Trouble Falling Asleep?

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We know that inadequate sleeping is associated with changes in diet — people tend to eat worse — but what about the opposite question: Can food affect sleep? In a study on kiwifruit, this seemed possible (see Kiwifruit For Insomnia), but the mechanism the researchers suggested for the effect — the serotonin levels in kiwifruit — doesn’t make any sense, since serotonin can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. We can eat all the serotonin we want and it shouldn’t affect our brain chemistry. A different brain chemical, though, melatonin, can get from our gut to our brain.

Melatonin is a hormone secreted at night by the pineal gland in the center of our brain to help regulate our circadian rhythm. Supplements of the stuff are used to prevent and reduce jet lag, and about 20 years ago, MIT got the patent to use melatonin to help people sleep. But melatonin “is not only produced in the pineal gland — it is also naturally present in edible plants.”

That might explain the results of a study, “Effects of a Tart Cherry Juice Beverage on the Sleep of Older Adults with Insomnia” (See Tart Cherries for Insomnia). The research group had been doing an earlier study on tart cherry juice as a sports recovery drink. There’s a phytonutrient in cherries with anti-inflammatory effects on par with drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen, so the researchers were trying to see whether tart cherry juice could reduce muscle soreness after exercise. During the study, some of the participants anecdotally noted that they were sleeping better on the cherries. That was unexpected, but the researchers realized that cherries were a source of melatonin so they put them to the test.

The reason they chose older subjects is that melatonin production tends to drop as we age, which may be one reason why there’s a higher insomnia rates among the elderly. So, they took a group of older men and women suffering from chronic insomnia and put half on cherries and half on placebo. They couldn’t use whole cherries for the study—how could you fool people with a placebo cherry? So they used cherry juice versus cherry Kool-Aid.

They found that participants did in fact sleep a little better on the cherry juice. The effect was modest, but significant. Some, for example, fell to sleep a few minutes faster and had 17 fewer minutes of waking after sleep onset (waking up in the middle of the night). It was no insomnia cure, but it helped—without side effects.

How do we know it was the melatonin, though? They repeated the study, this time measuring the melatonin levels, and indeed saw a boost in circulating melatonin levels after the cherry juice, but not after the Kool-Aid. Similar results were found in people eating the actual cherries—seven different varieties boosted melatonin levels and actual sleep times. The effects of all the other phytonutrients in cherries can’t be precluded—maybe they helped too—but if it is the melatonin, there are more potent sources than cherries.

Orange bell peppers have a lot, as do walnuts—and a tablespoon of flaxseeds has about as much as a tomato. See the chart in my video Tart Cherries for Insomnia. The melatonin content of tomatoes was suggested as one of the reasons traditional Mediterranean diets were so healthy. They have less melatonin than the tart cherries, but people may eat a lot more tomatoes than cherries. Sweet cherries have 50 times less melatonin than tart ones; dried cherries appear to have none.

A few spices are pretty potent: just a teaspoon of fenugreek or mustard seeds has as much as a few tomatoes.  The bronze and silver go to almonds and raspberries, though. And the gold goes to gojis. Goji berries were just off the charts.

Aren’t goji berries really expensive, though? Not if you buy them as lycium berries. Check out my video Are Goji Berries Good for You?

I’ve previously explored Human Neurotransmitters in Plants in the context of boosting serotonin levels in the brain to improve mood. See:

By: Dr. Michael Greger
Source: www.onegreenplanet.org

2015-08-27T12:04:44+00:00

Related Questions

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    Q: Does melanin have any relation to melatonin production in the body, thus improving sleep cycles? Would you please clarify if you are able?

    A:

    I have read that the two are related and have also read that there is no relation whatsoever

    Melanin is responsible for dark pigmentation of the skin. I actually refer to it as CARBON (Black matter). Carbon is what makes folks dark (and along with COPPER, electrical). Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the darkness of night. You have to be sleep between 12 a.m. - 4 p.m. for proficient amounts of this anti-aging hormone. People who live and lead the nightlife are aging prematurely and dying prematurely. Melanin and melatonin are not the same. melatonin is a hormone where as melanin is not! They are not the same thing! They both deal with darkness or blackness though as melanin makes the pigmentation dark and melatonin is a dark colored hormone secreted in the darkness of the night.

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    Q: In a magazine called New Life Yoga, it questions if Melatonin is the closest thing to a cure all? It also states that our bodies synthesize it but not in a large quantity if you are a night worker (such as myself). Since it is synthesized highly at night. Being recently diagnosed with cervical cancer do you think I should discuss this with a alternative Dr., because I'm sure that the MD still wants to go ahead and start treatments (radiation and chemo). What is your take on this supplement?

