermatillomania are usually remedies that are used for anxiety, repetitive and ritualistic behaviours and obsessive compulsive disorders. The magic happens when the Materia Medica of the homeopathic medicine chosen is as close as possible to the person emotional and physical state and also when the medicine indicated aetiology (cause) is matched in the person medical history (eg never been well since childbirth or high fever for Stramonium).

If you find the description of homeopathic remedies difficult to understand and a bit ridiculous it is because most materia medicas have been written in the 18th century. They were written by medical doctors in an a language that is now almost obsolete and it takes a bit of getting used to. Materia Medica are big books that list the name and description of each homeopathic remedy, followed by the symptoms and temperaments that most often indicate each remedy’s use. I found these books fascinating.

Silvia Giunta 

Registered Homeopath and Nutritionist 

coffe and anxiety

I am Italian and I love coffee! 

I love its aroma in the morning especially if it comes from a Moka, a traditional Italian cafetière as it brings back sweet memories of Italy and family.

Italians like their coffee strong, in a warm espresso cup, and more than often they take it while standing.

With an espresso in me, I can go at 100 miles per hour and feel nicely wired, but when I take more or drink it daily for a few weeks I know I will have to pay for it ….. 

Coffee is not evil, at least not for everyone …..we are all different and there is research to support the consumption of a moderate amount of coffee daily, in fact drinking coffee may help to reduce the risk of certain digestive disorders, including gallstone disease and pancreatitis.

Coffee consumption may also help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkison’s disease. There are quite a few studies that support this connection, but further studies are needed to prove causality between coffee consumption and the risk of developing these conditions. 

Coffee may also have some protective cardiovascular effects for women, it’s high in antioxidants and it’s delicious!

But just because it has beneficial effects doesn’t mean that having more coffees is good for us.

I believe that it is important to tune in and listen to what your body is telling you.  

At times even on one coffee per day, I can feel wired, on hedge and anxious, my muscles tense up and I can get different types of pains.

These signs are enough of a red flag and show me that I can’t metabolise caffeine very well… ad that I should give it up.

HERE ARE MY 8 REASONS FOR BEING CAFFEINE FREE OR/AND LIMITING MY COFFEE INTAKE

More restful and prolonged sleep

Some research studies show that daily coffee intake can alter the sleep cycle, causing restless, un-refreshing sleep, and daytime drowsiness. Each one of us will react differently to coffee and genetic makeup will determine how affected you are.

If you suffer from anxiety and sleeplessness, it is worth trying being caffeine-free and see if it makes a difference for you.

One less Anxiety trigger

Coffee is a well known psychoactive and act as an anxiety trigger by stimulating sensations that mimic anxiety such as increased breathing rate and a faster heartbeat. Your body would not know that it is JUST the coffee, it feels like anxiety it is anxiety! Consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine (more or less two cups of coffee) can increase anxiety and panic attacks in people sensitive to it. In fact “caffeine-induced anxiety disorder” is listed in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition).

Less Hormonal imbalances 

The liver detoxifies caffeine using the CYP1A2 enzyme system, which is also responsible for the initial metabolism of estrogen during Phase I clearance by the liver. This is one reason caffeine can be metabolised more slowly in women taking oral contraceptives or postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy. Less work for the liver to do, better clearance of toxins and hormones for you!

Reduce your exposure to mycotoxins and pesticides 

Some studies analysed coffee brands and tested them for mycotoxins the results showed that Roasted coffee has fewer mycotoxins. If you want to make sure that your coffee is free from mycotoxins some brands assures you their absence such as https://mindfulcoffee.co.uk/ or the US brand Purity coffee https://puritycoffee.com.

If you choose organic your coffee will be richer in antioxidants and it is worth noticing that sometimes some of the side effects of coffee are due to the pesticides that are still present in the coffee grains. If you are sensitive like me you might experiment palpitations when drinking some chemically-laden coffee.

Less stress 

Caffeine affects the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis: The HPA axis influences the body’s ability to manage and deal with stress. 

The adrenal glands secrete two major hormones: adrenalin and cortisol. Adrenalin increases respiration rate, heart rate, and blood pressure; while cortisol frees up glucose as we need it in greater amounts during times of perceived stress. A clever mechanism that can become damaging for the body when we are stuck in chronic stress mode. Caffeine increases cortisol and adrenaline at rest, levels of cortisol after caffeine consumption are similar to those experienced during acute stress. Drinking coffee, in other words, simulates stress conditions for the body.

