Author: Leta Frazier

A Natural Approach to Insomnia

Have you ever had a sleepless night? Maybe you had trouble quieting your mind and falling asleep, or perhaps you were able to fall asleep quickly but woke just hours later and were unable to get back to a restful slumber. Unfortunately for many of us, sleepless nights occur more often than not. I know I’ve had my fair share of them!

In fact, approximately 35 million Americans experience some sort of insomnia at least once a week or more. While almost everyone has experienced a sleepless night, nothing compares to persistent sleeping problems and the effect that it has on your health.

So what can be done?

While the media tends to focus on prescription health solutions, many of the more natural solutions are overlooked. It is crucial for your overall health to ensure you are getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. There are many serious health problems that are associated with the prolonged lack of sleep, or insomnia.

What causes insomnia?

There are a range of causes including sleep apnea, bladder or prostate problems, stress, depression, and a person’s sleeping environment. Women who are experiencing hot flashes from menopause are also known to have trouble sleeping. Other causes for insomnia include hormonal imbalances, decreased melatonin in the brain and restless leg syndrome.

While there are a multitude of causes for insomnia, many of them can be addressed through minor lifestyle changes and with natural health solutions. Some of the most common natural health remedies include herbal remedies, flower remedies, herbal tinctures and all natural medicine remedies.

Prepare an Optimal Sleep Environment

The first thing to try to ensure a better night’s sleep is to review your sleep habits and your sleeping environment. We all tend to sleep better in dark, cool and quiet environments. Darken your room by closing any drapes and turn the temperature down a few degrees before you go to bed. When you are going to sleep, unplug the phone, turn your cell phone on silent and make sure that any pets that you have are put to bed to reduce your overall levels of distractions. Allow 1-2 hours prior to your bedtime to begin relaxing and preparing for bed so that your body becomes familiar with an evening routine. Lastly, make sure that you are exercising regularly, that you are not eating heavy foods late at night and that you are reducing your caffeine stimulant intake on a daily basis and especially in the evening.

If these are not effective, you may want to try a natural remedy to help you sleep.

A Natural Approach

100% natural products have become increasingly popular in the consumer marketplace, and there have been several insomnia-related products that have become available for sleep assistance. The substance 5 HTP is often included in natural sleep aids for its ability to produce serotonin within the body. Serotonin is known to create relaxed states within the body, allowing for an easier time falling asleep. 5 HTP substances are typically sold in a capsule form, making it easy to add to your evening routine.

The most popular herbal remedies for insomnia include a flower called the Griffonia. The Griffonia grows in the regions of Central and West Africa and resembles the evergreen tree. This seed has demonstrated the ability to create both a calming state to induce sleep and the ability to regulate consistent sleep throughout the night. The Griffonia is only one of many herbal remedies available to help reduce the effects of insomnia within the body.

Herbal tinctures are different from herbal remedies, as they are produced in liquid form. Herbal tinctures are created from soaking a chosen botanical in a solution that contains both alcohol and water. Some of the common herbs that you will find used in tinctures will be chamomile, Vogel Avena and the California Poppy.

Each of these natural remedies will help create a more relaxed body state and when combined with modified lifestyle behaviors, will help reduce the effects of insomnia.

So, good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite! (Hmmm, bedbugs. We’ll save that for a future article!).

Curry two to three times per week fights dementia

Here is what you might call the “active ingredient” of a good curry dish. New research continues to endorse the dementia-protection power of the curry spice turmeric (the active ingredient of note in Tumeric is called Curcumin), but it works most effectively if you are already eating healthy and staying active. The curry won’t cancel out junk food or no workouts on your calendar.

But if you eat five to nine daily servings of vegetables and fruit, try to avoid most saturated fat and regularly get your muscles moving, curry will potentially do more than spice up your chicken and rice. That’s because turmeric is found to help sweep amyloid plaques from brain cells that could otherwise gunk up the nerve “wiring” in the brain.

