This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognizing you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting. We do not share any your subscription information with third parties. It is used solely to send you notifications about site content occasionally.

gaba

  • Do you have insomnia? Perhaps you just have occasional difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep. Either way, lack of sleep is a relatively common problem and is frequently treated with medications or alcohol. A consensus from population-based studies1 and other research2 indicate that approximately 30 percent of adult samples drawn from different countries report one or more of the symptoms of insomnia. A U.S. regional survey3 reported that about 20 percent or more of older American adults use some form of sleep aid, including prescription or over-the-counter drugs or alcohol.

    MEDICATIONS AND ALCOHOL USE FOR SLEEP
    The U.S. National Library of Medicine's PubMed Health4 website indicates that while over-the-counter sleep medicines to treat insomnia can sometimes be useful, there can be side effects such as daytime sleepiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. These effects may be worse in the elderly. Furthermore, stopping these medications suddenly can cause rebound insomnia and withdrawal. Likewise, the Mayo Clinic5 indicates that taking prescription sleeping pills, such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata) or ramelteon (Rozerem) may also help induce sleep. Side effects, which are often more pronounced in older people, may include excessive drowsiness, impaired thinking, night wandering, agitation, and balance problems. Prescription sleeping pills are generally not recommended for more than a few weeks, but several newer medications are approved for indefinite use. Nevertheless, some of these medications are habit-forming. Finally, alcohol is a sedative that may help induce sleep, but it also prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes an awakening in the middle of the night.6

    NATURAL ALTERNATIVES FOR SLEEP
    So, what are the natural alternatives? Certainly, a variety of dietary supplements are commonly self-prescribed for treating sleep problems. Some of the most well known—of which include melatonin and valerian root—"old school" remedies which, nevertheless, do have adequate research to support their use for this purpose. However, it should be noted that melatonin and valerian are not always without side effects. Although generally well tolerated, the most common side effects of melatonin include daytime drowsiness, headache, and dizziness—although these don't seem to occur any more frequently than with placebo.7 Likewise, although generally well tolerated, valerian side effects reported in clinical studies include headaches, gastrointestinal upset, mental dullness, excitability, uneasiness, and cardiac disturbances.8,9 Luckily, there are some other natural remedies, which have shown promising results for promoting healthy sleep, but without these side effects. These remedies include GABA, Apocynum venetum, ashwagandha, and lutein/zeaxanthin.

    GABA AND Apocynum venetum
    GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is the primary neurotransmitter in the central nervous system for exerting sedative and anti-anxiety effects.10 Apocynum venetum is an herbal remedy with a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine for soothing the nerves, insomnia, and for other purposes.11 These two nutraceuticals have been used together and individually in human clinical research for their stress reducing, mood enhancing, and sleep-promoting effects. The stress-reducing effects are also important for sleep since stress can make it difficult to get to sleep and sustain sleep.

    GABA AND Apocynum venetum STUDY 1
    A double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study12 was conducted to examine the stress-reducing effect of ingesting 25 mg/day GABA, and 25 mg/day Apocynum venetum leaf extract (Venetron®), a combination of both, or a placebo. Following intake, subjects were exposed to a stress-inducing mental task and then tested for the stress marker known as salivary chromogranin A (CgA), and scored on a mental questionnaire. Results showed that the combination significantly reduced salivary CgA secretion compared to placebo. Individually, GABA and Apocynum venetum leaf extract also reduced CgA secretion, but they did not reach statistical significance over placebo. In conclusion, the combination of GABA and Apocynum venetum leaf extract was able to reduce markers of cognitive-induced mental stress.

    GABA AND Apocynum venetum STUDY 2
    In another study, the effects of 100 mg/day GABA and 25 mg/ day Apocynum venetum leaf extract (Venetron), were investigated on sleep improvement in a single-blind, placebo-controlled study.13 The electroencephalogram (EEG) test revealed that both nutraceuticals had beneficial effects on sleep. GABA shortened the time it took to fall asleep and increased non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep time. Simultaneous intake of GABA and Apocynum venetum leaf extract shortened the time it took to fall asleep and increased non-REM sleep time. The result of questionnaires showed that GABA and Apocynum venetum leaf extract enabled subjects to realize the effects on sleep. These results mean that GABA can help people to fall asleep quickly, Apocynum venetum leaf extract induces deep sleep, and they function complementarily with a simultaneous intake. The researchers concluded that this combination can be regarded as safe and appropriate for daily intake in order to improve the quality of sleep.

