Insomnia is a common problem for many people, which involves lack of sleep, or difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep (waking frequently), and/or waking up too early in the morning. This can lead to lack of energy through the day, poor concentration ability and exacerbate other problems such as depression or anxiety. We have seen in recent year that taking sleep medications, such as benzodiazepine drugs (e.g. Valium, Ativan) can lead to addiction and dependency. Many doctors fail to recognize that there are more natural substances that provide a solution without risk of physical or psychological dependency, as well as brain damage (see the book Change Your Brain Change Your Life – Dr Daniel Amen MD).
A major study published in the British Medical Journal Open (BMJ Open) in 2012 also provided evidence that benzodiazepine drugs, and other commonly used sleeping pills are associated with increased risk of cancer and premature death. (http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000850.abstract?sid=347e1df3-ae6d-40a4-8d30-47e6c1d4d455)
“The study included 10,531 sleeping pill users who were prescribed drugs for an average of 2.5 years and 23,674 control participants who were not prescribed the drugs."What our study shows is that sleeping pills are hazardous to your health and might cause death by contributing to the occurrence of cancer, heart disease and other ailments," said study author Daniel F. Kripke, from Scripps Health's Viterbi Family Sleep Centre, San Diego, the journal BMJ Open reports. (http://post.jagran.com/sleeping-pills-contributes-to-occurrence-of-cancer-heart-disease-study-1330427652)
Safe, Natural Alternatives To Synthetic Sleeping Pills
Melatonin – As we age the production of melatonin drops considerably, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep and reach the deeper levels of sleep. Melatonin is a hormone made by the Pineal gland in the brain that controls our wake/sleep cycles. Upon darkness (late in the evening) the Pineal gland normally secretes enough melatonin to help induce sleep and enable us to reach deep levels of sleep known as delta-sleep (delta-brain waves). This level of sleep recharges the body’s immune system and allows us to wake up and function in a refreshed state. In fact, the immune system itself has melatonin receptors. Upon stimulation from melatonin immune cells function at a higher level of proficiency.
Melatonin is also an important brain antioxidant, which protects brain cells against free radicals. The brain uses about 20% of the body’s oxygen at any given time, which also increases brain exposure to oxygen free radicals. Free radical damage in the brain is associated with dementia and a number of brain and memory-related degenerative conditions. Melatonin is also associated with a reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer. Dr Lissoni (Italy) has shown the value of melatonin supplementation in the nutritional management of prostate cancer, a practice now used by many integrative medical doctors who treat prostate and breast cancer.
Thus, melatonin supplementation has been shown to combat insomnia, improve immune function, reduce cancer risk, and protect brain cells from free radical damage. These are all very desirable effects, which should make melatonin supplementation the first intervention recommended by physicians when patients complain of sleep disturbances.
5-Hydroxytryptophan -The brain manufactures serotonin and melatonin from 5hydroxytryptophan, which is found naturally in the plant known as the Griffonia Simplicifolia. Studies show that supplementation with 5-hydroxytryptophan can raise brain levels of serotonin (improving feeling of well being and sleep quality) and melatonin, on a per need basis.
GABA (Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid) – GABA is a natural brain chemical that stimulates GABA receptors in the brain. Upon stimulation, GABA receptors create a feeling of relaxation, improved well being and decreased anxiety. GABA works with melatonin and 5-hydroxytryptophan to help improve sleep quality
Bacopa Monnieri -The leaf of bacopa, or water hyssop, has been used in the Indian medical system since the 6th century A.D. Its active ingredients (bacosides A and B) have been shown to enhance nerve transmission and are potent antioxidants, which help protect brain cells from free radical damage. Free radical damage to the brain is a common feature of dementia, degenerative neurological diseases, and memory-loss conditions. Along with melatonin, bacopa monnieri provides additional protection against free radical damage to the brain while we sleep and helps support mental acuity as we age.
The best solution for insomnia and sleep disturbances in people over 35 years of age is to take a supplement that contains meaningful doses of melatonin, 5-hydroxy tryptophan, GABA and bacopa monnieri. This combination improves sleep quality, reduces anxiety, improves feeling of well being, protects the brain against free radical damage linked to risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease (and other neurodegenerative diseases), improves immune function and reduces risk of certain cancers. You can learn more about each of these natural agents by accessing my Meschino Health Comprehensive Guide to Herbs (ebook) and Meschino Health Comprehensive Guide to Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils (ebook) at www.meschinohealth.com
Contra-indications and Considerations:
Dosage: Insomnia and Sleep Disturbances - Begin by taking one capsule, one hour before bedtime. If sleep disturbances are not resolved then increase the dosage by one capsule each night until sleep problems are satisfactorily resolved and you are waking up refreshed. If morning drowsiness or headache occurs then reduce the dosage down until sleep disturbances are resolved without morning drowsiness or headache. Do not exceed 6 capsules per night without consent of your attending physician.
Typical Target Dosages By Age to improve sleep quality and duration, and provide protection to the brain, breast, prostate and immune system:
Age 40-44 – one capsule, one hour before bedtime Age 45-50 two capsules, one hour before bedtime Age 51-55 three capsules, one hour before bedtime Age 56-60 four capsules, one hour before bedtime Age 61- 65 five capsules, one hour before bedtime Age 66 and older – six capsules, one hour before bedtime
One Capsule Contains:
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