    A:

    Don't put all of your hope into a product (i.e. melatonin) that your body naturally produces. Please read our free health information, especially the article on "CANCER: CAUSES AND REMEDIES" and "WHY WOMEN ARE SO SICK" I'd suggest you begin to detoxify your body (see FULL BODY DETOX and TOTAL WOMAN CLEANSE on our site). Please read the article on "THE DANGERS OF CHEMOTHERAPY" as well. Chemo is no joke and will greatly harm the body. God did not make the body with petroleum (chemotherapy). The body is organic and needs organic nutrition to heal from disease. You can heal with the RIGHT information, Beloved. But in the end, it's your choice!

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    Q: I found this health article on the risk of getting cancer from working at night. I'm a night worker. have been for 16 yrs, and my sleeping and eating patterns haven?t been the same since. The article mentions taking melatonin...is that safe and effective? Also do you have any herbal cures for us night timers to reverse the effects of working the graveyard shift? I can sure use them?

    A:

    Cancer stems from a host of things, not just one thing like working at night. Disease results from negative thoughts/mindset, negative attitude, poor diet; insalubrious lifestyle, and insalubrious environment. You don't need to take melatonin. Your body (pineal gland) produces it. As a night worker, just make sure when you are sleeping in the day time your room is completely dark, just like how Dracula used to sleep in the darkness of his coffin during the daylight hours. This is why Dracula was a thousand years old but looked young. He slept during the day (which produces melatonin which is an anti-aging hormone) and he operated at night whereby he also produced melatonin. Dude never aged! You do the same, just don't suck on no necks to get blood though -- LOL!!!! And no! There are no herbs to reverse anything that comes from actions or behaviors that are unnatural. You reverse the effects of night-time work by doing the opposite. In your case, it's your job (which you don't want to quit unless you can find another one), so you just get some good sleep during the day in pitch darkness.

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    Q: I gave my daughter 1 capsule of BRAIN TUNER every morning for about two weeks now. She now has a mild to average seizure every day instead of twice or three times a week. And since taken this Brain Tuner two weeks ago she has had two bad attacked. Normally she will get a bad attack every 2 - 3 weeks once. Most of her attack come during her sleep or during an afternoon nap, i.e. she will wake up from this sleep/nap and stay still for 30 sec - 1 minutes and the attack will come and her entire palms and feet will turn cold and heart starting to beat very fast. And once in a while if she does not get enough sleep she will get a hard attack out of the blue during the day otherwise most of the seizure attack during her sleep. Does this Brain Tuner stimulate her brain and causes the attack? What other remedy should I take to cut down this seizure?

    A:

    Sounds like the body (brain) is being greatly regulated, but if the BRAIN TUNER is speeding up the attack of seizures, abstain from using it and just give OXY-DROPS in glass or cup or water (20 drops per cup/glass). Normally a thing increases before it decreases but if this causes concern then abstain and try something else.

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    Q: I suffer from insomnia what can I take to sleep?

    A:

    I suggest: NERVES FORMULA (3 capsules two times a day) DREAM-AID INSPIRANT NERVES TEA (1 cup before bedtime)

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    Q: I am writing about everything I am dealing so I can feel my best again. I want your recomendation on all the things I have been dealing with since I got sick a year ago. here is the list of alements. and most are caused by the bad kidney and some from the meds. kidney disease high phosphrous high blood pressure, yesturday 252/151 sleep apnea they want me to sleep with a machine on my face, enlarge prostate chest pains poor circliation in my legs from the high phosporous constipation insomnia a swollen foot fatigue I know that is a grocery list of problems I am willing to do what ever it takes to recover. You already gave some things to do. I just want to make sure I have covered all grounds. I thank you for your ministry and your passion to help Gods people. You are truly a blessing. Thankyou again neil In all due honesty, you need a consultation. You have a plethora of conditions and all of them have underlying causes which can be covered via consultation and directly. I'd have to write a 20-page article just to cover everything by written word and I just don't have the time to do this for individual persons (we're too busy here at Dherbs answering hundreds of inquiries per day).