    Apocynum venetum LEAF EXTRACT STUDY 1
    In a double-blind, randomized trial14, individuals with mild depression and symptoms of anxiety, were treated with 50 mg/ day Apocynum venetum leaf extract (Venetron) or placebo at different times over eight weeks. Global scores of depression and blood samples for serotonin levels were measured at baseline and after eight weeks. The changes were assessed using a 17-item Hamilton Depression (HAM-D) rating scale that evaluates depressed mood, vegetative and cognitive symptoms of depression, and anxiety symptoms. Global scores of depression and blood samples for serotonin levels were measured at baseline and after eight weeks. The results were that after eight weeks of treatment, 40 percent of the subjects in Apocynum venetum leaf extract group showed a greater-than-10-point decrease in HAM-D scores. Likewise, 50 percent had a decrease of 50 percent or greater in the symptoms of depression as compared with the placebo group. There were also significant improvements of decreased anxiety and reductions of insomnia in the middle of the night and later in the sleep cycle. In the Apocynum venetum leaf extract group, 50 percent of subjects had increased serotonin concentrations, demonstrating biochemical evidence of improvement (since maintaining healthy serotonin levels are necessary for healthy mood and sleep). HAM-D scores decreased by 50 percent or greater in the Apocynum venetum leaf extract group. Also, 60 percent of the Venetron group had a HAM-D score of eight or less by week eight. Other symptoms that showed significant improvements within the Apocynum venetum leaf extract group included middle- and late-night insomnia, work, activities, and anxiety. In conclusion Apocynum venetum leaf extract significantly improved anxiety and reduced insomnia in the middle of the night and later in the sleep cycle.

    Apocynum venetum LEAF EXTRACT STUDY 2
    In this human clinical intervention trial15, the symptoms of depression were assessed in subjects having widely varying severity using the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS). This scale used to measure depression was developed to assess functional impairment using three interrelated areas: work/school, social, and family life. The patient is able to rate the extent that work/ school, social life, and home life or family responsibilities are impaired by symptoms of depression as a composite of three self-rated items designed to measure the extent to which these three major life sectors are impaired by panic, anxiety, phobic, or depressive symptoms. Patients took 50 mg/day Apocynum venetum leaf extract for 14 days. Results were that the SDS scores of subjects improved in symptoms of depression ranging from minimal to mild depression and moderate to severe depression. The mean measurement significantly declined to the normal range after 14 days of ingestion. In conclusion, Apocynum venetum leaf extract improved depression in patients with varying degrees of symptom severity.

    VENETRON STUDY 3
    A human clinical intervention trial16 consisting of case studies was conducted. Subjects included one 29-year-old woman with PMS, a 39-year-old woman with PMS, a 55-year-old woman, a man, 36 years old, and two older men, one 66 and the other 75 years of age. All subjects received 50 mg/day Apocynum venetum leaf extract. The results were as follows: In the 29-year-old woman with PMS, Apocynum venetum leaf extract for one month reduced melancholy and overeating. In the 39-year-old woman with PMS, Apocynum venetum leaf extract for two weeks before menses and over a 3-month period, improved emotional symptoms such as irritability and depression. In the 36-year-old man, Apocynum venetum leaf extract for six months resulted in improvements in concentration and his feeling more optimistic. The 55-year-old woman, using Apocynum venetum leaf extract decreased fatigue and grief. In the 66- and the 75-year-old men, Apocynum venetum leaf extract for two weeks resulted in decreases in the frequency of waking up throughout the night and promoted deeper sleep. In conclusion, case studies have shown very good results in patients with depressive PMS disorders, and in younger and older depressed patients. The types of symptoms that improved include melancholy, overeating, emotional symptoms such as irritability, difficulty in concentrating, optimistic outlook, fatigue, and grief, and improvements in sleep.

    GABA STUDY 1
    Two studies17 investigated the effect of GABA on relaxation and stress in humans. The first study evaluated the effect of GABA intake on their brain waves. Electroencephalograms (EEG) were obtained after three tests on each volunteer as follows: intake only water, 100 mg GABA, or 200 mg L-theanine. After 60 minutes of administration, GABA significantly increases alpha waves (i.e. relaxing brain waves) and decreases beta waves compared to water or L-theanine. These findings denote that GABA not only induces relaxation but also reduces anxiety. The second study was conducted to see the role of relaxant and anxiolytic effects of 100 mg GABA intake on immunity in stressed volunteers. Eight acrophobic subjects were divided into two groups (placebo and GABA). All subjects were crossing a suspended bridge as a stressful stimulus. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in their saliva were monitored during bridge crossing. The placebo group showed a marked decrease of their IgA levels, while GABA group showed significantly higher levels. In conclusion, GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant and its effects could be seen within one hour of its administration to induce relaxation and diminish anxiety. Moreover, GABA administration could enhance immunity under stress conditions.

    GABA STUDY 2
    Researchers studied18 the psychological stress reducing effect of chocolate enriched with 28 mg/day GABA, on stress induced by an arithmetic task using changes of heart rate variability (HRV) and salivary chromogranin A (CgA). Fifteen minutes after eating GABA-enriched chocolate, subjects were assigned an arithmetic task for 15 minutes. After that, an electrocardiogram was recorded and saliva samples were collected. HRV was determined from the electrocardiogram, and the activity of the autonomic nervous system was estimated through HRV. The CgA concentration of all saliva samples, an index for acute psychological stress, was measured. From HRV, those taking GABA chocolate made a quick recovery to the normal state from the stressful state. The CgA value after the task in those taking GABA chocolate did not increase in comparison with that before ingestion. From these results, GABA chocolate was considered to have a psychological stress reducing effect.

    ASHWAGANDHA STUDY
    Withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha, has historically been used in Asia for treating stress-related health conditions. In this study,19 researchers investigated the effects of standardized ashwagandha root and leaf extract (Sensoril®) in chronically stressed humans in a clinical trial. Participants were randomly assigned to receive different doses of ashwagandha root and leaf extract, or placebo. Stress levels were assessed at Days 0, 30, and 60 using a modified Hamilton anxiety (mHAM-A) scale. Between Days 0 and 60, those receiving 125 mg/day ashwagandha root and leaf extract experienced a significantly greater decrease than placebo for the average mHAM-A score, serum cortisol, serum C-reactive protein, pulse rate, and blood pressure. In addition, those receiving 125 mg/day ashwagandha root and leaf extract had an improvement in the sleeplessness score from 3.1 on day 0, to 1.9 on day 30, to 0.9 on day 60—a percentage change of about 71 percent. Therefore, this study provides evidence that the consumption of ashwagandha root and leaf extract significantly reduced experiential and biochemical indicators of stress without adverse effects.

    Reduction in gross stress condition in 30 and 60-day periods

    LUTEIN/ZEAXANTHIN
    To understand why lutein/zeaxanthin is beneficial for sleep, you must first understand a little bit about blue light, a powerful and potentially damaging component of visible light from the sun, digital devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.) and artificial light.20,21,22,23,24,25 As it passes through the lens of the human eye, the visible wavelengths of light, including ultraviolet and blue light, focus upon the macular area of the retina. In particular, the blue wavelengths penetrate deeply into the eye, and have the greatest potential to damage retinal tissue by inducing free radicals, etc.26,27,28,29 In fact, ongoing exposure to blue light (regardless of the source) is a major risk factor for various retinal damage.30,31,32,33

    SYMPTOMS OF CHRONIC BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE
    Research indicates that chronic exposure to blue light can cause a variety of symptoms. These include headaches, eye fatigue and other indications of eye strain are associated with the daily use of video display terminals on computers and other electronic devices and are common with three or more hours/day of exposure. In addition, blue light has been shown to delay or suppress the release of melatonin, your body's sleep hormone.34,35,36 Unfortunately, 30 percent of adults spend more than half their waking hours (more than nine hours) using a digital device, 50 percent of Americans use digital devices more than five hours a day, and 70 percent use two or more digital devices at the same time.37 Consequently, it's not surprising that so many people have problems with eye fatigue, eye strain and sleep.

