What Is The Best Medication for PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the most common period related complaints of women in their reproductive years.  They can have PMS irritability and anger, nausea, cramping, pain and bloating.  PMS can also cause anxiety, depression, swelling, headaches and breast tenderness.  The best medication for treating PMS is considered oral contraceptives, however some patients have adverse effects usually because of a methylation defect, MTHFR.  Another treatment considered successful is the Serotonin selection re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), however these can have side effects too and women don’t feel like themselves.  The lack of resolutions of the symptoms without drugs or side effects often leaves women asking ‘what vitamins are good for PMS?’ or ‘how to stop PMS naturally?’

Integrative medicine has included Chaste Tree Berry as an effective herbal medicine to balance the cycle out and minimize symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome and even PMDD.  Naturopathic Doctors have found the research for Chaste Tree Berry, otherwise known as Vitex, as effective as oral contraceptives for PMS mood swings and PMS pain but without the side effects many women experience from oral contraceptives.  While this herbal supplement shows great promise, holistic medicine allows your Naturopathic Doctor to consider what other alternative medicine options may fit you as well.  Magnesium may benefit you for PMS cramps and may be an appropriate natural remedy if you have other signs of magnesium deficiency.  Evening primrose oil or progesterone may also be a goos fit. Assessing your overall health and body symptoms can help a integrative doctor fit the right tools to eventually be close to symptom free around your period.

There is a natural rise and fall to estrogen and progesterone during a women’s cycle that is important to understand and balance out.  When the estrogen is higher, a woman is more likely to be decisive and motivated.  This is the best time of the month to make decisions or work on a large project.  This is the time of doing.  Right around the time PMS shows up, there is a time of reflection and being and part of the natural cycle and big decisions are not best made here.  Just understanding this about your body can empower you.  The more you are able to create balance, the less symptoms or vitamins and medications you will need for PMS symptoms.  This is the natural rhythm of the menses cycle.  This is surely an alternative view but a holistic treatment protocol for PMS.  Our Naturopathic Doctors understand that your body has been through a lot and may have cellular memory contributing to your symptoms of PMS.  We are all about problem solving.

We specialize in this kind of thing so PMS or cramps is not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you, your specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

Surprise Your Taste Buds with Sunchokes

On your next foray down the produce aisle, don’t overlook the wonderful sunchoke, aka Jerusalem Artichoke. These tubers look nothing like an artichoke and are easily mistaken for a strange potato! A native North American plant, sunchokes are a member of the sunflower family.

Low in calories and nutrient dense, sunchokes provide iron, potassium, thiamin (one of the B vitamins) and a good amount of fiber in a one-cup serving. The carbohydrate contained in sunchokes is inulin, which doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar, so it’s a great option for anyone concerned about diabetes or weight management. Sunchokes also contain vitamins, A, C, and E. The most unique nutrient found in sunchokes is known as prebiotics, a type of non-digestible carbohydrate found in many root vegetables. Food-based prebiotics enhance nutrient absorption and help maintain a healthy intestinal tract by promoting growth of “good” gut bacteria, which supports immunity.

Sunchokes have a nutty, mildly sweet flavor and are delightful to eat raw – shredded or sliced into a salad or sliced and served with raw carrots and other veggies. They can be cooked in a variety of ways and added to stir-fry dishes in lieu of water chestnuts. Their flavor is enhanced when lightly seasoned for sauteing or roasting. You can also puree sunchokes for soups.

Available year-round in the U.S., prime harvest time is October through early spring. Buy tubers that are firm, free of sprouts or bruises, with a smooth, clean surface making them easier to prepare.

 

References
Contact our office for more information

Journey of Health Medical Clinic

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What Should I Eat If I Am Constipated?

