3 top herbs to help you get to sleep at night Valerian is one of the most common insomnia-fighting herbs. A German study published last July explored the way it affects sleep by investigating its action when combined with caffeine. The study participants took 200 milligrams of caffeine orally, then researchers gave them either a placebo or a combination of valerian and hops (another herbal sleep aid). Every 30 minutes, the researchers took EEG readings for each subject and recorded the results. At the end of the study period, they concluded that the valerian/hop extract medication was capable of reducing or inhibiting the arousal induced by caffeine.1 The preparation also contains St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort’s best-known use is as a natural alternative to prescription antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Like SSRIs, St. John’s wort helps boost serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is one of the primary mood-regulating hormones. But along with the mood-lifting effects brought on by increased serotonin levels also comes increased drowsiness. So this herb is reported to provide a better night’s sleep and an all-round sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being – especially when it’s combined with the other herbal ingredients in Somamax, valerian, and schizandra. In the United States, schizandra is popularly used as a general tonic for decreasing fatigue, enhancing physical performance, and promoting endurance due to its effects and reputation as an adaptogen.2 Adaptogens are just what they sound like: substances that adapt to whatever the body needs help with. Schizandra also does this with sleep. It has been shown to help enhance the sedative effects of drugs, prolong duration of sedative-induced sleep, and is believed to neutralize the stimulating effects of caffeine and other amphetamines. RELAXING LOTION FOR BEDTIME Empty the contents of three (3) 8 oz. bottles of Nutribiotic* Hand and Body lotion into a glass bowl. Add the following pure, essential oils (organic if at all possible), in the amounts stated, to the lotion, mix well, and rebottle. This should all sit for at least one week to let the oils and lotion synergize. OILS AMOUNT PROPERTIES/INDICATIONS Geranium - (pelargonium graveolens) -35 drops pain reliever(facial neuralgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatism.), antibacterial, antifungal (candida), antiinfectious (acne cuts, infectious skin disease), antiinflammatory (arthritis, colitis, rheumatism),antispasmodic (cramp, gastroenteritis, painful menstruation) astringent ( diarrhea, hemorrhoids, varicose veins), decongestant (breast and lymph congestion), digestive stimulant (sluggish liver), antidiabetic (sluggish pancreas, diabetes), hemostatic (stops bleeding- ulcers, uterine hemorrhage, wounds), insect repellant (gnats, mosquitoes), RELAXANT (agitation, anxiety, debility, nervous fatigue) Sandalwood (santalum album) 225drops antiinfectious (pulmonary: chronic bronchitis, colibacillosis; urinary: cystitis, urinary tract infections), astringent (diarrhea), cardiotonic (tired heart, varicose veins, hemorrhoids), decongestant ( pelvic congestion, acne, skin problems), dilator (restricted bronchioles), NERVE RELAXANT (lumbago, neuralgia, sciatica) Clary Sage (salvia sclerea) 105drops antifungal ( dermal fungal conditions), antiinfectious ( genital infections associated with hormone deficiency), antisudorific (hyperhydrosis -excess sweating), decongestant (dysmenorrhea -painful menstruation), hormonal (estrogenic - amenorrhea -no period -pre menopause), NEUROTONIC (epilepsy, nervous fatigue, calming to parasympathetic nervous system), phlebotonic (circulatory problems, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, venous aneurism, cholesterol), regenerative (cellular aging, poor hair growth, alopecia) Cedarwood (cedrus atlantica or 130drops tonic ( glandular system, nervous system, respiratory system), urinary antiseptic juniperus mexicanus) (cystitis, urinary infections), fungicidal (dermatitis, eczema, fungal infections, ulcers), SEDATIVE(anxiety, stress) Mandarin (citrus reticulata) 80drops antispasmodic (stomach cramp, spasm), CALMING ( insomnia, nervous tension, cardiovascular erethism, excitability), eupeptic (indigestion, constipation), stomachic (stomach pains) Bergamot (citrus bergamia) 80drops antibacterial, antiinfectious, antiseptic ( intestinal, gas, colic), antispasmodic (colic, indigestion), antiviral (herpes simplex 1), CALMING (insomnia), SEDATIVE ( agitation), tonic ( digestive system, central nervous system) Melissa (melissa officinalis) 100drops antispasmodic (stomach cramp), antiviral (herpes simplex 1), CALMING (hysteria, palpitations, headaches, vertigo, erethism), choleretic (regularizes secretions (bile, stomach), digestive (indigestion, nausea, morning sickness, sluggish liver), hypotensor (hypertension), SEDATIVE (insomnia, calming to CNS), vasodilator -capillaries (palpitations, angina) Patchouli (pogostemon patchouli) 35drops immunostimulant (low natural defenses), antiinflammatory ( acne, allergies, inflamed skin ), skin rejuvination, apprehension, woody scent USE: At bedtime, massage into soles of both feet and on shoulders. It will obviously remain on the palm of the hands, also. There are many receptors on the soles of the feet and palm of the hands for the many chemical constituents of the essential oils. 10 Ways to Wake Up! for the Sleep-DEPRIVED Among US, Here's How to Snap Out of That Walking Coma -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Back to Healthy News If you are not a tired person, read no further. If you are a tired person, you're not going to like the dreaded phrase coming next: Lifestyle change. Sorry, somebody had to say it. A lifestyle change is the only way you're going to get more sleep. It might be a small lifestyle change (cutting out ``The Late Late Show'') or it might be a big lifestyle change (cutting out the 32-ounce Cokes). But if you count yourself among the 53 percent of Americans who regularly wish for a pillow and dark corner to crawl into during midafternoon, the sleep doctors say you need to do something different. Easier prescribed than done, of course. But the quantity and quality of our sleep affects everything, research shows, from how often we get sick to how much we weigh to how nice we are to other drivers. ``Everybody I know is tired,'' says Angie Shepherd, a Colleyville mother of two. ``We all just walk around in a stupor. It's pitiful.'' There is hope. And today we present it in the form of 10 ways to wake up from that walking coma. Once you've made friends with your pillow again, say the experts, you may view sleep the same way you currently view a double espresso: indispensable. 1. Eight hours or bust. It's fairly obvious to say that most of us are tired because we don't sleep enough. But just how much sleep do we need? The answer varies, but the vast majority of adults require seven to nine hours a night to stay healthy, happy and alert. Surveys by the National Sleep Foundation, or NSF, show that sleep complaints have worsened over the past decade and, as of 2002, Americans averaged 6.9 hours of sleep a night. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed experience symptoms of insomnia (trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep) a few nights a week or more. In reality, a third of Americans ``try to get by on six hours of sleep a night,'' says Dr. Philip Becker, medical director of the Sleep Medicine Institute at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. ``We are currently functioning on adrenaline, and this is going to have potential long-term health effects.'' On adrenaline? Yep. Too little sleep stresses the body and activates the well-known ``fight or flight'' reflex in humans. The adrenal system switches on and puts the major organs into alarm mode: Blood pressure rises, lungs expand, and blood is diverted to the muscles, all in preparation for major physical exertion. ``Which is exactly the way it should be if there's a freight train bearing down on you,'' says former sleep researcher Dr. Suzanne Griffin, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center.``But not the way you want to go through life.'' A chronic lack of sleep means that adrenaline levels remain high, which, in turn, causes further sleep disruption, among other things. Drowsy drivers cause 100,000 accidents per year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (New Jersey just passed the first state law against driving drowsy). Tired workers result in $18 billion in lost productivity for the U.S. economy, according to the NSF's calculations. Solution: Make sleep a priority. For Griffin, sleeping well is part and parcel of a slower, saner lifestyle. ``Perhaps we need to step back and do less and live more and enjoy what we're doing more . . . including enjoying sleeping.'' 2. Deep breaths and bubble baths. Tired bodies are already physically stressed. Add to that the barrage of daily mental stressors: complicated relationships, bad customer service, the specter of terrorism. Mental stress triggers the same biologic ``fight or flight'' response, putting that much more demand on our bodies. It's exhilarating, er, exhausting. Actually, it's both. ``The first 24 hours after \Ra person is\S sleep-deprived, the adrenaline burst may make them a bit more focused,'' Griffin notes. ``But if they continue to be sleep-deprived, all the data tells us they will become less and less effective, less and less productive and their anxiety will go up.'' Which will no doubt keep them up at night. ``I'm a worrier, so I don't get much sleep,'' says Shepherd of Colleyville.'' Shepherd worries about her kids' homework assignments and making sure their gym shorts are washed. She worries, too, about oversleeping. ``I'm lucky to get four or five hours'' a night, she admits. Solution: Take a short break from a stressful environment. Ask for other people's help. Postpone saying yes immediately to every request. These are good suggestions from Diane Sieg, a former emergency-room nurse and author of ``Stop Living Life Like an Emergency: Rescue Strategies for the Overworked and Overwhelmed''. Build some time into your evenings to de-stress, she says. ``Some people can just hit the pillow and turn it off, and those people are blessed. But I have to have a ritual winding-down period.'' Sieg recommends deep breathing, yoga or a warm bath. Ten minutes (or more) of quiet time can do wonders to prepare for a good night's sleep. 