    PROTECTION WITH LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN ISOMERS
    The good news is that lutein and zeaxanthin isomers (rr- and rs-(meso)-zeaxanthin), macular carotenoids well known for the role they play in supporting eye health, can help mitigate the effects that blue light has on common retinal damage. The way it works is that lutein/zeaxanthin have a yellow coloration. Because yellow pigments absorb blue light, lutein effectively protects the retina from the region of the light spectrum that can cause tissue damage, and also limits the ability of light to generate free radicals. Basically, lutein/zeaxanthin act as a sort of internal pair of sunglasses, protecting the macular region of the retina from blue light damage. In addition, various studies have shown that supplementation with 10 mg/2 mg–20 mg/4 mg lutein/zeaxanthin (Lutemax®2020 Marigold flower extract) can help make users of computers and other digital devices more comfortable throughout the day, reducing eye strain and relieving tired eyes. Supplementation also protects eyes against harmful blue light and against oxidative stress and harmful free radicals.38,39,40

    LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN ISOMERS, AND SLEEP
    More specific to the subject of this article, there is a direct connection between blue light, lutein/zeaxanthin, and sleep. It has to do with melatonin, a hormone, secreted by the pineal gland,41 whose primary role is regulation of the body's circadian rhythm, and sleep patterns.42,43 Specifically, light, including blue light, inhibits melatonin secretion and darkness stimulates secretion.44,45 Consequently, too much light exposure, particularly at night, can inhibit melatonin secretion and interfere with sleep. Interestingly, research has shown that, at night, even blue light from smartphones can negatively impact sleep.46 That's where blue-light filtering lutein and zeaxanthin isomers can help.

    To determine if increasing macular levels of lutein/zeaxanthin, by supplementing lutein/zeaxanthin isomers, would affect sleep quality, a two-part study47 was conducted. The first part was a 3-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Subjects in the active supplement group ingested lutein/zeaxanthin isomers daily (LutemaxR2020 Marigold flower extract). Sleep quality was evaluated with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Critical flicker fusion frequency1 (CFF) and contrast sensitivity (CS) were also measured. Outdoor and indoor exposure to light (UV) and electronic devices before and after supplementation were recorded. The results showed that the lutein/zeaxanthin group exhibited significant improvement in overall sleep quality and levels of macular pigments, as well as CS and CFF, at three months. There were no changes in the placebo group. This trial found that increasing macular pigments via lutein/zeaxanthin isomers supplementation, might serve to absorb more blue light from sources (such as computer screens, tablets, or smartphones) that can be used during nighttime hours, and would otherwise provide a circadian signal to stay awake.

    (1. CFF is a diagnostic tool used for several purposes, including the degree of light or dark adaptation, i.e., the duration and intensity of previous exposure to background light, which affects both the intensity sensitivity and the time resolution of vision.)

    The second part was also a 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which 34 healthy individuals participated. The same supplementation regimen and assessment methods were used as with the 3-month study. Results were that at six months macular pigments, CFF, CS, sleep quality improved with lutein/ zeaxanthin supplementation, with no changes in the placebo group.

    CONCLUSIONS
    Lack of sleep is a relatively common problem and is frequently treated with medications or alcohol— both of which are associated with undesirable side effects. Even melatonin and valerian root may have side effects for some individuals. Alternatively, include GABA, Apocynum venetum, ashwagandha, and lutein/zeaxanthin are other natural remedies, which have shown promising results for promoting healthy sleep, but without these side effects. Since these natural remedies work by different mechanisms, they can all be used at the same time without redundancy. They can also be used individually.

