Soothing Herbs for Restful Sleep

Soothing Herbs for Restful Sleep

Lavender (Lavendula species), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Oats (Avena sativa)

Three herbs well known for calming effects are Lavender, Chamomile and Oats. Perhaps, not quite as well known as the first two herbs, Avena sativa (Oats Milky Seed or Oatstraw) is the grain* source of oatmeal. The entire plant is abundant in minerals and trace nutrients, in particular the B-vitamins, calcium, and magnesium, which help soothe and strengthen the nervous system. As an herbal remedy, oats can ease the effects of stress, anxiety or exhaustion and resolve sleeplessness. Oats contain the amino acid tryptophan, which research shows promotes sleep. In fact, Scottish folks suggest a bowl of oatmeal before bedtime to ensure restful sleep!

Of its many medicinal uses, lavender is known worldwide as an herbal “rescue-remedy” for reducing stress, anxiety and tension. Its strong, relaxation-inducing scent is used in massage therapy lotions, candles, bath salts, tinctures and essential oils. As one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, a dab of lavender on the inside of your wrist can help soothe a stressful moment. Lavender is also used in teas, often paired with chamomile. If you are not a tea-drinker, dried lavender can be added to a sachet and placed beneath your pillow to help induce sleep. I always keep lavender essential oil handy to sooth my son, when he has hard time to fall asleep.

Chamomile has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for easing stress and insomnia. Today, these uses continue and we also have good clinical evidence for the safe use of chamomile preparations to help reduce inflammation, promote more restful sleep, ease colic and digestive upset, and facilitate wound healing when used in a cream. While chamomile seems to reduce the effects of anxiety, which can contribute to sleeplessness, more research is necessary to demonstrate the specific properties of chamomile that contribute to its effects.

Since there are many different ways to prepare these herbs, and some people can be allergic to certain herbs, do check with your wellness practitioner for the best approach to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.

*If you have sensitivity or allergy to gluten, be sure to use an oat product produced using gluten-free manufacturing practices.

References
  • Mars, B. & Fiedler, C. (2015). The Home Reference to Holistic Health & Healing. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. (pp. 29-29, 45, 193, 200).
  • Bennett, Robin Rose. (2014). The Gift of Healing Herbs. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  • Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. (p. 532)
  • Duke, James. A. (2002). Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (2nd Ed). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. (p. 534)
  • Thorne Research. Matricaria chamomilla (German chamomile). Monograph. Alternative Medicine Review (2008) 13:1, 58-62.
  • D. Wheatley (2005) Medicinal plants for insomnia: a review of their pharmacology, efficacy and tolerability. J Psychopharmacol, Volume 19, Pages 414-421.
  • Murray, M. “Insomnia” as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 182).
  • Zick, Suzanna M et al. “Preliminary Examination of the Efficacy and Safety of a Standardized Chamomile Extract for Chronic Primary Insomnia: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 11 (2011): 78. PMC. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
  • Medicine Talk Professional. Lecture on Healthy Sleep.
  • Sleep Health Foundation (Australia). Herbal Remedies and Sleep.http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/HerbalRemedies-0713.pdf
  • Herbal Academy of New England. http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/05/oats-benefits-getting-to-know-avena-sativa/
Natural Therapies for a Good Night's Sleep

Natural Therapies for a Good Night’s Sleep

Before your head sinks into the pillow at bedtime, there are some very simple things you can do to prepare mind and body for a night of deeply restful sleep. The evening hours are a time when the busyness of your day should begin to wind down. It’s important to create a bedtime ritual that will help tame the thoughts that may still be racing through your mind and which can prevent you from falling or staying asleep throughout the night. In addition to the lifestyle tips for better sleep that are described in this month’s feature article, try adding some of the following naturopathic and holistic approaches to your evening routine.

  • Enjoy a warm bath including Epsom salts and/or lavender oil.
  • Listen to the relaxing sounds of ocean waves, classical music, or chimes. There are specialized acoustic recordings that are orchestrated to affect specific brain wave patterns for relaxation or sleep. Call our office for a complimentary download of MP3 file.
  • A guided recording of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, restorative yoga poses, can help the body create the ‘relaxation response’.
  • Herbs and other botanical or aromatherapy treatments are useful for calming down after a stressful day. In addition to the herbs discussed in this month’s newsletter, you might want to ask your physician about teas, tinctures or capsule preparations of valerian, skullcap, passionflower, or lemon balm and kava kava.
  • Try meditation, beginning with just 10 minutes a day. Meditation has numerous health benefits and recent studies show it can significantly affect quality of sleep.
  • I also like to recommend some homeopathic medicine for sleep. Quietude is a great combination of homeopathic medicines that helped many of my patients to avoid sleeping pills. Just dissolve 1-2 tabs after the dinner and before bedtime to get faster onset and uninterrupted sleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night take another dose.
  • Melatonin is sleeping hormone helping us to fall asleep and staying asleep. Almost of all of us drop the production of it after 40 years of age which also corresponds with the process of aging. Starting a supplementation of good quality of melatonin at 3mg at night time can be a great help before running for a pharmaceutical prescriptions.