Murali Doraiswamy, a researcher at Duke University, reports “solid evidence” that individuals who consume a curry meal two to three times per week have a significantly lower risk of dementia than non-curry eaters. He says curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, binds to plaques.

The research has been performed mostly on mice, so new human studies are in process to determine if curry has similar plaque-removing qualities. New brain-scan imaging technology allows this sort of scientific investigation. UCLA is using the brain-scan methodology to evaluate curry’s potential to deter Alzheimer’s disease.

Doraiswamy mentioned that some researchers are exploring whether a curcumin or curry pill could be developed for similar therapeutic effects.

All of which gets back to the opening point. If you think a plate of curry or taking it in pill form will short-cut your way to preventing dementia, you will want to rethink that approach. We need to lay down a sensible foundation to our eating habits, be proactive about making time to be physically active and, no small thing, get enough rest at night. After that, pass the curry and enjoy a peace of mind—figuratively and literally—about your old age.

Health Scare of the Week: Getting Sick in Sick Houses

The seizure of methamphetamine labs in the U.S. is on the rise, according to The Week. That’s good news for law enforcement, but as thousands of these labs become ordinary homes again, the unknowing people who move in are exposed to a potentially sickening toxic stew of drug-making chemicals left behind. One family was plagued by migraines, kidney trouble, and severe breathing problems after they unwittingly moved into a home infused with meth chemistry. The cost of cleanup–thousands of dollars–is an added blow to the innocent homeowner. There are tens of thousands of contaminated homes in the U.S., many of them falling into foreclosure, where their histories grow opaque. “The meth-lab home problem is only going to grow,” activist Dawn Turner tells The New York Times. She runs an informational website, “As foreclosures rise, so with the number of new meth-lab homeowners.” This is a clear indication folks to be sure and do your due dilligence when buying a foreclosed home! The money you save in real estate may end up costing you more in health care costs.

Need a Memory Boost? Try This Secret Tactic, and Lose Weight at the Same Time!

As you get older, you might expect one of the “symptoms” of aging to be memory loss. You might chalk this up to the aging process and figure there’s nothing you can really do about it. But guess what? There is something that you can do to prevent memory loss and even improve your memory: cutting down on calorie consumption. Keep reading to find out the most recent details of research on diet and memory.

According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PSNAS), a study was performed on 50 people of the average age of 60. They were divided into three groups: one group reduced their calorie intake by 30 percent, another group on a diet filled with unsaturated fat (such as that which is found in fish and olive oil) and a third group that just continued with their everyday diet.

Before the study, all of the participants scored the same on a memory test. After three months into the study, those who were on the restricted diet scored 20 percent higher when it came to the memory test than those who were in the other groups (whose memory did not improve at all).

It was discovered that the group on the restricted calorie diet had better scores that were in conjunction with decreases of insulin and C-reactive proteins.

Although the study was a relatively low when it came to numbers, it concluded that cutting back 30 percent on calorie intake can have an improvement in memory, due to the metabolic changes that result from the decreased amount of calories. The medical community is working on a drug that will mimic the same effects of calorie reduction. Drugs have been tested on mice and have shown benefits when it comes to calorie restrictions but the memory impact on the mice have not yet been studied.

According to Anthony Komaroff, MD, the editor in chief of the Harvard Health Letter, severe calorie restrictions may not be possible for some people, although there are those who are sticking with this plan in order to improve their memories. Komaroff hopes that a medication can be created to help give the brain the signal of fewer calories that will help improve memory in older individuals.

As you get older, you need fewer calories because your metabolism naturally slows down. However, many people do not take in fewer calories because they are used to a certain diet. While it may be difficult to adjust your calorie consumption, it can have other positive health benefits in addition to improved memory. Calorie reduction can limit obesity, decrease the risk for heart disease and also decrease the risk for diabetes, a common disease associated with obesity and often related to age.

Of course, before cutting a drastic amount of calories from your diet, you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider to weigh the risks and benefits of doing so.