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There is no herb that cures loneliness and yet anyone who suffers from it may benefit greatly from taking those herbal medicines that we call 'nervines'; a special class of herbs that can help do such things as allay anxiety, lift a low mood, strengthen resistance to stress etc.

Herbs such as Skullcap. Passionflower, Oatstraw, Withania, St John's wort and Ginseng have been used by many millions of people over countless generations for one simple reason, that they are palpably felt to help. These herbs are not mind-altering drugs that stop a person from experiencing their feelings or needing to work through their problems, but they give a sure support that clearly makes a world of difference in a time of need.

Anyone who has come to this page who is struggling with loneliness themselves, or is seeking the help of Nature for someone they care for, will do well to find and use some of these, or other such allies, to help them on their way.

The pages on these and other nervines on this site will give some practical guidance on how to use them safely and effectively but, if there are other issues that need attention or you know that further help is needed, there may also be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to support you, there's some suggestions on how you might go about finding such a person here

Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort)



There are a great many lonely people in the world and this is, clearly and obviously, rapidly increasing. Never before throughout our history have we been more able to instantly connect with more people and never before have so many people felt so disconnected, left-out and alone. Numerous articles and commentaries make the connection between the pervasive nature of social media and the increasing incidence of anxiety and depression. We've always known that the loneliest places in the world are the ones that can be the most crowded. Unless it is within our own community, with people we know and who know us, whenever a person feels surrounded by people but is not really seen or heard by them, they can feel terribly isolated. This phenomenon, which is something that mostly only used to happen when a person left their village, or tribe, and went to a city, is now happening to people from a very young age, exposed to an impersonal, and frequently cynical and judgemental world through their phones and peers.

I'm over 30 years in practice at the time of writing this page and, as a herbalist working with all kinds of people with all kinds of problems, I have met a great many people who are clearly suffering from illnesses that have their roots in their emotional health much more than anything they are doing wrong in their diet or lifestyle.

I note that people will readily talk about stress and fatigue, anxiety and depression, but few people will readily admit to being lonely. The word 'loneliness' is associated with failure. Failure to find a partner, or to have a family, or to be liked enough at work or school etc. The word lonely is mostly used to describe what it is like to have a lasting sadness. No-one wants to think of themselves as 'sad and lonely', we don't want others to pity us, to look down on us. So, we pull the shield of a calm demeanour, or an unaffected air, a little closer and keep our feelings to ourselves.

However, if openly asked about what they think is causing their health problems, people will readily acknowledge the stresses they feel in their relationships at home or work and, as they open up about what is going on, I have often had a growing sense of understanding that the person I am meeting with is very lonely. They feel misunderstood and disconnected. The most common pattern is that they have experienced deep hurts from one or more key people, that they have not resolved these wounds, and that they withhold themselves from intimacy and trust as a result. They may not be alone per se, but they can be very lonely. They may or may not use this word to describe how they feel.

I haven't written these notes to offer a cure for loneliness. I already see that, for the person who wants to find an escape from it, that there are methods of distraction that are now beyond counting, if that is what they want. Anyone who wants to become busy, or busier, will readily find their way.

I am addressing my comments, such as they are, to the person who is ready to be done with all that. The person who is past the point of believing in just keeping busy, or that the answer for how they feel is in a pill, or a pet, or a new hobby, or a new job, or even a new relationship. I am talking here to the person who is ready to acknowledge that they are lonely and hang however bruised their ego may feel about that. That is a true human being, someone who is ready to be honest with themselves and to recognise that if they don't have real love in their lives that it doesn't matter how many friends or 'likes' they have, that they will continue to feel as they do; and that they are lonely.


What can help

There are just two things that I consider tested, tried and true, that I want to offer here. The first is to let Nature help. I started by saying that there is no herb that will cure loneliness. That is the stark fact of the matter, but those 'nervine' herbs are still a thousand times better to use to support and strengthen a person than to take mind-altering and feeling-numbing pharmaceuticals. There is a shift that happens when a person opens up to these ancient allies from Nature. Without any risk of addiction or side-effects, they feel their spirits lift, and their journey forwards becomes that much easier to take. For as long as needed, a week, a month or more, let Nature help and let it be the first step on the way. I think that part is somehow essential.

The second step is to stop seeing the feeling of loneliness as the enemy, as something that needs to be got rid of. Because the fact is that it is there for very good reason. To deny the reality of this is to deny the cause of it, and if you don't address the causes of things then nothing ever really changes.

In other words, the most important internal step that any person with any kind of emotional pain can take is to recognise that they have good reasons to feel the way they do. To stop the endless game of justifications vs, condemnation and to simply accept that this is the way it is, for good reasons.

Once that step of acknowledgement has been taken, it is possible to take the next step, and this is to welcome the feeling of loneliness as a necessary part of our life experience, at least for this moment that we are feeling it. Not to try to plot another escape, another fantasy, but to accept it, boots and all, warts and all.

People always resist this step at first. They even resist it as if their very lives depended on it. Their minds convince them that if they 'give in' to such feelings that they will wallow and drown, that they will never come out of it. All of that is just a lie. The opposite thing happens when we acknowledge and accept our feelings. In fact, we stop being stuck with them, they change, they lift, there is a release.

So, what truly happens when we stop fighting our loneliness and instead make friends with it? I would not say and write this if I had not seen this happen, each and every time a person goes through this process. What happens is that there is a profound shift in the consciousness. Sometimes slowly and gradually, sometimes rapidly and even dramatically. What is consistent is that there is an opening up, a change.

As a person who is completely non-religious, I can honestly say that this most resembles is a kind of spiritual awakening when people go through it. I think that all people can understand an essential truth which is that, no matter how many close people we have in our lives, we are always alone at a deep level. That is the singularity of our life. We are born, a whole of lot things happen in the middle, and then we die. We all instinctively know this, even if we make a lot of stories and have a lot of beliefs to soften the stark reality of it.

I also see that it is the people who are naturally more aware, and questioning, in other words the seekers amongst us, who are the ones who are, by far, the most likely to be ready to acknowledge their innate loneliness. There is a yearning in them that is not able to be met by having endless responsibilities and busy-ness. If they will allow that feeling to exist, not to chase it away, then it will take them straight to their heart. The reason that we feel lonely is that we ache for love. Eventually, if we learn, and grow, and experience enough life, we realise that there is no individual or group of people that can cure that ache, not in any lasting way. That we need to feel a deeper connection than what we are limited to in our human relationships. That we are like drops that thirst to return to the ocean. So, when we stop fighting the loneliness, when we treat it like the true, dark friend that is really is, it can show us the way to the kind of love that we truly need, that which has no limits, no end.

I hope that is enough to have at least introduced my point of view on this important matter. The subject of emotional healing and the dark friends (of which loneliness is just one of four!) is explored in much further depth here

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!




© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd