By Jeremy Brown, Naturopath & Counsellor
(Adv. Dip. Nat., Post. Grad. Cert. Counsell., MNHAA)
Sleep is a concern for many individuals. Work stress, problems within families and economic pressure all play a role. As you know, sleep is crucial for good health, both physically and mentally. Simply consider how you feel after one sleepless night, let alone many nights worrying why you are still awake.
Sleep and your health
Medical prescriptions such as Benzodiazepines (also known as Temaze) are highly effective and fast acting. At same time, if the patient does not self monitor and discuss overuse with a Pharmacist or Doctor, the potential for addiction increases over time. Some studies are displaying tolerance within a few weeks. This highlights the crucial role of Doctors and Pharmacists in the discussing possible dependance and they are well trained in this.
Pharmaceuticals are very effective for sleep, but are not ideal for long term use
What you may not know is Naturopathic medicines use side alongside these very medications.
Passionflora incarnata (Passionflower): Passionflower has been found to be as effective as oxazepam over a 4-week period and with fewer side effects. The ideal outcome took longer than conventional medicine however grogginess in the morning was minimal in those taking Passionflora incarnata. Passionflower is well suited to ‘the worried insomniac’, as it assists in resting an over anxious mind.
Valerian officinalis (Valerian): Medical reviews of over six scientific studies in humans displayed a clear benefit of Valerian in patients with insomnia, without producing adverse effects. Valerian is best used in clients with tense sore muscles, and not in clients with over active minds. Interestedly, these clients report stimulate like effects.
Chamomile recutita (Chamomile): This herb is useful in clients with inflammatory bowel conditions, in addition to being a mild sedative. It is very well tolerated, and ideal for use in children and the elderly.
In a broader sense, it is worth appreciating that the weight of evidence rests strongly with Pharmaceutical medications in insomnia. That being said, the correct use of traditional sedatives may lower any potential burden of chemical dependance, with clients using stronger medications with more success.
As mentioned, always discuss your medication use with your Doctor or Pharmacist to track longterm effectiveness. If time permits and you are considering traditional medicine, the best results are found after tailoring your treatment.
Naturopath / Counsellor
Wardle, J., & Sarris, J. (2014). Clinical Naturopathy. Sydney, Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
Hechtman, L. (2012). Clinical Naturopathic medicine. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier Australia.