3. An apple a day (hold the melted caramel, please). Here's something you haven't heard before: The American diet stinks. It's not just our affection for fast food, super-sized portions and mega ``big burp'' sodas, says Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of ``From Fatigued to Fantastic''. It's also the fact that the processed foods we rely on have been sucked dry of so many nutrients. ``We have a unique situation in this country,'' Teitelbaum says, ``and it's called high-calorie malnutrition.'' With the body running on so little fuel, it's no wonder we're sluggish. And then there are those familiar sugar cravings, triggered by a lack of sleep, Teitelbaum explains. Tired people have, as we know, decreased adrenal function and suppressed immune systems, both of which lead the body to crave sugar. Respondents to the sleep foundation's survey report eating more when they haven't gotten enough sleep. Solution: You don't need us to tell you that Krispy Kremes and curly fries are not doing your body any good. Smaller, more frequent meals five times a day are better than fewer, big meals, says Jon Gordon, a Florida restaurateur and author of ``Become an Energy Addict''. Nuts, fruits, low-fat yogurt - even natural or low-sugar peanut butter - are better snacks than chips and candy. And there's no excuse for skipping breakfast, stresses Gordon (who signs off his phone conversations with ``Go get that energy!''). Hard-boil some eggs and cut up some fruit the night before, he suggests, and grab it on your way out the door. 4. Dread not the treadmill. The last thing most of us want to do when we're tired is exercise. But we inevitably feel more energized and mentally sharper after we do it. That's because exercise increases oxygen consumption and releases hormones that make us happier (i.e. less stressed). There's always been anecdotal evidence that people who exercise regularly sleep better, but only recently have studies proven a significant connection. ``I'm always full of energy,'' says Annette Perez. ``People think I'm a freak.'' But when Perez first appeared at David Dubail's Miami fitness center, she was sleeping so poorly that four workouts per week nearly killed her. Now she's 60 pounds lighter and juggling her own accounting business - on top of working full time for an eye-care center. And she still gets her rest. Perez, the mother of a 17-year-old, will switch off the lights at 8:30 p.m. if she knows she has to fit in a 5 a.m. workout the next day. Another thing to consider: Obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous sleep disorder. Solution: Just do it. ``All you need is a pair of shoes and a place to walk,'' says Gordon. ``If you can't get 20 or 30 minutes in, just do 10.'' Early-morning workouts can jump-start a day for some people. But for individuals with sleep problems, the sleep foundation recommends exercising after noon and at least three hours before bedtime. Less-fit individuals might even want to avoid exercising six hours before bedtime, according to sleep-disorders specialist Dr. Richard Simon. 5. Resist the quick fix. ``I drink a lot of those energy drinks called Red Bull. I pop those like shots'' - Terrence Edwards, 33, Grand Prairie. The sleep/fitness/nutrition professionals are all in agreement about the negative nutritional value of caffeinated drinks and sugary pick-me-ups. In fact, caffeine and sugar are ``loan sharks for energy,'' says Teitelbaum. People tend to feel increased energy in the hour after they have ingested those things, but two to five hours later they tend to feel worse than they did originally. Over-the-counter medications are OK for occasional sleeplessness, says Dr. David Ostransky, medical director of the North Texas Lung and Sleep Clinic. But if the sleep problem has been ongoing ``for more than several weeks,'' he recommends that individuals begin exploring the underlying cause of their poor sleep with a health professional. Solution: You wouldn't need the quick fix if you were getting enough sleep to begin with! Not that it's a solution, but catching up on the weekends can be helpful, says Ostransky. ``You should have a pretty regular sleep-wake cycle that you can abide by most of the time. But we all live our lives,'' Ostransky notes. It would be silly to try and get to bed by 10 p.m. on Saturdays if that's one of the rare evenings that you have to socialize. The most important thing is ``to get the appropriate duration of sleep,'' Ostransky says, and if that means sleeping in on the weekends, or sneaking in a nap, then fine. 6. Quit your job! (OK, just take a vacation day.) Work falls under the stress category, to be sure, but it's also worthy of its own heading when it comes to sleep. That's because Americans work more hours than people in any other industrialized nation. In 2002, Americans averaged 1,978 hours of work annually, compared with 1,942 in 1990. Forty percent of us work more than 50 hours a week. But it may be more stressful, and tiring, to be ``out'' of work in the current economy: Businesses have laid off more than a million workers since November 2001. Solution: There is a movement afoot to slow the frenetic pace of work in America - to cure what author Joe Robinson has called our ``vacation-deficit disorder.'' Robinson, whose ``Work to Live'' book and campaign have touched a national nerve, calls for congressional action to institute a paid-leave law: three weeks vacation after one year on the job and four weeks paid vacation after an employee's third anniversary at work. ``This law would insure that all Americans are protected against the stalling, chilling and canceling of vacation time,'' says Robinson's Web site, ``and it would legitimize time away from task so that people who are on vacation don't have to fear that their jobs are in jeopardy while they're gone or feel guilty that they're not on the job. This way Americans can actually begin to enjoy themselves when they're not working. What a concept!'' For tired people who can afford to cut back their hours or take a less-stressful position, Griffin (who did so herself) encourages it. ``We're trying to cram more into our day,'' she says, ``and I think at the same time we're not really living.'' 7. Slow down the kids. Half of our 10 tired people profiled Wednesday had children. Coincidence? ``In general, when you have children, the total amount of time you have to sleep is markedly less,'' Ostransky says. ``The younger the children, the more impact it does have.'' No offense to the precious kiddos, but you half-pints are wearing your parents out! Infants that wake every few hours, toddlers with nightmares, older children that still like to sleep in mom and dad's bed. Sleeping is hard enough for parents, but then there's also the drain of daytime activities: carpool, homework, debate club, baseball team, birthday parties, sibling squabbles, etc. A Harris Interactive survey found 44 percent of parents saying they wake up earlier than usual to prepare kids for school. Not to deter anyone planning to have kids, of course. But it's stressful and time- (i.e. sleep-) consuming to be a parent. ``When you're dealing with a family and young kids, there's always something to do,'' says Kelvin LaFond, a 42-year-old Fort Worth firefighter and father of two kids, 8 and 10. For Vipha Phimphrachanh, a Haltom City single mother of two, finding time to relax during the day means staying up later than she would if she were childless. ``I work from 8:30 to 5:30, pick up my kids from my grandma's house and help them with their homework,'' she says. ``Then there's, of course, dinner and when I'm done putting them down to bed \Rby 9 p.m.