    Endnotes

    1. Ancoli-Israel S, Roth T. Characteristics of insomnia in the United States: results of the 1991 National Sleep Foundation Survey. I. Sleep. 1999;22(Suppl 2):S347.53.
    2. Morin CM, LeBlanc M, Daley M, Gregoire JP, Merette C. Epidemiology of insomnia: prevalence, self-help treatments, consultations, and determinants of help-seeking behaviors. Sleep Med. 2006;7(2):123.30.
    3. Johnson EO, Roehrs T, Roth T, Breslau N. Epidemiology of alcohol and medication as aids to sleep in early adulthood. Sleep. 1998 Mar 15;21(2):178.86.
    4. PubMed Health: Insomina. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine Bethesda MD. Review Date: 8/16/2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011 from Insomnia/.
    5. Insomnia: Treatment & Drugs. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Jan. 7, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011 from Insomnia.
    6. Insomnia: Ibid.
    7. Buscemi N, Vandermeer B, Pandya R, et al. Melatonin for treatment of sleep disorders. Summary, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment #108. (Prepared by the Univ of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center, under Contract#290-02-0023.) AHRQ Publ #05-E002-2. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality. November 2004.
    8. Klepser TB, Klepser ME. Unsafe and potentially safe herbal therapies. Am J Health Syst Pharm 1999;56:125.38.
    9. National Toxicology Program, US Department of Health and Human Services. Chemical Information Review Document for Valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) [CAS No. 8057-49-6] and Oils [CAS No. 8008-88-6]. Supporting Nomination for Toxicological Evaluation by the National Toxicology Program. November 2009.
    10. Kalant H, Roschlau WHE, Eds. Principles of Med. Pharmacology. New York, NY: Oxford Univ Press, 1998.
    11. Xie W, Zhang X, Wang T, Hu J. Botany, traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Apocynum venetum L. (Luobuma): A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 May 7;141(1):1.8.
    12. Yoto A, Ishihara S, Li-Yang J, Butterweck V, Yokogoshi H. The Stress Reducing Effect of γ-Aminobutyric Acid and Apocynum venetum Leaf Extract on Changes in Concentration of Salivary Chromogranin A. Japanese Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 2009 14(3): 55.59.
    13. Yamatsu A, Yamashita Y, Maru I, Yang J, Tatsuzaki J, Kim M. The Improvement of Sleep by Oral Intake of GABA and Apocynum venetum Leaf Extract. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol(Tokyo). 2015;61(2):182.7.
    14. Venetron® brochure, Tokiwa. Summarized in Maypro document "Venetron Clinical Evidence." Topic: What was the effect of a daily dose of 50 mg of Venetron® in individuals with mild depression over 8 weeks?
    15. Venetron® brochure, Tokiwa. Summarized in Maypro document "Venetron Clinical Evidence." Topic: What effect does Venetron® have on patients with various degrees of depression?
    16. Venetron® brochure, Tokiwa. Summarized in Maypro document "Venetron Clinical Evidence." Topic: What have been the results of Venetron® in case studies of patients having depression, PMS, anxiety, and/or insomnia?
    17. Abdou AM, Higashiguchi S, Horie K, Kim M, Hatta H, Yokogoshi H. Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. Biofactors. 2006;26(3):201-8.
    18. Nakamura H, Takishima T, Kometani T, Yokogoshi H. Psychological stress-reducing effect of chocolate enriched with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in humans: assessment of stress using heart rate variability and salivary chromogranin A. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009;60 Suppl 5:106.13.
    19. Auddy B, Hazra J, Mitra A, Abedon B, Ghosal S. A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. JANA. 2008;11(1):2008:50.56.
    20. Nakashima Y, Ohta S1, Wolf AM2. Blue light-induced oxidative stress in live skin. Free Radic Biol Med. 2017 Mar 15. pii: S0891. 5849(17)30134-X.
    21. Tosini G, Ferguson I, Tsubota K. Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Mol Vis. 2016 Jan 24;22:61.72.
    22. The Vision Council. Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma. 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report. Thevisioncouncil.org.
    23. The Vision Council. Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protect your eyes from digital devices. 2015 Digital Eye Strain Report. Thevisioncouncil.org.
    24. Smick K, et al. Blue Light Hazard: New Knowledge, New Approaches to Maintaining Ocular Health. Report of a Roundtable: March 16, 2013, New York City, NY, USA. Essilor of America.
    25. Kuse Y, Ogawa K, Tsruma K, Shimazawa M, Hara H. Damage of photoreceptor-derived cells in culture induced by light emitting diode-derived blue light. Sci Rep. 2014 Jun 9;4:5223.
    26. Tosini, Ibid.
    27. Wu J, Seregard S, Algvere PV. Photochemical damage of the retina. Surv Ophthalmol. 2006 Sep-Oct;51(5):461–81.
    28. Algvere PV, Marshall J, Seregard S. Age-related maculopathy and the impact of blue light hazard. Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 2006 Feb;84(1):4–15.
    29. Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). 2012. Health Effects of Artificial Light. Accessed from http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/emerging/docs/scenihr_o_035.pdf.
    30. Cruickshanks KJ, Klein R, Klein BEK. Sunlight and age-related macular degeneration—the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Arch Ophthalmol. 1993;111:514–8.
    31. Klein R, Klein BEK, Jensen SC, Cruickshanks KJ. The relationship of ocular factors to the incidence and progression of agerelated maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 1998;116:506–13.
    32. Algvere, Ibid.
    33. Taylor HR, Muñoz B, West S, Bressler NM, Bressler SB, Rosenthal FS. Visible light and risk of age-related macular degeneration. Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 1990;88:163–73.
    34. Figueiro MG. Individually tailored light intervention through closed eyelids to promote circadian alignment and sleep health. Sleep Health. 2015 Mar 1;1(1):75–82.
    35. Daneault V, Dumont M, Massé É, Vandewalle G, Carrier J. Light-sensitive brain pathways and aging. J Physiol Anthropol. 2016; Mar 15;35:9.
    36. Lockley SW, Evans EE, Scheer FA, Brainard GC, Czeisler CA, Aeschbach D. Short-wavelength sensitivity for the direct effects of light on alertness, vigilance, and the waking electroencephalogram in humans. Sleep. 2006 Feb;29(2):161–8.
    37. Richer S. Lutein and zeaxanthin protect against "bad blue" light. Eye Health Insider. December 2016: 4.
    38. Stringham J. Effects of three levels of lutein supplementation on macular pigment optical density, psychological stress levels, and overall health. Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory, University of Georgia. Unpublished. 2016:17 pgs.
    39. Lutein/Zeaxanthin Isomers Supplementation Impact on Vision Health. Unpublished. 2016:8 pgs.
    40. Blue Light Study Eye Stress. Unpublished. 2016: 2 pgs.
    41. Nurnberger JI Jr, Adkins S, Lahiri DK, et al. Melatonin suppression by light in euthymic bipolar and unipolar patients. Arch Gen Psychiatr 2000;57:572-9.
    42. Brzezinski A. Melatonin in humans. N Engl J Med 1997;336:186-95.
    43. Lissoni P, Barni S, Meregalli S, et al. Modulation of cancer endocrine therapy by melatonin: a phase II study of tamoxifen plus melatonin in metastatic breast cancer patients progressing under tamoxifen alone. Br J Cancer 1995;71:854-6.
    44. Brzezinski, Ibid.
    45. Daneault, Ibid.
    46. Yoshimura M, Kitazawa M, Maeda Y, Mimura M, Tsubota K, Kishimoto T. Smartphone viewing distance and sleep: an experimental study utilizing motion capture technology. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017 Mar 8;9:59-65.
    47. Stringham JM et al. Short-term macular carotenois supplementation improves overall sleep quality. ARVO 2016 Annual Meeting Abstracts
  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to the July 2018 issue of TotalHealth Magazine Online.

