Dr. Nichole Cain, ND, MA

Eloise grasps her sister’s hand as she sits across from me recounting her symptoms. She explains that she is desperately lonely and, she is so depressed and anxious, she is making herself physically ill. She has not stopped crying in 3 days, her stomach hurts so much she can barely stand up straight, and she has had a big lump in her throat, chest pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Eloise had been struggling with depression for years despite trying innumerable different medications and this breakup was the last straw. She was feeling helpless and hopeless; finally she confessed to her sister that she had thought about suicide—though she denied any intention or plan at this time. All she wanted was to get out of the “unbearably stuffy room,” spend time in the open air, for the depression to go away, for someone to hug her, and hold her, and tell her that it was all going to be okay.

Unfortunately, Eloise’s story is not uncommon. The National Institute of Health reports that, on average, approximately 1 in 4 adults or approximately 61.5 million Americans, experience mental illness or depression in a given year3. There are over 14.8 million people in the United States suffering from severe depression1. In fact, mood disorders, such as depression, are so common that they are the third most common cause of hospitalization for both youth and adults ages 18-442.

Results like these are staggering. The standard of care for treatment of depression is psychotherapy, pharmaceutical drugs, and electroconvulsive therapy4. Not including psychotherapy, these options, while helpful for some patients may be harmful for others.

Thankfully, there are incredibly effective and cost efficient alternatives.

In Naturopathic Medicine there are innumerable ways to approach cases like these. After over a decade studying mental health, first as a Clinical Counselor and then as a Naturopathic Physician, I have found that homeopathy offers the most outstanding results.

Homeopathy is an applied system of medicine and pharmacology that describes how to use homeopathic medicines. In order to maximize their therapeutic effectiveness, homeopathic medications are prescribed based on a system of like-cures-like. By first understanding the symptoms of a particular remedy and then by closely examining the unique and individual symptoms of a patient, a Naturopathic Physician can determine an individualized prescription.

The goal is to match the symptoms of the remedy with the symptoms of the patient

In Naturopathic Medicine, we don’t just determine a mental health diagnosis and then give out a homeopathic medicine. The way in which each patient experiences a set of mental health diagnosis and the accompanying symptoms is unique to them. If we look at Eloise’s case in detail, we must select the symptoms that are unique to her, in a depressed state. For example, Eloise reports incredible despair and depression coupled with anxiety. Physical symptoms she experiences include: chest pains, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort that causes her to bend forward. Additionally, not all of my patients are as intensely averse to a warm stuffy room as Eloise was. Eloise also very strongly desired company and consolation while many of my patients would rather be alone. As you see, Eloise clearly had “depression” but some of the symptoms of her particular experience of depression are, in fact, fairly unique.

The next step is to go to the “repertory” and then the “Materia Medica” to find the homeopathic medicine that best matches the characteristic symptoms Eloise presents with. Below are some of the repertory’s rubrics of the key symptoms that I selected, based on the symptoms I mentioned above.

As you see in the image, Pulsatilla is the first remedy that is listed, and some other remedies to consider are Arsenicum Album, Phosphorus, and possibly Natrum Muriaticum.

The next step is to go to the Materia Medica to cross-reference and determine which is the best fit.

Below are some of the notes on homeopathic Pulsatilla, from Allen’s Encyclopedia:

  • Anxiety in the region of the heart, even to suicide, in the evening, associated with a sensation of qualmishness in the pit of the stomach [_a1].
  • She cried a good deal, and was very low-spirited [a13].
  • He sinks into a condition of sadness and despondency from disagreeable news [_a1]
  • A gloomy, melancholy mood set in(after four hours), [_a3].
  • Griping pain in the pit of the stomach, [a6]. Griping sticking pain, with flatulent colic, in the region of the upper abdomen, in the morning, [_a1].
  • Colic, as if diarrhoea would ensue [a1].
  • Diarrhoea, with colic, [_a1].

As you can see, Pulsatilla covers her unique symptoms incredibly well! Pulsatilla can treat the specific type of depression that Eloise has. It does this by stimulating her body to heal itself and, in response, the patient will naturally and effectively feel better.

Eloise, her sister, and I came up with a plan together, which included access to crisis resources, psychotherapy, and homeopathic Pulsatilla 30C. We did a check-in 24 hours later and Eloise reported:

  • Suicidal ideation: None
  • Anxiety: Gone
  • Depression: Much better
  • Stomach pain: Gone
  • Diarrhea: Gone
  • Had she talked to boyfriend yet? No, but she stated she was handling the break up much better and was feeling stable.

Naturopathic and homeopathic medicines are incredibly powerful. The body has an innate ability to heal. Whether it is a physical injury or emotional distress, the body is designed for total and complete recovery. If you ready to feel like yourself again consider finding a Naturopathic Physician that is a good fit.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 5-1.23.46 PMDr. Cain specializes in the integrative treatment of mental health, and is among the most highly trained homeopathic doctors in the United States. She graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM), where she also did a residency in internal medicine. She currently has a private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, and teaches in the psychology department at SCNM. Dr. Cain has a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (CSOPP). She also studied psychobiology and psychoneuroimmunology at Luther College. She is a board member of Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association, and is a co-founder of the not-for-profit organization Homeopathic Medicine for Mental Health.”


  1. Prevalence numbers were calculated using NIMH percentages (cited) and 2010 Census data. Census data is available at: United States Census Bureau. (revised 2011). “USA [State & County QuickFacts].” Retrieved March 5, 2013 , from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/.
  2. Wier, LM (Thompson Reuters), et al. HCUP facts and figures: statistics on hospital – b ased care in the United States, 2009. Web .. Rockville, Md. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports.jsp.
  3. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.) The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental – disorders-in-america/index.shtml.
  4. WebMD, LLC. Depression Treatment Options. (2005-2014). Depression Health Center. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-treatment-options on December 1, 2014.
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