Mason County News
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Natural Health from A to Z
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 • Posted May 13, 2009

Insomnia plagues many of us. With some, it is chronic, with others it is a short term. There are many causes. Among these are stress, indigestion, mineral deficiency, hormone imbalance, too much caffeine, prescription drugs, etc.

Restless leg syndrome is a common form of insomnia. In many cases, it is caused by a pH imbalance in the body and can be helped by supplementing a balanced calcium/magnesium formula. Other cases may be deficiency related and usually respond well to potassium, magnesium, or folic acid.

Some of my favorite remedies for insomnia are homeopathic. Homeopathics are extremely dilute natural substances such as herbs or minerals that don’t have negative side effects and do not interfere with prescription medication. These tend to work well for short-term sleeplessness such as travel, worrying about income taxes, or concern over your mother’s surgery, etc. Another form of homeopathic is known as flower remedies which are effective particularly in small children that are afraid of the dark or have nightmares.

Many women complain of insomnia around mid-life. A common problem is too much estrogen in relation to progesterone. Natural progesterone is a very calming hormone and many women find that insomnia along with other hormonal related problems will disappear with the use of natural progesterone cream.

Another favorite for sleep is 5-HTP which is a natural substance that the body makes from the amino acid tryptophan. It helps regulate serotonin levels. It can be used for both mild depression and insomnia. Users tend to report better energy in the day and better sleep at night. Note that 5-HTP cannot be used by those on antidepressants.

I also like Saint John’s Wort and SAM-e for better sleep. Like 5-HTP, they also regulate serotonin levels and help you feel less stressed during the day and sleep more soundly at night.

Aromatherapy using lavender essential oil is another good sleep remedy. The smell is very soothing. You can use a few drops of the oil in a warm bath before bedtime or use the drops in a diffuser or on a cotton cloth placed under your pillow.

There are also herbal remedies for better sleep. Teas with chamomile and passion flower are nice; however, if you are allergic to ragweed, stay away from chamomile since it belongs to the same family. Also, there are herbal capsules that you can take. Good herbs for sleep include valerian, hops and passionflower. If stress is the reason you aren’t sleeping well, there are also herbal stress remedies that help strengthen and soothe the nerves.

Whatever your sleep story is, there may be a natural solution for you.

Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.

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