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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Adalian MCH

Pandemic Mayhem: No ‘Off’ Switch - Picric Acid for Cortisol Untamed

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

It was ten years ago that I wrote an article entitled ‘Sculpting the Software: Targeting Specific Brain Structures’.(1) Since that time, this is the one article which I have composed over the years which I have repeatedly quoted in further writings.

I now realise why this article still carries so much resonance today, if not more, at a time when a collective trauma such as created by the pandemic has afflicted populations, not only in the U.K., but also world-wide, from birth through to old age.

It transpires that the brain structures are particularly susceptible to ‘States on the Spectrum’, ranging from ADHD (not only in children, but increasingly in adults), autism, dyslexia, OCD, addiction, schizophrenia, right through to Alzheimer’s disease. At a time of such psychological challenges as lockdowns have presented, these structures are especially susceptible to compromise. This means that ‘States on the Spectrum’ are as a result more likely to erupt as a consequence and - even more troublingly - with more intense manifestations than prior. After all, with the level of duress experienced by individuals during a pandemic, cortisol levels have been left to surge for a protracted period of time.

I now find myself asking the question whether this means that in the years to come, as a result of prolonged deprivations such as isolation and lack of stimulation, there will be a plethora of these cases arising across the board and across the age ranges in addition. After all, it has become apparent that each generation has suffered as a result in this context and we, as homeopaths, therefore need to learn to recognise how much the effects have afflicted the presenting patient in each case. Enduring the effects of a pandemic can create a plummeting down in the patient which they have not previously recognised.

Programming of lifetime health going right back to the experience in the womb is as important as, if not more important than, our genes in determining individual mental and physical performance. This implies that susceptibility to chronic disease can develop as the result of adverse environmental influences experienced as an embryo and can then become perpetuated through early life and beyond. This is where the epigenetic factor comes into play and can easily be re-enacted through such profound trauma as we are collectively now facing as a result of the pandemic. As mentioned above, the original template which has been laid down pre- and post-birth are re-enacted at such times. (2)

Becoming pregnant during a pandemic creates a set of challenges at a time when reaching out for familial support (and beyond) would usually become a vital component of the process. After all, according to an African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child. Financial security can seem more nebulous than otherwise at this time and the combination of worries can start to undermine the wellbeing of both mother and growing embryo. After all, it is during the pregnancy that so many rituals play a role and usually act to create a safe environment for all parties involved. ‘Baby showers’ come to mind here which have come about over recent years to mark the future arrival of the anticipated child and mark the passage of a woman into motherhood.

Trauma during the birth process is recognised to contribute to difficulties down the line in the life of the affected child. (3) With the tensions of the hospital environment at this time, the usual calm atmosphere is often lacking and the mother may easily feel constricted in her freedom to embrace the child. This is undermined by the lack of full engagement of her partner who may be limited in his exposure due to the restrictions which have been imposed as a result of Covid-19 policies.

According to Christina Maslach, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, one year on from the outbreak of the pandemic, it is nowadays becoming clear that ‘pandemic burnout’ is becoming increasingly recognised. (4) At this stage, the level of resulting depression and feelings of powerlessness are starting to take their toll on the brain structures as the effects dig deeper and people reach a hitherto unreached sense of desperation.

When the level of despair digs deep enough, the prefrontal cortex - the brain structure responsible for learning and cognition - can start to become eroded and impact the learning abilities of the patient. The main remedy which is applicable where the brain structures are starting to erode is Picric Acid (see also my other recent articles on elements from the Periodic Table). Picric Acid usually acts best after the patient has endured a period of overwork or overstudy. When rumination has taken over the brain for a prolonged time. It can have a similar effect with even more harmful consequences than in its regular application, as displayed one year on from the outbreak of the pandemic in populations at large.

It used to be the case that the word ‘burnout’ applied to the effects of over-study or over-work. However, nowadays it is more to do with the reaction to extreme pressure exerted over an extended period of time (as we see now during the protracted time of lockdowns). This may have nothing to do with study or work. Although ‘burnout’ is not a clearly defined medical condition, it should still be taken seriously as it can lead the way towards deeper mental states. The main effects include:-

  1. Media-induced panic,

  2. Detachment,

  3. Resignation,

  4. Cynicism,

  5. ‘Cabin fever’,

  6. Unbearable exhaustion combined with insomnia.

These factors combine to make it increasingly impossible for the sufferer to feel any sense of accomplishment or take any action to address their newfound state - hence they are rendered helpless in a rapidly altering scenario which is played out around them. I have discovered patients complaining of e.g. poor concentration, sluggishness preventing exercise, and withdrawal to the point of social angst.

Even in cases where sleep is plentiful, they often complain that energy is completely lacking without any incentive. Being forced apart from loved ones after such an extended period of time renders them indifferent and disinterested in any household tasks which may need carrying out. This is way beyond the level of despair demonstrated in the patient needing the remedy - Sepia. Younger and younger people are suffering the consequences of lockdown and pre-existing mental states have been exacerbated to the point of full manifestation.

Some salient symptoms of Picric Acid include:-

‘Worn out persons, mentally and physically’,

‘Heavy, tired feeling’,

‘Degeneration of the spinal cord with paralysis’

‘Mental exertion aggravates’,


‘Lack of willpower’,

‘Cerebral softening’,

‘Dementia with prostration’.

‘Pernicious anaemia’,

‘Fatigue going into actual paralysis’. (5)

Some salient rubrics of Picric Acid include:-

‘Company, aversion to’,

‘Dullness, sluggishness, unable to think long’,

‘Memory, weakness’,


‘Sit, inclination to’,

‘Undertakes, lacks will power to undertake anything’,

‘Work, mental, impossible’. (6)

So, here one sees the remedy - Picric Acid - step up to the podium to match the level of burnout created one year on from the outbreak of the pandemic with notably dire effects on the functioning of the brain structures. By introducing this remedy in these cases when indicated, one can circumvent a decline into Alzheimer’s disease and related syndromes which otherwise could easily ensue - given the level of protracted duress endured by the sufferer during this unprecedented time. It is early days to take an overview of the impact of Covid-19 and the upsurge in Alzheimer’s disease but, as this article illustrates, the writing is on the wall for later epidemics afflicting the functioning of the brain structures.

This suggestion reinforces the concept that with the new paradigm presented by the pandemic, lesser used remedies and deeper-acting ones are now coming out of their wraps. This is because they are starting to emerge with a startling degree of similitude in their suffering to what is increasingly being presented in the homepath’s consulting room and beyond.


  1. Adalian, Elizabeth, Winter, 2010, ‘Sculpting the Software: Targeting Specific Brain Structures’, Homeopathy in Practice.

  2. Adalian, Elizabeth, 2017, ‘Touching Base with Trauma: Reaching Across the Generations - a Three-Dimensional Homeopathic Perspective, Writersworld.

  3. Van der Zee, Harry, 2009, ‘Miasms in Labour’, Homeolinks.

  4. Seen in Heading for Burnout? Williams, C., 2021. New Scientist, Vol 249, Issue 3320, pp34-38.

  5. Murphy, Robin, ND, 2006, ‘Nature’s Materia Medica’, Third Edition, Lotus Health Institute.

  6. Agrawal, M.L., Materia Medica of the Human Mind, 1985, Pankaj Publishers.

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