\S I want some time to myself.'' Solution: The answer for David Kirkpatrick, a Colleyville father of four (including 11-year-old triplets), was cutting back on after-school activities. ``Last year I coached my daughter's and sons' soccer teams,'' he says. ``It just went on and on.'' Some experts have recommended no more than seven hours of after-school activities per week. Helping kids wind down in the evening by avoiding computer, television and phone use close to bedtime will probably help parents wind down, too. 8. Unplug your modem. Researchers are curious to know the role our 24-hour, high-tech, multimedia society plays in sleep deprivation. Anecdotally, it would seem like a big one: all-night grocery stores and restaurants; around-the-clock cable television and Internet access; a global economy, notes Becker, that relies on markets 10 time zones away. ``The human is poorly designed to try and work at night,'' Becker says. ``The internal biologic clock, the circadian rhythms, are at their very lowest ebb in the middle of the night. It's not that you're just getting sleepy, your whole body is trying to slow down. ``You're really intended to be in a quiet, dark, comfortable place at that time, so you can get your rest.'' Solution: Ostranksy believes that individuals who are genetically more susceptible to sleep disorders are, indeed, ``more prone to be affected by external influences.'' But there are simple, ``common-sense'' solutions to unplugging from the modern world. ``If you're really having trouble falling asleep at night, you don't need to be answering a lot of e-mails'' right before bedtime and ``watching ``Terminator 3'' at 11 o'clock,'' he says. Other suggestions include removing computers, televisions and other distractions from bedrooms, and making sure the room is sufficiently dark. 9. Call the doctor. There are more than 80 recognized sleep disorders, and tens of millions of Americans will suffer from them in our lifetimes. The most common, insomnia, has 30 potential causes, Ostransky says. People with sleep disorders generally don't get enough deep sleep: the slow-wave sleep that rests the body and/or the rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep that rests the brain. ``And when you get shorted on either of those,'' Ostranksy says, ``you're going to have daytime consequences.'' Mental illness and sleep problems also go hand in hand. And for women, sleep deprivation is almost biologically built-in. A third of women report disturbed sleep during the first few days of their menstrual periods, and sleep problems accompany menopause, too, says Griffin. ``One of the most common triggers for postpartum depression \Rfollowing childbirth)\R is sleep deprivation.'' ``Men have plenty of sleep problems,'' she adds, ``but they don't have those.'' Solution: To diagnose sleep disorders, Ostransky examines patients' sleep history and orders a sleep study, which, from the description, sounds like something out of ``Frankenstein''. The patient arrives at the sleep lab around 8 p.m. He or she is wired, strapped and miced. Tests monitoring brain waves, eye movement and chin-muscle tone tell medical staff which of the five stages of sleep the person is experiencing. A microphone measures snoring, a probe on the finger gauges oxygen levels and bands around the belly and chest note movement. A special device around the nose and mouth measure air intake, especially important for diagnosing sleep apnea, a disorder in which the muscles in the throat collapse during sleep, closing the airways. The test also watches for ``arousals,'' when a person goes from deep sleep to light sleep. ``Arousals have the same consequence on your sleep as awakenings do,'' Ostransky explains. The bottom line is that many sleep disorders are treatable, but finding out what's keeping you awake at night is crucial. 10. Admit your denial. There are people who are simply loathe to say they're tired. For example, it was far more difficult to find men to participate in our 10 Tired People feature that ran Wednesday. One colleague told me (and then quickly ducked for cover) that he thought being tired was a ``woman thing.'' Several women interviewed suggested that men equate being tired with being weak. Whatever the gender lines, there remains a ``general sense that \Rsleeping less\S makes you a more productive person, a more efficient person, a stronger person,'' says Griffin. ``People say, `I don't need that much sleep. I can get by on six \RhoursS,' '' notes Sieg. ``I think they're deluding themselves.'' Griffin concurs. ``Focus on the phrasing,'' she adds. ``They are `getting by.' But also remember that in getting by they are running around with elevated levels of stress hormones, possibly on a more chronic basis, and we do know that there are health effects, not least among them are reduction in immunity. ``Yeah, that's getting by,'' she adds, ``but that's not how I want to go through life. What's so wonderful about getting by?'' Solution: Be honest with yourself about how much sleep you need. Adjust your work schedule, start eating breakfast, or make up your mind, like Griffin did, ``that my house is not going to be the nicest, neatest, prettiest, best-decorated home on the block.'' ----- Smart Publications Health & Wellness Update October 7, 2003 Dear Friends, If you want to sleep better and control your weight, you might want to try 5-HTP. Early evidence shows that this serotonin-enhancing amino acid improves sleep without unpleasant side effects … and that it also suppresses the appetite. In this week's e-mail you'll also learn how safe 5-HTP really is, dosage guidelines, and whether you can take it with other SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, etc.). To our future health, John Morgenthaler Improving Sleep One of tryptophan's primary claims to fame has long been its ability to improve sleep in a natural, non-druggy way, and early evidence indicates that 5-HTP may work just as well.43 In fact, the compounding pharmacies we contacted report that most of the 5-HTP prescriptions they receive are for sleep promotion. The level of serotonin in the brain appears to be an important variable in the sleep equation, although the research has a ways to go before scientists really understand the relationship. A few facts are clear, though. First, decreasing serotonin levels in the brain disrupts normal sleep patterns.44 On the other hand, raising serotonin levels, by taking either tryptophan, 5-HTP, or an SSRI, generally promotes sleep. In its ability to promote sleep naturally, without the drugged feeling and morning hangover often associated with the use of powerful sedative hypnotic drugs like the benzodiazepines or barbiturates, tryptophan and 5-HTP are similar to the hormone melatonin, which is also well-known for its sleep-regulating function. This may not be a coincidence, because some of the serotonin produced in the body is converted directly into melatonin. Animal studies show that taking tryptophan supplements increases the level of circulating melatonin, and there's no reason to believe that the same thing does not happen in humans.45 Thus, at least part of the sleep-inducing effect of serotonin precursors may be due to increased melatonin. While most of the scientific evidence concerning serotonin and sleep induction has involved tryptophan and SSRIs, a few studies, not to mention countless anecdotal reports, indicate that 5-HTP may be just as effective. In one Norwegian experiment in which cats received injections of either 5-HTP or tryptophan, for example, both treatments produced a "general deactivating effect on the waking state." In a French study, administration of 5-HTP to people described as "mildly insomniac" resulted in significant improvement.46 Given the long-acknowledged role of tryptophan for promoting sleep, it is a little surprising that so little quality research has been done on 5-HTP and sleep. Nevertheless, that which has been done, plus many anecdotal accounts, leaves little doubt that 5-HTP can be very helpful for promoting sleep. Because 5-HTP may make you sleepy, it is usually best to take it at bed time, especially if you're taking a high dose (200-300 mg or more). If you find that 5-HTP makes you sleepy, do not take it if you need to drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or do anything else that requires you to be awake and alert. Paradoxically, some people find that taking 5-HTP at bedtime causes insomnia. It is not known why this happens, but it reinforces the idea that individuals need to experiment with the dosages and scheduling to find that which works best for them. See Chapter 11 for more on dosing. Losing Weight According to the British obesity expert, Dr. JE Blundell, among the most effective and safest candidates for drugs that genuinely suppress appetite are those that increase serotonin levels in the brain.47 Not surprisingly, one of the most common uses for SSRIs these days has been to suppress appetite with the goal of losing weight. Laboratory studies uniformly demonstrate a suppression of eating behavior in laboratory animals treated with 5-HTP. Blundell, for example, found that administration of 5-HTP reduced food intake both in free-feeding rats and in hungry rats that had been deprived of food.48 In another study in laboratory rats, 5-HTP reduced food intake by nearly 70%.49 Although much human research still needs to be done with 5-HTP and appetite suppression, it appears that the primary effect of 5-HTP and other serotonin-enhancing agents is to decrease the craving for carbohydrates.50 In one small, but well-controlled trial, 20 obese individuals were randomly assigned to receive either a high dose of 5-HTP (900 mg/day) or placebo.51 The trial lasted 12 weeks. During the first 6 weeks, the subjects ate as they usually did, with no restrictions. During weeks 7 through 12, they were placed on a restricted calorie diet. The researchers reported significant weight loss in the 5-HTP-treated group, but not in the placebo group (Fig. 11). Weight loss, which was associated with reduced carbohydrate intake and early satiety, accelerated dramatically for the 5-HTP-treated subjects during the restricted diet phase of the study, suggesting that 5-HTP helped these people stay on their diets. The effectiveness of 5-HTP in reducing food intake along with its relative lack of serious side effects led the authors to conclude that it may be safely used to treat obesity. How Safe is 5-HTP? When taking any substance that alters the body's neurochemistry, it is always important to proceed with caution, and 5-HTP is no exception. It is almost inevitable that too high a dose will cause adverse effects, and it is possible that some of these could be serious. Having said this, we should point out that 5-HTP is an exceptionally safe nutritional supplement that has rarely, if ever, been associated with serious problems. GI Upset The most common side effects associated with oral 5-HTP are generally related to gastrointestinal upset, including nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and stomach pain. For most people, these tend to be mild and transient. Oral 5-HTP at doses of 100 to 300 mg/day