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Health and Nutrition with Nature's Sunshine

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Location: Azle, Texas, United States

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nature's Field - Calming the Mental Chatter That Keeps You Awake

August 10, 2010

Be Quiet So I Can Sleep!
Calming the Mental Chatter That Keeps You Awake
by Steven Horne, RH(AHG)

Most of us have experienced being kept awake by too much noise, but what happens when it's your own mind chatter that keeps you awake? Sometimes, especially when you're under a lot of stress, you just can't make your brain "shut up" so you can sleep. You lie awake, thinking about your problems, or worse yet, drop to sleep exhausted, only to wake up a few hours later with your brain churning with worries and fears.

So, what do you do when you just can't get your mind to quiet down so you can sleep? You can take your herbs, of course!

Fortunately our friends in the plant kingdom are there to help. There are herbs that help to calm down mental chatter so we can sleep. These herbs include valerian, passion flower, skullcap and corydalis. There is also a nutritional supplement called GABA that can promote a calm mind. Here's some helpful information about three of these mind calming remedies.


I think of valerian as herbal valium. I used to think that valium was somehow derived from valerian, but that isn't the case. What is true is that both have similar actions.

Valium, also known as diazepam, is a benzodiazepine derivative drug. This class of drugs work on GABA-A receptor sites in the brain and central nervous system. GABA is a brain-calming neurotransmitter, which means it helps quiet the activity of the mind. This means that increasing GABA is useful for anxiety and insomnia.

Valerian has a broader action than valium and its related drugs. It contains several constituents that appear to act on the GABA in multiple ways. It may cause GABA release, inhibit reuptake of GABA and inhibit the enzyme that breaks GABA down. Research and experience suggests that valerian can have similar benefits for insomnia sufferers as benzodiazepines like valium, but can also help a person wake up more refreshed.

A basic dose of valerian for insomnia is one to two capsules at bedtime. It won't be quiet as strong or fast acting as drugs, but taken regularly it should have a cumulative effect. Some people may require higher doses, so if one or two doesn't work, try increasing the dose to three or even four capsules. A tincture would be faster acting than capsules.

The effect of valerian lasts about four hours. So if you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your problems, then you may need a second dose.

However, be cautioned that valerian doesn't always act as a sedative. It's a stimulant for cats and for certain people, too. It's unclear exactly which people will be stimulated by valerian, but people with parasympathetic dominance (see February 3, 2010 issue of Nature's Field), low thyroid or ADD may find it keeps them awake. Large doses can also act as a stimulant. So, start with a small dose (one capsule) to see how you're going to react to it, and then work up to the dose that helps you sleep.

[As a side note, valerian stinks. It's odor has been compared to stinky socks and moldy cheese. Dioscorides, a Roman physician in the first century AD, called valerian "phu." The Latin puteo means to "stink or smell bad." This may be the origin of the word "piu," usually pronounced "pee-yew."

Passion Flower

If you've ever been in the Southern states and seen passion flower growing wild, you'll know what a beautiful plant it is. Passion Flower is also a wonderful nervine and anti-anxiety remedy, but it's much more specific for calming "mental chatter" than valerian is. Matthew Wood says that passion flower is "one of the most important remedies for overstimulation of the mind, excessive thinking, and chatter in the brain."

The great thing about passion flower is that it won't make you drowsy during the day. It can actually increase mental alertness by making the brain more focused. Then, when it comes to bedtime, it can help calm that "mind chatter" that keeps you awake. The mechanism by which passion flower accomplishes this is not as well understood or researched as valerian, but it may also be affecting GABA receptors.

The great thing about passion flower is that it is generally better for long term use than valerian and isn't as prone to "back fire," and keep you awake. Passion flower can be taken during the day to calm the nerves (one capsule two to three times daily) or one to two capsules at bedtime. Nature's Sunshine also has an excellent herbal combination called Herbal Sleep which contains Hops, Valarian & Passion Flower.


As we've already pointed out, GABA is a neurotransmitter that calms down brain activity and inhibits the over-firing of neurons. It is derivied from the amino acid l-glutamine, and can be useful for anxiety, ADD, epilepsy and insomnia. GABA can be taken as a supplement, either alone or in combination with other nervines to promote sleep.

Nature's Sunshine includes GABA in the formula GABA Plus, which also contains passion flower, l-gluatimine, l-taurine and spirulina. If you're one of those people who can't quiet your brain chatter, GABA Plus may be helpful. The suggested dose is one to two capsules daily, so if you're taking it as a sleep aid, take one capsule about 30 minutes before bedtime. You could also combine this with one capsule of passion flower.

One caution from personal experience. I've used some of the brain calming remedies like GABA to help me sleep, but I find if I take them for too long without a break that my mind starts becoming duller during the day. In other words, I'm not thinking as clearly when I'm awake. I've found it's a good idea to take a break from them once in a while so this doesn't happen. It also helps to rotate the sleep remedies you use, too.

This Week's Featured Articles.
a Stress Quiz and a Free Webinar

This week, our featured website articles are on NSP's GABA Plus and the herb passion flower. To read more about these supplements go to the free articles area at www.treelite.com.

We've put up a short quiz that can help you measure how much stress you're under. Click here to take the quiz and if you're under a lot of stress, then be sure to enjoy our free webinar, Passing the Stress Test. It will provide you with suggestions on how you can manage your stress better. See the sidebar for more information.

Are You Passing the Stress Test?

We often think our life would be better if we had no stress, but the truth is that we need a certain amount of stress to be healthy. Our body and mind need challenges to grow and develop.

So, when properly managed, the stressful events of our lives can make us healthier and ultimately happier people, but that's only true when we know how to deal with stress effectively.

When people lack good stress management skills, stress gets the better of them. It damages their health and destroys their sense of well-being.

We've placed a free test online to help you determine how the stress in your life is affecting you. Click here to take the test.

We also hosted a free webinar called Passing the Stress Test. Please take time to enjoy this great webinar.

What the Eye Reveals

In the 1980s, Denny Johnson wrote a ground-braking book called What the Eye Reveals: An Introduction to the Rayid Method of Iris Interpretation. The book introduced a personality- based model of iridology. Steven has been using this system of iridology since 1986 and finds it to be incredibly accurate and insightful.

So, he's decided to teach a webinar on how to read personality and emotional issues from the iris. It's called The Windows of the Soul: Iridology and Personality.

Windows of the Soul will be taught on Monday August 23 and Monday September 6 at 8:30 Eastern, 7:30 Central, 6:30 Mountain and 5:30 Pacific Time. All sessions will be recorded and handouts and recordings will be posted on a special class page for all students to download and review.

If you register for this class by Wednesday August 18, the price is just $35. After that date, the price will be $45.

To introduce you to the power of rayid iridology, Steven created a little quiz you can take on the class registration page. Click here to take the quiz and/or register for the class.


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