More balanced blood sugar

As already touched upon caffeine creates a stress hormone response and one of the roles of cortisol and adrenalin is to mobilise glucose stored in the liver and pour it into the bloodstream so that it can be used for rapid energy needs (running for your life!!). This scenario can increase insulin resistance. 

One of insulin roles is to signal cells to take in glucose from the blood so that it is used for energy.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body cannot deliver glucose into the cells (where it is needed) as the cells become less receptive. When this happens the body releases ever-larger amounts of insulin to try and accomplish its job.

It is a bit like when I keep talking and nagging my husband and he just stops listening to me, the body does the same thing it tunes out becoming less sensitive to insulin’s, meaning more circulating glucose (more nagging on my side), which in turn would mean more insulin release… and so on.

Lower blood pressure 

Caffeine seems to have temporary effects on blood pressure, due to its effect on the nervous system. More so on people that don’t drink it regularly. 

Positive effects on brain function and mood 

Elevated blood sugar and insulin can create imbalances in the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which can lead to sub-clinical mood problems such as mild depression, irritability, impaired cognition, and lack of motivation.

People with chronically high glucose and stress can experience “fuzzy brain”, and memory loss. If we add the potential B-vitamin and iron (both essential for energy) deficiency that coffee consumption can create we can see how easy it is to be in a coffee loop where one feels the need to have coffee to keep functioning properly.

Drinking coffee in large quantities throughout the day, with sugar a bit of chocolate …add high levels of stress coupled with a lack of exercise …it is a ticking time bomb!!

We all respond differently, but If you are prone to anxiety and panic attacks I suggest you keep track of your lattes, espressos, Chai lattes, etc. 

Don’t forget to add all the other sources of caffeine that you consume such as colas, chocolates, some pain medications, energy drinks, teas, etc

Pay attention to how you feel when you drink coffee.

Do you feel good for a little bit, then shaky and irritable? 

Do you notice any pain or other physical distress?

Do you find you get more bloated if you drink coffee?

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms then it is time you taper yourself off coffee and caffeine slowly, most people see improvements in their anxiety levels, try some of the coffee substitutes or semi-substitutes that I have been exploring in the last few months.

CHICORY COFFEE

I have started drinking chicory root coffee I have become quite fond of it, love its hearty and bitter taste, it is similar to coffee without the caffeine kick. 

Chicory root coffee comes with some health benefits:

there is research supporting its effects on regulating hunger, improving gut bacteria function as it is high in inulin a fiver that supports a healthy gut by favoring the production of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, and insulin sensitivity. 

Some people may experience gas and bloat with chicory coffee.

It also stimulates bile production favoring the digestion of fatty foods.

If you don’t want to go all way and just reduce your caffeine intake you can mix some chicory root powder with some coffee powder…

Be careful as it is not safe to have chicory if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Caffeine: NO

MUSHROOM COFFEE 

Caffeine: depends on brands

Concentrated extract Medicinal Mushroom powder with their major health benefits are blended with organic arabica coffee. I have tried Foursigma immune and absolutely enjoyed its round and smooth taste, the mushroom flavour is barely there and it just tasted like coffee with less caffeine for a cup at 50 mg.

While regular coffee can be linked to anxiety and insomnia thanks to all that caffeine, the addition of mushroom powder is s said to result in a more balanced cup. And drinkers of mushroom coffee say it’s not as likely to make health concerns like anxiety and insomnia worse. Possible Health Benefits will depend on the mushrooms powder added but they are generally loaded with antioxidants, coupled with the high content of antioxidants in coffee mushroom coffee is bound to Decreases Oxidative Stress: a good move to warn off most diseases.

MATCHA TEA 

Another popular coffee substitution is Matcha, Matcha comes with the added benefits of a partial caffeine buzz (if this is what you are after). Matcha tea bags are ok but if you didn’t like them please try Matcha again and go for high-grade matcha or ceremonial grade powder, the greener the better as richer in antioxidants with a smoother and more elegant taste.

