Monday, December 12, 2011

Will homeopathic lycopodium reduce your anxiety about public speaking?

Lycopodium clavatum (commonly known as club moss and pronounced like-o-podium) is a homeopathic remedy recommended for fear of public speaking (and many other ailments). In summer, spikes from the plant are collected and the very small spores are shaken out to produce a yellow powder (pollen dust) as shown above.

For example, in The Complete Guide to Homeopathy by Dr. Andrew Lockie and Dr. Nicola Geddes (Dorling Kindersley, London, 1995), under Emotional Problems in the tables on pages 190 and 191 they describe:

Anxiety with a loss of confidence

Apprehension about performing in public
Inability to sleep at night with continual reviewing of what happened during the day
Appetite is disturbed
A craving for sweet foods may accompany insomnia

A forthcoming event or performance
Most likely to occur in the very ambitious who have high standards

In cool surroundings
From hot food and drinks
After midnight
With movement

In stuffy rooms
After overeating
Between 4 PM and 8 PM

Lycopodium - take 6C every 2 hours for up to 10 doses

You can find pellets of 6C lycopodium clavatum online. For example, Amazon shows Boiron has packages with tubes containing 80 pellets for less than $8.

What does the potency or dilution ‘6C’ mean? (It’s the same as 12X). The material has been diluted by a factor of 1:100 six times, so the final concentration is 1 part in 1,000,000,000,000. 

Is lycopodium effective? In 2006 Karen Pilkington and her colleagues published a long article in Homeopathy magazine titled Homeopathy for Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders: A Systematic Review of the Research. You can read the abstract and conclusion here at PubMed. They found no clear and compelling evidence that homeopathy was effective for treating anxiety. Lycopodium only was mentioned near the beginning of the article, where they referred to it being mentioned by Dr. Lockie  in another more recent book, the Encyclopedia of Homeopathy (2001).

Does lycopodium have undesirable side effects? A web article by Susan Kaye noted that:

“The book Synoptic Materia Medica I points out that Lycopodium may cause lack of self-confidence, feelings of inferiority and insecurity, and the possibility of a person developing bullying behavior which acts like a cover-up for these feelings of being ‘lesser-than.’ A person may be bossy, dominating and downright nasty to those who know him best, like family, yet act meek and fearful in public. The remedy may cause a fear of public speaking and even the inability to stand up for oneself in a conflict.”

I have not read that rather obscure book, so I’m not sure if this is a problem only with this remedy, or an example of a general problem with homeopathic remedies noted on the Dr. Lockie web site:

“The homeopathic equivalent of an overdose is when a remedy is ‘proved’ or begins to cause the symptoms that it is intended to cure. This can happen when a remedy is taken for very prolonged periods, so don’t continue with a remedy once it has worked in order to prevent a relapse, it’s quite unnecessary and actually counter-productive.”

Images of the plant and powder are both from Wikimedia.

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