Homeopathy for Insomnia
Insomnia, or difficulty falling or staying asleep, affects most individuals at some time in their lives. As many as 20 percent of people suffer from chronic insomnia, and more than 40 percent of adults report having insomnia on occasion.
With the recent emergence of numerous sleep aid medications, identifying and treating insomnia has received increased attention. In addition to over-the-counter and prescription medications, there are several other natural approaches to treating insomnia. These include behavioral approaches and the diagnosis and treatment of contributing medical problems. Homeopathy is an alternative therapy that is well suited to treating insomnia.
Homeopathic Remedies for Insomnia
Animal studies have shown an improvement in sleep patterns in rats given homeopathic doses of coffea cruda, which is derived from the coffee bean. Homeopathic practitioners report successful human use of coffea cruda in situations where insomnia is caused by stress, anxiety and overactive thought patterns. Taking a dose of 3X to 200X is recommended following excessive coffee drinking. This is the most common homeopathic treatment used for insomnia.
Other homeopathic preparations are used to treat insomnia related to different causes, and this variation in specific recommendations is linked to the holistic approach of homeopathy.
Several of the possible homeopathic preparations for insomnia are:
- Aconite is used to treat insomnia related to panic or grief, especially when awakening is caused by nightmares.
- Arnica, for insomnia related to overexertion and jet lag.
- Ignatia is used for insomnia related to shock, overstress, or grief, especially when muscle jerking, yawning, and sighing are prevalent.
- Nux vomica is used for insomnia related to overindulgence, excessive mental stress, or stopping sedatives, especially when the insomnia is marked by early morning waking.
In general, these preparations are taken at 6c strength every 15-30 minutes for three doses daily over a period of a couple weeks. If symptoms do not improve, a homeopath can recommend a different preparation. A key advantage of seeing a professional homeopath is the skill and experience in selecting the correct homeopathic remedy for your condition, taking in account all aspects of your health and lifestyle.
When insomnia is due to other underlying conditions, such as depression, anxiety or prostate enlargement, homeopathy may have a role in treating the primary medical condition. Secondarily, the homeopathic treatment may help resolve your sleep disturbances.
Why Use Alternative Approaches for Treating Insomnia?
Medication is a common and usually effective treatment for short-term insomnia. This includes a class of prescription and over-the-counter drugs called sedative-hypnotics. Unfortunately, the use of these medications can lead to unwanted side effects, such as allergic reactions, excessive drowsiness during waking hours, and complex sleep behaviors, such as sleep-eating, sleep-walking and even sleep-driving. Furthermore, use of medication to treat chronic insomnia is controversial due to the side effects and availability of more effective treatments. For example, studies have shown that behavioral therapy is more effective than medication for long-term treatment of insomnia.
There are many behavioral approaches that can help one deal with insomnia. These include exercise (as long as it’s not within four hours of bedtime), reduction or elimination of caffeine and other stimulants like nicotine, avoidance of alcohol or food near bedtime, relaxation techniques, creating calm surroundings, noise reduction, or adding white noise.
Other beneficial behaviors for treating insomnia include keeping a regular sleep schedule, going to bed only when tired, getting out of the bedroom when lying awake, using the bed only for sleep and sex, and avoiding daytime napping.
What Causes Insomnia?
Various forms of stress are the most common cause of insomnia. Stress can lead to physiologic changes, as well as the development of thought processes and behaviors that can intensify the cycle of poor sleep.
For some people, insomnia can be related to medical problems or symptoms such as urinary frequency or incontinence, chronic pain, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome. Many medications have insomnia as a side effect. Among the most frequently affected are women, the elderly, and those with depression, anxiety or grief reactions. Insomnia can be both short-term, or if lasting more than three weeks, it can be considered a chronic condition.
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a complementary therapy dating back more than 200 years, which is based on the concept of “like to treat like.” It involves application or ingestion of small, diluted doses of substances to treat the very symptoms the substance would produce in undiluted quantities. The underlying principle is that by encouraging the immune system to respond to these exposures, it will become better able to defend the body against ailments that have the same symptoms.
Homeopathy has been compared to conventional vaccines, in which a small, inactive dose of a virus or a viral part is given to protect a person from infection by that virus. A similar principle is used for allergy shots, whereby gradually increased doses of an allergen are injected until tolerance to its exposure is achieved.
Homeopathy is a holistic practice that also takes into account the response of the mind and spirit, and practitioners often spend significant amounts of time with clients learning how to individually address each person’s needs.
Is Homeopathy Safe?
The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and FDA regulations regulate homeopathic preparations for safety. This process is more rigorous than the regulations that are in place for dietary supplements, although not as stringent as that in place for prescription drugs and medications.
Ruiz-Vega G, Pérez-Ordaz L, Cortés-Galván L, Juárez-G FM. A kinetic approach to caffeine--Coffea cruda interaction. Homeopathy. 2003 Jan. Vol. 92(1):19-29.