Matcha tea bags are to Matcha ceremonial grade tea what supermarket bought pizza is to a freshly baked Neapolitan pizza.

Matcha is good for mental health:

Matcha contains L-Theanine an amino acid that increases mental focus and alertness without no side effects

L-Theanine increases the production of alpha waves in the brain, alpha waves increase relaxation and focus without drowsiness 

L-theanine is also used as a supplement to curb anxiety 

L-theanine slows down the caffeine absorption reducing the ups and downs that come with caffeine

Matcha is rich in EpitoGalloCathechinGallate (EPGCG) a powerful, powerful antioxidant

Matcha is rich in Chlorophyll which a detoxifier 

Matcha has antibacterial properties: good for mouth health

And many more health benefits. 

TIP:

take your matcha with some lemon to increase its nutrients availability 

Don’t use boiling water, let it cool for a minute then place a teaspoon of matcha with a teaspoon of water in the cup and create the consistency of a smooth paste, then slowly add hot water. Whisk the matcha and water, ideally use a bamboo brush until the mixture is frothy and thick. Then add the rest of the water and enjoy it!

Caffeine: Yes

BARLEY COFFEE or ORZO coffee

Orzo coffee is an Italian favourite … and it can be prepared with a traditional Italian coffee machine or as an instant coffee depending on the brand you buy and how the grains have been prepared.  

It contains gluten even if in small quantities. 

Caffeine: No

DECAFFEINATED COFFEE 

Caffeine: traces of caffeine

Make sure that your decaf is being decaffeinated avoiding the use of solvents. I always check if the package specifies ‘Swiss water process’ or no solvents. One of my favourite for a Nespresso machine is the CRU KAFE ORGANIC DECAF line. I like Equal Exchange Organic Decaffeinated ground coffee (Medium Roasted). I have also been suggested www.buzzcoffee.co.uk a small uk company that takes great care in preparing their coffee.

Please note this article doesn’t include all the available research on coffee but highlights findings based on my personal experience and the consultation of some research papers.

The content of this article is not meant to substitute medical advice and it is for education only. If you wish to have more information and references to the research paper used please do contact me.  I have no affilation to the brands named.

anxiety insomnia

Homeopathic Remedies for Anxiety

As the weeks pass by and we are asked to stay at home for a longer period of time some of us may experience a great deal of anxiety about the current situation, about not being able to hug family and friends and not be able move freely, some of us may be filled fear and dread, we are all different and we are all going to live this situation differently.

Here homeopathy lends a hand, as there are many remedies and each one of them would be indicated for a different situation and a different person.

I am going to share with you a few homeopathic medicines that can be very useful for the very strange times that we are living in.

Homeopathic remedies are safe and do not have side effects. You may discover a completely new way to look after your family as I did many years ago.

Aconitum Napellus: the first remedy to think of for anxiety

This was the first homeopathic remedy that I was prescribed and in a few seconds it took me from a state of complete panic to a place of calm where palpitations stopped and I could start to think clearly. Aconitum is a major panic attack remedy and it is very useful when there is extreme restlessness of mind and body, a state of fear and anxiety, cold sweats and palpitation. The person needing aconite is fearing death and dying and fearing of being in public spaces something that a lot of people may feel these days.

Sadness, social isolation, and aversion to talking are the predominant symptoms, along with brooding about past events. There is also an aversion to speaking, and sudden mood changes may occur. Symptoms are usually worst at night.

Arsenicum Album: anxiety about health

One of the most important anxiety medicine for homeopaths and the first one we think about when the anxiety is linked to gastric symptoms such as loose stools or indigestion with a burning sensation. The person needing Arsenicum may look anxious and drawn and tend to be fastidious, they worry about their health Fear and restlessness is a prominent symptom, these days this can be seen as fear of hearing the news as they cause apprehension and dread. They can have an overwhelming feeling that everything will go wrong, and if unwell they despair of their recovery. These are people that are hard to reassure and usually feel worst after midnight and find it hard to sleep. Other common traits of a person that needs Arsenicum is a fear of germs and fear of suffocation, there is a need to control what’s happening around them….. there is a lot of need for Arsenicum these days…

If you found this article interesting I invite you to download my ebook with more information on remedies for anxiety and sleeplessness and some tips on other tools that one can use to overcome feelings of anxiety.