What is Ignatia?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Ignatia amara is an herbal and homeopathic remedy that is made from a plant called St. Ignatius’ Bean. Accounts suggest St. Ignatius Loyola brought the plant to Europe from the Philippines, where it is native, in the 1600s. Today, the plant has picked up some interesting names that relate to its primary uses in treatment. It is sometimes called “homeopathic Prozac,” because it is often used to treat depression and anxiety, especially in grief situations.

Ignatia may help with a broken heart.
Ignatia may help with a broken heart.

St. Ignatius’ Bean should never be used in a wild setting since the bean pods that create the homeopathic remedy contain strychnine. To make the actual medicine, these are crushed and placed in alcohol and homeopaths claim there is little to no strychnine left in the finished product, which usually comes in tablet form. They believe the remedy is safe for children and adults, when taken exactly as recommended.

Ignatia amara may be useful in treating insomnia.
Ignatia amara may be useful in treating insomnia.

There are numerous potential uses for ignatia amara according to homeopathic writings. It is thought especially helpful in treating emotional distress in times of grief from things like the loss of a loved one, a broken heart, bullying at school, or recovering from sexual abuse. Homeopaths believe it is best used when people are either extremely emotional (tearful) in grief situations, or are silent grievers who cannot express enough emotion. There are also anecdotal accounts that it may aid in some of the side effects of grieving, such as poor sleep or stomachache.

Ignatia may be helpful in treating emotional distress.
Ignatia may be helpful in treating emotional distress.

Ignatia amara may be recommended as treatment in other situations. It is said to relieve sore throats, insomnia, flatulence and other disorders of the stomach. Some people may take it to treat irritable bowel syndrome. For centuries it has been used in the treatment of coughs, particularly dry coughs or for disease like whooping cough. Parents may try giving it to very young children for croup.

Ignatia is thought to be helpful in treating grief.
Ignatia is thought to be helpful in treating grief.

It’s easy to find ignatia at many natural foods stores and also online. It can sometimes be difficult to assess the particular strengths sold. It’s also important for people to realize that like most homeopathic remedies, the claims about this substance have not been reviewed by organizations like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Most nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies don’t fall under the same review protocol that governs over the counter and prescription medicines.

Ignatia is used as a homeopathic treatment for people suffering from grief and emotional distress.
Ignatia is used as a homeopathic treatment for people suffering from grief and emotional distress.

There are few Western medicine clinical studies on the efficacy or safety of ignatia amara. While homeopathic literature suggests there are few contraindications to taking this substance, this may or may not be true. It might not be safe to take this medication if people have certain conditions or if they are taking other meds, or other homeopathic remedies. Claims about how this medication works are based primarily on anecdotal evidence and not on double blind clinical studies. It’s a good idea to discuss plans to take homeopathic remedies of any type with a physician.

Ignatia is said to have been brought to Europe by St. Ignatius Loyola.
Ignatia is said to have been brought to Europe by St. Ignatius Loyola.
Ignatia amara may be used to treat croup in young children.
Ignatia amara may be used to treat croup in young children.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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