Homeopathic Treatment of Sleep Disorders
Dr. Saurav Arora, Dr. Bharti Arora
Consultants, Arora’s Homeopathic Clinic
+919811425214 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.arorasclinic.com
The value of sleep can’t be surpassed. Sleep is essential, sleep is vital. It is said that one’s success lies in the quality of sleep. The stress, lifestyle, and co-morbidities are making our life miserable, which is directly reflected in the quality of sleep we have. Either we sleep late or we sleep less, the outcome is reflected directly or indirectly in the work output. It is commonly urged by patients that if they have a quality sleep, everything would be fine perfectly in their life. In this situation, what should be the approach to deal sleep disorders? This article delineates the homeopathic perspective of sleep disorders and the probable/actual solution in homeopathy. And yes, if you are a patient and reading this, you must seek a homeopath to get rid of your sleep problems. Homeopathy Heals Holistically!
Commonest Sleep Problems
No sleep problem is common but every sleep problem is commonest. Lack of sleep, disturbed sleep, sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, and restless legs syndrome are some of the common presentations.
Scientifically, if we consider the International Classification of Sleep Disorders then we have the following categorizations:
DYSSOMNIA: Dyssomnia is a disturbance of the body’s natural resting and waking patterns. The sufferer is either too awake at night or too sleepy in the day. The dyssomnia may be due to:
- Internal or Intrinsic factors such as physiological or psychological cause and the presentation may be insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.
- Outside or Extrinsic factors such as high altitude, allergies, alcohol abuse, noises, sleep deprivation due to other commitments.
- Circadian Rhythm Disturbances such as jet travel, work in shifts, delayed sleep phase.
PARASOMNIA: The “parasomnia” refers to all the abnormal things that may happen during sleep such as:
- Arousal Disorders: sleepwalking, sleep terrors, confusional arousals.
- Sleep-Wake Transition Disorders: somniloquy, hypnic jerks, rhythmic movement disorder (pediatrics).
- REM Parasomnias: Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD), nightmares, sleep paralysis
- Other: Bruxism, enuresis, etc.
MEDICAL-PSYCHIATRIC disorders in which sleep abnormality is a major symptom of some other medical disorder, but not the primary problem:
Sleep is also associated with few factors which are very common such as:
- Shift work or overwork
- New baby
- Eating late
- Alcohol, coffee, tea or other stimulants
- Uncomfortable bed
- Insufficient exercise
- Anxiety or fear
- Pain – teething, earache, colic
- Old age
Homeopathic Aspects – Treat the Individual – Treat the Cause – Treat Holistically
In homeopathy, as we believe in treating a case holistically, we must enquire the causation and presentation from various point of views. Referring to basic homeopathic philosophy, we must see the presenting complaints and signs, causations, past history, family history, mental state, any specific illness etc. After we are done with a thorough examination of the individual and case, we draw a totality in which we must give importance to the uncommon and peculiar symptoms.
Practically, in the majority of the cases, we are struck with two major challenges – modifiable and non-modifiable causes. Sometimes it may just be the home environment of the patient which is the cause of sleep disorders. Therefore, it is not just an individual whom we should give priority, but the environment and the other factors associated with the patient as an individual. In situations where we can’t modify the factors, we must counsel patient to deal them confidently and with a positive mind.
A homeopath may play a dual role in such situations. Along with our medication, we are the great counselors. As we know the in-depth analysis of a case we can manage a patient well. In case we need to take help of an allied practitioner we must not hesitate to do so.
Moving further to homeopathic aspects, we have, in repertory the following rubrics which are worth considering in Sleep symptoms:
- Anger, after: Coloc., Nux-v., Bry., Cham., Coff.
- Anxiety, from: Ars., Cocc., Bry., Caust., Cham, Kali-c. Lach
- Excitement, from: Hyos., Nux-v., Arg-n., Aur-m.
- Fear, fright, from: Bry., Cham., Cimic., Cocc., Ign.
- Grief, from: Nat-m., Ign., Kali-br., Sulph.,
- Mental exertion, after: Nux-v., Calc.
- Old people: Acon, Bar-c., Phos., Ars.
- Restlessness, from: Apis, Ars., Merc-c., Alum., Bry.
- Thoughts, from: Calc., Coff., Hep., Nux-v., Op.
- Wine, after abuse of: Nux-v., Coff. Coffee; abuse of, after: Coff., Cham., Nux-v.
