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End of Endo, Why can't you sleep
May 03, 2005
Natural remedies to help with insomnia
Insomnia with endometriosis is very, very common. There are lots of women who suffer miserably with this distressing sleep disorder. Why? ………… there have been no explanations given why women with endometriosis should suffer from insomnia. It is just left as a sweeping statement with no explanation, where ever you look for advice!
You could say there were obvious causes to disturbed sleep, like pain, discomfort, distress. But there are many women who suffer, and lay wide awake for NO real reason.
My own speculation is that it is caused by the delicate balance of hormones being totally upset and disrupted by this disease. My own suffering of insomnia, when I had endometriosis, was acute at times. I could lay wide awake, despite being beside myself with exhaustion, night after night after night. Then for some unknown reason this ‘spell’ would break and I would fall asleep after the 4th or 5th night of suffering. I had to try various homeopathic remedies before I found the right one which helped.
When I had these periods of insomnia, I would feel as though a furnace was burning in the region of my solar-plexus. I talked to my homeopath about this, and even though she was not sure what my symptoms meant, she felt that this heat was part of the natural healing process. That sounds somewhat plausible to me; because when we are cold and not producing energy the body is in a state of ‘shut down’, and we are low in vital energy.
But I can only conclude that insomnia caused by endometriosis is due to disturbed hormone levels. The actual process of falling asleep is a fascinating and intricate bodily process, and is caused by a natural sequence of hormonal events, which finally leads to the body going into a state of ‘suspended animation’, or sleep as we call it. And sleep is vitally important to aid healing. It is the time when most of our cellular regeneration and healing takes place.
Here are some natural sleep remedies which are helping many women. You may need to experiment to find the particular remedy which is best for you.
Chamomile tea, comprised of the dried flowers and leaves of this common plant, can be sipped half an hour before going to bed as a convenient, effective sleep aid. It is especially helpful for mild or transient insomnia. Its ability to relieve anxiety is attributed to chrysin, a flavonoid component. Chamomile tea is also helpful in times of stress, to help ‘relax’ the nervous system.
The essential oil of this popular flowering herb has been demonstrated to depress the central nervous system in a way comparable to hypnotics or tranquilizers. Most commonly used in cosmetics and aroma-therapeutic preparations, lavender oil can be applied topically to relax the muscles, or its aroma may be inhaled for a calming effect. You can also add the essential oil of lavender to your bed-time bath. Remember not to have the bath too hot, as this will be stimulating to your system.
Lemon Balm has effective sedative action and is typically made into a pleasant, lemony-tasting tea. Try making a tea with 2 teaspoons of dried lemon balm per cup of boiling water. Steep the tea for 10 minutes, strain, and drink right before going to bed.
Historically, passion flower has been used as a tranquilizer and tobacco substitute. In addition to having a profound effect on the central nervous system, passion flower also acts as an anti-spasmodic on the smooth muscles of the body, including the whole of the digestion system, which accounts for its ability to ease and promote digestion. It is considered by some to be the herb of choice for treating intransigent insomnia.
Passion flower does not have any ill side effects and when used for insomnia results in a restful, relaxing sleep with no grogginess the next morning.
When used for its medicinal purposes, the entire plant can be used. It is typically collected after some of the berries have matured, then dried whole. To brew an effective passion flower tea: pour a cup of boiling water onto a teaspoonful of the dried herb and let infuse for l5 minutes. Drink a cup half an hour before going to bed.
The added benefit of soothing the digestive system will be a bonus for those women who have digestive problems with endometriosis.
The roots and rhizomes of valerian are dried to produce this commonly available herb. Studies suggest that valerian is by far the best natural solution for insomnia for most people.
Valerian has an effect on the body similar to that of benzodiazepine (an active ingredient in Valium(TM)), but without the dulling effects or next-day lethargy. Approved by the German Federal Ministry of Health as a calming sleep aid and widely recommended for treating anxiety-related sleep problems, it is entirely nontoxic.
Curiously, valerian can act as a delayed stimulant for some individuals, initially calming them down only to energize them in the small hours - a problem for those people seeking a nighttime sleep remedy. Some professional herbalists suggest that taking fresh valerian root extract is less likely to cause such a reaction than extract from dried valerian.
A common beverage ingredient in the South Seas, kava roots and rhizomes contain dihydropyrones that promote muscle relaxation and ease the way to sleep without sedation.
Kava can be purchased at health food stores as a standardized extract. As a convenient method of anxiety relief, it is quick acting and extremely potent. Some vendors have packaged high-powered Kava mixtures in convenient mini spray bottles. These sprays are highly effective for providing a quick burst of relaxation. Just one or two quick sprays under the tongue can do wonders for tension.
