Sweet dreams! Natural medicine for restful sleep

By Dana Kraft

Some of the most common complaints I hear in my naturopathic practice at LifePath Center are related to insomnia, disturbed or merely unrefreshing sleep. In our modern world, nervous system strain such as stress, anxiety, depression, worry, etc., all too easily lead to improper sleep, which in turn stresses the nervous system.  Suddenly and quickly a vicious cycle begins which is often hard to break. Orthodox medicine’s solution to sleep disorders are medications which may have a variety of side effects and drawbacks which make them unsustainable long term, including addiction. The beauty of naturopathic medicine is that it treats the cause, not just the symptoms.  So the tools I use in my practice are designed specifically for each individual to not only encourage restful sleep but to simultaneously balance and support nervous system function long term, thereby avoiding further problems down the line. When we discover the underlying causes of a sleep imbalance and provide the right remedies at the right time in the right dosage, sleep not only improves, but brings about renewal in the body, mind and spirit.

Talk:  Sweet dreams!
Natural medicine for restful sleep
By Dana Kraft, ND
Tue Aug 28, 5pm
Moonrise Health
Órganos 29, Centro
$50 pesos, redeemable against purchase

Considering nutrition and lifestyle as part of your sleep profile is of major importance for making long-term improvements in one’s sleep.  Having said that, however, I find that herbal medicines are the most useful tools in my ‘natural medicine toolbox’ for addressing this concern.  There are so many wonderful herbs for sleep that it can often be difficult for one to choose which remedy is appropriate for them. Here are a few of my favorites, and a few ideas of how to distinguish them.

Lime flower/Linden Flower – Tila

Lime flower, for me, is the most gentle of all nerve tonics, with a soft uplifting quality which brightens the mood. It does have a diaphoretic effect (makes you sweat) which is helpful if any underlying infections or viruses are causing disturbances in sleep.

Chamomile – Manzanilla

A wonderful nerve tonic and sleep aid. Chamomile, is particularly indicated for those who have any digestive complaints, as it is also a useful tool in reducing any inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Some people have an aversion to chamomile, which may be an allergy to this family of plants which is not uncommon, and in which case should be avoided.

Hops – Lupulo

Hops is one of the ‘heavier’ herbs to promote sleep and is a strong nerve tonic, as many beer drinkers will understand!

Valerian – Valeriana

Famous as the ‘go-to’ sleep herb, I suggest this plant is used with caution. It is very ‘hot’ in nature and therefore if there are any heat complaints (night sweats, temperature changes, ‘hot temper’, etc.) then Valerian is not appropriate. I have seen some extreme reactions to this plant where insomnia actually worsens. Valerian is best used by any of those who find their body temperature and/or their mood to be a bit cooler in nature.

California Poppy – Amapola

Remember Dorothy falling asleep in a field of red poppies in the Wizard of Oz? That is very much how I experience the sleep induced by a medicinal dose of the poppy flower. I am partial to the California poppy varietal, but locally grown Mexican poppies are also wonderful. These are opiates so often dreams are vibrant and insightful…not a plant to be taken lightly or in excess!

Other favorites:
Wild Lettuce – Lechuga salvaje
Rose – Rosa
Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha
Skullcap – Skullcap
Passionflower – Passiflora

Note ***  Please be very sure to check that any herbal remedies you take do not conflict with your orthodox medications; these interactions can be serious and should not be taken lightly.

The very best way to find the right remedies for you is to consult with a natural medicine practitioner.  My upcoming talk at Moonrise will allow me to share in more detail how to choose and design a personalized herbal formula, and I may just give away the recipe for my special honey-based sleep potion. Sweet dreams!

Dana Kraft lives in San Miguel and works as Resident Naturopath at LifePath Center http://www.lifepathretreats.com/. She can be reached at dana@lifepathretreats.com.

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