    This July issue 2018 celebrates the Fourth of July and the USA—United We Stand. Let our voices be heard at the voting booth and in the meantime treat others with kindness. Good for our health.

    This issue begins with Charles K. Bens, PhD, "Drug Resistant Germs, A Real Threat," educates us on what natural medicine has for you to use to conquer the bad viruses.

    Dallas Clouatre, PhD, provides information on a natural therapy many of us are not yet familiar with: Shilajit, Fulvic, And Humic Acids. "Shilajit typically is a blackish brown rock exudate that contains fulvic and humic acids (up to 85 percent of the total weight) along with a number of non-humic components, including local plant metabolites." Other names include "mineral pitch" and "moomio." Revered in the Indian Ayurvedic tradition," it is found exuding from rock fissures in the mountains of Asia. Most often it is found in the Himalayan foothills.

    Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, discusses, "GABA, Apocynum Venetum, Ashwagandha, And Lutein/Zeaxanthin For Healthy Sleep." These natural remedies have shown promising results for promoting healthy sleep, but without the side effects of many of the pharmaceutical brands prescribed today. It is unwise to stop the prescription medications without the guidance of a healthcare professional.

    Jacob Teitelbaum, MD begins a four-part series on "Night Sweats—No Sweat." Taking a look at the causes and the remedies on how to address them. Don't be surprised if more than one underlying process is contributing.

    Shawn Messonnier, DVM, focuses this month on, "Treating Feline Leukemia." What causes this condition and the treatment available to treat cats.

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, presents "French Fry Nightshade-FREE Alternatives." Those photos alone will make your mouth water and inspire you to purchase the ingredients on your next trip to the grocery store.

    Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, continues her Smart Fats Series with "Omega-7 And Butter," for all of us struggling to take off weight. Gittleman's expert experience will be of interest. And there will be no question of what you purchase in the future.

    Thanks to all the authors who make TotalHealthOnline possible.

    Happy 4th!

    Best in health,

    TWIP—The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full July 2018 issue.

    Click here to read the full July 2018 issue.