Constipation pain in kids is hard to watch.  Even as an adult, it is miserable and search for constipation relief.  Chronic constipation cause us to ask some of these common questions.  Most common is, “what should I eat if I am constipated?”  Knowing what food causes constipation can be helpful and most integrative doctors will encourage you to focus on simple diet changes such as avoid dairy and processed foods while increasing your fiber in fruits, veggies, beans and grain intake.  Definitely making sure you get your water in daily is important.  Probiotics, prunes, magnesium, massage can also be great tools.  There are holistic medicine options you can do from for chronic constipation.  This still doesn’t answer the another common question of “why do I get constipation so easily?”

Food intolerances can be something that triggers constipation.  these mysterious, sometimes even perfectly healthy foods can take days to cause the constipation.  Fortunately nowadays, Naturopathic doctors can run a food intolerance test or a panel of 184 foods based on your IgG memory of your food reaction.  This is different from the IgE food allergy test that your integrative doctor would may offer you.  If may still be helpful but IgE allergy tests don’t provide the answers to what foods may be causing you or you kids chronic constipation.  Natural medicine is focused on finding those holistic health options that work.  It is an alternative medicine way of thinking about constipation trouble.

Another common question, “Is Miralax Safe for kid?” Even the manufacturer says that Miralax is for occasional constipation.  Unfortunately, it is often the only option given to parents as a help for their kids and doctors encourage parents to administer to kids because they really don’t know of other options.  Alternative medicine has many natural remedies for constipation relief but they usually only work temporarily.  Only a Naturopathic approach of getting to the cause will help you solve the constipation once and for all.  Identifying food intolerance may be the cause for some, identifying gastrointestinal infections or inflammation may be another’s cause.  Each person is an individual and Naturopathic medicine takes this into account using tools such as unique labs as well as herbs, nutrition, diet, hydrotherapy, homeopathy and so much more.  The right combo for you or your kid can help pooping naturally become a regular thing.

What can you do for chronic constipation? We specialize in this kind of thing so constipation is not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you or your child’s specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

Prevent Your Next UTI Naturally

Urinary tract infections or UTIs can complicate or stall your life!  It is one of the most common infections women face.  Many women are trying home remedies or searching how to get rid of a UTI fast because of the damper it can put on your activity in life.  Other women are wondering how to get rid of a urinary tract infection without antibiotics, especially if they haven’t worked in the past or if it seem to be chronic and comes back repeatedly.

Alternative medicine does have some great tools for solving UTIs but taking a holistic medicine approach will help find the natural treatments that will cure a UTI and help you find the natural treatment options that will prevent them from being a repeat problem.  There are many triggers for a UTI but ultimately these triggers such as sex, tight pants or having to hold it should not cause you to succumb to a urinary tract infection.  When the bacteria in your belly and you urinary tract system are in balance, they can protect these triggers from causing a UTI.

Naturopathic Doctors can suggest dietary changes and herbs such as uva ursi that help immediately.  They will also take a holistic view of you and your body to help problem solve the cause and protect the infection from going into your kidneys.  Many patients would prefer treating their UTI without antibiotics and while there are safe and natural treatment options, you should avoid thinking a UTI can go away on its own.  Having a Naturopathic Doctor on your side means you can have safe alternatives immediately.

In our office, for the sake of prevention, our patients at risk for recurrent UTIs get a urine cup and requisition provided by our office that they can use to send urine to the lab immediately once they believe they have the start of an infection.  Any burning, inability to empty the bladder, pain or so forth means they can send their urine in immediately to be tested.  The low cost test yields results right away before starting any medications or supplements so we can see what’s really going on and culture it right away if needed as well.  This allows our holistic doctors to treat you faster with lab information as well.

If you suffer from urinary tract infections, reach out to us so we can help you find your natural answers right away. We specialize in this kind of thing so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you or your child’s specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

Natural Solutions to End Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Imagine not having to worry about where the next bathroom is!  Irritable bowel syndrome is disruptive daily life and the ability to live or be creative in life!