has never been reported to cause significant changes in blood, liver, lung, metabolic, or kidney function.23 As we noted earlier, for example, the Pöldinger et al study, which compared 5-HTP with the SSRI fluvoxamine in people with depression, found that the SSRI-treated subjects experienced significantly more, and more severe, adverse effects than did those treated with 5-HTP. Overall, the authors stated, "5-HTP-induced adverse events worthy of note are rare within the therapeutic dose range.10 5-HTP may sometimes cause GI upset, because serotonin (produced from 5-HTP) is a major neurotransmitter in the gut. It has therefore been suggested that people taking oral 5-HTP should also take a drug like carbidopa (called a peripheral decarboxylase inhibitor, or PDI) that prevents the metabolism of 5-HTP to serotonin in the periphery but not in the brain and spinal cord. As a result, less serotonin is produced in the periphery to upset the GI system, and more 5-HTP is made available in the brain to make more serotonin where it is needed most. In essence, the use of a PDI means that a lower dose of 5-HTP can go a much longer way. Is a PDI really necessary, though? Probably not. 5-HTP has been combined with a PDI in some studies and has been given alone in others. Either way it still raises serotonin levels in the brain, although you may need less 5-HTP when combined with a PDI. A Swiss study of 25 depressed patients found no difference in antidepressant efficacy between those who took 5-HTP alone and those who took it in combination with a PDI. Although the 5-HTP group experienced somewhat more GI side effects, the 5-HTP + PDI group had more psychopathological side effects, such as acute anxiety.52 Thus, one would have to ask, why add another drug (which requires a prescription) to your regimen if you can get the same therapeutic benefit without it? Of course, if you find 5-HTP's GI side effects to be intolerable, you may want to consult with your physician about trying one of these drugs. It has also been suggested that 5-HTP may cause GI upset directly by irritating the stomach lining.53 If so, then another possible means of reducing GI side effects may be to take 5-HTP in the form of enteric coated tablets, which dissolve only in the intestine. This is the form that Pöldinger's group used and which resulted in very few side effects, but they are not readily available in the US. Is Serotonin Syndrome a Concern? Serotonin syndrome is a potentially serious disorder caused by the availability of too much serotonin in the body.54, 55 Symptoms include confusion, fever, shivering, sweating, diarrhea, muscular incoordination, exaggerated reflexes, and violent muscular contractions. Although serotonin syndrome has occasionally caused death, most people make a full recovery, once the causative agents are removed. The drugs most commonly associated with serotonin syndrome are those that block the normal metabolism of serotonin -- the MAO inhibitors, the SSRIs, and the tricyclic antidepressants -- and thus increase its availability at certain serotonin receptors. Serotonin syndrome rarely if ever occurs when these drugs are taken by themselves. Rather, it is combinations, such as an SSRI plus an MAO inhibitor, or one of these drugs plus tryptophan, that most increases the risk of serotonin syndrome. There have been no published reports of serotonin syndrome occurring in someone taking 5-HTP. Nevertheless, there is no reason to think that, given the right combination of drugs and doses, it could not occur. Common sense would dictate, therefore, that 5-HTP be combined with drugs known to affect serotonin metabolism only with the greatest of care and under the supervision of a knowledgeable physician. (See Chapter 11: 5-HTP Dosing Guidelines.) Other Safety Concerns Concern has been raised by some people that 5-HTP might increase the risk of a heart attack by enhancing the tendency of blood platelets to clot or by causing coronary arteries to go into spasm. Although it is unclear what the origin for this theoretical concern is, the facts speak for themselves. There has never been a single published report of 5-HTP causing a heart attack. The risk, if it exists at all, would seem to be extremely small and could probably be counteracted by a sensible nutritional program that includes supplements known to reduce platelet aggregation and coronary vasospasm, including vitamins C and E, calcium, magnesium, fish oil, and low-dose aspirin. Other concerns related to the concomitant use of vitamin B6 and the promotion of heart muscle and valve fibrosis by 5-HTP also seem to have no basis in fact. It is conceivable that these problems could arise if there were excess peripheral serotonin. But, since very little serotonin is produced from 5-HTP outside of the central nervous system, the danger seems remote at best. 5-HTP Dosing Guidelines The dose of 5-HTP that has most often been reported in the scientific literature and prescribed by physicians is 300 mg per day. When taking 5-HTP for depression, anxiety, or fibromyalgia, the general practice in scientific studies has been to take 100 mg three times a day. This dosing regimen may leave some people too sleepy during the day, however. Some physicians have found it best to start their patients out by taking 150 to 200 mg at bedtime. If this is insufficient to provide antidepressant/anti-anxiety relief, they can take additional doses of 33 to 50 mg during the day. The number of these doses should be adjusted to a level that provides adequate relief without causing daytime sedation. If you are taking 5-HTP to enhance sleep, it is probably best to take the entire 300-mg dose at bedtime. The dose used in the best migraine study was 400 mg (100 mg four times per day).34 The dose found to effectively suppress appetite was 900 mg per daily (300 mg three times per day).51 Incidentally, the fact that this very high dose of 5-HTP was used without significant side effects can be taken as an indication of the general safety of this substance. Different individuals may require higher or lower doses than these, but these are good starting points. As with any drug, it is usually better to start with a low dose and increase it gradually. If you find that a lower dose delivers the therapeutic effect you are looking for, then you can stop there. If the 300-mg dose seems inadequate, you can slowly increase it (preferably under your physician's supervision). In any case, always be alert for adverse side effects. If a given dose makes you feel uncomfortable, either physically or mentally, back off the dose and do not go any higher until you consult with a knowledgeable physician. In most cases, lowering the dose will quickly cause the adverse effects to disappear. What About Taking 5-HTP With Prozac or Other Drugs? Although basic dosing of 5-HTP is fairly straightforward, it becomes significantly more complicated if you are currently taking other drugs that affect serotonin levels, such as an SSRI (eg, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, Effexor, Zoloft), a tricyclic antidepressant (eg, Elavil, Tofranil, Pamelor), or St. John's wort. If you are taking one of these drugs and want to switch to 5-HTP, it is recommended that you first consult with your physician, because taking them together can cause a potentially dangerous elevation of serotonin levels. Never attempt to combine 5-HTP with any of these drugs without the help of a physician. It is usually necessary to gradually lower the dose of your SSRI (or other drug) as you gradually increase the dose of 5-HTP. Since each individual is likely to react differently to a given combination of doses, your physician will probably want to monitor your responses to these drug combinations very closely. If you experience any symptoms of serotonin overload, such as confusion, fever, shivering, sweating, diarrhea, muscular incoordination, exaggerated reflexes, or violent muscular contractions, the dose of one or both agents can be easily and safely adjusted until the symptoms disappear. Eventually, the SSRI can be completely eliminated. Insomnia -- Homeopathic Remedies Sleep is an opportunity for the brain and body to rest and be restored. In addition, many functions important to good health take place during sleep at night. The amount of sleep that people need can vary widely. Infants may need up to twenty hours; many children need from ten to fourteen per night. The average requirement for adults is estimated at six to eight hours, but many people need much more than that-feeling chronically stressed and compromised, both physically and mentally, because of insufficient sleep. Homeopathic remedies are useful during episodes of insomnia, and may also help individuals with longer-standing sleep disorders. If problems are serious or very distressing, consult a professional homeopath. For dosage information, please read the information at the end of this section. See also “Using Homeopathy With Professional Guidance” in What Is Homeopathy? Homeopathic Options Aconitum apellus This remedy can be helpful if a person panics with insomnia. Fear and agitation come on suddenly when the person is drifting off to sleep, or may even wake a sleeping person up. Arsenicum album People who need this remedy are often anxious and compulsive about small details, and have trouble sleeping if they feel that everything is not in place. They are often deeply weary and exhausted, yet feel restless physically and mentally. Sleep, when it arrives, can be anxious and disturbed, with dreams full of fear and insecurity. Calcarea phosphorica This remedy is often helpful to children with growing pains, and also to adults who have aching in the joints and bones, or neck and shoulder tension that make it hard to fall asleep. The person lies awake for