Therapies for Specific Conditions
- Qi Gong exercises helped patients with insomnia, according to a 1996
review of literature by Dr. Kenneth Sancier, President of the Qigong
Institute in Menlo Park, California.
- Melatonin, a hormone, is among the most popular aids for overcoming
insomnia. Researchers generally gave 2 mg of melatonin at bedtime.
Research is still in the preliminary stages.
- Herbs are commonly used to treat insomnia. Insomnia is the sixth-most
common condition for which herbs are used in America, accounting for 18
percent of all herb use, according to a 1997 Prevention magazine survey.
- Valerian is an herb that is frequently used for insomnia. In a German
study, 72 percent of insomniacs who used valerian found relief from the condition.
In another study, the herb helped 75 percent of patients with insomnia.
Valerian is used to relieve insomnia and restlessness and as a muscle
relaxant, although researched evidence is fairly limited at the present
- Brahmi is an Ayurvedic herb that appears to have some
effectiveness in the treatment of insomnia. This herb, which is a mild
sedative, is also reported to improve memory.
Caution: Some people are
stimulated by the hormone melatonin and may have nightmares or hangovers. Also,
a 1997 paper by the National Sleep Foundation claimed it may harm the
reproductive system. Some studies suggest that melatonin can deepen or induce
depression, lower luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, increase REM or dream sleep,
and exacerbate allergies. Patients taking cortisone should avoid it. Also, some
preliminary data suggest that melatonin may cause vasoconstriction
(constriction of blood vessels), may inhibit fertility, may suppress the male
sexual drive, and may produce hypothermia and retinal damage. As with any
powerful hormone, melatonin should not be taken by pregnant women. Anyone
considering taking melatonin for sleep disorders or jet lag should seek a
medical opinion. Typical preparation and dose is 1-3 mg taken one hour before
going to bed. Do not take more than 6 mg.
As a tranquilizing herb, valerian may worsen depression. An overdose can cause
muscle problems and liver toxicity. Valerian should not be taken in conjunction
with antidepressants or sedatives, since it may enhance the effects of these
drugs. In a few instances, valerian may cause mild, temporary stomach upset or
nausea. There are many typical preparations, and any one of the following doses
can be taken thirty to forty-five minutes before going to bed: 1-2 g of dried
root (which can be taken as a tea); 4-6 ml of a 1:5 alcohol solution; 102 ml of
fluid extract; 250-450 mg of powdered extract; or 150-300 mg of standardized
(0.8 percent valeric acid) extract.
Return to Excerpts List
BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier,
Reprinted by permission of Simon &
Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.
Return to Top