Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms Treated Successfully with Chinese Herb Corydalis

What is the Chinese herb Corydalis? Can multiple sclerosis symptoms of pain be effectively treated using the herbal supplement corydalis? Can herbs help relieve pain, fatigue, and What results can one expect to achieve? Find out more by reading the insights of Dr. Kevin Lance Jones, OMD, LAc., and his patient June’s journey with herbal treatment of the pain, weakness and discomfort associated with multiple sclerosis.

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Natural Prevention and Treatment for Healthy Eyes

Image Credit:  Biographix Media http://www.biographixmedia.com/

Image Credit: Biographix Media http://www.biographixmedia.com/

How do we Keep our Eyes Healthy?
Painful, watery, itchy or tired eyes can be the result of many different factors. The type of treatment needed depends on the cause of the eye problem.  These factors may include the following:

  • Allergies or Environmental Triggers
  • Eyestrain or Stress
  • Fatigue or Poor Sleeping Patterns
  • Conjunctivitis or Infection in the Eye
  • Insufficient Oxygen to the Cornea and Outer Eye Tissue

Watery Red Eyes

Allergies and Eyes
Most people associate allergies with sneezing, coughing or wheezing, and nasal discharge or “runny nose,” but the eyes are often affected by allergies. According to the
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, eye allergy symptoms can include: Itching, redness, burning and a clear, watery discharge.
Outdoor allergens, such as pollen from grass, flowers, trees and weeds can easily trigger eye allergy symptoms as well as indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, mildew and mold. Environmental  irritants such as diesel exhaust and petroleum fumes, perfumes, and cigarette smoke also can cause the eyes to fatigue, burn and water.

 

Teenager on Computer Eye StrainEye Strain and Overuse
Recent studies show that more than 9 out of 10 adults (93.3 percent) spend more than two hours each day using a computer or other digital device, with more than 6 in 10 adults (60.8 percent) spending five or more hours every day on digital devices. This is often referred to as “digital eye strain.”

Digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome is the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen. This would include desktop and laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and cell phones. The average person who does not sit in from of a digital screen will blink the eye about 18 times per minute. This natural blinking, lubricates the eyeball and prevents dry, itching or burning eyes. However, research shows that those who spend 2 or more hours staring at a digital screen, blink the eyes less often. This can result in dry, itchy or burning eyes.

 

Young Boy Reading Eye StrainOther causes of eye strain include excessive use of the eyes in any ongoing continuous activity that requires intense and unaltered focus in vision — such as extended amounts of driving, writing, or reading.  Each of these activities can cause eye fatigue. Those who work long hours using their eyes, such as accountants, researchers, illustrators or artists, editors, writers are at high risk. Those who drive vehicles without frequent visual changes, such as a truck driver who drives long distance on many miles of road with no change in scenery are also susceptible to eye strain. Continuous use of the eyes without blinking or change in focus, causes the eyes to get less exercise and to strain the eyes.

 

Sleeping Disorders and Fatigue
When a person does not get enough sleep the eyes are dramatically affected.  After a few sleepless nights, the skin around the eyes can turn an unhealthy brown, yellow or sallow color and often become puffy.

Sleeping ChildChronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. The body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol which breaks down skin collagen. Collagen can help to maintain the elasticity and softness of the skin.  Without adequate rest or sleep, the eyes cannot revive. Sleep, rest, or meditation is necessary to rejuvenate the eyes and maintain proper eye health. Those who do not get enough sleep may experience blurred vision, eye pain, dry eyes, watering or burning eyes, and in extreme cases, trouble focusing, clouded vision, double vision, and twitching of the eyelid or eyeball (myokymia).  Myokymia can be very distracting and limit productivity.  If a person has trouble sleeping, they should try gentle meditation exercises or napping throughout the day.

 

Conjunctivitis or Eye Infection
How does one know the difference between simple eye strain, allergies or an eye infection? Symptoms of an eye infection are more severe. Watery, burning, red and tired eyes caused by an allergic reaction, lack or sleep or eye strain, will generally improve or will be slightly relieved when the person rests or removes the known allergen(s) triggering the response.

