Credit card debt, student loans, a rising cost of living… we all experience periods of stress and anxiety. Almost 6.8 million Americans between 18 and 54 suffer from an anxiety disorder, and this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, treating anxiety can be tricky.
Doctor-prescribed medications, like certain benzodiazepines, can sometimes lead to physical and emotional dependence. Other medications, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can cause unwanted side effects such as weight gain or sexual dysfunction. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs isn't likely something your doctor would suggest either. For these reasons, people turn to homeopathic remedies to treat the symptoms of anxiety.
What Is Ignatia?
Ignatia, or ignatia amara, is one type of homeopathic remedy sometimes used to treat anxiety. Ignatia comes from the seeds St. Ignatius bean tree. Named for the Spanish founder of the Catholic Jesuits, it’s common in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Homeopaths have used ignatia to treat anxiety symptoms like grief and depression. It’s also used to treat situational anxiety, usually the kind that takes us by surprise, like the death of a loved one, divorce, or losing your job. However, it’s not usually used for generalized anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Does Homeopathy Work?
Homeopaths assess many different factors to get a total picture of a person's symptoms and health background. After looking at the larger picture, the homeopath will suggest a remedy. Usually, this remedy includes a mixture or combination of herbs and treatments, but ignatia usually comes in pellet form and is taken orally. Homeopathic remedies are very diluted and contain only a small amount of active ingredient, which is helpful for ignatia, as it contains the poison strychnine.
There haven't been a lot of scientific studies to support (or refute) the claims that ignatia can effectively treat anxiety, but a promising study from 2012 on animals showed that it can modify emotional responses.
Anxiety and emotional stress aren't the only things ignatia has been used to treat. Homeopathic ignatia can help manage oral lichen planus (OLP), an inflammatory condition associated with the mucus membranes in the mouth, according to one study. Patients taking ignatia saw lesion reduction and reported less pain symptoms. There were also positive results when it was tested with other homeopathic remedies to treat migraines in children. While there’s not a lot of research to back them up, there have also been claims that ignatia can help to treat fever, insomnia, headaches, dysphagia, and problems resulting from menstruation.
How to Be Careful
If you’re thinking about using ignatia, take the necessary precautions. As stated above, one of the main reasons why ignatia isn’t used a lot is the fact that the Ignacious bean tree contain traces of the poison strychnine, or rat poison. While homeopathic remedies are extremely diluted, strychnine is toxic to humans in large doses.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements the way it regulates drugs, so you never really know how safe the dietary supplements you see at the store are. If you experience muscle spasms, agitation in your body, and difficulty breathing after taking ignatia, get medical help immediately.
You should always consult with a doctor before you start taking a dietary supplement or any medication. The potentially dangerous side effects could amplify the anxiety you're trying to get rid of!