Even in homeopathic material medica, sleep has been given prime importance. Some of the excerpts from the homeopathic literature are:
- Aethusa Cynapium: prostration with sleepiness.
- Aloe Socotrina: Itching and burning in anus, preventing sleep (Ind.).
- Ambra Grisea: After business embarrassments, unable to sleep, must get up (Act., Sep.)
- Ammonium Carbonicum: Loses breath when falling asleep, must awaken to get breath (Grind., Lach.).
- Anacardium Orientale: Headache: relieved entirely when eating (Psor.); when lying down in bed at night, and when about falling asleep.
- Antim tart: Great sleepiness or irresistible inclination to sleep,
- Arsenic Album: Haemorrhoids: with stitching pain when walking or sitting, not at stool; preventing sitting or sleep;
- Arum Triphyllum: Children refuse food and drink on account of soreness of mouth and throat (Mer.); are sleepless.
- Caladium: Very sensitive ot noise; slightest noise startles from
- Cantharis: Sexual desire: increased both sexes; preventing sleep;
- Cinchona: Unrefreshing sleep or constant sopor;
Clinically, the most commonly used homeopathic remedies are:
- Crowding of thoughts
- Wakes early but again falls asleep
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Side effects of overwork or over-stimulation (Night shifts)
- Sleep disturbed by dreams.
- Hyperactive or hypersensitive children.
- Fit of indigestion or colic.
- Anguish, visions and illusions.
- Starts with fright, cries, tosses about, is tearful, talks, raves, groans, snores and constantly separates the thighs.
- Commonly indicated in teething children.
Also, the following serve as homeopathic Anxiolytic agents:
- Passiflora Incarnata: Restlessness, exhaustion, and sleeplessness.
- Kali phos: Anxiety, Prostration, Irritability, Brain-fag, Somnabulance
- Gelsemium: Cannot get fully to sleep; delirious on falling asleep; insomnia from exhaustion; from uncontrollable thinking; tobacco; yawning; sleepless from nervous irritation. Gelsemium has also found to be an anxiolytic agent when used in mice model under experimental conditions (http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20401745)
- Pulsatilla: 3x and 6x were used in a study on mice, and the efficacy of Puls 3x and 6x was comparable to standard drug (http://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S147549161200032X)
There are many patent medicines also, which claim to provide relief in sleep disorders, but there has been a constant demand for the evidence-based studies to establish their roles. In the following studies the role of specific/patents were studied:
|2011||IJHDR||10(34):04-14||Anxiolytic and antidepressive effects of the homeopathic complex Homeo-pax® (pre-clinical study)||The homeopathic complex Homeo-pax® has anxiolytic and antidepressant properties without affecting motor coordination capacity.|
|2009||IJHDR||8(28):91-99||Anxiolytic effect of the homeopathic complex Tepeex||Results suggest that homeopathic complex Tepeex® has anxiolytic properties without affecting motor coordination.|
Tapering anti-depressants, insomnia drugs etc.
This is perhaps the most common question asked in clinics. Some basic considerations are:
- Side effects of “sleeping pills” may include burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs; Changes in appetite; Constipation; Diarrhea; Difficulty keeping balance; Dizziness; Drowsiness; Dry mouth or throat; Flatulence; Headache; Heartburn; Stomach pain or tenderness; Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body; Unusual dreams; Weakness
- Is it safe to withdraw them??
- Whenever a drug is tapered, a patient may have “Withdrawal Symptoms”
- Withdrawal symptoms are to be taken as a totality and homeopathic medicines are prescribed to:
- Reduce their intensity
- Make a patient at “ease”.
- Helping him to get rid of “sleeping pills”
- Withdrawal should be done with caution preferably under supervision of an Expert.
Potency and Repetition
- Most common and most confusing question
- Single dose?
- Multiple doses?
- Single medicine or combination?
- At what time during a day/night?
- Potency & Repetition
- Low potencies in repeated doses: in cases where causative factor can be easily identified and modified.
- Moderate potencies in few doses: where causative factor has association but cannot be easily modified
- High potencies in infrequent doses: where there seems no causative factor(s)
- Time of Day: Although medicines may be given at any time preferably few doses (may be placebo) should be given before sleep.
- Single or Combination: This depends on a physician’s outlook towards a case, but clinically a bio-chemic remedy or a tincture may be given for few initial visit, where a patient develops faith and rapport with the doctor.
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