Image Credit:  Journal of the American Medical Association  www.jamanetwork.com

Image Credit: Journal of the American Medical Association http://www.jamanetwork.com

Allergies can develop into conjunctivitis or eye infection if not properly treated. Untreated eye infection can be very serious and lead to vision impairment.  According to the American Optometric Association, the symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
  • Itching or burning sensation in one or both eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Discharge coming from one or both eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Pink discoloration to the whites of one or both eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light

The American Optometric Association defines conjunctivitis as:

“Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye… While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, sometimes it can develop into a more serious problem.”

The three major types of conjunctivitis are allergic, chemical, or infectious. Infectious conjunctivitis can be either viral or bacterial. A person can get staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria from their own skin or respiratory system and this bacteria can spread to the eye through touch, from insects, or from other people. 

People can also develop bacterial conjunctivitis from poor hygiene habits, such as rubbing or touching the eyes with unclean hands or using old, contaminated eye makeup and facial lotions. Eye MakeupFor this reason, makeup application brushes should be cleaned regularly and old makeup should be discarded after about one year, depending on use. Application sponges should be washed after each use and thrown away after about one month. Most cleansers and lotions contain fatty acids and should be discarded after six months. Makeup contamination can occur at any time, because it is always in contact with the eyes, mouth and fingers, which are highly susceptible to germs. If something has changed color or has a strange smell, throw it away immediately.  

Giant papillary conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue underneath the eyelid. Those who wear soft contact lenses, can contract this infection from the bacteria on the contact lenses. The likelihood of contracting this infection is heightened during the allergy season.

Sick Woman Blowing NoseContagious viral upper respiratory infections, such as influenza or the common cold, are generally the causes of viral conjunctivitis. This is usually  contracted through coughing or sneezing, and spreads from the mucus of the nose or mouth, onto the hands and into the eye.

 

Lack of Oxygen to the Eye
Lack of oxygen to the brain and the eye, such as what occurs in those with sleep apnea, heart failure, lung disease or other cardio-pulmonary,  or neurological conditions, can cause eye strain and result in loss of vision due to the effects on the retina, choroid or optic nerve.  Climbing Mountain Lack of OxygenAlso at risk are pilots or cross country hikers, who become oxygen deprived.  If someone is experiencing blurring vision, pain, or swelling or pressure behind the eyes, due to lack of oxygen, they should contact their doctors or trusted health practitioner.  If an insufficient amount of oxygen is entering the bloodstream, the body will react rapidly. This deficit in oxygen is called hypoxia. The eye is usually the first body part to be affected by hypoxia.  A person can recover when the body regains its normal oxygen supply. Hypoxia will progress to anoxia if left untreated. Anoxia is a complete lack of oxygen which results in permanent physical damage or death.

 

Contact Lens

Image Credit: Colormecontacts.com

Contact lenses, in addition to being a trigger for bacterial infections (as written above), can decrease the supply of oxygen to the cornea when it is too tight, too thick or if worn too long. However, a soft contact lens known as silicon hydrogel is less likely to cause this problem, as it provides six times more oxygen to the eye than the traditional soft lens, but these lenses are more expensive. Those who are not practicing careful hygiene with their contact lenses or who wear their lenses too long, could experience symptoms such as clouded vision and red and painful eyes. If this occurs, the person should discontinue using contact lenses and consult a medical practitioner.  They might be advised to use and ointments or drops to reduce swelling, tearing, and promote healing.

 

Preventative Measures
To prevent bacterial or viral eye infection and allergic or chemical eye strain or infection, simple preventative measure can be taken:

  • Washing HandsKeep windows closed during high pollen periods; use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and especially after petting any animal.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Take frequent breaks if spending long hours using the eyes (writing, driving, reading, etc.)
  • Use “mite-proof” bedding covers to limit exposure to dust mites, and a dehumidifier to control mold.
  • Don’t touch your eyes with your hands.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Change your towel and washcloth daily, and don’t share them with others.
  • Discard eye cosmetics, particularly mascara.Man Sleeping
  • Get plenty of sleep, or try meditation or frequent naps to rest the eyes.
  • Don’t use anyone else’s eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items.
  • Follow your eye doctor’s instructions on proper contact lens care.
  • Use specially designed computer eyewear such as anti-reflective, or AR, lens, or blue light-blocking lenses

 

Natural Treatments for Tired Eyes
There are several natural treatments that might be effective for tired eyes. However, if you suspect that you have a serious infection and experience no relief after making lifestyle changes, see a doctor or trusted healthcare professional for an examination, accurate diagnosis, medical advice and treatment.

