With so many people suffering from insomnia, herbal sleep aids are a tempting remedy. LoveToKnow recently spoke with Trinity Ava, Director of Education and Herbalist for Organix-South. An accomplished herbalist and educator, Trinity works with Organix-South's neem and herbal-based products and teaches herbalism courses at Bastyr University and the California School of Herbal Studies. Trinity shares some background about Organix-South's newest product, an herbal blend called TheraVeda Sleep Ease, and herbal sleep remedy to help you catch a good night's sleep.
Herbal Sleep Aids
First, we asked Trinity for more information on TheraVeda Sleep Ease and Stress Ease, two herbal blends touted as sleep and stress relieving herbal remedies.
Tell us a little about Sleep Ease and Stress Ease.
TheraVeda® Sleep Ease and Stress Ease formulas may be used separately or together, with your individual response to them setting the rule for when they should be used. Many individuals who struggle with sleep issues find that taking adaptogens, like Ashwagandha and Shatavari, during the day can be an effective preventive action that prepares their body for sleep at night. People who need additional focus to accomplish daily objectives may take Brahmi and Jatamansi during the day. These formulas may be used for three to six months continuously (taking one week off per month). Both formulas are designed to be fast-acting so that most people will experience results within 15 to 30 minutes.
What herbs does it contain?
Sleep Ease contains the following herbs:
- Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) and Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) are combined specifically in this formula to improve sleep, which is often interrupted in times of high stress. Both have calming nervine compounds that help take the edge off stressful situations. It improves memory and mental clarity, reduces symptoms of stress and anxiety and balances the nervous system. Taken at night, it calms the mind and slows brain chatter, allowing you to ease into a good night's rest. There are no known contraindications. It is suggested to use caution if taking antiepileptic and antidepressant medications. As with all herbs during pregnancy and lactation, consult a healthcare professional prior to use. No drug-herb interactions known.
- Jatamansi: Another important herb in Sleep Ease is Jatamansi or Indian Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi). Its primary action is that it soothes restlessness, calms and focuses the mind and helps maintain healthy heart function. Jatamansi is beneficial for promoting a good night's sleep without being overly sedating. This herb should be used with caution during pregnancy. High doses can cause nausea, colic and urinary problems. It is suggested to use caution with sedative, antihypertensive, and anti-depressive medications. As with all herbs during pregnancy and lactation, consult a healthcare professional prior to use. There are no known drug-herb interactions, but as with any dietary supplement, consult a healthcare professional prior to using them. Use with particular caution if you are taking other medications to help cope with stress, anxiety or insomnia.
How do they induce sleep or rest?
These herbs calm and focus the mind to relax and be prepared for a good night rest by addressing stress, anxiety, restlessness and helping to quiet the mental chatter that often keeps us from resting well. They both help to build the nervous system and feed our nervous system to find greater balance, which in turn helps with sleep and reducing stressors and our response to stressors that can keep us from sleeping or resting well.
Herbs for Insomnia and Stress Relief
Next, we asked Trinity why such herbal blends are in demand lately.
Why do you think there's a high demand in today's world for sleep products?
Great question! There are many factors involved with our cultural obsession for sleeping less. We push ourselves to work 24/7. Many seem to hold the vision that sleep is not necessary. They "burn out" the savings account of vitality and keep themselves nicely fueled with caffeine and sugar, which can make it "seem" like they don't need to refuel.
We also have an excess stimulation of our senses; television, the Internet, sound overload in cities, olfactory overload with synthetic aromas inundating our limbic system with a fight or flight response to the aromas of our fabric softeners, body care products and perfumes. Wave matter from cell phone towers and wireless information cascading through our body and mind - this too appears to be vastly stimulating for many.
What about stress?
