Insomnia - Herbs for Disturbed Sleep
Herbs and Sleeplessness, Disturbed Sleep and Insomnia
"I take just a capful and it gets me off like a bomb! I have a high-pressure job and I get really stressed and couldn't sleep. Now that's just a bad dream!"
"SleepMore Tonic is fantastic stuff! I was so stressed i couldn't sleep but now I can take just 1 teaspoon a night and it calms me down so that I have a normal night's sleep, and what's even more amazing, I stay calm all day. It's a whole body solution for mebecause it doesnt leave me feeling sleepy and my energy is good on it. Thanks so much!"
Peter. New Milton, Hampshire.
Dear Alan, Just a note to say that the SleepMore tincture is working.
Thank you, Roberta (UK)
What is sleep?
3.5 billion years ago when life began on Earth, light touched the surface of the planet and all that was there. But the Earth was spinning. A whole day lasted 24 hours. There was a period of light under the sun which varied according to where it fell on the planet - fairly fixed at and around the equator, and variable further north or south towards the poles. that is, around 12 hours of light at the equator and less as you move north or south. Likewise the night.
So inbuilt, from the time of the first cellular organisms, circadian rhythms evolved. It is said to have been inbuilt into the cell as a means of protection agains the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun.
All living things have this internal clock (circandian rhythms), now controlled from the pineal gland and the hypothalamus (the SCN area). This hormone (melatonin) 'anticipates' the dark and the light. It is programmed to sleep 8 hours and then wake up. Actually, other primates sleep much longer than humans. Chimps sleep 12-15 hours a night for example. Human have changed this over the last 1-2 thousand years due to the use of fire, candles, gas light, and now electric lights in our homes. But the internal clock from 3 billion years ago will not change. Work nights for example in hospitals or mines causes a kind of jet lag, and possible depression; it's a kind of torture to the body. We long for the normal rhythm of night following day. Sunlight is the keeper of the clock time inside every cell in our body. Electric light is just a dim representative of the sunlight. Getting into the sunlight, or daylight, is a sure reprogramming of the internal clock if you're travelling to Australia, for instance.
The SCN in the hypothalamus in the brain is an area consisting of 50,000 cells. This is the master clock controlling our rhythmic life from day to night to day again. It is our pace maker. The cells in the SCN have a an oscillation which is some 3 billion years in the making. Strangely enough, this same oscillation is found in the cells of plants as well. North of the equator they respond to the seasons and drop their leaves in the winter, evin in very mild temperatures as the 2015 winter in Europe and England. So these rhythms are in all things from plants to people. It is an indogenous action that works irrespective of deprivation, e.g. if plants or people are kept in the dark for long spells the action of these cells remain true to their evolutionary inheritance, and plants open and shut their leaves or petals despite no sunlight.
The eye provides the brightness indicator to the brain. The rods (light - dimness/brightness) and cones (colour) in the eye do the work and communicate to the SCN area. But it has been found that even without the rods and cones (as in totally blind people) the circadian rhythms are maintained.
There are 14 key genes in every cell that control the circadian rhythm of the body. It is veritably a molecular clock. This is the same for all life from flies and ants, butterflies and birds, dogs and cats, to you and me. As also from the humble scullcap herb to the mighty oak.
People living on the equator, Africans in particular, have more fixed clocks of 12 hours on and 12 hours off (sunrise on the equator is 6am and sunset is 6pm). Whereas Eueopeans have developed a more labile clock (it slightly changes with the seasons).
Artifical light, computer screens, TV screens, street lights, our home lights have very little influence on the internal molecular clock. But excercise, food, coffee and other caffeinated herbs and medicines can keep us awake late at night to study. But it has been found that our concentration is usually best when the light just begins in our system (coordinating with the morning sunrise), linking with the best energy of our new day's circadian rhythm. At night the molecular clock's evolutionary time-keeping eventually forces you to to to sleep even though you wish to remain awake.
