Holistic treatment for insomnia
Holistic treatment for insomnia is multifaceted and incorporates many techniques including herbal medicine, vitamin and mineral supplements, lifestyle changes, improved sleep hygiene, massage therapy, behavioral therapy, meditation, diet, exercise, hypnosis, acupuncture, relaxation, guided imagery, and homeopathy. A treatment approach is aimed at precluding all the potential causes of poor sleep rather than simply providing symptomatic relief.
The sleep aid industry has a powerful grip on the world, but even the most effective prescription drugs have their downsides such as side-effects, tolerance, limited access and prohibitive costs. That’s why countless people turn to herbs, which have been tested for hundreds of years by herbalists and naturopaths (in contrast the standard 6 months of testing for the average pharmaceutical.)
This old religious taboo against “folk medicine” (Rome was burning many herbalists for their wisdom and knowledge of the natural world) carried over in the early 20th century, when the study of herbs was dropped for good in favour of the more profitable chemical methods of synthesization.
This has limited the public funding opportunities for current studies on the effectiveness of many revered and powerful herbs and plant medicines.
Herbs do not equal safe
Keep in mind that herbs do not equal safe. Some herbs may actually counteract other prescription drugs or be dangerous if used in combination with alcohol or sedatives, and others may be dangerous when combined with antidepressants. For example, the herbs comfrey and kava can cause serious harm to the liver.
Always be cautious about using any sleep product—prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, supplements or herbs. Find out about potential side effects and the effects of long-term use and use of more than one product at a time.
Also, a manufacturer’s use of the term “standardized” (or “verified” or “certified”) does not necessarily guarantee product quality or consistency. Herbal or other dietary supplements can act in the same way as drugs. They can cause medical problems (especially if not used correctly), and some may interact with medications you are already taking. The health care providers you see about your sleep problems can advise you. It is especially important to consult your health care provider if you are pregnant or nursing a child, or if you are considering giving a child a dietary supplement.
Research on supplements and insomnia has produced some promising insights but evidence of effectiveness is still limited and additional research is needed.