Tea Treatment for Tired Eyes

  • Tea has been an age-old remedy to soothe tired eyes. Boil some tea in a little water and let it cool. Dip 2 clean pieces of gauze into the cool tea and place one on each eye for 15 minutes. Make sure you keep dipping the gauze into the liquid as soon as it dries, and reapply as needed.
  • For temporary relief of tired eyes, lie down, close your eyes, and place a cold washcloth (compress) over your eyes. Relax for about 15 or 20 minutes. Refresh the compress as needed.
  • When seeking relief for computer eye strain, researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Industrial Health have found that lowering the computer monitor’s position (and the angle of your head) increases tear production and soothes tired eyes.
  • Eye exercises and vision therapy can sometimes be very effective. Specially trained therapists or ophthalmologists might provide this.
  • For tired eyes, wash them with cold water, several times a day. Rinsing the eyes with water has been found to be highly effective in soothing tired eyes.
  • Herbal remedies such as eyebright and goldenseal have been known to be helpful (do not use goldenseal during pregnancy, or if you are allergic to ragweed).
  • An effective homeopathic remedy might be Ruta graveolens. It is most likely to be helpful in cases of eyestrain where the eyes burn and water after long periods of eye use.

Eye Exam

Prescription or Over the Counter Medications
Your health care practitioner or doctor might advise you to control some symptoms with nonprescription medications, sold over the counter or a prescription medication for infection. These might include

  • Artificial tears
  • Decongestant eyedrops (don’t use eyedrops for “red eye” longer than a week, or they can make things worse)
  • Oral antihistamines (note that they may dry your eyes and make your symptoms worse)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory prescription medication
  • Antibiotic eye drops or eye cream prescription medication

However, the best way to prevent eye strain or eye infection and to ensure healthy eyes, is to live a healthy, responsible life.  Be sure to get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol, drink plenty of water, protect your eyes from sun, smoke, and eyestrain, and get regular eye checkups from your trusted doctor or health practitioner.

 

Resources
Azari, AA; Barney, NP (October 23, 2013). “Conjunctivitis: a systematic review of diagnosis and treatment.”. JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 310 (16): 1721–9. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280318. PubMed

Brendan T. Barrett (2008). “A critical evaluation of the evidence supporting the practice of behavioural vision therapy”. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 29(1): 4–25, Retrieved 2015-o1-10  PubMed

Conjunctivitis, American Optometric Association, aoa.org. Accessed 2015-01-10

Cassel, G.H.,  Billig, M.D.,  Randall, H.G., The Eye Book: A Complete Guide to Eye Disorders and Health (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book),  Paperback, April 3, 1998,  ISBN-13: 978-0801858475

Eye Allergy, American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Accessed 2015-01-10

Goldberg, S., Trattler, W, Ophthalmology Made Ridiculously Simple, Paperback – April 15, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1935660064

Torin Monahan. “Vision Control and Autonomy Constraints: Managed Care Confronts Alternative Medicine.” June 1998.  Retrieved 2015-o1-10  publicsurveillance.com

What Is Allergic Conjunctivitis? What Causes Allergic Conjunctivitis?”. medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved 2015-01-10.

 

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This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.  Images used in this article are free public domain from Pixabay.com or Publicdomainpictures.net  Other images are credited.

 

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? How is it Treated?

Man stressedDEFINITION OF CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that is not explained through diagnostic testing or a pre-existing medical condition.  CFS is also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) and by other names. It can be a complex and debilitating chronic illness with a serious impact on one’s quality of life. Fatigue specific to CFS may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve after sleeping or resting.

Chronic Fatigue

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CFS? The most common symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis  (ME/CFS) include post-exertional malaise (PEM).  PEM is characterized by a state of exhaustion due to sleep that is not relieved by bedrest or sleep.  This unrefreshing sleep leads to trouble concentrating or mental fatigue, joint and muscle pain, with worsening symptoms typically lasting for six months or more.