    A:

    For kidney disease: KIDNEYS AND BLADDER, ELECTRIC GREENS CELL FOOD, and ACID BUSTER For High Phosphorus: ACID BUSTER, ELECTRIC GREENS CELL FOOD For Sleep Apnea: NERVES FORMULA, NERVES TEA, DREAM-AID INSPIRANT (all before bedtime) For Enlarged Prostate: PROSTATE FORMULA , MALE HORMONAL FORMULA, MALE HEALTH TEA, TOTAL MALE CLEANSE For Chest Pains: CARDIO-VASCULAR FORMULA, CIRCUL-AID FORMULA, CEREBRAL-VASCULAR FORMULA. For Poor Circulation: CARDIO-VASCULAR FORMULA, VEINS FORMULA, CIRCUL-AID FORMULA For Constipation: BOWEL MOVER, SEN FEN FORMULA, COLON FORMULA, BOWEL MOVER TEA For Insomnia: NERVES FORMULA, NERVES TEA, DREAM-AID INSPIRANT For Fatigue: BRAIN TUNER, ENERGIZER FORMULA, RAINFOREST TONIC, BRAIN TUNER TEA, ENERGY TEA For Swollen Foot: ELECTRIC GREENS CELL FOOD, ACID BUSTER I have many questions for you, I need to know some things about you in order to get to the root of all your problems which are many. Your condition is serious. You are suffering from many things robbing you of a quality life. Consider the consultation, and if not, purchase and take the formulas recommended above.

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    Q: I have so much going on in my life right now that is beyond my control- I can't sleep through the night. Is there any natural remedy to help me sleep? I don't like taking sleeping pill.

    A:

    Take 6 capsules of NERVES FORMULA before bed each night!

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    Q: I have a 17 years old daughter that is taking the brain toner for her epileptic seizures for about a month now. I wanted to know how long with the effects take place to allow sufficient oxygen to her brain, and will the seizures eventually cease? My daughter is on a herbal, and conscious diet, but I am still working on her eating out to restaurants every now and then. Working on her getting the proper rest each day, since she is a junior in high school. Please let me know if there is anything else I need to do, since she did have a small seizure today, which is better than the ones she has had in the past. I know it will take some time for the brain toner to work.

    A:

    Patience is required in healing, Beloved! Let nature take her natural course! Also, there may be underlying metaphysical causative factors for the seizures. I would suggest adding Ethereal Bliss with Brain Tuner, and she should also drink the Brain Tuner Tea along with taking the capsules. These are optional, but I do recommend them, at least to experiment with in hopes of facilitating elimination of the seizures. Have her perform deep breathing exercises on a daily basis too! A raw foods/vegan diet is BEST for her too! Undoubtedly so! Those restaurants are using some very dangerous chemicals. Drive this point home to her!

    Product Links:
    Ethereal Bliss
    Brain Tuner
    Brain Tuner Tea

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    Q: Lately I have found myself taking cleansing herbs like Alfalfa, at night, is that Ok, or should I take the Alfalfa in the day. The reason why I take cleansing herbs in the night before I sleep, is because I thought that I would not be eating food, and I would be sleeping, so those 2 activities, I presume are cleansing. Can I take the FIBRIOD BUSTER at night, because they are cleansing herbs. I take the iron phosphate in the day.

    A:

    You're doing just fine, Beloved, with your regimen!

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    Q: Hey Gary here are my challenge I'm 43 been trying to lose weight, I start on a program and stop once I don't see any results. I tried the Detox I think I lost about 5 pounds, I work at night and have a part time jobs seeing private patients in the day so my sleep pattern is little maybe I get 4 hrs of sleep I'm having problems getting this weight off. I also want to mention when I do exercise my joints swell so I try to keep it low impact. I also have sweet tooth so I get these cravings here and there more so when I'm at work at night. Hopefully you can help me. Thanks....Lakeisha

    A:

    Hi, thanks for the question.

    Lets go through one thing at a time. Your overall schedule and lifestyle is not healthy and will likely sabotage your health goals. Receiving so little sleep will prevent major weight loss because your body cannot cleanse and cannot recharge. You must repay your energy debt before you can properly lose weight. Your body is always in a state of playing catch-up to the workload you are giving it. It stores fat because it doesn't have the
    energy to properly function. I understand crazy schedules but they will not get you the results you desire. I would focus on trying to find a more balanced or healthier schedule before adding the stress of losing weight to an already overworked body.

    Your body has been come toxic and inflamed from a toxic lifestyle. A high carb-high raw vegan diet will help ease your suffering the most. A high carb (fruit based) diet will help replenish your energy stores and reduce
    nutritional stress. To learn more about how a healthy vegan diet can help you reach your goals please consider the following eBooks found at Dherbs.com.

