Naturopathic Treatment of Insomnia
By Ronald Steriti, ND, PhD
Have you ever woken feeling completely exhausted after using sleeping medications?
Insomnia is a frustrating problem for many people because most of the drugs don’t work very well. Some of them will work for a while and then stop working completely. Some drugs get you to sleep, but cause extreme drowsiness during the day. Unfortunately this may also be true of some of the nutritional supplements for insomnia.
Take, for instance, melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep. It increases at night causing you to feel drowsy. If you take melatonin at bedtime it will certainly help you fall asleep. But suppose your body makes enough melatonin? In that case, after a few days of taking melatonin your body will automatically stop making it’s own melatonin and it won’t work any more.
One of the central themes in naturopathic medicine is to identify and treat the cause.
The Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia is a broad term for difficulties with sleep, including the inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. Brief periods of insomnia are common, and it is estimated that one-third of adults suffer from some form of insomnia.
About half of all cases of insomnia do not have an identifiable cause (i.e. idiopathic insomnia).
Insomnia can be caused by substance abuse: caffeine, alcohol, recreational drugs, long-term sedative use, stimulants, decongestants, and bronchodilators.
Insomnia can also be caused by disruption of circadian rhythms, usually caused by working late-night shifts or travel across time zones;
Medical illness can cause insomnia. Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), fibromyalgia, hyperthyroidism, dementia, arthritis and other painful conditions are associated with insomnia.
Transient situational insomnia is caused by stress at work or school, or by family illness. Insomnia may also be caused by hormonal imbalances in cortisol and melatonin. Melatonin is formed from serotonin, which is formed from tryptophan or 5-HTP.
Insomnia is present in 30-40% of menopausal women.
Cortisol secretions are characterized by a steep increase in the morning, peaking at approximately 8 a.m., followed by a gradual tapering off until about midnight, when circulating levels are at their lowest. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep occurs primarily when cortisol levels are decreasing, and wakefulness and Stage 1 sleep are associated with increased plasma cortisol concentrations.
Melatonin is the main modulator of neuroendocrine function and regulates the Hypothyroid-Pituitary-Adrenal axis. Patients with low cortisol exhibit decreased melatonin levels with a disrupted circadian rhythm. Melatonin has a pivotal role in regulating body temperature, the sleep-wake cycle, female reproductive hormones, and cardiovascular function. Hence disrupted secretion rhythms are widespread in many degenerative illnesses.
Conventional Lab Tests
There are no specific lab tests for insomnia. Diagnosis can be confirmed by polysomnography, particularly if sleep apnea is suspected.
Specialty Lab Tests
The Adrenocortex Stress Profile evaluates bioactive levels of the body's important stress hormones, cortisol and DHEA. This profile serves as a critical tool for uncovering biochemical imbalances that can underlie anxiety, chronic fatigue, obesity, diabetes and a host of other clinical conditions. Four salivary samples of cortisol are taken over a 24-hour period.
The Comprehensive Melatonin Profile analyzes 3 saliva samples for the secretion pattern of melatonin. Melatonin imbalance has been associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder, infertility, sleep disorders, and compromised immune function.
The Menopause Profile examines four salivary samples over a 2-week period to determine levels of ß-estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone for women who are peri- or post-menopausal.
Natural Products for Insomnia
There are several general products that you can try.
Garum armoricum (blue fish) has been shown to have a beneficial effect on stress.
Stabillium by Allergy Research contains Garum armoricum (blue fish) (210 mg), Sunflower oil (170 mg), and Lecithin (20 mg)
Skullcap and Valerian are herbs that promote relaxation and deeper sleep.
If you are interested in the specialty lab tests mentioned above, please call Dr. Steriti at (239) 659-2684 to schedule an appointment.
What's your next step?
The next step, after you have been diagnosed with a disease, is to find out what is the specific cause, and then choose supplements that address it. Phone consults are my specialty. Please call my at (239) 659-2684 to schedule a consultation.
The choice is yours
I recommend that you make an informed choice, and the goal of this web site is to provide you with the information to make a wise choice when it comes to your health and wellness.
As you can see, I don't sell any vitamins on this web site. There are thousands of vitamin stores that will sell you whatever vitamin you want, and many of them offer discounts.
If you are interested in some high-quality basic nutritional supplements, I recommend visiting the Store You will find my recommendations for a multiple, tasty chewable fiber wafers, high-potency probiotics, and fish oils.
Good luck in your journey towards health and wellness!!
Why don't you tell me what vitamins to take for this disease?
Unfortunately, that would be a clear violation of FDA regulations. Also, one of the most important aspect of naturopathy is: "Treat the person, not the disease". This is a profound statement, and many people have spent thousands of dollars on vitamins listed in books or web sites for a specific disease. This is what I call "vending machine medicine". It rarely works! The solution is to find a naturopathic physician, such as myself, to assist you.
Fantastic new books!
CAM Therapies has studies on natural therapies for over 100 diseases.
CAM Labs lists lab tests for 100 diseases.
Nutritional Genetics is a fantastic resource.