  • Insomnia is the chronic inability to sleep or to remain asleep through the night. The condition is caused by a variety of physical and psychological factors. These include emotional stress, physical pain and discomfort, disturbances in brain function, drug abuse and drug dependence, neuroses, psychoses, and psychological problems that produce anxiety, irrational fears, and tensions. Conventional medical treatments may include giving sedatives, tranquilizers or hypnotics, psychotherapy, and exercise. However, there are also a variety of natural substances, which may help. These are discussed below.

    MELATONIN

    Melatonin is a hormone produced by the small, pea-shaped pineal gland located in the brain. During daylight hours, light entering the eye stimulates neurons to transmit impulses to the pineal gland that inhibit melatonin secretion. But at night, the pineal gland is able to release melatonin, which causes relaxation and initiates the sleep cycle.

    As the body ages, it produces less melatonin—which may explain why elderly people often have difficulty sleeping1 and why melatonin supplements improve sleep in the elderly.2 This does not mean that the use of melatonin should be limited to the elderly. Other research has shown that non-elderly adults with insomnia can also have lower melatonin levels.3 Also, research has demonstrated that melatonin even helps facilitate sleep in young adults.4 An appropriate dose would be 3–6 mg melatonin taken one hour before bedtime.

    VALERIAN ROOT

    Valerian root is considered by many to be the "granddaddy" of all sleep-promoting herbs, and is the leading herb for insomnia in modern herbal medicine. Valerian root makes getting to sleep easier and increases deep sleep and dreaming. Valerian does not cause the morning "hangover" which is a common side effect of prescription sleep drugs and melatonin in some individuals.5,6 By itself, a valerian root supplement (standardized for percent of valerenic acid), in doses of 300–400 mg can be taken thirty minutes before bedtime. Also, Valerian may be combined with other herbs. For example, one German study compared the effect of a combination product containing an extract of valerian root (320 mg at bedtime) and extract of lemon balm, Melissa officinalis, with the sleeping drug Halcion®.7 After monitored sleep for nine nights, the herbal duo matched Halcion in boosting the ability to get to sleep as well as in the quality of sleep. However, the Halcion group felt hung over and had trouble concentrating the next day, while those taking the valerian/lemon balm combination reported no negative effect.

    HOPS

    Hops have a history of use as nature's best sleep "inducer." Though many natural substances are more effective at keeping one asleep, Hops is often considered best at inducing sleep. The German Commission E recommends Hops for anxiety or insomnia.8

    PASSION FLOWER

    Passion flower has been, and continues to be an extremely popular herb in Europe where it is often used to induce relaxation and sleep. In the United States, however, medical use of the herb did not begin until the late nineteenth century when passion flower was used to treat nervous restlessness and gastrointestinal spasms—the belief being that passion flower worked primarily on the nervous system, particularly for anxiety due to mental worry and overwork.9 Research has demonstrated that the flavonoids in passion flower are the primary constituents responsible for its relaxing and anti-anxiety effects.10

    SCULLCAP

    Scullcap has been used historically and in modern times as a sedative for people with nervous tension as well as for insomnia. Unfortunately, very few studies have been conducted on Scullcap. However, one double-blind, placebo-controlled study11 of healthy subjects demonstrated noteworthy anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects from Scullcap. Also, one of Scullcaps constituents known as scutellaria has been shown to have mild sedative and antispasmodic actions in animal research.12

    GRIFFONIA SIMPLICIFOLIA (5-HTP)

    5-Hydroxy-L-Tryptophan (5-HTP) is a natural peptide, which the human body uses to make the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is important for normal nerve and brain function, and plays an important role in sleep. In fact, your body can convert serotonin into melatonin.13 The concept is that by taking supplemental 5-HTP your body should be able to make serotonin, which ultimately, should help promote sleep. In fact, in one placebo-controlled trial 5-HTP was able to improve the duration and depth of sleep in individuals with insomnia.14 In addition, 5-HTP was able to improve sleep quality in a preliminary trial of people with fibromyalgia.15 Commercially, 5-HTP can be derived from the seeds of a West African plant called Griffonia simplicifolia. Some Griffonia extracts are standardized to 10 percent 5-HTP.

    GABA

    Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) is a natural peptide, which is manufactured from the amino acid glutamine and glucose. In the central nervous system, GABA exerts anticonvulsant, sedative, and anxiolytic effects at the cellular level.16,17 GABA supplements appear to promote relaxation and sleep.18 GABA itself does not cause drowsiness. Instead, by easing anxiety, it simply makes it easier to fall asleep.