There are many typical natural medicine or alternative medicine tricks that you may have already tried such as regular meals, exercising and avoiding food problems.  How do you know what your food problems are though?  Fortunately we have food intolerance testing that can take the guess work out.  It is often thought of as allergy testing.  We test up to 184 food markers in 2-3 parts of your activated immune system.  These are simple finger sticks available in our office so you no longer need to guess what foods may or may not be bothering you.  It can take 2-4 days to get a reaction to a food since it is a delayed reaction so it is no wonder you can figure out what is bothering you or your child’s belly!  Food intolerance tests will identify the foods that cause the IBS symptoms so you can start getting some relief.

You may also experience bloating and gas with your irritable bowel syndrome.  Bloating almost always has to do with two things- digestion or bugs.  Digestion can mean a lack of pancreatic enzyme active for a variety of reasons, food intolerances which can be hard to get nutrients from and sometimes just food combinations.  Bugs can mean a variety of microbial imbalance of infections, whether parasitic, worms, protozoa or bacterial.  Flares can be from the imbalances of the flora fluctuating- increasing in numbers.

Fortunately we have a number of stool panels that can be an incredibly helpful and holistic tool for a patient with irritable bowel syndrome.  It allows the Naturopathic doctor to assess not just O&P and yeast but the inflammation in the large intestine and small intestine, whether you have enzymes to digest your food, the balance of good bacteria in your belly, whether bad bacteria is thriving as well are ruling out more common infections.  This functional medicine approach allow the integrative doctor to put the piece together about the whole digestive system and why you are having irritable bowel syndrome.

Many IBS sufferers are looking for a holistic doctor to learn how to heal irritable bowel syndrome naturally.  Our naturopathic doctors are well versed in helping patients solve their IBS and preventing reoccurrence.  We got this!

We specialize in this kind of thing so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you or your child’s specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

 

Natural Treatment for Anxiety in Kids

Anxiety in kids is a common thing to encounter in a naturopathic clinic. It can be all consuming for both kid and parents especially around separation and/or sleep.  I recommend kids who experience anxiety to be treated with homeopathy.  Homeopathy are natural remedies for child anxiety whether younger children or teenage anxiety and these natural remedies are a powerful integrative tool in natural medicine that can help kids adjust to their surroundings.  Starting school can be one of those triggers.  Kids with social anxiety can find it difficult to make decisions in a group and most education is geared toward collaborative group teaching.  They may act the part but their anxiety will continue to accumulate until there is an outlet such as a physical symptom- sore throats, or belly pain  with constipation are really common.  The worry and feeling of being overwhelmed are difficult to express especially when trying to be good at school.

Other children with anxiety may be super sensitive either emotionally or physically.  Even the smallest suggestion of a problem can send them running to someone for safety.  The feeling of abandonment can also be something that is triggered by anxiety.  It is a real fear for them that dominates their ability to learn and thrive.  If a teacher is sweet and safe with the child, they may do well but if the teacher is not warm but more strict, the child can think that the teacher is always mad at them or that they are bad creating a block to the learning.   Homeopathy can reduce a child’s anxiety overcoming both emotional distraction and reoccurring physical issues at the same time.  The child can improve in a holistic way when we consider everything.

Your Naturopathic Pediatric Doctor can also consider the other tools in naturopathic medicine that can be contributing to anxiety.  Integrative medicine can include looking at diet, nutrition through labs and history or supplements for child anxiety while naturopathic medicine can suggest herbs for anxiety and food intolerances contributing to the anxiety. Physical problems can also be related to the ability to focus and this is where functional medicine comes in handy. The complaint may not be something that can be clearly seen on a lab but we know there is a dysfunction such as pain, constipation or reflux or even frequent illness.  These are all physical symptoms that can come along with anxiety.