Depression follows sleep deprivation followed by a kind of mental illness. Work with the sunlight and healing can take place. Insomnia can be helped by the use of specific herbs, known as relaxants, or herbal tranquillizers. For more on these see below.
Light has many other actions in our system but that belongs to another paper!
- Written and researched by Alan Hopking, 2015.
Herbs for sleep
The best herbs from the many traditions of herbal medicine are included for problems of sleeplessness and all forms of sleep disturbance. To deepen and lengthen your sleep, you need SleepMore Tonic. Find out more below.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is too little or poor-quality sleep caused by one or more of the following:
* Trouble falling asleep
* Waking up a lot during the night with trouble returning to sleep - usually due to stress, worry, anxiety, fear, grief
* Waking up too early in the morning
* Having un-refreshing sleep (not feeling well rested), even after sleeping 7 to 8 hours at night
Insomnia can cause problems during the day, such as excessive sleepiness, fatigue, trouble thinking clearly or staying focused, or feeling depressed or irritable. It is not defined by the number of hours you sleep every night. Although the amount of sleep a person needs varies, most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night.
What are the different types of insomnia and what causes them?
Insomnia can be:
* Transient (short term) insomnia lasts from a single night to a few weeks.
* Intermittent (on and off) insomnia is short term, which happens from time to time.
* Chronic (on-going) insomnia occurs at least 3 nights a week over a month or more.
Chronic insomnia is either primary or secondary:
* Primary insomnia is not related to any other health problem.
* Secondary insomnia can be caused by a medical condition (such as cancer, asthma, or arthritis), drugs, stress or a mental health problem (such as depression), or a poor sleep environment (such as too much light or noise, or a bed partner who snores).
Do women suffer from insomnia more than men?
Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. Some research suggests that certain social factors, such as being unemployed or divorced, are related to poor sleep and increase the risk of insomnia in women. Also, insomnia tends to increase with age.
Sometimes perimenopausal (the time leading up to menopause) women have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep; hot flashes and night sweats often can disturb sleep. Pregnancy also can affect how well a woman sleeps.
How is insomnia treated?
If insomnia is caused by a short-term change in the sleep/wake schedule, as with jet lag, your sleep schedule may return to normal on its own.
If your insomnia makes it hard for you to function during the day, talk to your herbal practitioner.
Treatment for chronic insomnia includes:
* Finding and treating any medical conditions or mental health problems.
* Looking for routines or behaviors, like drinking alcohol at night, that may lead to the insomnia or make it worse, and stopping (or reducing) them.
* Possibly using sleeping pills, although controversy surrounds the long-term use of sleeping pills. You should talk to your doctor about the risks and side-effects. We don't recommend sleeping tablets and strongly advise you to get in touch with Herbactive to help you wean off them using SleepMore Tonic.
* Trying one or more methods to improve sleep, such as relaxation therapy, sleep restriction therapy, and reconditioning.
1. Relaxation Therapy. This type of therapy aims to reduce stress and body tension. As a result, your mind is able to stop "racing," the muscles can relax, and restful sleep can occur.
2. Sleep Restriction. Some women suffering from insomnia spend too much time in bed trying to fall asleep. They may be helped by a sleep restriction program under the guidance of their doctor. The goal is to sleep continuously and get out of bed at the desired wake time. This treatment involves, for example, going to bed later or getting up earlier and slowly increasing the amount of time in bed until the person is able to sleep normally throughout the night.
3. Reconditioning. This means using your bed only at bedtime when sleepy or for sex. Avoid other activities in your bed, such as reading or watching TV. Over time, your body will relate bed and bedtime with sleep.
Dear Alan, Thank you for prompt delivery of Sleep more, received yesterday. I slept 6 hrs last night which is unheard of. Thanks again.
Rgds, Marilyn P
What can I do to sleep better?
* Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Do not take naps after 3 p.m.
* Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day or at night.