    "Go Vegan the Healthy way" or
    "Lose weight the healthy way"

    As far as your mindset is concerned an all or nothing approach rarely breeds success. Especially when it come to regaining health or losing weight. It takes time and patience. I would recommend checking out the DVD
    "fat sick and nearly dead". It's a fascinating look at how you can quickly go from a health zero to a health hero in the shortest time. Every single person on the planet has a sweet tooth. Those who say they don't usually are hopped up on caffiene or other drugs and pharmaceuticals. Every cell in the body runs on glucose. The brain eats up a small apple and a half worth of glucose every hour. Eating a high carb-lower fat diet will give you an energy abundance, reduce overall stress, and help you lose weight.

    Hope this helps,

    Gary Gibson HHC CPT BMI VLCE

    www.theveganeffect.com

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    Q: I have a client that had her thyroid removed, the doctors have her on 3 grains of the natural...well natural for a pig. Thyroid. She couldn't sleep so they put her on ativan. Which is making her crazy (between you and I) She is still not sleeping and feeling agitated and this drug is causing her anxiety. I feel it has built up in her system and she has to dose down off of it. Do you have anything that would help her sleep? I have already suggested your thyroid blend. However, I didn't know if it could really help her as they removed her thyroid. So perhaps she does need the grains, as her body can no longer produce it on her own. I would really like to get her on natural as possible stuff so we can see what is physical and what we can work on energetically. Right now she feels like an energetic mess. Any suggestions?

    A:

    I RECOMMEND FOR HER (TO INDUCE SLEEP) OUR NERVES FORMULA (6 CAPSULES BEFORE BEDTIME) AND CALMING INSPIRANT. AND BY ALL MEANS SHE NEEDS A NATURAL THYROID FORMULA (I.E. THYRIOD FORMULA AND IODINE PHOSPHATE. IF SHE FEELS LIKE AN ENERGETIC MESS, SOME SERIOUS CHAKRA BALANCING/ALIGNMENT IS NEEDED.

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    Q: I am a 54 year old female, in menopause. Recently, I am unable to sleep through the night without waking several times. Is there something that can help me?

    A:

    Yes, there is help! Dherbs NERVES FORMULA, NERVES TEA and DREAM-AID INSPIRANT. Use all 3 shortly before bed time. Drink tea 1 hour before bedtime and take 3 capsules shortly before getting in bed and inhale the Inspirant before closing your eyes.

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    Q: I have been reading a lot lately on HCG levels and people who have acquired HCG injections to lose weight at a fast rate of speed. Ultimately, if I understand correctly, HCG is a fertility booster. Would the fertility kit your company produces have the same effect, and actually raise the HCG levels of a person's chemistry? I would much prefer to treat my body 100% organically/herbally. I have highly mixed emotions about allowing "doctors" to inject something into my body, if there is an alternative.

    A:

    Our Fertility Kit is 100% organic (natural) and does not only work on one level (i.e. HCG), but all hormonal levels in addition to balancing, strengthening, and toning the hormonal system. All hormones are raised to their necessary level with our fertility kit and regimen.

    It is unnatural to inject anything into the human body. It's a disrespect to the body which is perfectly qualified to do what it was designed to do if you just give the body what it needs.

    Follow your emotions (or gut instinct) about doctors and injection. Dherbs offers a safe and sane alternative. Give it a try! GO NATURAL!

    Take the Female Health tea along with the kit to enhance its effect and the chances of conception.

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    Q: My daughter continues to take 2 capsules of Cardio-Vascular Formula at night, 2 capsules of Brain Tuner in the morning, and 1 at night. Also, using the Children Detox Oxy-Drops. However, she still experiences palpitation, every morning when she wakes up from her sleep. She will get a severe epilepsy attack every 10 days, or forthnightly. The cycle seems to repeat itself. What else should I do, to reduce her morning palpitation, and improve on her epilepsy attack? Will Ginkgo biloba help or any other herbs help?

    A:

    Give her Gingko Biloba, and Gotu Kola, preferably in tea, or liquid extract form. Also consider our Magical Alchemical Elixir. Give her our Heart Heart tea too! Clearly there's a problem with her heart, so target the heart!