many hours, feeling upset and irritable-then has trouble waking in the morning, feeling deeply tired and weak. Cocculus This remedy is often helpful to those who feel "too tired to sleep" after long-term sleep loss-from getting up with an infant, taking care of someone who is ill, a disruptive work schedule, travel and jet lag, or chronic worry and insomnia. The person may feel weak and dizzy, with trouble thinking, and may be sleepy, irritable, or tearful. Coffea cruda Mental excitement and nervous stimulation that keep a person from sleeping suggest a need for remedy. Thoughts preventing sleep can be happy or distressing. The person may be looking forward to something that will happen in the morning, but feels stressed and exhausted as the night wears on. If the person falls asleep, it is usually very light with vivid dreams, and disturbed by any little noise or motion. (This remedy can also help if overuse of caffeine is the cause of sleeplessness.) Ignatia If insomnia is caused by emotional upset (grief or loss, a disappointment in love, a shock, or even an argument) this remedy may be helpful. The person is sensitive and nervous, and may often sigh and yawn in the daytime, but find it hard to relax at night. As the person tries to fall asleep, the arms and legs may twitch or itch. If sleep arrives, it is usually light, with jerking of the legs and arms, or long and troubling nightmares. Kali phosphoricum A person with insomnia from nervous exhaustion caused by overwork or mental strain, or following a taxing illness, may respond to this remedy. The person is very weak and sensitive to everything (noise, lights, touch, and pain). Irritability, depression, and anxiety with an empty feeling in the stomach are often seen. Lycopodium People who need this remedy often have no memory of dreams and often doubt that they have slept at all. Insomnia may set in primarily because of worry: lack of confidence can make them doubt their own abilities, although they are usually very capable. Insomnia caused by digestive trouble, especially gas, can also indicate a need for this remedy. The person feels drowsy after meals, but has trouble sleeping at bedtime. Ravenous hunger in the night that wakes a person up is another indication for Lycopodium. Nux vomica People who have insomnia after over-indulgence in stimulants, food, and drink-or after overexertion, either physically or mentally-may benefit from this remedy. They may be able to drift off, but sleep is light, and they often awaken in the early morning (typically three a.m.) and lie awake for hours. On getting up, they are tense, impatient, and irritable, with a feeling that they sorely need more sleep. Silicea (also called Silica) This is a useful remedy for nervous people with low stamina who get too tired, then have insomnia. The person often goes to sleep at first, but awakens suddenly with a hot or surging feeling in the head-and finds it hard to fall asleep again. People who need this remedy usually have anxious dreams, and some (especially children) sleepwalk frequently. Sulphur This remedy may be helpful if insomnia comes from itching-or an increasing feeling of heat in bed, especially in the feet. The person is irritable and anxious, and often feels a need to throw the covers off. Lying awake between two and five a.m. is typical. Insomnia that develops because of a lack of exercise may also be helped with Sulphur. Zincum metallicum People who need this remedy often have insomnia from mental activity. They can get wound up from overwork-or be naturally inclined toward nervousness and just have trouble relaxing. Their legs and arms often feel extremely restless, and lying still in bed may be impossible. Even during the daytime, a person who needs this remedy may feel a constant need to move the muscles. Dosage Homeopathy Dosage Directions Select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms. In conditions where self-treatment is appropriate, unless otherwise directed by a physician, a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C) should be used. In addition, instructions for use are usually printed on the label. Many homeopathic physicians suggest that remedies be used as follows: Take one dose and wait for a response. If improvement is seen, continue to wait and let the remedy work. If improvement lags significantly or has clearly stopped, another dose may be taken. The frequency of dosage varies with the condition and the individual. Sometimes a dose may be required several times an hour; other times a dose may be indicated several times a day; and in some situations, one dose per day (or less) can be sufficient. If no response is seen within a reasonable amount of time, select a different remedy. For starters, here is a handy list which could be called the "Ten Commandments for Sleepers:" 1. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. 2. Make sure your sleep environment is as comfortable as possible. 3. Keep your bedroom as dark and as quiet as possible. 4. Avoid caffeine -- in coffee, tea and soft drinks -- in the evening. 5. Don't drink alcohol or smoke before going to bed. 6. Get some exercise every day -- but not in the late evening. 7. Don't nap in the daytime. 8. Develop a sleep ritual -- a nightly routine that eases you down from the day's activity. 9. Use your bedroom for sleeping instead of working, worrying or watching television. 10. If you can't sleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing, like reading, deep breathing or yoga. A recent onset of insomnia is usually related to a current problem such as health concerns, marital troubles, dilemmas at work, etc., and as such usually last less than three weeks. If no such mental/emotional reason can be uncovered, then physical causes should be investigated. It is important to "rule out" obvious causes of insomnia such as anemia, hypertension (high blood pressure) or prescription drugs. Insomnia that does not respond to simple measures is often due to an emotional upset, especially depression. The results of prolonged insomnia can be very discomforting: chronic fatigue; anxiety about sleeping; lack of concentration, etc. The conventional treatment is sedative hypnotics if over-the-counter (OTC) drugs fail to help. Can I Use Physical Medicine to Treat insomnia? If there is any panacea (cure-all) in medicine it must be a clean diet and regular aerobic exercise that makes you happy. Treating insomnia is no different. Regular aerobic exercise that you enjoy is crucial to getting a good night's sleep, every night, without fail. Find an exercise buddy in your neighborhood and make a pact to exercise together 3 or 4 times weekly, doing something you both enjoy like briskly walking for an hour, playing tennis, joining a water aerobics class, whatever. Just do it! You can also make a habit of taking a NEUTRAL temperature bath before bed. This is about body temperature. Both cool and hot baths are too stimulating to both nervous and vascular systems to be of use in insomnia before bed. Some people find it helpful to use a cupful of 3% hydrogen peroxide in the neutral bath water. You can also give yourself a deep foot massage, especially concentrating on the soles of the feet, while in the bath, or just before turning out the light. What about Botanical Medicine to help with sleep? Herbal medicine has a long tradition of being able to induce peaceful sleep. A word of caution, however. Many of the botanicals listed below affect the central nervous system, and must be taken with the supervision of a qualified herbalist or naturopathic physician. Please consult with one of these health care professionals to determine the correct dose and form of the potential toxic herbs. * Anenome pulsatilla (Wind, or Pasque, flower -- can be toxic) * Avena sativa (Oat straw). Yes, this is the familiar kitchen item frequently eaten as oatmeal. In fact, oats are one of the most universally used medicinal foods to soothe the nerves. You may want to eat your oats in the evening instead of breakfast, but not too close to bedtime, to ensure a restful sleep. No food should be taken closer than 2 hours to bedtime to make sure your digestive workings don't keep you awake. Oats may be used as a soothing bath: put a handful in an old sock and let the bath water run through the sock so the bath water becomes slightly slimy. Bathe in this gentle brew to allow the mildly sedative qualities to seep in through your skin. You could also take oats in a tincture form, using frequent doses at short intervals beginning after dinner. * Matricaria recucita (German chamomile, or any chamomile species) for sleep disturbed by anxiety or irritability. This herb is especially good for children. Take note: if you are using the chamomile in a tea (infusion) form, don't let it steep more than 3-5 minutes. A strong chamomile tea can actually be mildly stimulating. * Gelsemium sempervirens (Yellow Jasmine, can be toxic) * Humulus lupulus: (Hops, a popular flavoring for beer) can allay irritation or anxiety, thus promoting sleep. This doesn't necessarily endorse beer drinking! A better approach would be to rest your head at night on a pillow filled with dried hops leaves. * Hyoscyamus niger (Henbane, may be toxic) works well for insomnia due to irritability, unrest, fright, or terror. This herb has the power to subdue excitement and induce sleep, especially in sleeplessness due to pain. Great for both the aged and infants. * Lavendula officinalis (Lavender flowers) works primarily through the sense of smell. It is extremely soothing to simply sniff a small opened bottle of the volatile oil made from these redolent blossoms. Many health food stores will carry some brand of Lavender oil. Keep it next to your bed or add a few drops to the bath water before retiring. * Leonurus cardiaca (Motherwort) is particularly useful for lack of sleep due to heart problems, including a "broken heart." This herb is known traditionally to "gladden the heart." * Melissa officinalis: (Lemon Balm). This tasty plant can soothe a nervous heart or a nervous stomach and therefore aid in insomnia which presents as difficulty falling asleep. * Nepeta cataria (Catnip). It works for humans too! * Passiflora incarnata: (Passion flower) is a relaxing nervine, indicated for sleep disturbed from mental worries or anxiety, and for geriatric cases where the insomnia is due to fear. * Piscidia erythrina (Jamaican dogwood, can be toxic in somewhat high doses). This plant was originally used to mildly "stun" fish in a pond to make them easier to catch. It is great as a gentle pain reliever and for general nervousness. * Scutellaria lateriflora: (Skullcap) is another sweet tasting herb to help alleviate nightmares or restless sleep. Combines well with Passiflora incarnata. * Valeriana spp. (Valerian) has an active ingredient from which the medication Valium was first derived. It can both relax and stimulate the central nervous system. Don't use this botanical for more than 3 weeks at a time. It combines well with Hops. A lovely mixture for a herbal night pillow is Oregano, Thyme, Lavender flowers, Valerian root and Hops leaves. If there is an herbalist near you can ask them to make this up for you, or ask your doctor for a referral to an herbal supply company. A mugwort leaf pillow is said to make for happy dreams. Another great way to take sleep-inducing plants is in the form of a cup of tea before bed. An excellent sedative tea contains a mixture of Valerian root, Lemon Balm leaves, Hops leaves in equal part. Use 1-2 tsp. to 1 cup boiling water. Infuse at least 15 minutes and drink 1 cup before retiring. Use regularly over a period of time. Another sedative tea formula contains: Angelica root, 20 g. Rosemary leaf, 10 g. Lemon balm leaf, 30 g. Lavender flower, 10 g. Hops leaves, 20 g. Yarrow flowers, 10 g. 1-2 tsp. to 1 cup boiling water. Infuse. Drink 1-2 cups before going to bed. Use regularly over a period of time. Can my diet effect getting a good night's sleep? It certainly can. There is one amino acid (from protein breakdown) that is a potent biochemical inducer of serotonin, the major sleep neurohormone. This amino acid is Tryptophan. Tryptophan is high in turkey meat, eggs, fish, dairy products, bananas, pineapples, whole wheat toast and walnuts. If you decide to supplement with Tryptophan: make sure to also take the cofactors which will facilitate the conversion to serotonin. These are Vitamins B3, B6, and C. Other therapeutic food suggestions include: * increase foods high in Vitamin C (all tart fruits, dark leafy greens and red peppers) and Vitamin B-complex such as Brewer's yeast. * Traditional Chinese Medicine food recommendations for deeper sleep include chicken, duck, oysters, celery, sesame seeds, and walnuts. If you are inclined to make fresh juices, the following combinations are said to help induce deeper sleep: * lettuce and celery * carrot and spinach * carrot and celery Naturally, there are food to avoid because they are stimulants. This is especially true in the afternoon and evening. These foods are: · meat, alcohol, hot sauces, spicy foods, fried foods, fatty foods, rich foods, salty foods, coffee, caffeine, sweet foods and sugar. Sometimes food alone is not enough to get out of your restless sleep cycle. The following supplements have been shown to be effective in treating insomnia, but please consult with a qualified healthcare professional before experimenting. * myo-inositol (a high quality fat, usually derived from soy bean) 500 mg daily * niacinamide (buffered Vitamin B3) 1000 mg at bedtime (if you can fall asleep readily but cannot return to sleep after waking) * L-Tryptophan 1-4 g 30-45 minutes before bedtime with carbohydrates, no protein * Calcium 500 mg before bedtime * Avoid B-complex after 5 PM, especially B6 which is known to cause prolific dreaming * Vitamin B12 injected intra-muscularly (IM) 2 cc weekly until your deep sleep is restored. This can be administered at home, but get your doctor to show you or your spouse the correct injection technique. How can Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) help with insomnia? Insomnia is not really a "disease" but a symptom of in imbalance in your physical, mental or emotional body. The TCM approach is to find your constitutional diagnosis, by looking at your tongue, feeling your pulses, asking lots of questions then determining where the vital force (Qi) has become stagnant. Insomnia can be due to a very large number of imbalances, one of the most common being "Disharmony between the Heart and the Kidneys." The Heart, in Chinese medicine, is not only a cardiovascular pump, but the "house" of the "Spirit." The Kidneys are the producers of Yin and Yang, as well as controlling the production of blood, hormones and brain tissue. Based on your TCM diagnosis, the acupuncturist or Oriental Medical doctor may wish to prescribe an herbal or patent medicine formulation to help you sleep better. The following incomplete list will give you an idea of what there is to chose from: * Corydalis Yanhusus Analgesic Tablets (patent) for insomnia due to pain * Ginseng and Longan C. (Gui Pi Tang) (available as patent) * Bai Zi Yang Xin Wan (patent) for Heart Blood Deficiency with Spleen Qi Deficiency) for poor appetite and memory, pale face, anemia * Miao Xiang San, a patent combination, for Heart Qi Deficiency with symptoms of forgetfulness, spontaneous sweating, anxiety, restlessness * Ginseng and Zizyphus F. (Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan) * An Mian Pian (patent): Heart Yin Xu (Deficiency) for exhaustion due to excessive mental work; tossing and turning; also for patients on tranquilizers or sleeping pills for so long that they no longer have an effect * Coptis and Gelatin C. plus cinnamon bark (rou gui) (Huang Lian E Jiao Tang): Kidney and Heart Not Communicating: strong patient, so irritable they cannot even lie down in bed, dizziness, tinnitus * Baked Licorice C. (Zhi Gan Cao Tang) minus linum (huo ma ren) plus zizyphus (suan zao ren) for Qi Deficiency with Blood Deficiency for slow, irregular or thin pulse, palpitations, shortness of breath, emaciation, dry mouth and throat, pale shiny tongue * Licorice and Jujube C. (Gan Mai Da Zao Tang) for "Shen" (Spirit) Disturbance, which presents as absentmindedness, moodiness, crying spells, restless sleep * Ci Zhu Wan (patent): Kidney and Heart not Communicating. * Bupleurum and Peony F. (Jia Wei Xiao Yao San) for Liver Qi Stagnation with Yin Deficiency, particularly with menopausal or menstrual difficulties. "Yin" is the fluid, feminine, dark, deep form of our vital force while "Yang" is the solid, masculine, light, surface aspect. * Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang a classic formulation for Blood Stagnation which shows up as insomnia with depression, extreme anger, headache, poor memory, chest or abdominal pain, purple tongue (the classic sign of blood stagnation). * Zizyphus C. (Suan Zao Ren Tang) for Liver Blood Deficiency with Liver Yang Rising: insomnia caused by deficiency and overwork, indecision, many dreams, dry mouth and throat, night sweats; also with chronic illness * Gardenia and Soja C. (Zhi Zi Dou Chi Tang) a patent medicine for insomnia with tossing and turning in bed and very restless sleep thereafter, irritability, slightly rapid pulse and slightly yellow tongue coat. Another important part of TCM is using ultra-fine needles to tap into, and stimulate to optimal circulation, the Qi, or vital force, which runs throughout the meridians. Based on your diagnosis, the acupuncturist will decide on several acupoints, which should help your sleep after 3 to 10 treatments. After the course of treatment, you may need an acupuncture "tune-up" from time to time. Below are given a brief list of the locations of some of the pertinent points. * Governing Vessel-20 is located right on the top of the head and is a great release point for excess heat, anger, frustration or nervousness that "rises" and builds up in the head. Needling this point can calm the nerves, relieve headaches and stabilize the willpower. * an mian is an extra point which means "sweet sleep," located at the top of the neck just behind the ears. It functions to calm the Spirit (Shen) to enable restful sleep. * yi ming (-): calms the Shen to enable restful sleep * Bladder-38 is above the back of the knee and is known as the "Happy point" because it strengthens Deficiency conditions, tonifies the Heart function and releases unresolved emotions. * Bladder-15 is located about an inch lateral to the spine on the back at the level of the heart and works to clear the Brain, calm the Heart and the Shen (Spirit), relieve palpitations, regulate the Xue (Blood) and Qi and relax the chest. * Bladder-23 is also about an inch away from the spine, at about waist level. It the major point on the back regulating the Kidney function. Since insomnia, in TCM, is primarily due to imbalance between the Heart and Kidneys, both these organs must be properly treated to relieve your restless sleeping. * yin tang is a famous extra point right between the eyebrows. It is famous for its calming effect on the entire system, probably because it stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, thereby promoting relaxation. * Heart-7 is located near the inner wrist and is specific for insomnia due to fear or an internal organ problem. * Spleen-2, located at the inner aspect of the base of the big toe is said to be the patient who "cannot lie still in bed." * Stomach-45, on the top of the foot, between the second and third toes, pacifies the Shen (Spirit) and facilitates flow of