We specialize in this kind of thing and see anxiety frequently in our office so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care for your child is important and tailored for your child’s specific body and situation in mind. At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right inegrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with naturopathic solutions and alternative medicines, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

Bacterial Infections and the Microbiome, The Holistic Look from a Naturopathic Doctor

The microbiome is an important part of you.  It helps with detoxification, stimulating your immune system to protect you from bacteria, virus and even cancer.  The bacteria in your gut is key to making Vitamin K to protect your bones and to make sure dopamine gets made thus influencing your mood.  As long as your immune system is primed and your bacteria is in balance, you are less likely to suffer from mood disorders, arthritis, obesity and cancer.

Once our bacteria is out of balance, it can lead to opportunistic infections.  Things that can affect the healthy bacteria in the belly include antibiotics, food intolerances and stress.  Antibiotics will take the diversity of health bacteria down to 1-3 strains and newer studies are showing that it can take 9 months or more to return to a normal diversity of 9 or more species in the gut flora which is why we often look for alternatives in naturopathy.  Probiotics are incredibly important to protect the gut flora during antibiotics.  Food intolerances can also impact the normal bacteria by causing an inflammatory response within the gut lining and can be tested for properly with a naturopathic doctor.  Stress may be the worst attacker on the gut lining function.  It dries out the lining so the immune system can not be produced thus bad bacteria can’t be identified and removed. Digestive enzymes also can not be properly made which protect the belly by digesting foreign invaders or materials.

When bad bacteria has an opportunity, it will take over and dominate causing a multitude of functional problems such as limiting nutrient absorption and immune development in the gut.  Then it can spread to other parts of the body and create symptoms.  Bacteria such as streptococcus (includes multiple strains) are commonly known for strep throat but when it is hiding in the gut, it can cause reoccurrence and many families wonder why they have a constant struggle with strep throat.  Treating a surface infection doesn’t also manage the infection that is seeded from the belly.   Streptococcus infections in the belly can cause anxiety and belly pain as well.  Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research to connect these functional medicine ideas of gastrointestinal infections except by naturopathic doctors who are in tune with infectious disease and take time to observe the commonalities between patients.  The true test is when you treat the infection seeded in the belly and symptoms resolve or improve. This is holistic medicine.

Other problematic gastrointestinal bacterial and parasitic infections we commonly see in our naturopathic clinic are klebsiella, yersinia, enterococcus, pseudomonas, giardia, entamoeba hystolytica, blastocystitis hominis, citrobacter, clostridium difficile and toxoplasmosis. You need an integrative treatment plan to address most infections since there is almost always more than one.  Many bacterial infections are also antibiotic resistant so you really do need a naturopathic doctor who can use integrative medicine to use the tools that will work once and for all.  Natural medicine has a way or building up the body at the same time as addressing the infection.  Klebsiella is known for causing urinary tract infections but it doesn’t often show up in the urinary tests.  After treating klebsiella  in the gut, we can eliminate the chronic urinary tract infections.

The key to health and protection of our microbiome is diversity.   When our normal flora is not flourishing and we have symptoms which can range from headaches to belly pain, diarrhea, chronic infections or loss of energy, we may need to rule our bacterial infections so we can get our normal flora working for us again.  Consider our San Diego bacteria cleanse program.

We specialize in this kind of thing and see it frequently in our office so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care for your body is important and tailored for your specific body in mind. At Journey of Health we are dedicated to finding the right naturopathic solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with naturopathic solutions and alternative medicines, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.

Got Sprouts? Health Benefits of Alfalfa

What makes a sprout so good for you?

Sprouting is the moment of greatest vitality in a plant’s life cycle, the phase in which the seed activates and makes its way through the topsoil and sprouts into the fresh air above. At this high point of metabolic and enzymatic changes, the sprout contains high levels of nutrients. And that’s what makes sprouts good for you, particularly Alfalfa.