* Get regular exercise. Exercise during the day--make sure you exercise at least 5 to 6 hours before bedtime.
* Make sure you eat dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
* Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a "white noise" machine to cover up the sounds.
* Follow a routine to help relax and wind down before sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
* If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes or don't feel drowsy, get up and read or do something that is not too active until you feel sleepy. Then try going back to bed.
* If you lay awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before you go to bed.
* Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
Hello Alan, This is a quick note to let you have some feedback on the remedies I recently purchased from you.
First of all thank you for the fast delivery as this meant I was able to start my treatment straight away and take the remedies with me while away on a weeks course.
SleepMore - I have a chronic sleeping problem but find that by taking this before going to bed and during the night helps me to get to sleep.
What herbs are in SleepMore Tonic?
Specific herbs for inducing a state of deep relaxation so as to help you get off to sleep more quickly and have a deeper state of sleep for longer. One of the herbs is Baikal. Amazingly, melatonin (originally thought not to be produced in plants) has been found in high levels in the Chinese Baikal root (7 mcg/g) to help restore normal sleep (the diurnal rhythm), i.e. it improves the function of the pineal gland. Melatonin is very active in the brain; it detoxifies hydroxy radicals, nitric oxide, peroxnitrite anion, peroxynitrous acid and hypochlorous acid. Melatonin is a strong antioxidant and has been found to work synergistically with vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione. Melatonin exerts antioxidative effects at the level of cells, tissues, organs, and organisms. Melatonin is a unique substance and very different from other antioxidants: it repairs other biomolecules and has been found to be four times more potent than vitamins C and E in protecting tissues. Therefore a wonderful herb not only for the purposes of sleep induction! (It is also in Herbactive tonics for inflammation and parasites and immune enhancement.
To find out what the other herbs are included in SleepMore you can email Herbactive.
How to take your SleepMore Tonic
Before you go to bed take one or two teaspoons (5-10ml) of SleepMore in a little warm water. Also put a dose in a little glass of water by the side of your bed to take if you should wake during the night and save you from getting up and disturbing your sleep even more.
Make sure you also take ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder Plus
"For two months I've been taking your SleepMore and I'm thrilled to be able to tell you that your advice to cut down the sleeping pill slowly while taking the herbal medicine has worked; I'm now off the drug which I've been on for nearly 10 years. I feel so much better already. Thank you so much."
Our herbal tonic medicines are carefully prepared on a personal and individual basis for your healing by medical herbalist Alan Hopking MA MNIMH FINEH.
Only whole herbs are used in our herbal medicines. Nothing else is added. If you have symptoms which you consider might be helped with herbal medicine please contact herbal practitioner Alan Hopking for a friendly confidential professional consultation. See terms and fees.
Once you have received your herbal prescription you can contact Alan Hopking at any time for more free advice (preferably by email). When you have completed your bottle of herbal medicine and if you want a repeat prescription you are requested to phone or email so that your progress can be assessed and adjustments made if necessary so that there is no break in your treatment. To order or re-order, click here.
HERBACTIVE Centre of Herbal Medicine, England, UK. Freephone 0800 0834436
General advice to consumers on the use of herbal remedies from the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK
• Remember that herbal remedies are medicines. As with any other medicine they are likely to have an effect on the body and should be used with care. • Herbal remedies may sometimes interact with other medicines. This makes it particularly important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a herbal remedy with other medicines such as prescribed medicines (those provided through your doctor or dentist). • Treat with caution any suggestion that a herbal remedy is '100% safe' or is 'safe because it is natural'. Many plants, trees, fungi and algae can be poisonous to humans. It is worth remembering that many pharmaceuticals have been developed or derived from these sources because of the powerful compounds they contain. Any medicine, including herbal remedies, which have an effect on the body should be used with care. • Treat with caution any herbalist or other person who supplies herbal remedies if they are unwilling or unable to provide written information, in English, listing the ingredients of the herbal remedy they are providing. • If you are due to have a surgical operation you should always remember to tell your doctor about any herbal remedy that you are taking. • Anyone who has previously experienced any liver complaint, or any other serious health complaint is advised not to take any herbal remedy without speaking to their doctor first.