Chronic Fatigue Primary symptoms include:

  1. Increased malaise (extreme exhaustion and sickness) following physical activity or mental exertion
  2. Problems with sleep
  3. Difficulties with memory and concentration
  4. Persistent muscle pain
  5. Joint pain (without redness or swelling)
  6. Headache
  7. Tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
  8. Sore throat

Other secondary symptoms may include:

  1. Brain fog or trouble concentrating
  2. Difficulty maintaining an upright position
  3. Dizziness, balance problems or fainting
  4. Allergies or sensitivities to foods, odors, chemicals, medications, or noise
  5. Irritable bowel syndrome
  6. Low grade fever or low body temperature
  7. Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the face, hands, or feet
  8. Chills and night sweats
  9. Visual disturbances (sensitivity to light, blurring, eye pain)
  10. Depression or mood problems (irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)

Chronic Fatigue SyndromeA person with CFS feels completely exhausted to the point of being unable to function. This extreme tiredness makes it hard to do the daily tasks that most of us do without thinking — like dressing, bathing, holding a book, putting away dishes, or eating, and therefore might experience depression. Sleep or rest does not make the tiredness go away. It can be made worse by walking,  light exercising, carrying on a conversation or even thinking or problem-solving. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can happen gradually and worsen over time, or it may occur unexpectedly and suddenly.  The extreme tiredness may come and go, over many years.  In some cases the CFS symptoms never goes away. CFS symptoms must remain for at least six months before a diagnosis can be made by a trusted physician.


HOW COMMON IS CFS AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Experts estimate that at least one million Americans have CFS, and of these cases, 20% are undiagnosed. Statistics show that in the United States, approximately 75-420 people have CFS per 100,000 people.  In Australia,  o.3% or 30 per 1,000 people have CFS. Women are four times as likely as men to develop Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and people age 40 – 59 are more likely to be diagnosed, than children. People of all ages can get CFS, although studies suggest that CFS occurs more often in adolescents than in children under twelve years of age. CFS occurs in all ethnic groups, cultures, and countries around the world. Statistics show that it is more Tired womancommon in lower-income than in higher-income persons, however this is not significant. CFS is sometimes seen in members of the same family. Researchers are determining whether this might be because of a genetic link.  People who are overweight and inactive are more likely to develop CFS. There is no definite cause of CFS.  Epstein-Barr virus or human herpes virus-6 (HHV-6) might be a contributing factor, however, no specific virus has been identified as the cause.  It is thought that it might be caused by inflammation in the nervous system and a faulty immune system response. Age, previous illnesses, stress, genetics, and environmental factors listed above, may also play a significant role in the development of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.   People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often report that the onset of symptoms occurred after a time of great stress, such as the loss of a loved one or major surgery. More research is needed to determine the cause.

Chronic Fatigue SymptomsHOW DOES THE DOCTOR DIAGNOSE CFS? A diagnosis of CFS may take many years to determine and can be frustrating or wearing for those suffering from CFS.  Laboratory tests currently are not used.  Sometimes CFS can be misdiagnosed because many Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms can be side effects of medical treatments or can also be symptoms of other illnesses.  Therefore, doctors will prescribe blood and urine tests, and possibly brain MRIs to rule out other illnesses and medical conditions.  All adult cases of CFS are determined by the “Fukuda criteria” from the 1994 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition.  Children with CFS are determined by a pediatric case definition of CFS.  A qualified doctor will make a diagnosis of CFS after questioning a patient about their physical and mental health, conducting a physical exam, and ordering urine and blood tests to rule-out other medical conditions.  The doctor will diagnose a patient as having CFS, only if that person has been extremely tired for six months or more and laboratory test results do not offer a medical solution, and if the patient has four out of the 8 primary symptoms of CFS listed above. In addition to having four out of the eight primary symptoms determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (listed above under “Primary symptoms”), the patient must  also have unexplained, persistent or relapsing chronic fatigue that is:

  1. New or definite onset (has not been lifelong)
  2. Not the result of ongoing exertion
  3. Not substantially alleviated by rest
  4. Results in substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities.


DISEASES WHICH HAVE SIMILAR SYMPTOMS TO CFS
Doctors must rule out other diseases and chronic illnesses that have similar symptoms. The following diseases and syndromes are often mistaken for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

  1. Drug dependence
  2. Infections
  3. Muscle or nerve diseases (such as multiple sclerosis)
  4. Endocrine diseases (such as hypothyroidism)
  5. Psychiatric or psychological illnesses, particularly depression
  6. Tumors
  7. Fibromyalgia
  8. Lyme disease
  9. Gulf War syndrome
  10. Gluten intolerance
  11. Post-polio syndrome
  12. Vitamin B12 deficiency
  13. Multiple chemical sensitivities
  14. Other immune or autoimmune disorders
  15. Heart, kidney or liver diseases

Woman tired at computerWHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME AND FIBROMYALGIA?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia (FMS)are alike in many ways. In fact, it is not uncommon for a person to have both fibromyalgia and CFS. Some experts believe that fibromyalgia and CFS are in fact the same disorder. According to the Arthritis Foundation, research shows that 50 to 70 percent of people have both disorders. When diagnosing CFS or fibromyalgia, one primary difference, is determining which symptom is worst – pain or fatigue. The diagnosis could also be influenced by whether your primary care physician or practitioner is more familiar with the American College of Rheumatology’s criteria for FMS or the CDC’s guidelines for ME/CFS. Some researchers have discovered a few significant differences. ME/CFS seems to begin after a person experiences flu-like symptoms, so some believe that chronic fatigued syndrome may be linked to a virus, and those with CFS often have chronic immune system challenges, as if their bodies are fighting an infection, while fibromyalgia patients do not always have this. CFS patients sometimes have low-grade fever and sore throat, while FMS criteria does not require this for a diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is frequently is rooted in a physical or emotional trauma and the pain of FMS often gets better with massage and heat, while the pain of ME/CFS may not necessarily respond favorably to these treatments. However, despite these few differences, many agree that the two diagnoses have multiple similar symptoms and might indeed be the same disorder.

TREATMENT OF CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are funding CFS research studies on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in order to determine treatments and cures.  The following treatments have been found to be effective Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Aleve, Advil, or Motrin, can be beneficial in reducing pain, such as body aches, headaches, and muscle and joint pain. Non-drowsy antihistamines can help with allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, nose and watering or itching eyes.  Prescription medications like doxepin or amitriptyline can help improve sleep. Yoga poseComplementary or alternative treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, yoga, stretching, meditation, Tai Chi, Reiki,  biofeedback, or self-hypnosis can be helpful in treating stress-related symptoms or pain. Many alternative treatments, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies can be effective in alleviating CFS symptoms.  Neti Pots are a nonprescription solution for chronic allergy and sinusitis problems and recommended for use by most all healthcare practitioners. Herbal remedies such as honey and lemon tea, steam tent, valerian root, grapefruit seed extract, ginger, echinacea,  vitamin C supplements, and others. Talk to your doctor, nutritionist, or trusted health-care practitioner in order to determine which treatment is best for you.

Lifestyle changes can be effective in treating CFS.  A nutritionist or primary care doctor can make suggestions regarding a healthy diet.  A journal can be a helpful tool. Write down what you do each day, noting times when you feel particularly tired. Then, determine which activities are most fatiguing to you.  Stop doing things that seem to trigger your tiredness, or do less.  If basic tasks are overwhelming, such as dressing or eating, find ways to modify these tasks or break them into smaller steps.  occupational therapist

An occupational therapist or physical therapist can be helpful in recommending assistive devices (such as modified appliances or tools) if you are unable to achieve basic daily life skills.  The occupational therapist can help you with setting goals, and choosing alternative approaches to completing tasks at home and at work and making progress in managing your pain and fatigue. You might also need to change your working or resting environment and even move to another location that is more supportive and comfortable for you. CFS affects mental, emotional, or physical energy, so these modifications in behaviors must include all areas of fatigue.

ORGANIZATIONS

  1. Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America, Phone: 704-365-2343 http://solvecfs.org/
  2. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Center for Disease Control, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee, HHS, Phone: 202-690-7650 http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/
  3. International Association for CFS/ME Phone: 847-258-7248 http://www.iacfsme.org/
  4. National CFIDS Foundation, Phone: 781-449-3535 http://www.ncf-net.org/
  5. National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Association, Phone: 816-737-1343
  6. The Trans-NIH Working Group on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Phone: 301-402-1770

REFERENCES

  1. Evangard B, Schacterie R.S., Komaroff A. L. (Nov 1999). “Chronic fatigue syndrome: new insights and old ignorance”. Journal of Internal Medicine 246 (5): 455–469.
  2. Santhouse A, Hotopf M, David AS. Chronic fatigue syndrome. BMJ. 2010;340:c738
  3. Guideline 53: Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy). London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. 2007.
  4. Afari N, Buchwald D (2003). “Chronic fatigue syndrome: a review”. Am J Psychiatr 160 (2): 221–36
  5. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Symptoms”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2012-09-23
  6. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Basic Facts”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 9, 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-07
  7. Carruthers BM, Jain AK, De Meirleir KL, Peterson DL, Klimas NG, et al. (2003). “Myalgic encephalomyalitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: Clinical working definition, diagnostic and treatment protocols” (PDF). Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 11 (1): 7–97
  8. Edmonds M, McGuire H, Price J (2004). “Exercise therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome”. In Price, Jonathan R. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (3): CD003200.

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer:The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Sleep Tight! – Treating Insomnia & Sleeping Disorders Naturally

Insomnia

About one-third of the adult population has experienced insomnia. Have you?

Do you have trouble sleeping at night?  Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night or falling asleep during that day? Are you groggy, irritable, depressed?

A good night’s sleep is as important as a proper diet or exercise in helping us to maintain and healthy mind, body and spirit.  If you believe you have insomnia, it is a good idea to check with your health practitioner, nutritionist or doctor.

Student Insomnia Statistics

Worldwide statistics of students who are sleep deprived, reported by teachers

Insomnia Statistics and Medical Conditions that Cause Insomnia
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the United States. Teachers report that sleep deprivation is the primary cause of students falling behind in their classroom studies. The United States leads all other countries in sleep deprivation among pupils.

Sleep Deprivation InsomniaAmong older populations, insomnia is a frequent medical diagnosis. Between 40% and 60% of people over the age of 60 suffer from insomnia. According to the US Surgeon General, insomnia costs the U.S. Government more than $15 billion per year in health care costs.  About one-third of the adult population has experienced it at some time and approximately 10% have chronic insomnia.  It can be chronic, transient, or temporary.  Insomnia can be the primary health problem or a secondary symptom associated with other medical conditions such as:

  1. congestive heart failure
  2. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  3. heartburn
  4. prostatism
  5. menopause
  6. diabetes
  7. arthritis
  8. hyperthyroidism
  9. hypoglycemia
  10. sleep apnea
  11. restless leg syndrome
  12. chronic anxiety or panic attack
  13. generalized seizure disorder
  14. chronic migraine
  15. balance disorder or vertigo


Symptoms  or Side Effects of Insomnia
People with chronic insomnia may suffer from  a wide variety of mild to severe health disorders or symptoms, including:

Effects of Insomnia

The effects of sleep deprivation

    1. Irritability
    2. “Nodding off” or “micro-sleeping”
    3. Lack of alertness
    4. Memory problems
    5. Impaired Judgement
    6. More mistakes at work and school
    7. Poor relationships
    8. Nervousness
    9. Chronic fatigue
    10. Anxiety
    11. Hallucinations
    12. ADHA symptoms
    13. Diabetes risk
    14. Tremors
    15. Body aches
    16. Increased heart rate
    17. Moodiness
    18. Depression
    19. Excessive yawning
    20. Eye strain
    21. Stomach upset
    22. Muscle fatigue and weakness
    23. Muscle twitching
    24. Headache
    25. Weight gain or weight loss
    26. Stunted growth
    27. Weakened immune system
    28. Clumsiness
    29. Fainting
    30. Slurred speech
    31. Nerve pain
    32. Numbness and/or tingling
Sleep Clinic

Woman with EEG at a sleep clinic

Sleeping Disorder Diagnosis
If you believe you have insomnia  and are seeking help from a doctor or trusted healthcare provider, your health practitioner should conduct an extensive interview with you to determine what your symptoms are and to rule out any underlying medical conditions or serious sleeping disorders. It is helpful if you arrive at your doctor’s office with a sleep diary to share any symptoms you have been having and to report your sleeping patterns.  It is important to share what foods you eat regularly, your exercise pattern, and any medications, vitamins or herbal supplements that you take. Insomnia can be caused by side effects of prescription medications.

The doctor might schedule you for a psychological evaluations generally involve interviewing but may also involve a series of written diagnostic tests. The doctor or healthcare professional should do a thorough physical exam and might want to schedule you for blood or urine laboratory tests. Other extensive tests might be ordered such as EEG, EMG, or MRI to rule out other chronic conditions. Your doctor might recommend a polysomnogram (PSG) if he or she thinks an underlying sleep disorder is causing your insomnia.  If so, you will most likely stay overnight at a sleep center. The PSG records brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, and blood pressure.

CPAP  for Sleep Apnea

Young man using CPAP machine

If it is determined that you have sleep apnea, you will most likely be prescribed a CPAP device.  CPAP is a nonintrusive method of providing continuous positive airway pressure, is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open.

CPAP is the most effective nonsurgical treatment, for obstructive sleep apnea, and is the first treatment choice.  Many studies have shown that it is effective in helping those with obstructive sleep anpea, caused by bocked or narrowed airways in your nose, mouth, or throat. When sleep apnea occurs, the airway becomes blocked when the throat muscles and tongue relax during sleep. This generally results in snoring and interrupted sleep, sometimes with frequent gasping or awakenings, as the person struggles for air.

If  your healthcare practitioner believes that you do not have a physical or biological such as heart failure, or sleep apnea, or other serious medical conditions requiring immediate and radical interventions, the doctor might suggest that you explore alternative lifestyle changes and natural solutions first, before trying prescription drugs.

Sleeping Prescriptions

Sleeping prescription statistics by age


Treating Insomnia Without Prescriptions
Prescription drugs are often the method of choice when working with a healthcare professional. Approximately 10 million people in the U.S. use prescription sleep aids.  This might be the right solution for you, and is a decision between you and your trusted healthcare practitioner.  However, there are many lifestyle changes that you can discuss with your doctor and  might be effective, before trying medications. As always, consult with your trusted healthcare practitioner before trying any of these supplements or suggestions.

    1. Sip something warm before going to bed: chamomile, anise or fennel seed teas, or warm milk.
    2. Sleep on your back to take stress off your heart, stomach or lungs.
    3. Sleep on a firm mattress to support your spine and allow it to relax.
    4. Eat a light meal at least two hours before sleeping so that your digestive system can relax and not be overly working while you are trying to rest.
    5. Take a warm bath to relax your muscles and lower your blood pressure, just before going to sleep.
    6. Avoid stimulating drugs, such as caffeine, energy drinks,  and nicotine, particularly before going to bed.
    7. Exercise several hours before going to sleep.
    8. Use a sleep mask to block out interfering light.
    9. Try writing in a journal or praying before sleeping and imagine releasing your problems or stress over to a higher power
    10. Read a relaxing book before sleeping.
    11. Try the regular practice of meditation to lower stress hormone levels.
    12. Try taking natural sleep herbal remedies or supplements such as: melatonin, tryptophan, magnesium, chromium, chamomile, kava, arsenicum album, coffea cruda, valerian root and others.
    13. Avoid alcohol- it is a leading cause of poor sleep.
    14. Minimize noise when trying to sleep.
    15. Listen to relaxing music.
    16. Try hypnotherapy sessions or recorded hypnotic sleep suggestions before retiring.
    17. Maintain a comfortable bedroom temperature.


Man Sleeping on Computer

Insomnia affect all areas of life. There are natural solutions to treat insomnia.

Insomnia is a serious health problem that can lead to other physical, mental or emotional problems if not treated. However, if there is no serious underlying medical cause requiring radical intervention, there are many resources and simple, natural lifestyle changes available. As always, check with your family doctor or practitioner before making a change in your normal routine or trying new health supplements.

Resources
National Sleep Foundation
Better Sleep Council 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
US Surgeon General’s Office

References

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2012). “What is Sleep Apnea?”. National Institutes of Health..

“Sleep Apnea: Who Is At Risk for Sleep Apnea?”. NHLBI: Health Information for the Public. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Ng, Beng-Yeong; Lee, Tih-Shih (2008). “Hypnotherapy for Sleep Disorders”. Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore 37 (8): 683–8.

Hurwitz, Thomas D.; Mahowald, Mark W.; Schenck, Carlos H.; Schluter, Janet; Bundlie, Scott R. (April 1991). “A retrospective outcome study and review of hypnosis as treatment of adults with sleepwalking and sleep terror”. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 179 (4): 181–241.

Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, Robert Segal, M.A. (September 2011). Sleep Disorders and Sleeping Problems

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
  Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:
 The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.