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a legume that is also considered to be an herb. The leaves and seeds can be used fresh, or dried for supplements, and the sprouts are enjoyed with meals. It’s high in Vitamins A, C, and K and contains several B vitamins. A good source of dietary fiber, copper, magnesium, and iron, Alfalfa contains active plant compounds currently being evaluated for benefits in women’s health, managing high cholesterol, and effects on the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

When selecting sprouts, look for those that have been kept chilled in the produce section and choose organic when possible. The International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA) seal on a product indicates the sprouts have been carefully grown and handled. Look for clean roots with a creamy white color. Buds should be attached to the stem. Sprouts should be odorless. Keep sprouts refrigerated and use within 2 days of the sell-by date on the package. Enjoy sprouts atop salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish for prepared entrees.

References
Contact our office for more information

Journey of Health Medical Clinic

619-772-1164

Solve That Asthma!

Any Integrative Health Center is likely to see asthma in their pediatric population and our naturopathic doctors are no different.  Over 25 million people and their families experience the challenges of asthma contributing to a large number of office visits to the doctor and repeat visits to the doctor, both scheduled and unscheduled.  Many have to seek care in urgent cares when treatment is not managing asthma adequately.   We have a lot of hope for parents who are looking for alternative medicine or naturopathic medicine options for their pediatric kids with asthma.  There are a lot of tools in the functional medicine realm that helps create a holistic treatment approach for our patients.

 

Asthma can be such a challenge for kids to live a normal life particularly when it comes to sports involvement or spending the night at friends’ houses that have pets.  Fortunately, there are a lot of natural medicine treatments for asthma.  Food sensitivity testing or testing for food allergies can be very important to identify.  We can’t always control what is in our environment but we can control our diet.  Encountering allergens or things you react to can include both food and environment so the more you get in, the more reactive the airway will be and the less you encounter, the less likely the airway is to react.  As we decrease the aggravations, the child can eliminate asthma and the need to medications which is very exciting for the family.

 

The holistic doctor’s view of treating the whole body tends to be more successful than just treating the airway which may continue to get worse.  This is a functional medicine view of the body as well by working on the immune system response, some thing that is not clearly visible but is working on an unseen level.  The immune system is focused on keeping the body safe but if it is confused on whether food is aggravating, it will continue to try to address the problem.  Taking the food out for a period of time can allow the immune system to regroup, heal up the lining of the intestines along with make the enzymes that digest and break down the food in to useable molecules to distribute through the body.  The largest challenge here is to identify the foods that are causing the aggravation.

 

As a naturopathic doctor, I have seen many pediatric patients present with chronic asthma that is reoccurring and after treatment, they have a bag of pharmaceuticals that they no longer need that they have gradually been able to wean off.  This is empowering for kids and parents.  The basis of treatment again is identifying the food intolerances and food allergies, decrease the inflammatory burden their body is exposed to and balancing the microbiome.  There are many botanicals that can be used in the meantime to help relax the airways but addressing the cause is what gives the long lasting results.  Don’t underestimate your body’s desire to use natural medicine to heal from asthma

Insomnia: Integrative Tools to Understand How to Get Sleep

Imagine being able to wake up feeling rested and with energy every day without the worry of wondering whether you will sleep tonight.  Sleep deprivation is an epidemic today in America.  Many of us go through our day worrying about sleeping.  Lack of sleep is a major health issue causing an increasing the risk for conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, accidents, arthritis, obesity and substance abuse.  The concerns that most often come to mind are the immediate results we experience from lack of sleep including fatigue, depression, anxiety, and immune system problems such as autoimmune and frequent colds or illness. There is so much going on in our daily worlds that we may be overly driven and sometimes need to take a step back to remind ourselves that ensuring restorative sleep is definitely part of a life well lived.

Purpose of Sleep from a Naturopathic Doctor

From a holistic perspective, sleep is an opportunity for your body to heal and detoxify. Sleep is the anti-inflammatory action of your body that helps to wash out our brain and solidify the most prominent memories- either good or bad. Naturopathic doctors firmly believe sleep is when you are cleansing your body.  Therefore some treatment options are specifically more helpful before bed since your body is headed for a detox or purifying mode. Special cells that perform like pacman will drift along sweeping thru your brain collecting and transporting debris, unsafe molecules or simply unneeded substances out of the body.  The night housekeeping also sweeps out the excess cobwebs or thought connections but leaving the stronger connections otherwise known as the stronger memories. This means the reinforced memories like having fun at the go-carts today will overwhelm the end of the year school testing from today.

