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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can follow a life-threatening, terrifying, and/or horrific event. Sufferers may experience flashbacks and have feelings of guilt and anxiety. Women are more susceptible than men, and multiple trauma increases risk.
Herbs can support emotional healing gently and powerfully. They can be used to ease the associated numbness and pain that accompanies PTSD and to restore strength, helping to calm the nerves and lift the spirits.
Rose is emotionally uplifting, strengthening, and has a mildly sedative action. Infuse 2–6 teaspoons rose petals in 14 fluid ounces to 1 pint (400–600ml) boiling water. Add to a warm bath, with some rosebuds floating on the water.
Oat straw is a nutritious and restorative nerve tonic, ideal for long-term convalescence. Avoid taking with gluten sensitivity.
Remedy: Nerve-strengthening tonic: Infuse 1 each oat straw and hawthorn with a few rose petals in 6 fluid ounces (175ml) boiling water. Drink 3 times daily.
Hawthorn is a potent heart tonic. See box, opposite, and remedy below, for use. Avoid with heart medication unless under medical supervision. Take 1–2-1/2 milliliters extract in a little water 3 times daily.
Aromatherapy essential oils can be used as a supportive treatment for PTSD, working alongside other therapies to help balance emotions.
Cedarwood is a deep-acting oil that helps to steady the mind and strengthen the nerves. Add 5 drops to 2 teaspoons (10ml) almond oil for a massage blend. Mix 5 drops with 1 tablespoons dispersant; add to bath.
Lemon balm is one of the most effective oils for treating post-trauma anxiety and depression. Add 1-2 drops to a diffuser of a tissue and inhale as needed.
Ylang ylang has a sedative effect and can calm symptoms of anxiety such as palpitations and hyperventilation. Add 1-2 drops to a diffuser.
Palate Sweetener: Try soaking sour-tasting goji berries in hot water for a few minutes until softened to sweeten the flavor.
Staying hydrated with 1-3/4 – 3-1/2 pints (1.5–2 liters) water daily and eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, in particular omega-3 fatty acids, provides essential nutrients and helps to balance blood sugar levels to support coping mechanisms after trauma.
Cherries, goji berries, fenugreek, corn, rice, sprouted seeds, and lupin are all rich in melatonin, the hormone that helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles, allowing you to rest and in turn speed recovery and maintain equilibrium. Include at least 2-3 servings in your diet each week.
Citrus fruits, summer berries, guava, red peppers, tomatoes, and kale are high in vitamin C, which supports and restores the release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands. Try juicing to obtain nutrients in an easily absorbed form.
Spinach, kale, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, onions, and asparagus have slow-release carbohydrates that stabilize the energy supply to the muscles and brain. Eat raw or lightly steamed.
Oily Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that support nerve and brain function. Serve with mixed steamed vegetables for a calming, sustaining meal.
What to Avoid
Processed and “white” foods made with refined flours and sugars; caffeine and alcohol.
Trauma and stress deplete the body of nutrients and can exacerbate the symptoms of PTSD. A regular supplement regime may help to speed recovery.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and an adrenal enhancer, helping to control the release of stress hormones. Take 1 gram with added bioflavonoids daily.
Omega-3 fatty acids improve immunity and protect nerve transmission. Aim for 500 milligrams to 1 gram daily.
Vitamins B12, B6, and B5 play a role in producing the chemicals involved in regulating mood and cellular metabolism and help reduce fatigue. Take as part of a daily B complex.
Melatonin aids restful sleep. Supplements should be taken for a short period of time only and should be a low dosage. Take up to 5 milligrams 2 hours before bedtime. Use for no longer than 2 months.
Practice stress management with regular exercise and yoga.
Counseling and psychotherapy are essential to provide support and help work through issues surrounding traumatic events.
Homeopathy helps to support and promote emotional wellness.
More from Complete Wellness:
- Types of Healing Herbs
- Natural Treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Natural Treatments for Fibromyalgia
- Natural Treatments for PCOS
- Natural Treatments for Menopause
Cover courtesy DK
Excerpted from Complete Wellness, reprinted by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Neal’s Yard Remedies.