Trouble sleeping? The importance of sleep and the pitfalls of the pharmaceutical approach
Anxiety disorders and insomnia often go hand in hand. Anxiety disorders afflict one in five people worldwide at some point or other in their lives, while it is speculated that insomnia affects between 9 and 15% of people globally. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine points out that, among adults in the U.S., 30 to 35% suffer brief episodes of insomnia, 15 to 20% have short-term insomnia, and 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder. The symptoms are broad and debilitating: fatigue, inability to maintain focus and concentration, poor memory, mood disturbance, daytime sleepiness, low motivation or energy, proneness to errors and accidents. Also, epidemiological research suggests that there is a correlation between insomnia and other more serious health risks, including anxiety disorders and other psychological problems, as well as hypertension and decreased immune function. Comprehensive reviews have shown that a therapy based on anxiety-reducing and hypnotic pharmaceutical drugs (e.g. benzodiazepines and other drugs) is associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality. This is not to mention the dangers posed by dependence and side-effects like gastrointestinal upset, vertigo, and fatigue.
Enter ValeriCalm®: a better, more natural solution
Research shows that, for problems of anxiety and insomnia, nervous system related herbs offer an effective solution that is both safer and non-addictive.
A multi-herb formula hinged on valerian
While our ValeriCalm® formula is comprised of several herbs, all of them working together with splendidly effective synergy, it takes its name, most aptly, after valerian, a classic nervine herb with anxiety-reducing properties. The use of valerian can be traced back to classical antiquity. In the time of the Roman Empire, we find Galen, for example, prescribing it for insomnia. Closer to our own day, valerian was widely employed by the Eclectics—physicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries who tended to rely on herbal therapies--for treating nervousness, restlessness and anxiety as well as insomnia.
In a double-blind trial of 48 adults, valerian was found to reduce anxiety without ancillary sedation, while another clinical trial showed an anxiety-reducing effect like diazepam. As well, several studies present compelling evidence of the effectiveness of valerian in the treatment of insomnia. These include a clinical trial with 202 patients that found valerian and oxazepam, a standard benzodiazepine tranquilizer, to be equally efficacious.
Valerian’s able supporting cast: passionflower, California poppy, chamomile, hops, and motherwort
A beautiful climbing plant, passionflower was introduced to Europe from the Americas by the Spanish in the 16th century. Afterwards it became popular in Western medicine as a tranquilizer and mild sedative. Eclectic physicians found it “specially useful” to treat insomnia and restlessness. More recently, a study with 41 participants found passionflower to improve sleep quality significantly. Human clinical trials have also demonstrated its anxiety-reducing activity. Animal models suggest that passionflower may be effective for neuropathic pain, as well as stress reduction and improving memory.
Native Americans used the California poppy for its relatively mild sedative and analgesic properties. Modern research studies have confirmed not only its sedative and analgesic actions, but its anxiety-reducing qualities as well.
The therapeutic use of chamomile can be traced back to ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures. The Eclectics valued it for calming the nervous system. A long-term clinical trial using chamomile extract found that it significantly reduced moderate to severe symptoms of GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). In addition, a short-term trial of chamomile extract showed a clinically meaningful reduction in symptoms of GAD with results comparable to those of conventional anxiety-reducing drug therapy.
A climbing plant best known as a bittering agent in beer, hops has a long history of therapeutic use as a sedative in a wide range of cultures, including the indigenous peoples of North America. A clinical trial using a combination of hops and valerian for patients suffering sleep disorders has demonstrated an effectiveness equivalent to benzodiazepine drugs. Other studies confirm the sedative action of hops for promoting sleep.
A perennial and member of the mint family, motherwort can be found worldwide. Native Americans used it as a sedative among other things. Similarly, the Eclectics considered it a tonic nervine for chronic diseases accompanied by restlessness and disturbed sleep. Research confirms the sedative activity of motherwort. A clinical trial with an oil extract of motherwort found it to be hypotensive, as well as significantly mitigating anxiety and sleep disorders.
Developed with only the best quality adaptogens and other classic herbs, ValeriCalm® helps provide a good night's sleep. Because, at St. Francis Herb Farm, we believe in the power of well-crafted herbal products.
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A low-growing, daisy-like annual native to Europe and Asia and known to medicine from classical antiquity, chamomile is commonly found in overgrown fields. Its name is derived from the Greek word that means "earth apple" on account of the scent of its fresh blossoms.