Pharmaceutical Options

There are a number of pharmaceutical choices that are hypnotic or just help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.  The disadvantage of these is that they do not affect the last stage of sleep which is the most restful and therefore they can have some of the same side effects such as drowsiness, fatigue.  They can induce hypothermia which in turn can affect your thyroid function.  They also reduce cortisol which can help with stress but also motivation. Pharmaceuticals can be a helpful tool to adjust the GABA receptors for sleep but it is usually not as easy as taking a pill and calling it a night.  These drugs don’t get to the cause of why you are not getting enough sleep so we still have to work on getting the deep sleep, managing your stress and why you are not sleeping to begin with. In the end, they don’t change the sleep architecture which is why they sometimes stop working for patients.

Integrative Medicine for Sleep

So we can agree we need MORE SLEEP, BETTER SLEEP and HOW IMPORTANT IT IS. We can also agree that if we are going to use a holistic view on how to improve sleep, we must include your favorite STRESS MANAGEMENT tools whether those are a blend of botanicals, meditation, yoga, exercise or tea ceremonies.  Find your groove.  Sleep training plus a sleep aid has been shown to be more helpful than just a sleep aid or doing nothing especially if it is the ‘getting back to sleep’ part that is a challenge.  There are many lifestyle shifts that are free and can help lay the groundwork for making good sleep tools work better.  Exercising 3 or more times per week earlier in the day will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer in general.  Keeping a gratitude journal, doing things you love, praying and soothing sounds can all help decrease the adrenaline in day to day life.  Review any situations that wished you had handled differently, replay them, or have a friend help you sort it out so you feel better about it, luxuriating in that feeling.  These are just a couple reminders or ideas of how day to day tools are included in integrative medicine for sleep.

Sleep Hygiene

Among those natural treatments for sleep essentials are the sleep routine. The 30 minutes before bed are a crucial time to train your brain and your body to gear toward healing and cleansing.  That on and off button is a slider for most of us not just off.  Diming lights, avoiding technology lighting and just slowing down in general is important.  Dump the thoughts that are clouding the mind on paper to deal with tomorrow if needed.  If your mind tends to race at night, keeping a pen and paper next to your bed allow you to dump it.  Avoid doing any work in bed at any time of day and keep the bed for sleeping only.  It should be a cool and comfortable spot, too warm can prevent you from sleeping.  Avoid things you are sensitive to as well as pollen from plants.

Preparing for sleep can also include an Epsom and soda soak, 5 minutes of deep breathing.  Light blocking blinds and a sleep mask as well will prevent light from interfering with your natural circadian rhythm. Likewise, not enough light during the day can interfere with your natural wake cycle.  Naturopathic Doctors agree on how important this sleep routine is although they may have different addition tools to add such as sleep glasses, a green light as a harmonizing color to trigger the pineal gland or botanicals.

Naturopathic Medicine and Sleep

Rhythm is key for getting sleep which involves your hormones and neurotransmitters.  Cortisol should be ramping down at bedtime while melatonin should be ramping up.  Cortisol is the hormone that gives us drive and energy and helps us deal with stress.  It is a good hormone to have. We even need a small amount for sleep to occur.  However, there are many things that can go wrong here causing it to be too low all the time or too high/ too low at the wrong times. DHEA is the precursor hormone to cortisol. Too much stress can stimulate excess DHEA or too much cortisol.  Sometimes the DHEA is exhausted and can not go up to match the need for cortisol.  Then there is the melatonin which is made from serotonin. If there is a malfunction of the serotonin whether timing or amount, the melatonin will be effective. The balance of DHEA and cortisol as well as the balance of melatonin with serotonin is crucial to mood and sleep.