Stress is acceptable in our culture. To be stressed out and constantly doing too much is what tends to be the norm for many. It seems we are trapped at times under a veil of puritanical demise for fear of being a "slacker." I still struggle with the overachievers dream as well, I don't think I am alone in this game.We tend to want a 'magic bullet' pharmaceutical pill to make us feel better, but there's a lot we can do by adjusting our diet, lifestyle and work patterns to relieve stress. Taking adaptogenic herbs during the day (such as combing Sleep Ease with our Stress Ease formula) is as important, if not more important, to provide for a good night's rest. Adaptogens fortify the body regularly so that we can adapt to the countless stressors of our endogenous and exogenous environments.
Other Natural Remedies for Insomnia
What other natural techniques can readers try in order to obtain restful sleep?
A truly natural approach would incorporate the wisdom of traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda, or the wisdom of our grandparents in every culture; they knew "tricks" to support being healthy and happy for many common issues like sleep or a cold or flu. This science involves learning how to track our individual patterns for stress, sleep, wellness and when we are at our peak energy cycles and listening to these. Breathing exercises, yoga, movement, being in nature, laughter, reducing stressors; being happy and feeling good in your own skin is the number one thing we can all do to find better sleep and resting patterns that help to quiet the mind and enhance our relationship to sleep, rest and daily well being. Slow down, set realistic goals for how much should be done in a day, week, lifetime so that we are more in alignment with our core values for time with family, friends and life out side of our work.
We also hear a lot about adoptogens.
Yes - the word of the year is ADAPTOGENS - Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Holy basil (Tulsi), there are many. Find your adaptogens and take them regularly, during the day or evening (taking a least one week off per month). Make sure that the formula of adaptogens that you are taking is energetically balanced to best suit your "terrain" or constitution. Not too heating or too cooling; but balanced. All of our TheraVeda formulas are energetically balanced of heating and cooling herbs and relay on combinations of herbs that have been used for thousands of years, on large populations to validate their efficacy and safety.
Give the herbs an opportunity to work in your body for three to six months to notice the maximum benefit. If the herbs don't make you feel better, try something else. Everyone's body is different.
It takes time for adaptogens and many tonics. The example I usually give for adaptogenic herbs is that it is a bit like going to the gym. You might notice something at first, but it is more subtle; you just feel a bit clearer in your head, you don't get sick as often, you feel a bit stronger after your first week of working out, you notice you are gaining in stamina. But if you go to the gym or exercise regularly or take your adaptogens regularly, you notice that overtime (usually between one to three months), a dynamic shift is happening, that this shift is affecting your whole world. You feel less stressed, you are sleeping better, your relationships are more harmonious, you have more energy, your mind feels clearer -this does not happen overnight for most.
When should people see a doctor if they can't fall asleep?
Chronic insomnia can itself be a symptom of another condition, such as depression, heart disease, sleep apnea, lung disease, hot flashes, or diabetes, so it's important to see a doctor if you are having trouble sleeping. Find a doctor who is willing to work with you as a whole person not just your imbalance (sleep issues), one who will also take into account your diet and lifestyle and herbs. Or utilize two practitioners who network their intakes about your individual condition to assure that there are not potential drug herb interactions.
If someone is really struggling with sleep, insomnia, anxiety, depression (they often go hand in hand), it is wise to get help from their primary care practitioner, a qualified herbal practitioner, L.A.c (licensed acupuncturist), or N.D.(Naturopathic doctor) to help them adjust their herbal, diet and lifestyle choices. Many primary care practitioners can address lifestyle patterns, vs. just utilizing medications. Seek out a primary care practitioner who looks at all of your patterns, not simply the fact that you may not being sleeping enough or sleeping well. Issues like sleep apnea can be very serious and should be supported by a primary care practitioner.
What else would you like to tell our readers about herbal sleep aids or your product in particular?
Herbs aren't a magic bullet. They have to work hand in hand with lifestyle changes. Changing patterns often requires time, patience and some trial and error to find what works for you. We have to participate in our health and wellness and our imbalances vs. "checking ourselves in" for someone else to fix our body when it feels "broken." If someone is still taking in large amounts of caffeine and sugar daily and not eating well, herbs can only go so far to change the pattern.
For more information or to find Sleep Ease and Stress Ease by Organix-South, please visit the company's website, OrganixSouth.com.