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 Herbal Medicine: Insomnia: Wake up to ten simple solutions 
 
Terry Willard ©

Dose:Steep 1 to 2 tsp. of the herb in a cup of hot water. There are no noted side effects.

  • Kava-kava, or kava (Piper methysticum), will probably become one of the most popular healing herbs in the next few years. Compounds called kavalactones give kava its strong relaxing and sedative action while making a person more alert. This makes kava very useful for highly active people who need to stay calm and mentally awake during periods of stress.

    Dose:The daily dosage used in clinical studies is 100 mg of kava extract standardized to 70 percent kavalactones divided into three portions. People who are pregnant, nursing infants, or going through bouts of depression should avoid it, and it shouldn't be taken when driving or operating machinery.


    Worth a try
    While sleeping straight through for seven or eight hours may be the ideal, it's not necessarily the best sleep pattern for everyone. Some of my patients have had great success on only four hours of straight sleep, supplemented with a fifteen-minute rest or catnap after every subsequent four-hour period of wakefulness. The break can consist of a catnap, meditation, light exercise, or sipping a cup of tea--it's their choice. After the sixth of these work/break cycles, instead of the fifteen-minute break, they go to sleep again for four hours.

    However, the six cycles take 25.5 hours, which doesn't fit neatly into the twenty-four-hour day. Still, some people feel that this extended day works best, and they make the odd readjustment here and there to fit in with society. They say that using the fifteen-minute breaks to catnap is key; they go quickly into a sound sleep and awaken feeling refreshed. Leonardo da Vinci, Winston Churchill, and Florence Nightingale, all very very productive people, were known to have slept in four-hour cycles.


    Terry Willard is president of the Canadian Association of Herbal Practitioners and a member of the Canadian Federal Government Expert Advisory Council on Herbs and Botanical Preparations. He is director of the Wild Rose College of Natural Healing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and president of Coastal Mountain College of Healing Arts in Vancouver, B.C. He lives on an organic herb farm on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains.


    Additional reading

    Foster, Steven. Herbs for Your Health. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1996.
    Willard, Terry. Herbs and their Clinical Uses. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Wild Rose College of Natural Healing Ltd., 1996.

  • (Excerpted from Herbs for Health Magazine)
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