Let’s now take a quick look on how we can use some integrative medicine tools. A popular natural treatment used is taking melatonin or sometimes even GABA. These items can be addictive you may need more and more over time, although melatonin does naturally decrease with age so it can be appropriate in older individuals. It also doesn’t change the sleep architecture, so may stop working. Not a route I would recommend long term.

Naturopathic Nutrition and Diet for Sleep

Focusing on getting neurotransmitters where they need to be in the body is a great integrative medicine tool for patients who have insomnia.  Neurotransmitters rely on amino acids and fatty acids and is a holistic way to think about sleep.  Therefore, healthy balance of these in your diet relies on good diet, being able to digest them and assimilate distribute them in the body, as well as properly eliminating.

Fats are the sources for neurotransmitters. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and are the ones you should focus on.  Omega 6’s are pro inflammatory and we get a fair amount in our food already. Many amino acids are found in our food such as tryptophan such as nuts, eggs, fish, figs, tuna, brown rice, soy, dairy and meat especially turkey which is why we all need a nap after Thanksgiving turkey! Tryptophan is made into serotonin.  Serotonin is that neurotransmitter that induces sleep and is also found in food such as whole wheat, bananas, walnuts and pineapple.  One of my favorite scripts for patients is a baked potato before bed since it is full of serotonin, organic please.  Amino acids can provide food for your neurological system, thus molecules for endurance and to prevent over reactions such as anxiety or depression.  Using a targeted amino acid for more specific complaints related to insomnia can be successful too and a pure functional medicine way to think about insomnia.

Avoid the tyramine foods around bedtime such as spinach, tomatoes, aged and soft cheeses.  Oranges don’t have tyramine but can trigger an awake cycle.  Caffeine 4 hours before bed is not a good idea either.  Skip that nightcap!  Although alcohol may initially have a sleepy or sedative impact, it will likely make you wake in a few hours and disrupt the quality of sleep.  Sleep apnea and snoring are worsened by alcohol.  Try to finish your meal at least 3 hours before bedtime.  This is another naturopathic tool that has rung true over the centuries.

Other naturopathic tools available in San Diego include looking at your hormones. Progesterone can be sedating and quite appropriate if your hormones are out of balance.  Estrogen has a motivating effect so if you are low already, progesterone is a great option.  Hydrotherapy options can include a warm bath before bed, castor oil packs, saunas or the more involved hot fomentations or constitutional hydrotherapy.  Getting a work up for a homeopathic remedy may also help may an impact on a chronic sleep problem.  Homeopathy can work wonders in many parts of your life.

Naturopathic Pediatrics

Since we do a lot of naturopathic pediatrics in our office, I want to touch on normal sleep patterns here.

Infants are on 3 – 4 hour sleep cycles – 18 hours sleep

6-12 mos old – most of the sleep is at night

Teens – 9 – 10 hours are needed and they tend to be night owls

Adults – 7-9 hours on average

Women tend to have more difficulties falling or staying asleep

Women in their 40-50’s complaints about sleep increase 40%.

Men are 8xs more likely to suffer from sleep apnea and night awakenings

Kids who snore are 2xs more likely to suffer ADHD.  Often the snoring can be resolved by addressing the inflammation in the throat and food intolerances are almost always part of the picture.  Fortunately, we can do a simple finger stick to test for 184 foods so we are not left wondering what they may be reacting to.  Restless legs can be missed in kids which can contribute to insomnia.  Growth Hormone can affect our need for REM sleep, this is why growth spurts mean more sleep. Once GH is released, we get groggy.  This decreases with age.

Find Your Answers!

Whichever natural tools you use for your integrative approach to insomnia, we are happy to help you find answers. We specialize in this holistic kind of thing and see it frequently in our office so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care for your body is important and tailored for your specific body in mind. At Journey of Health we are dedicated to finding the right naturopathic solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with naturopathic solutions and alternative medicines, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.