Qi. * Liver-3 is between the big and second toes on the front of the foot and also pacifies the Shen, relieves anger and mellows spirits of those who are frustrated and jealous. * Kidney-6, near the inner ankles is yet another point to pacify the Shen and also stabilizes the Will, nourishes the Heart, balances excess or deficiency of any hormonal secretion, and sedates pain. Can Homeopathy help me get a good night sleep regularly? Yes it can, but like TCM the prescriptions are made based on your constitution, and not on the disease, or in the case of insomnia, the symptom alone. Therefore it is advisable to consult a skilled homeopath before using these remedies. Some of the more common ones used in insomnia, with their peculiar indications, are as follows: * Aconitum napellus for sleeplessness after midnight with anxiety and nervous fear; restlessness; skin hot and dry; increased thirst for cold water. * Arsenicum album also for sleeplessness after midnight; nervous exhaustion; restlessness and prostration; due to nausea and gastric troubles; fear of death or of being left alone; thirst for small sips. * Belladonna is the remedy for sleeplessness of nervous excitement; flushed face; starting on first falling to sleep; sleep interrupted by talking, startings, muscular jerkings and spasmodic motions; head hot and throbbing; worse from noise and light. * Calcarea carbonica is for the workaholic insomniac, troubled by phantoms; by frightful images which appear as soon as the eyes are shut. * Chamomilla works well in children for insomnia due to irritability; for complaints of bowels and flatulence; sleeplessness due to pain; teething in children; the child wants to be carried. * Cinchona is well known as a malaria remedy and is also useful for sleeplessness from exhausting diseases; the mind indulges in castle building; there may be a pressure-type pain in the head; this insomniac will start with fright as they begin to fall asleep. * Coffea, a remedy derived from coffee, treats sleeplessness due to exciting, agreeable causes; this person cannot switch off their mind; all the senses are more acute; the insomnia is especially pronounced during convalescence from acute diseases. * Hyoscyamus is for sleeplessness from nervous excitement with bewildering ideas and images; the patient complains of tossing about the bed. * Ignatia, made from the strychnine nut, treats sleeplessness from grief, fright or suppressed mental suffering; for women with sleepless "hysteria." * Lachesis, from snake venon, is for excessive mental exertion which prohibits sleep; particularly at menopause when there are frequent hot flushes and a felling of heat at the top of the head. * Nux vomica, an addiction remedy, is for poor sleep from a "crowd of ideas"; night-watching; when late-night reading or singing is followed by wakefulness; this patient awakes from anxiety and frightful dreams; insomnia comes after the use of drugs, strong coffee, and/or tobacco. * Pulsatillais given to the insomniac who is wakeful until early morning, then falls sound asleep but wakes unrefreshed. The symptoms are worse at menstruation; this remedy if for mild, timid women who suffer from indigestion and feel better in a cool breeze. * Rhus toxicodendron, made from the Poison Ivy plant, is for the patient who is extremely restless with general soreness; is worse getting wet, better from heat, and has "exercise dreams" of walking, running or climbing. * Sulphur is a remedy for the "hot, rumpled philosopher" who's mind is cluttered with arithmatic figures; sleeps for short periods of time only, or wakes frequently, or sleeps all day and is sleepless at night. What about Subtle Energy techniques to help me sleep? Check the Introduction to Modalities essay to learn more about some of the Subtle Energy techniques in more detail. Flower essences are similar to homeopathic remedies in preparation, but work primarily on a mental/emotional level. Some of the flower essences used most frequently for insomnia are: * agrimony * rock water * beech * oak * olive * pine * sweet chestnut * cherry plum * water violet * impatiens * willow * centaury * elm * heather * honeysuckle * chamomile * chaparrel * white chestnut * red chestnut * mimulus * dill * lavender * Saint John's wort Others have found relief from the use of color therapy, either by wearing clothing of certain colors, or using plastic gels over light sources at home or work. Here are some ideas for applying this simple, deeply effective technique: * violet acts as a tranquilizer when directed towards the face * purple raises the threshold of pain and is soporific when applied on the face, throat and chest if your pulse fast or throbbing * blue on the forehead and temples for 5 minutes before bed * orange on abdomen * green or magenta * indigo, blue, green and orange Yet another method is the use of precious or semi-precious gems to subtly balance the disharmony which may be causing your sleeplessness. Try the following, either by wearing jewelry made with these elements, or placing them in significant places in your home or bedroom: * Pearl * Moonstone * Ruby, Coral, Topaz, Cat's Eye combination Should I consider Guided Imagery or Meditation for my insomnia? Sleep is the time to rest the body, mind and spirit. During sleep the autonomic ("automatic") portion of the nervous system kicks in, our brain waves slow way down, we are temporarily relieved from the struggle against gravity, and the vital organs, including the brain, perform detailed and minute repairs throughout the night. Psychological techniques may well be the KEY to restoring your restorative night's sleep, without which life can quickly become miserable. Consider the following ideas, and if any of them rings true for you, pursue the thought further. * Inability to forget the day may be due to guilt. * Fear of death, since sleep can be equated to death. * Depression can be a major cause of insomnia. * Habit-bound insomnia. * Fear. Not trusting the process of life. Guilt. * Insomniacs are afraid of the night, of passivity. Transitoriness and death are important issues for them. They are lacking in native trust and the capacity for self surrender, and are usually identified with their active pole, the 'doer'. Now consider the following ideas for modifying your behavior before and around bedtime: * Bed should be used for sleeping, and not for other activities such as reading, watching TV, or eating. The bed should be behaviorally associated with sleeping. * Meditation, breath concentration, mantra recitation, counting sheep; all these methods are monotonously boring to the left side of the brain and allow it to let go of its dominance. A very important technique for aiding sleep is called progressive relaxation. This is where, when lying comfortably in mind, you systematically focus on, and consciously relax, each part of your body starting with your toes, moving up through the ankles, calves, knees, etc all the way up the the head. Don't forget to visualize the inner organs relaxing when you're at the belly. And don't forget the eyes, ears and brain. Feel the tissues softening, becoming warm and heavy, and compliant to the idea of deep relaxation. You should be feeling somewhat sleepy just reading this! Other folks may get more sustained benefit from creating soothing "pictures" in their minds, such as the classic sheep-counting exercise, or imagining yourself drifting down a stream. And you can also talk to yourself, looking gently in the mirror, or writing up a mini-pep talk and posting it in the bedroom. An example from Louise Hay, the affirmation "queen" is: · I lovingly release the day and slip into a peaceful sleep, knowing tomorrow will take care of itself. Another psychological technique that may help insomnia is hypnotherapy. This is a light trance state, self-induced or facilitated by a therapist, which allows you to backtrack in your history to the time before you had problems sleeping. When a series of memories is recalled through this method, you can get to the forgotten traumatic source of a personality problem that had previously been in your unconscious mind. This gives your body to physiologically recreate the hormone-encoded source of a problem that can now be accessed and reframed therapeutically. he three ways sleep apnoea leaves you breathless There are three types of sleep apnoea. The most common is 'obstructive apnoea', which is linked to obesity. Fat in and around the windpipe (along with a relaxed tongue that falls to the back of the mouth) narrows the airway as you rest, obstructing your breathing and causing snoring. Another type is called 'central apnoea', which is prevalent among people suffering from congestive heart failure. This form of apnoea doesn't always cause snoring and sufferers are not necessarily overweight either. In this form, your airway isn't blocked, rather your brain fails to signal to your muscles to breathe. The third form of the condition is 'mixed sleep apnoea' - a combination of both obstructive and central. No matter what type of apnoea you're suffering from, heart disease remains a high risk, as a result of oxygen deprivation. For the same reason, your risk of developing high blood pressure and stroke also increases. The word apnoea literally means "without breath", and throughout the night sufferers actually stop breathing - for up to two minutes at a time in some cases. During each of these episodes, blood-oxygen levels plummet, which causes the heart and brain to become starved of air. This deprivation triggers a surge of adrenaline, which awakens the sufferer with a breath-startling jolt - signalled by the typical loud snort. For daily reports on the very latest health breakthroughs, join our FREE daily email service: Sufferers can wake up with a start like this as many as 200 times each night, although they don't always remember doing so in the morning. Even if this is the case, sufferers know something is wrong by the fact that they're constantly tired, which can cause concentration and memory problems, as well as irritability and depression. How to prevent snoring and improve the quality of your sleep The first step to preventing apnoea from disrupting your sleep is to lose any excess weight. Following a low-carbohydrate diet can help you achieve this. Plus, quit smoking or drinking - especially in the evening - as they can cause or aggravate the condition. Alcohol relaxes all the muscles in your throat that vibrate, which can soon lead to snoring once you've nodded off. Smoking causes swelling and inflammation of the throat tissues, making them more likely to vibrate and, again, result in snoring. Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) is another cause of sleep apnoea. Taking dry extracts of the thyroid gland in supplement form can completely eliminate night-time breathing disruptions and associated problems - including fatigue, weight gain, personality changes and cognitive problems (symptoms shared by both apnoea and hypothyroidism). Extracts are taken from the thyroid glands of animals (usually the thyroid glands of pigs are used). And, unlike synthetic variants, these extracts are almost identical to human thyroid hormones. It is important to take a high-quality product that guarantees standardised extracts. Armour Dessicated Thyroid and other forms of dry thyroid powder such as Thyroplex are available on prescription. Could a hormonal imbalance be to blame for your symptoms? Apnoea is far less common among women than men, a fact that some research has attributed to hormonal differences - especially the presence (or lack) of the female hormone progesterone, which promotes respiration. Several small studies suggest that giving men progesterone supplements can help. Most of these studies involve overweight people, most of them men, who took about 50mg of progesterone a day for at least a week (American Review of Respiratory Disease, vol.139, pp.1198-1206, 1989). All found that the hormone improved breathing and relieved symptoms of apnoea. The breathing disorder can also develop when a higher-than-normal testosterone level upsets the body's natural balance between male and female hormones (Epidemiologic Reviews, vol.16, no.2, pp.210-227, 1994). Hormonal needs differ from person to person, so it's important to get a blood test carried out to measure your levels. If a hormonal imbalance is found to exist, you would need to speak to your doctor about the possibility of supplements and the correct dosage for your individual needs. Your doctor may also recommend that you use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which can be extremely beneficial. This instrument is a small fan that pumps a continuous stream of air through a hose to a nasal mask, which you wear while you're asleep. This can help prevent apnoea episodes and snoring Germanium: Is A Mineral Deficiency To Blame For Your Sleepless Nights And Lack Of Energy? Date: 01/09/02 Keywords: Minerals, Your body contains several 'trace minerals'which, despite being present in minute quantities as their name suggests, are indispensable not only for good health but also for your very existence. Your body contains several 'trace minerals'which, despite being present in minute quantities as their name suggests, are indispensable not only for good health but also for your very existence. A deficiency in any of these minerals can cause a wide range of symptoms, which would greatly compromise your overall well-being, such as fatigue, loss of energy, insomnia and an increased susceptibility to various infections. One of the most important of these trace minerals is germanium. A mineral which is not only found in your body but is also present in ginseng, aloe vera, comfrey, and many foods - including garlic, shiitake mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, tuna and oysters. One of the main functions of germanium is to increase the use of oxygen by your body's tissues, which stimulates your cells to produce energy (Zhonguan Yu Fang 1994,28(6):372-374). This makes it an important immune system booster, protecting against debilitating immunological diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (inflammation of the skin, kidneys and liver). It has also produced some truly remarkable results in the treatment of cancer. Once again, the medical profession jumped to conclusions and got it wrong You may be wondering, considering the important functions germanium carries out in your body, why you haven't heard of it before now. This is mainly to do with the bad press germanium received several years ago, regarding reports of toxicity and liver damage following its use. Yet what was not made clear, was that these reports came from people who were irresponsibly given doses that were 20 times the recommended dose for a period of three years without a break - which, in effect, caused them to experience serious overdoses. Any substance when taken in excessive amounts can be dangerous and cause severe health complications - even water can be fatal if this theory is taken to the extreme, even though, as we know, water is also essential to our health if drunk in moderation. Fortunately, the original reports have finally been re-evaluated and certain doctors now admit that the scare stories had been based on misinformation that hadn't explored the full story (Ren Fail 1991,13(1):1-4). If taken properly at the correct dose (150mg, 1-3 times a day) for short periods (up to two months at a time, followed by a break of a month or two - this gives the body enough time to readjust itself), germanium is in fact both safe and extremely effective (Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1997, 25(3):211-219). Germanium has shown no less than 'miraculous' results in fighting cancer In Japan, germanium has been used to help treat cancer for the past 30 years. Yet it has only been recently that the exact mechanism by which it works to tackle cancer has been uncovered. Researchers found that germanium reduces the spread of cancer by slowing down the process that causes cancer cells to multiply. At the same time, the researchers observed that germanium didn't interfere with normal, healthy cells, which were left alone to grow and carry out their functions as nature intended (Chun Hua Yen 2000, 36(4):263-266). Two years ago, a case study confounded many scientists and other members of the medical profession. It involved a patient suffering from a very rare and highly malignant form of lung cancer, called spindle cell carcinoma. Even with radical surgery, combined with radiotherapy and chemotherapy, only a small percentage of patients with this condition live more than a couple of years. This particular patient had shown no initial response to any of the conventional treatments, and decided to take germanium supplements as a last resort instead. Doctors were astounded to find that even after four years, X-rays showed that the patient was completely free of cancer and that the disease didn't return (Chest 2000, 117(2):591-593). Germanium helps protect your body from harmful toxins Although germanium enhances the action of oxygen in your cells, it also acts as an antioxidant. This means that it is able to reduce the extent of the damage caused by toxic by-products of oxygen metabolism that takes place in your body. So, in effect, it has a double action: both stimulating oxygen use for better health and reducing oxygen's harmful side-effects. Scientists have also found that germanium helps protect the liver's DNA against toxic damage, in addition to increasing the levels of other beneficial antioxidants, such as one called superoxide dismutase ( J Toxicol Environ Health 1999, 58(5):289-297). Other research findings have demonstrated that used alongside zinc, germanium has an even greater protective effect against free radical damage (Zhonghuan Yu Fang 1996, 30(4):221-224). Germanium can even improve the performance of orthodox treatments Germanium stimulates several components of your immune system. For example, it enhances the activity of macrophages and natural killer cells, both of which are responsible for attacking foreign bacteria and viruses. It also stimulates the production of gamma interferon, a potent immune molecule (a lymphokine), which is nowadays used by some doctors to fight against severe immune conditions, such as AIDS. Gamma interferon modulates immune reactions particularly against viruses (Biother 1992, 4(1):1-8). In studies involving patients suffering from immunological diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and myasthenia (progressive muscle weakness), it was found that germanium acts both as an immune system booster and as an antioxidant. Conventional treatment of these diseases often involves the drug prednisolone (a steroid hormone). When germanium was given alongside this drug, it was found to significantly enhance the actions of prednisolone, making the combined treatment far more powerful and effective against these chronic medical conditions (Biother 1992,4(1):1-8). How to take germanium safely It's important to take an organic form of germanium to achieve the best results. A good quality form of organic germanium is Germanium Sesquioxide (the full chemical name, which sometimes appears on the box, is 'bis-beta-carboxyethyl germanium sesquioxide'). The dose is 150mg one to three times a day, taken between meals. As mentioned above, you shouldn't take this continually. Instead, it's generally recommended that you take germanium for about two months, followed by a break of a month or two should you decide to repeat the process.