A case study by Giacomo Sandri
This patient had suffered chronic anxiety for 20 years, as well as painful fibromyalgia, social anxiety and high sensitivity to EMF. Through herbs, nutrition and EMDR therapy the patient achieved a remarkable improvement in her quality of life with reduced pain and anxiety.
The following case study explains treatment for anxiety and fibromyalgia with nutrition and herbal medicine. The relevance of this case study is remarkable as the conventional pharmacological management of anxiety and fibromyalgia is, in most cases, limited to symptom suppression and often does not address the root cause. On the other hand, although a psychotherapeutic approach to fibromyalgia and anxiety could be helpful, it fails at addressing more physiological aspects such as nutrition and biochemical imbalances. This case study shows how addressing a patient’s condition through a holistic protocol, taking in consideration nutrition, lifestyle, social life and psycho-emotional wellbeing is crucial for long lasting positive results. Ultimately, the case demonstrates the efficacy of a treatment plan based on herbal medicine prescription and nutritional advice.
Presentation & Case history
The patient is a 52 year old woman 165cm tall, weighing approximately 60kg. Her main complaint is EMF sensitivity, fibromyalgia and chronic anxiety started approximately 20 years ago after receiving the hepatitis C vaccine. She states that she could not stay around electronic devices as they could cause her headaches and tinnitus. She also states that she struggles to socialise and connect with people, that her mind is always in a state of worry and her body is in pain and discomfort most of the time. Her symptoms are improved by sunshine, meditation and fasting and worsened by being around men. She is generally very energetic but has trouble falling asleep as her mind races.
Investigations about her social life revealed a severely abusive relationship with her previous husband and with her father (during childhood). Her mother died when she was 8 of cancer.
Her nutritional profile revealed a gluten and dairy free diet poor in good quality fats and proteins and with a high caffeine intake.
The patient tried antidepressants (SSRIs) for a while but they did not help, so she decided to explore the route of herbal medicine.
The client shared that she had a phobia of labs, doctors and needles so she did not receive any medical investigation in the past few years.
She refused to have her blood pressure and pulse taken and her tongue examined. Her appearance was generally pale, thin and nervous.
From the information provided, the differential diagnosis for this case is the one of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with a constitutional/energetic profile of heat-dryness-constriction.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) prospective, the client presented Heart Yin deficiency with Liver Wind excess
Approach to treatment
The aforementioned differential diagnosis is justified by the following rationale:
PTSD often manifests as a cluster of psycho-somatic symptoms such as hyper-vigilance, sensorial distortion and apprehension mediated by imbalances within the neuro-endocrine system. The patient was exposed for a prolonged time to abuse during critical times of her psychological development (childhood), and subsequently was a victim of domestic abuse from which is still recovering. Peculiar is the development of her EMF sensitivity, which aggravated after the abusive relationship. This differential diagnosis is then relevant for the case as the client presented sensorial disturbances, hypervigilance and sensorial disturbances (in this case represented by abnormal pain response).
In TCM, the Heart is the centre of the spirit and is responsible for keeping integrity, calm and joy. Some features of Yin deficiency of the heart are lack of joy, anxiety, racing thoughts, fast racing pulse and palpitations. Liver Wind, on the other side, is characterised by nervousness, suppressed anger, and the inability to express the true self.
The treatment goals for this patient are:
- Reduce hypervigilance by creating a sense of safety and authority
- Reduce hypersensitivity to EMF and episodes of fibromyalgia by nourishing the central nervous system
- Nourish the Heart Yin and release Wind from the Liver
- Avoid: caffeine (tea and coffee), most hot pressed seed oil, simple carbohydrates
- Include: increase omega-3 EFA intake (oily fish, walnuts, hempseed oil), animal proteins (eggs, fish, meat poultry)
- Structural change: Eat more fat and proteins in the morning
Herbal medicine prescription
Sig: 7.5ml bds
The medicine contains a combination of the following tinctures:
- 20ml Scutellaria lateriflora – Relaxant nervine, generates a sense of safety, Heart Yin tonic
- 15ml Hypericum perforatum – Mood lifter, nervine, Heart Yin tonic
- 15ml Citrus aurantium flos – Mood lifter, nervine, emotional depurative
- 5ml Achillea millefolium – Strengthening energetic boundaries
- 5ml Agrimonia eupatoria – Liver tonic
- 10ml Borago officinalis – Adrenal tonic, Kidney yang tonic, generates courage
- 10ml Taraxacum officinalis rad – Liver tonic, grounds the mind
- 15ml Withania somnifera FE – Nervine, adaptogen, hormone balancer, Kidney tonic
- 10ml Centella asiatica – Autonomic nervous system regulator, generates sense of self and authority
Other medications and treatments
No other medications or supplements.
The patient after 4 weeks of treatment reported:
- A substantial reduction in fibromyalgia episodes
- Tolerates better EMF
- Sleep quality improvement
- Anxiety still present although not as intense as before the treatment
She also reported to have had a bereavement within the family and dealing with grief. The client was suggested to engage with an EMDR therapist to find extra support for anxiety management. To the client has been prescribed the same combination of herbs
- The episodes of fibromyalgia further reduced; she feels calmer and sleeps better
- Working with herbs alongside EMDR made a remarkable improvement in her quality of life. She feels more sociable and could tolerate better being in social situations.
- She tolerates better EMF although she accepts that it will take a long time to completely resolve the hypersensitivity.
The case of this patient discussed in this document provided evidence of the effectiveness of the combination of nutrition and herbal medicine to improve the quality of life of individuals dealing with anxiety and fibromyalgia.
The patient responded to the medicine very quickly and remarkable results have been achieved just after 8 weeks. She also became aware how caffeine is affecting her negatively and how important it is for her to have a low carb, nutrient dense breakfast. Ultimately, she realized that most of her EMF hypersensitivity is the result of psychological trauma that she hasn’t dealt with, and it was still orchestrating her subconscious mind.
This case study showed how a therapeutic approach that is simultaneously top-down (working on the psyche) and bottom-up (working on the body’s biochemistry) can offer deep support and allow long lasting changes to occur.