Get a good night sleep or call our office for a free copy of the sleeping meditation recording. Stay Healthy Wealthy & Wise.

Elena Klimenko, MD

Integrative Medicine Specialist

References
  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Meditation May Be An Effective Treatment For Insomnia.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2009. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609072719.htm
  • Corliss, J. Mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia, improves sleep. Harvard Health Newsletter. 18 February, 2015. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-helps-fight-insomnia-improves-sleep-201502187726
  • Murray, M. “Insomnia” as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 182).
  • Mars, B. & Fiedler, C. (2015). The Home Reference to Holistic Health & Healing. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. (pp. 29-29, 45, 193, 200).
Holistic Treatment For Your Digestive Issues With The '4R Protocol'

Holistic Treatment For Your Digestive Issues With The ‘4R Protocol’

Maintaining a healthy digestive system is a key component of one’s overall health. The digestive system directly breaks down and absorbs nutrients, and when disrupted, can have serious effects on all other systems of the body. An imbalance in your digestive performance leads to nausea, bloating, diarrhea, malnutrition, and significant weight loss. Due to the sensitivity and volatile reactions that can occur with gastrointestinal issues, many turn to functional medicine doctor for a soothing and effective homeopathic solution.

A functional medicine specialist can offers alternative medical solutions to those suffering with serious digestive issues. Through a comprehensive approach and holistic treatments, patients can be accurately diagnosed with common bacterial imbalances, like dysbiosis (an imbalance of beneficial and harmful microorganisms in the gut), and receive natural and effective solutions.

One of the most effective functional medicine treatment options for patients suffering with dysbiosis is the “4R Protocol,” which formulates a solution with four main components:

  • Remove what is harmful: By eliminating harmful foods or foods causing allergic reactions or intolerance, medication, poor quality fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars, so your body may be able to naturally reorient its digestive tribulations. It also include removing harmful microorganisms from the gut, like yeast, parasites and other non-beneficial bacteria.
  • Replace what is lacking: Substitute what is needed for normal digestion and absorption, such as supplement of hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzymes, with natural and soothing herbal sources.
  • Reinnoculate what is missing: Introduce favorable microbes back into your digestive system to enhance the growth of the beneficial bacteria. Additional supplements like prebiotics, insulin, and fiber, can also be effective at promoting positive bacteria.
  • Repair what is damaged: After serious digestive issues, stomach and intestinal lining may be damaged. Support healing the intestinal lining with beneficial foods and nutrients like amino acids, healthy fatty acids, zinc, pantothenic acid, and vitamin C, all from natural sources.

Don’t suffer with painful digestive turmoil like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.

Elena Klimenko, MD is New York City’s leading integrative medicine physician, providing treatment for dysbiosis and other serious gastrointestinal syndromes with an effective approach through functional medicine. Click here to fill out a new patient evaluation form and set up an appointment today!

 

Lifestyle Medicine From Elena Klimenko, MD: Food for Thought

Lifestyle Medicine From Elena Klimenko, MD: Food for Thought

In this day and age, there’s an abundance of medical terms, which embodies lifestyle medicine. Lifestyle medicine, within the scope of conventional medicine, is an alternative approach to lower the risk for a number of lifestyle-related chronic diseases or to serve as a supplement to the management plan, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Intervention is often prescribed in conjunction with pharmacotherapy: diabetic patients on medication to control the blood glucose levels or exercise intervention to assist in the long term management. The integration of lifestyle practices into medicine to lower the risk for chronic disease, serves as a supplement to therapy. A defined scientific approach to decreasing disease and illness utilizes lifestyle interventions such as nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction, smoking cessation, avoidance of alcohol abuse, and rest.

The study of how simple lifestyle measures, such as proper diet, exercise, and stress reduction, are thoughtfully and comprehensively integrated into conventional Western medicine practices, which includes promoting health through prevention and therapeutic strategies.These strategies include: diet (nutrition), exercise, stress management, smoking cessation, a variety of other non-drug approaches.

A rather excellent alternative use of lifestyle medicine is by coaching patients to improve personal lifestyle choices regarding weight, physical activity/exercise, nutrition, smoking, stress management, and depression management.

Complementary Therapy:

An example of a complementary therapy is using aromatherapy, a therapy in which the scent of essential flowers, herbs, and tree oils is inhaled to promote health and help lessen a patient’s discomfort following surgery.

Alternative Medicine is often used in place of conventional medicine. An example of an alternative therapy is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that has been recommended by a conventional doctor.

Types of alternative medicine include:

  • Alternative medical systems (e.g., traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, ayurveda)
  • Mind/Body techniques (e.g., meditation, biofeedback, relaxation, hypnotherapy)
  • Biologically based therapies (e.g., herbal therapies)
  • Body based therapies (e.g., chiropractic, massage, reflexology), and
  • Energy therapies (e.g., reiki, therapeutic touch)

Mind Over Matter:

Mind body Medicine focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, and on the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect health. It’s a fundamental approach that respects and enhances each person’s capacity for self-knowledge and self-care, and it emphasizes techniques that are grounded in this approach.