Archive for November, 2018

Better Sleep for Shorter Days

Submitted by Vital Nutrients

Better Sleep

During the winter and early spring, reduced exposure to light during the day can actually interfere with proper melatonin secretion, which can exacerbate insomnia. An estimated 64 million Americans suffer from insomnia each year, reporting difficulty falling asleep, waking too early, and general sluggishness. Chronic sleep deprivation due to insomnia can lead to a deterioration of cognitive alertness, ability to function in the daytime, and may be associated with conditions, such as anxiety, depression, stress reaction, pain, sleep apnea, and hormonal changes.

Sleep hygiene may help people with insomnia improve the amount and quality of their sleep. When the days are shorter, this may include a regimen of light exposure in the early morning hours (before 10 am), whether by going outside, sitting by a window, or using a light box for about 30 minutes to help stimulate melatonin production and promote a healthy circadian rhythm. It is also helpful to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, limit caffeine to the morning, and avoid eating, vigorous exercise, and exposure to bright overhead lighting or computer screens in the few hours before bedtime.

In addition, certain herbal and nutritional supplements, along with a physiological dose of melatonin (0.25 mg in the hour before bedtime) may help promote relaxation of mind and body. It’s recommended to take a synergistic combination of some or all of the below botanicals and nutrients to help calm the central nervous system and support restful, refreshing sleep.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a popular herbal remedy for anxiety and insomnia, with a long history of use in North America. Two studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating anxiety and in one of the studies it was found to be as effective as benzodiazepine medications. However, unlike benzodiazepines, regular use of passionflower extract does not appear to lead to dependence.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a medicinal plant in the mint family with mild sedative properties. It has traditionally been used for its calming effects on both the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. In research studies, lemon balm has improved self-rated mood, increased calmness, and enhanced cognitive functioning in healthy people under ordinary circumstances, while performing stress-inducing tasks.

Hops (Humulus lupulus) are mostly known for their use in flavoring beer. It also can be used as a medicinal treatment for insomnia and anxiety and has been supported by animal and in vitro studies. Studies suggest that hops extract quiets the central nervous system by increasing GABA activity and activating melatonin receptors.

California Poppy (Eschscholtzia californicum) is a flowering plant in the poppy family that is known for its sedative effects and has been used historically for insomnia, nervous tension, and sensitivity to weather changes. Its ability to influence the metabolism of several neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine and serotonin, has been documented.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a flowering perennial plant well known for its ability to ease nervousness and promote sleep. Studies suggest that valerian terpenoids and flavonoids may exert anxiolytic and sedative properties by affecting GABA and GABA receptors. Some studies comparing valerian extract to benzodiazepines have found them to have similar effects.

L-theanine (N-ethyl-L-glutamine) is an amino acid present in green tea. In human studies, L-theanine supplementation increased alpha brainwave activity, indicating a more relaxed state. It also reduced physiologic signs of stress in people given stress-inducing tasks in the laboratory.

Lavender Essential Oil (Lavendula angustafolia) is a perennial flowering shrub with a distinctive fragrance that is widely believed to ease tension and enhance relaxation. Aromatherapy with lavender oil has had relaxing to sedating effects in a number of studies. Inhaling lavender oil during sleep increased deep, slow-wave sleep, decreased rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, and increased a reported sense of vigor upon morning waking in one study. A preliminary study also found that aromatherapy with lavender oil improved sleep in people with insomnia.

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland to regulate the sleep/ wake cycle. Melatonin release is strongly affected by light and darkness, with levels normally dropping during daylight hours and rising at night to induce drowsiness and lower body temperature.

Melatonin levels are low in people with insomnia and supplemental melatonin has been found to be an effective treatment for insomnia in controlled trials. Melatonin may also help shift the sleep phase and improve sleep in shift workers and people with jet lag. In addition, melatonin is a powerful antioxidant.

Incorporating sleep hygiene techniques and supplementation into your daily routine can help improve the quality of your sleep and help decrease mental health and sleep related issues that occur during the cold weather months.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

November 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

Bolster Your Immune System Naturally

Boost Immune SystemBy Jen Palmer, Naturopathic Doctor (ND) & NEEDS Education Director

As the dreaded flu season descends upon us, you may be feeling a lot of pressure to get a flu vaccination. Television commercials, internet articles, and maybe even family and coworkers tell you it’s the only way to stay healthy. Vaccines are presented as a cheap and easy way to stay healthy, but as we all know, the flu vaccination has a low success rate for all ages and an even lower effectiveness in seniors.

If you’re looking for better odds when it comes to your health, a healthier bet is to boost your immune system naturally to give your body a fighting chance. A strong immune system will not only keep the flu away, but it will also enhance your overall health and longevity. Here are a few suggestions to help you breeze through the cold weather season!

 Vitamin D

There’s an abundance of research on vitamin D that shows it supports bone strength, immune function, and has a slew of other benefits. One of the many published studies looked at its role in cold and flu prevention. The focus of this 2007 study was actually to evaluate vitamin D’s role in bone strength, but they also happened to track incidence of colds and flu in the participants.

For the first two years of the study, participants were given either 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day or a placebo. For the third and final year, the vitamin D dosage was increased to 2,000 IU per day. At the end of the study, 34 out of 208 participants (total) reported cold or flu symptoms; only eight were from the vitamin D group and the remaining 26 were taking the placebo. In those taking the placebo, colds and flu were clustered in the winter months, while those taking vitamin D had less infections, which were scattered throughout the year. And when they took 2,000 IU of vitamin D, only one person reported having a cold or flu.

Thorne’s Arabinex

Thorne’s Arabinex (Larch arabinogalactan) is a polysaccharide powder derived from the wood of the Larch pine tree (Larix species) and it’s comprised of approximately 98 percent arabinogalactan. Arabinogalactans are found in a variety of plants, but they are more abundant in the Larch pine tree. Larch arabinogalactan is a safe and effective immune-stimulating phytochemical that has been shown to stimulate natural killer cell activity. It is also FDA approved

for use as a dietary fiber and may aid the intestinal immune system. The typical adult dosage is one to three tablespoons per day in divided doses and the powder is usually mixed with water or juice, but it can be added to food if desired.


Oregano contains the active chemical rosmarinic acid, which is a potent antioxidant with immune benefits. It also contains phytochemicals that are antimicrobial and anti-viral, which can help prevent respiratory problems related to the flu. You can use oregano in your cooking, but you can get a super dose in supplement form. OregaMax, a wild oregano formula, supports natural mineral intake and more. This wild oregano grows directly on rock in the Mediterranean mountains, making it rich in natural trace minerals. Unlike commercial oregano, OregaMax is undiluted. This is the crude herb of wild, high-mountain oregano in combination with Rhus Coriaria, organic garlic powder, and organic onion powder. It is the most potent wild oregano whole herb available.

 Natural Immune Support

It’s smart to bolster your ability to stay healthy during the cold and flu season with a little help from immune support supplements. Some of the immune support products should be taken consistently throughout the entire winter season and others are designed to be used just when

you start to feel initial symptoms. It’s good to have these on hand so you can start them the second you need them, since that ensures a better success rate. Nutrients and herbs can add that extra boost your immune system needs during the challenging winter months.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

November 1, 2018 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

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