AdrenalStart for Sleep Disorders
In my most recent blog I looked at how adrenal malfunction can lead to sleep disorders. All the herbs used in our AdrenalStart formula work together to rebuild and support adrenal function, and thus will be of value in treating sleep disorders (and indeed, we have had positive feedback from customers on this particular benefit). In this newsletter I will look at studies published on PubMed which relate specifically to any of the herbs in this formula which can help treat sleep disorders.
The herb with the most studies supporting its use for treating sleep problems is ashwagandha. For example, this study: “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study.”
Which had extremely positive results, after only 10 weeks of treatment. The study concluded that, “Ashwagandha root extract is a natural compound with sleep-inducing potential, well tolerated and improves sleep quality and sleep onset latency in patients with insomnia at a dose of 300 mg extract twice daily. It could be of potential use to improve sleep parameters in patients with insomnia and anxiety, but need further large-scale studies.” (Study)
Another supportive study is titled “Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study.” In this study, which ran for 12 weeks, the participants (aged between 65-80 years) also received a total of 600 mg/day of ashwagandha root extract (or a placebo).
At the beginning of the study “the sleep quality and the mental alertness on rising were comparatively low in both the groups. However, upon intervention, a significant increase in the quality of sleep and mental alertness was observed in the Ashwagandha treatment group when compared to the placebo group. Overall improvement was observed for the general wellbeing, sleep quality, and mental alertness in the study population.” (Study)
On the AdrenalStart label we refer to Siberian ginseng as Eleutherococcus senticosus, as this herb is not truly of the ginseng family (it was a way to sell its benefits in the early days of marketing it, by associating it with ginseng as it does have similar properties).
A principal component of Siberian ginseng is Eleutheroside E (EE), “reported to have anti-inflammatory and protective effects in ischemia heart etc”. One study “investigated the effect of EE, on cognitive performances and biochemical parameters of sleep-deprived mice,” discovering that “repeated treatment with EE restored the behavioral and biochemical alterations” caused by sleep deprivation. “In conclusion, the beneficial effect of EE may provide an effective and powerful strategy to alleviate behavioral alterations induced by sleep deprivation.” (Study)
Another mouse study concluded that, “E. senticosus produced a sedative effect which decreased the sleep latency (47%) and increased sleep duration (45-228%) following acute administration. A similar effect was seen following chronic administration (125-202% increase in sleep duration). (Sleep latency is the amount of time it takes you to go from being fully awake to sleeping.) (Study)
The berries from the Schisandra chinensis plant have been used in Asian countries for the treatment of insomnia for thousands of years. Unfortunately, there is not much in the way of scientific research on schisandra and sleep disorders. I did however find a rodent study which set out to study Gomisin N, one of the major bioactive constituents of schisandra berries, in order to “determine its sedative and hypnotic activity”. The extract of schisandra was found to “reverse the rodent models of insomnia induced by p-chlorophenylalanine (a serotonin blocker) and caffeine”.
“Altogether, these results indicated that Gomisin N produced beneficial sedative and hypnotic bioactivity, which might be mediated by the modification of the serotonergic and GABAergic system.” (Study)
In another study done on mice, schisandra extract produced “reversal of insomnia induced by caffeine, p-chlorophenylalanine and flumazenil by decreasing sleep latency, sleep recovery, and increasing sleeping time”. (Study)
“Royal jelly (RJ) is a natural product that is fed to bee queens throughout their entire life. Thanks to RJ, bee queens enjoy an excellent reproductive function and lengthened lifespan compared with bee workers, despite the fact that they have the same genome. This review aimed to investigate the effect of RJ and/or its components on lifespan/healthspan in various species by evaluating the most relevant studies. RJ and its protein and lipid ingredients have the potential to extend lifespan in various creatures and prevent senescence of human tissues in cell cultures. These findings pave the way to inventing specific RJ anti-aging drugs.” (Study)
While I could find no studies directly relating RJ to sleep disorders, aside from the obvious health benefits indicated in the above study, I did find a study on its antidepressant effects, which works by regulating the adrenal glands. “These results suggested that RJ improves stress-induced depression-like behavior by regulating adrenal steroidogenesis and that fatty acids contained in RJ partly contribute to the antidepressant effect of RJ.” (Study)
Fo-Ti (Polygonum multiflorum)
One of the most commonly used herbs in Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) for treating insomnia is Polygonum multiflorum. “However, the molecular mechanism for CHM preventing insomnia is unknown. Stilbene glucoside (THSG), an important active component of P. multiflorum, may play an important role for treating insomnia. To test the hypothesis, Kunming mice were treated with different dosages of THSG.”
“The results showed that THSG significantly prolonged the sleep time of the mice. THSG changed sleep profile by reducing wake and rapid eye movement (REM) period, and increasing non-REM period.” (Study)
Ginger has been used in traditional healing modalities for centuries to treat nausea, digestive disorders, for detoxification, and for its circulatory benefits. Modern science has also confirmed (at least in animal trials) ginger’s benefits for treating anxiety, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and epilepsy. Because of this proven benefit to the central nervous system, one group of scientists decided to test if ginger might be providing these benefits due to its ability to cross the blood brain barrier.
“Based on our results, -gingerol, -gingerol and -shogaol were found to be able to penetrate the BBB via passive diffusion, suggesting them to contribute to the positive effects of ginger extracts in the central nervous system.” (Source)
Rhodiola rosea is a popular herb used in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asian. It has a proven reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high altitude sickness. “Research also indicates great utility in asthenic conditions (decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches, and fatigue) developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain.” (Source)
In a study on patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), researchers set out to “investigate the effects of rhodiola rosea on oxidative stress, anxiety and depression in patients with OSA”. They concluded that, “Rhodiola may improve the negative emotions such as anxiety and depression by inhibiting oxygen free radicals and lipid peroxidation in patients with OSA”. (Source)
Clearly, AdrenalStart has enough adaptogenic herbs within its formula that have a direct effect on aiding sleep, aside from the fact that it supports general adrenal health. For more on the subject, check out the new blog I mentioned at the beginning: Adrenal Support for Sleep Disorders.