Few conventional medicines have been established as safe to take during pregnancy and it is generally recognised that no medicine should be taken unless the benefit to the mother outweighs any possible risk to the foetus. This rule should also be applied to herbal medicinal products. However, herbal products are often promoted to the public as being “natural” and completely “safe” alternatives to conventional medicines. Some herbal ingredients that specifically should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy. As with conventional medicines, no herbal products should be taken during pregnancy unless the benefit outweighs the potential risk.
Many herbs are traditionally reputed to be abortifacient and for some this reputation can be attributed to their volatile oil component.(6) A number of volatile oils are irritant to the genito-urinary tract if ingested and may induce uterine contractions. Herbs that contain irritant volatile oils include ground ivy, juniper, parsley, pennyroyal, sage, tansy and yarrow. Some of these oils contain the terpenoid constituent, thujone, which is known to be abortifacient. Pennyroyal oil also contains the hepatotoxic terpenoid constituent, pulegone. A case of liver failure in a woman who ingested pennyroyal oil as an abortifacient has been documented.
A stimulant or spasmolytic action on uterine muscle has been documented for some herbal ingredients including blue cohosh, burdock, fenugreek, golden seal, hawthorn, jamaica dogwood, motherwort, nettle, raspberry, and vervain. Herbal Teas Increased awareness of the harmful effects associated with excessive tea and coffee consumption has prompted many individuals to switch to herbal teas. Whilst some herbal teas may offer pleasant alternatives to tea and coffee, some contain pharmacologically active herbal ingredients, which may have unpredictable effects depending on the quantity of tea consumed and strength of the brew. Some herbal teas contain laxative herbal ingredients such as senna, frangula, and cascara. In general stimulant laxative preparations are not recommended during pregnancy and the use of unstandardised laxative preparations is particularly unsuitable. A case of hepatotoxicity in a newborn baby has been documented in which the mother consumed a herbal tea during pregnancy as an expectorant. Following analysis the herbal tea was reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are known to be hepatotoxic.
A drug substance taken by a breast-feeding mother presents a hazard if it is transferred to the breast milk in pharmacologically or toxicologically significant amounts. Limited information is available regarding the safety of conventional medicines taken during breast-feeding. Much less information exists for herbal ingredients, and generally the use of herbal remedies is not recommended during lactation.
Herbal remedies have traditionally been used to treat both adults and children. Herbal remedies may offer a milder alternative to some conventional medicines, although the suitability of a herbal remedy needs to be considered with respect to quality, safety and efficacy. Herbal remedies should be used with caution in children and medical advice should be sought if in doubt. Chamomile is a popular remedy used to treat teething pains in babies. However, chamomile is known to contain allergenic sesquiterpene lactones and should therefore be used with caution. The administration of herbal teas to children needs to be considered carefully and professional advice may be needed.
The need for patients to discontinue herbal medicinal products prior to surgery has recently been proposed. The authors considered eight commonly used herbal medicinal products (echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St John’s Wort, valerian). On the evidence available they concluded that the potential existed for direct pharmacological effects, pharmacodynamic interactions and pharmacokinetic interactions. The need for physicians to have a clear understanding of the herbal medicinal products being used by patients and to take a detailed history was highlighted. The American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) has advised patients to tell their doctor if they are taking herbal products before surgery and has reported that a number of anaesthesiologists have reported significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure in some patients who have been taking herbal medicinal products including St John’s Wort, ginkgo and ginseng. MCA is currently investigating a serious adverse reaction associated with the use of ginkgo prior to surgery. In this case, the patient who was undergoing hip replacement experienced uncontrolled bleeding thought to be related to the use of ginkgo.
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