    Products Links:
    Magical Alchemical Elixir
    Hearty Heart Tea

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    Q: I have obstructive sleep apnea and I sleep with a CPAP machine. I'm doing the full body detox. On the third night while taking the ACTIVATED CHARCOAL, I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream that my head was full of air and was about to explode. I took the CPAP mask off and I haven't taking the activated charcoal since. I believe my throat collapsed, however the first night using it I slept well. I am now on my fifth day with the FULL BODY DETOX. Do you have any suggestions. Will the lack of the charcoal water formula #7 ruin my detox.

    A:

    The ACTIVATED CHARCOALis not causing the problem. You associated it with the problem. But you don't have to take the charcoal.

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    Q: Hello, I have a son that is now 5 years old and the doctors thought he had PDD autism. Through prayer and searching I don't think this is the case. He has trouble focusing, slow development, irritability, tosses and turns during sleep, stops breathing at times during sleep, slow speech development, poor memory, and very poor stool movement (often small little pebbles) God showed me Celiac before but I never had the money to really convert his diet totally, is there something that you have that might help with this for his age?

    A:

    Please schedule a consultation, Beloved. A response here won't do justice to the little boy's situation.

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    Q: I was informed my two year old son has sleep apnea, and requires surgery. During his sleep, he stops breathing for several seconds. This worries me! What herbs can he take so he can have a normal sleep?

    A:

    Herbs can only assist! They are not the solution! I would recommend that he doesn't sleep on a pillow. He needs a bed that allows his body to slant, so his head will be lower than his feet. This way, oxygen can rush to his brain. My sleep article is being finished and may be up near the end of April. Please stay tuned to Dherbs.com! Make sure you get a guarantee that surgery will solve the problem. Surgery is always a big risk.

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    Q: Sorry for my abbreviated style, it is because I type with one finger. We are happily married since1971; we have 3 children 1973, 1977 1984. From the first day of marriage, time-to time I experienced that had difficulty to have good erection. (Not always) in the past approx 2 years it is getting worse and often failed. About a year I was not able to make love while both of us have the desire, tried many things (except drugs and all the fake enhancers on the market) One naturopath suggested that I have some nervous blockage, might prevent the erection, due to many frustrations of not able to do anything when both of us have the desire. I have involuntary erection during night sleep generally between 2--5 Am.

    A:

    It may be a host of things but it mostly seems your impotence is psycho-somatic in nature as your diet appears pretty healthy. Work would have to be done on the emotional, mental, and psychological nature to unblock some clogged circuits. Every situation can be reversed. It simply depends on what you are open to as far as healing modalities goes.

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    Q: My daughter aged 10 having the symptom mention below whenever she wakes up from her sleep. Can you please let me know what causes these palpitations? Are there any herbs to cure this palpitations fast heartbeat? She also has epilepsy. I have read your article on epilepsy and bought the BRAIN TUNER and OXY-DROPSand waiting for my brother to bring it back from New Zealand as the Malaysian government do not allow us to purchase herbs directly from overseas through the internet. I will be receiving them next week. Please advise what and how to have her palpitations solve. It may last for 40 minutes to an hour especially during the morning and that always causes her to be late to school.

    A:

    I would need some information about the child's diet and lifestyle to really determine what the cause of the palpitations is. Since the heart is involved, I would suggest the child takes 2-3 capsules of the CARDIO-VASCULAR FORMULA each night before bedtime. The child can also drink 1-cup of our HEARTY HEART TEAdaily as well.

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    Q: My daughter is currently taking Gingko Biloba + Gotu Kola (1 capsule), Magical Alchemical Elixir (2 drops twice daily), Cardio-Vascular Formula (3 capsules), Brain Tuner (3 capsules) and children detox from Dherbs. However, she still experience palpitation + mild seizure (raising of hands) every morning upon waking up. She experience mild fits once a day usually in her sleep/nap and get a severe seizure once every 10-12 days also during her sleep/nap. She was also diagnosed as Asperger Syndrome when she was seven and has improved considerably but not able to focus and easily get irritated. She likes to flipflop her hands a lot and always in wonderland during class. Not able to understand and totally lost in class though she has a very good memory. I also bring her to temple every week to pray and seek spiritual guidance and apply Reiki to her everyday. At present I just do not know what else to do to control her seizure and morning palpitation. Will Epson salt bath help in her epilepsy and anise powder water help in her palpitation. Your guidance and help is much appreciated.

    A:

    Something is going on while she's sleeping (visiting another realm). It sounds like it could be something from a past-life. Consider placing crystals near her bed and under pillow. Crystals such as amethyst, selenite, angelite, quartz, turquoise, black tourmaline, pink or purple lepidolite, lapis lazuli, sodalite, etc.