    DIET AND/OR OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

    For many insomniacs, avoiding caffeine may be an absolute necessity. After all, caffeine is a well-known stimulant, which can keep you awake.19 Now if you're thinking, "Fine, I'll just make sure not to have any coffee in the evening," you may be in for a disappointment. The effects of caffeine can last up to twenty hours,20 so you may need to stop drinking coffee altogether. Now besides regular coffee, black and green tea, cocoa, chocolate, some soft drinks, and many over-thecounter pharmaceuticals also contain caffeine, so be sure to limit or avoid the intake of these items as well. Another dietary consideration is that eating high-carbohydrate food before bedtime, such as a slice of bread or some crackers, can significantly increase serotonin levels in the body—and the neurotransmitter serotonin is known to reduce anxiety and promote sleep.

    Non-dietary considerations include stress and smoking. Insomnia can be triggered by, or exacerbated by psychological stress. Dealing with that stress through counseling has helped in many studies.22 Another method of intervention, which has helped is listening to relaxation tapes.23

    In addition, research has shown that smokers are more likely to have insomnia than non-smokers,24 which is one more good reason for smokers to quit.

    Another non-dietary approach to insomnia can include lavender oil. The volatile or essential oil of lavender contains many medicinal components, including perillyl alcohol, linalool, and geraniol. The oil is calming25 and thus can be helpful in some cases of insomnia. One study of elderly persons with sleeping troubles found that inhaling lavender oil was as effective as tranquilizers.26 The German government approves lavender for people with insomnia.27

    References

    1. Haimov I, et al, BMJ (1994) 309:167.
    2. Singer C, et al, J Am Geriatr Soc (1996) 44:51 [abstr #A1].
    3. Attenburrow MEJ, et al, BMJ(1996) 312:1263–64.
    4. Zhadanova IV, et al, Clin Pharmacol Ther (1995) 57:552–58.
    5. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F, Planta Medica (1985) 51:144–48.
    6. Leathwood PD, et al, Pharmacol Biochem Behav (1982) 17:65–71.
    7. Dressing H, et al, Therapiewoche (1992) 42:726–36.
    8. Blumenthal M, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines (1998) Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, pp. 147.
    9. Foster S, Herbs for Your Health (1996) Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado, pp. 68–9.
    10. Meier B, Zeitschrift Phytother(1995) 16:115–26.
    11. Wolfson P, Hoffmann DL. An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers. Alternative therapies in health and medicine 2003; 9(2):74-8.
    12. Foster S. Herbs for Your Health. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1996, 86–7.
    13. Guyton AC, Hall JE. Textbook of Medical Physiology, 9th ed. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1996.
    14. Soulairac A, Lambinet H. Etudes cliniques de líaction du precurseur de la serotonine le L-5-hydroxy-tryptophane, sur les troubles du sommeil. Schweiz Bundschau Med (PRAXIS) 1998;77(34a):19–23.
    15. Puttini PS, Caruso I. Primary fibromyalgia syndrome and 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan: a 90 day open study. J Int Med Res 1992;20:182–9.
    16. Kalant H, Roschlau WHE, Eds. Principles of Med. Pharmacology. New York, NY: Oxford Univ Press, 1998.
    17. Bloom FE, Kupfer DJ. Psychopharmacology: The Fourth Generation of Progress. New York, NY: Raven Press, Ltd., 1995.
    18. GABA. WholeHealthMD.com. Accessed on December 1, 2005 from http://www.wholehealthmd.com/refshelf/substances_view/1,1525,10027,00.html.
    19. Weiss B, Laties VG, Pharmacol Rev (1962) 14:1–36.
    20. Hollingworth HL, Arch Psychol (1912) 20:1–66.
    21. Blum I, et al, Metabolism (1992) 41:137–40.
    22. Morin CM, Culbert JP, Schwartz SM, Am J Psychiatr(1994) 151:1172–80.
    23. Fuerst ML, JAMA (1983) 249:459–60.
    24. Phillips BA, Danner FJ, Arch Intern Med (1995) 155:734–7.
    25. Buchbauer G, et al, Z Naturforsch [C] (1991) 46:1067–72.
    26. Hardy M, Kirk-Smith MD, Stretch DD, Lancet (1995) 346:701 [letter].
    27. Blumenthal M, et al, (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines (1998) Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, pp. 159–60.