According to Michael Tierra L.Ac., O.M.D., Founder of the American Herbalists Guild - "Because of its relative safety, the effective daily dose of kava is wide ranging from 70 mg to 200 mg of kavalactones, which are recognized as the major biochemical anti-anxiety constituents. To promote a deep restful sleep you should take a dose of from 150 mg to 200 mg. approximately 20 or 30 minutes before retiring."
Nutmeg was used in the preparations of various medicines in ancient times. Even today it is used in several important and widely used pharmaceutical preparations. The oil extracted from the herb is used in liniments, perfumery, hair lotions and as an antispasmodic carminative.
The powder of nutmeg, about 5 to 15 grams, mixed with apple juice or banana, is used as a specific remedy for diarrhea caused by indigestion of food. The same quantity of nutmeg powder taken with a tablespoon of fresh amla(gooseberry) juice, three times daily, is effective for indigestion, hiccups and morning sickness.
The powder of nutmeg, mixed with fresh amla juice, is also an effective natural medicine for insomnia, irritability and depression.
Precautions: Nutmeg should be taken in very small doses; in appreciable doses it excites the motor cortex and produces epileptic convulsions and lesions in the liver. Even a teaspoon of nutmeg can produce toxic symptoms such as burning in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, restlessness and giddiness with hallucinations.
Use fresh grated nutmeg in a bedtime drink. You will need to experiment how much to use, but it is safer to start with a low dose for reasons mentioned above.
Homeopathy, based on the premise that "like cures like," traditionally takes a constitutional approach, taking into account the patient's health history, family background and emotional state into the healing equation. The essential difference between homeopathic and other treatments is dilution: These remedies contain very small amounts of the active ingredient e.g., the atropine in belladonna (Atropa belladonna). The smaller the amount, the more potent practitioners believe a remedy to be.
The nature and possible causes of a patient's sleeplessness is an integral part of homeopathic treatment. Some of the common homeopathic remedies include:
Pulsatilla (Anemone patens)
When repetitive thoughts produce anxiety-related insomnia, then pulsatilla -derived from the poisonous pasqueflower, also known as windflower - is the traditional homeopathic remedy. Homeopathic physicians also use pulsatilla to treat patients who tend to be overemotional or prone to temper tantrums.
Though the caffeine in coffee from the coffee bush (Coffea arabica) is generally thought of as a stimulant, in homeopathy, its properties are used in minute amounts to ease the way to sleep when excitement arises after hearing good or bad news.
As its name suggests, Nux vomica, or "poison nut," is appropriate for indigestion-related sleeplessness. Derived from the strychnine-containing seeds of the Strychnos nux-vomica tree, this popular hangover remedy is often used to counteract other substances when sleeplessness is caused by caffeine (as from coffee, tea or cola drinks), alcohol or drugs. Of course, if you are looking after your diet or endometriosis, then you should not be using caffeine, alcohol or drugs!
There are other homeopathic remedies which can help with insomnia. These are known as ‘constitutional remedies’, which are used when a patient is being treated for a deep-rooted illness, like endometriosis. The aim of a constitutional remedy is to treat the entire person, not just the symptoms, to achieve total healing.
Certain homeopathic remedies are used in first aid situations, and to treat common ailments, whereby a particular remedy will suit most people. For constitutional remedies, the particular homeopathic remedy is very specific to the individual being treated, and the strength of the remedy can be much stronger in most cases.
There are certain foods that can aid the natural transition to sleep. Renowned naturopath Michael Van Straten has this recipe to help induce sleep:
- 3 carrots
- 2 juicy English apples, such as Cox, Bramley, Russet, etc
- ½ Cos lettuce
- A sprinkle of nutmeg
1. Run the first three ingredients through a juicer
2. Pour in a glass, sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.
Chef's note: don't be tempted to use any other lettuce than Cos for this recipe. It's rich in beta carotene, has a stronger flavor and contains more of the snooze-power chemicals than the paler green varieties such as little gems or iceberg.
Sleep Inducing Foods
These include bananas, dates, figs, milk (but you are not allowed this on the diet for endometriosis – you could try nut milk instead, with a sprinkling of nutmeg), nut butter, tuna, turkey, and yogurt. These foods contain high levels of tryptophan - an amino acid that promotes sleep.
These are all natural ways to aid sleep that are achieved by what you put into your system. Here are a few other simple little tips:
If you are going to try any of these remedies, do not give up too soon. We are all guilty of wanting a quick fix, which is why so many people turn to chemical alternatives to help them sleep. Give these remedies time to work through your system.
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