One of the most common concerns treated at Vail Valley Wellness is insomnia. Insomnia comes in all forms- difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, restless sleep, or not feeling rested in the morning- and each one significantly impacts your life. Nearly 70 million people suffer from some form of insomnia each year and one study showed that employers are losing $18 billion dollars a year in lost productivity due to sleep issues. This is an epidemic in the United States, but luckily Chinese medicine can help!
For centuries, Chinese medicine has been commonly used to help patients get a more restful, rejuvenating night’s sleep. Insomnia is caused by and affects each individual differently, and thus, requires a unique treatment protocol to address it. One of the greatest benefits of visiting Vail Valley Wellness is that every person seen in the clinic receives an unique herbal formula made just for them. Your age, activity level, diet, and lifestyle habits all contribute to your night’s sleep so it is vital to complete an intake to determine which systems in your body need balancing.
Therapy for insomnia in Western medicine has largely been based on prescribed medications such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or over-the-counter antihistamines. However, these medications sometimes come with adverse side effects that make them unsuitable for long-term use. There is also a high dependency risk associated with many sleep medications. Patients often become dependent on a medication to sedate their brain from the over-thinking or "monkey-mind" at night or a muscle relaxant to relieve pain that keeps them from staying asleep. Chinese medicine does not simply sedate or numb your body; rather, it works to balance the organs that are not functioning at an optimal level.
Chinese herbs have many of the same pharmacological properties that the Western medications use to treat insomnia. For example, the herb Ye Jiao Teng has been reported to have an anti-inflammatory and anti-artherosclerogenic effect and exhibits neuroprotective effects in animal studies. In a separate animal study, the Chinese herb Suan Zao Ren, was shown to have a sedative effect in higher doses and an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect at lower doses. There is also promising studies pointing to the main bioactive components of Suan Zao Ren, called saponins, prolonging the sleeping time induced by barbiturates. Yuan Zhi and Dan Shen have been shown to have sedative effects while He Huan Hua, Huang Qin, and Huang Lian have reported anxiolytic effects.
Several studies show that Chinese herbal medicine has effectively improved sleep quality, prolonged sleep duration, and exhibited fewer side effects than Western medicines, but more studies are needed to determine the pharmaco-epidemiologic studies of Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of insomnia. If you are interested in learning more about how a Chinese herbal formula and series of acupuncture treatments could help you and your sleep patterns, please contact us.
For more ideas on how you can start a healthy sleeping regimen at home tonight, try out some of the better sleep suggestions on this blog infographic.