Natural herbal & homeopathic remedies for narcolepsy

Narcolepsy
HEALTH HERBS & NUTRITION - REMEDIES - NARCOLEPSY

· General Description

· Symptoms

· Causes

· Herbal & Homeopathic Remedies

· Helpful Dietary Habits

· Dos and Don'ts

Natural herbal & homeopathic products for narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy

General description & overview of narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy
 

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain's inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. It causes excessive sleepiness without warning and at inappropriate times. If the urge becomes overwhelming, patients fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, some people may remain asleep for an hour or longer. Numerous factors contribute to sleep disturbances and neurological dysfunction. As a result, both daytime and nighttime sleep attacks occur.

Herbal & homeopathic products recommended in narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy

MindSoothe™

Promote balanced mood, emotional health and feelings of wellbeing.

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Calm Tonic™

Promotes nervous system health, maintains balanced mood and worry free mind.

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People who suffer from narcolepsy are a safety hazard to themselves and to others. It is hard to imagine what life must be for a narcoleptic; difficult, dangerous, embarrassing, and definitely frustrating. Narcoleptic sleep episodes can occur at any time, and thus frequently prove profoundly disabling. People may involuntarily fall asleep while at work or at school, when having a conversation, playing a game, eating a meal, or, most dangerously, when driving an automobile or operating other types of potentially hazardous machinery. A narcoleptic will doze off in the train and miss his or her stop, fall asleep in the bathtub with potentially dangerous consequences, or have to be shaken awake by the dentist so that a dental procedure may occur. People with Narcolepsy are often on the verge of unconsciousness. At night also, their sleep is disturbed and they wake up frequently.

In addition to daytime sleepiness, three other major symptoms frequently characterize narcolepsy: cataplexy, or the sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone; vivid hallucinations during sleep onset or upon awakening; and brief episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep. For these reasons, narcolepsy is considered a disorder of the normal boundaries between the sleeping and waking states.


Herbal supplements for narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy. Contrary to common beliefs, people with narcolepsy do not spend a substantially greater proportion of their time sleeping during a 24-hour period than do normal sleepers.

Overview

For most adults, a normal night's sleep lasts about 8 hours and comprises four to six separate sleep cycles. A sleep cycle is defined by a segment of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep followed by a period of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The NREM segment can be further divided into stages according to the size and frequency of brain waves. REM sleep, in contrast, is accompanied by bursts of rapid eye movement (hence the acronym REM sleep) along with sharply heightened brain activity and temporary paralysis of the muscles that control posture and body movement. Your eyes move quickly in different directions even though your eyelids are closed and intense dreaming occurs. When subjects are awakened from sleep, they report that they were "having a dream" more often if they had been in REM sleep than if they had been in NREM sleep. Transitions from NREM to REM sleep are governed by interactions among groups of neurons (nerve cells) in certain parts of the brain. For people without sleep disorders, during REM, the body becomes immobile and conscious thinking ‘paralysis’ occurs.

Scientists now believe that narcolepsy results from disease processes affecting brain mechanisms that regulate REM sleep. Hence, people suffering from narcolepsy fall into REM before NREM sleep and they may be either asleep or awake. For normal sleepers a typical sleep cycle is about 100 - 110 minutes long, beginning with NREM sleep and transitioning to REM sleep after 80 - 100 minutes. However, people with narcolepsy frequently enter REM sleep within a few minutes of falling asleep.

Narcolepsy can occur in men, women, children, and the elderly. In most cases, symptoms first appear when people are between the ages of 10 and 25 but narcolepsy can become clinically apparent at virtually any age. Many patients first experience symptoms between the ages of 35 and 45. A smaller number initially manifest the disorder around the ages of 50 to 55. Although, signs and symptoms of narcolepsy usually develop during adolescence, they can also appear in children as young as less than ten years old. Even 3-year-old children have been diagnosed with the disorder. Whatever the age of onset, patients find that the symptoms get worse in the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms decrease in severity after age 60. Sometimes narcolepsy can go undiagnosed for several years, and be mistakenly diagnosed as laziness, lack of sleep, depression or a seizure disorder.

Children suffering from narcolepsy are often thought to have some type of learning disorder or seizure disorder such as epilepsy. Their ability to study, focus and remember becomes severely affected. This leads to depression, a decreased immune response, stress, poor work performance and interpersonal problems with teachers and their peers. Some children have even been misdiagnosed with hyperactivity. When they are tired, they tend to do their work or activities in a hurry rather than slow down. If your child displays symptoms of narcolepsy, it is best that they receive medical care immediately.
 
Although narcolepsy is a lifelong condition, symptoms will improve with ongoing treatment so that people are able to lead lives that are more productive.


Natural medicines & cures for narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy. Experts have also begun to recognize that narcolepsy sometimes contributes to certain childhood behavioral problems, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and must be addressed before the behavioral problem can be resolved. If left undiagnosed and untreated, narcolepsy can pose special problems for children and adolescents, interfering with their psychological, social, and cognitive development and undermining their ability to succeed at school. For some young people, feelings of low self-esteem due to poor academic performance may persist into adulthood.

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Symptoms of narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy


People with narcolepsy experience highly individualized patterns of REM sleep disturbances that tend to begin subtly and may change dramatically over time. The most common major symptom, other than excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), is cataplexy, which occurs in about 70 percent of all patients. Sleep paralysis and hallucinations are somewhat less common. Only 10 to 25 percent of patients, however, display all four of these major symptoms during the course of their illness.

Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)

EDS, the symptom most consistently experienced by almost all patients, is usually the first to become clinically apparent. Generally, EDS interferes with normal activities on a daily basis, whether or not patients have sufficient sleep at night. People with EDS describe it as a persistent sense of mental cloudiness, a lack of energy, a depressed mood, or extreme exhaustion. Many find that they have great difficulty maintaining their concentration while at school or work. Some experience memory lapses. Many find it nearly impossible to stay alert in passive situations, as when listening to lectures or watching television. People tend to awaken from such unavoidable sleeps feeling refreshed and finding that their feelings of drowsiness and fatigue subside for an hour or two.

Automatic behavior

Involuntary sleep episodes are sometimes very brief, lasting no more than seconds at a time. As many as 40 percent of all people with narcolepsy are prone to automatic behavior during such "microsleeps." They fall asleep for a few seconds while performing a task but continue carrying it through to completion without any apparent interruption. During these episodes, people are usually engaged in habitual, essentially "second nature" activities such as taking notes in class, typing, or driving. They cannot recall their actions, and their performance is almost always impaired during a microsleep. Their handwriting may, for example, degenerate into an illegible scrawl, or they may store items in bizarre locations and then forget where they placed them. If an episode occurs while driving, patients may get lost or have an accident.

Cataplexy

Cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle tone that leads to feelings of weakness and a loss of voluntary muscle control. Attacks can occur at any time during the waking period, with patients usually experiencing their first episodes several weeks or months after the onset of EDS. However, in about 10 percent of all cases, cataplexy is the first symptom to appear and can be misdiagnosed as a manifestation of a seizure disorder. Cataplectic attacks vary in duration and severity. The loss of muscle tone can be barely perceptible, involving no more than a momentary sense of slight weakness in a limited number of muscles, such as mild drooping of the eyelids. The most severe attacks result in a complete loss of tone in all voluntary muscles, leading to total physical collapse in which patients are unable to move, speak, or keep their eyes open. But even during the most severe episodes, people remain fully conscious, a characteristic that distinguishes cataplexy from seizure disorders.


Alternative medicines & cures for narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy. Although cataplexy can occur spontaneously, it is more often triggered by sudden, strong emotions such as fear, anger, stress, excitement, or humor. Laughter is reportedly the most frequent trigger.

Sleep paralysis

The temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up also parallels REM-induced inhibitions of voluntary muscle activity. This natural inhibition usually goes unnoticed by people who experience normal sleep because it occurs only when they are fully asleep and entering the REM stage at the appropriate time in the sleep cycle. Experiencing sleep paralysis resembles undergoing a cataplectic attack affecting the entire body. As with cataplexy, people remain fully conscious. Cataplexy and sleep paralysis are frightening events, especially when first experienced. Shocked by suddenly being unable to move, many patients fear that they may be permanently paralyzed or even dying. However, even when severe, cataplexy and sleep paralysis do not result in permanent dysfunction. After episodes end, people rapidly recover their full capacity to move and speak.

Hallucinations

Hallucinations can accompany sleep paralysis or can occur in isolation when people are falling asleep or waking up. Referred to as hypnagogic hallucinations when accompanying sleep onset and as hypnopompic hallucinations when occurring during awakening, these delusional experiences are unusually vivid and frequently frightening. Most often, the content is primarily visual, but any of the other senses can be involved. These hallucinations represent another intrusion of an element of REM sleep-dreaming-into the wakeful state.

Diagnosis

Narcolepsy is not definitively diagnosed in most patients until 10 to 15 years after the first symptoms appear. This unusually long lag-time is due to several factors, including the disorder's subtle onset and the variability of symptoms. As important, however, is the fact that the public is largely unfamiliar with the disorder, as are many health professionals. When symptoms initially develop, people often do not recognize that they are experiencing the onset of a distinct neurological disorder and thus fail to seek medical treatment.

The lack of specificity greatly increases the difficulty of arriving at an accurate diagnosis based on a consideration of symptoms alone. Thus, a battery of specialized tests, which can be performed in a sleep disorders clinic, is usually required before a diagnosis can be established.

Two tests in particular are considered essential in confirming a diagnosis of narcolepsy: the polysomnogram (PSG) and the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT).

Who Gets Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy appears throughout the world in every racial and ethnic group, affecting males and females equally. But prevalence rates vary among populations. Compared to the U.S. population, for example, the prevalence rate is substantially lower in Israel (about one per 500,000) and considerably higher in Japan (about one per 600).

Most cases of narcolepsy are sporadic-that is, the disorder occurs independently in individuals without strong evidence of being inherited. However, familial clusters are known to occur. Up to 10 percent of patients diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy, report having a close relative with the same symptoms. Genetic factors alone are not sufficient to cause narcolepsy. Other factors-such as infection, immune-system dysfunction, trauma, hormonal changes, stress-may also be present before the disease develops. Thus, while close relatives of people with narcolepsy have a statistically higher risk of developing the disorder than do members of the general population, that risk remains low in comparison to diseases that are purely genetic in origin.


Homeopathic medicines for narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy. Narcolepsy is not rare, but it is an under recognized and under diagnosed condition. The disorder is estimated to affect about one in every 2,000 Americans. But the exact prevalence rate remains uncerntain, and the disorder may affect a larger segment of the population.

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Causes of narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy
 

The cause of narcolepsy remains unknown but during the past decade, scientists have made considerable progress in understanding its pathogenesis and in identifying genes strongly associated with the disorder. Researchers have also discovered abnormalities in various parts of the brain involved in regulating REM sleep that appear to contribute to symptom development. Experts now believe it is likely that similar to many other complex, chronic neurological diseases; narcolepsy involves multiple factors interacting to cause neurological dysfunction and REM sleep disturbances.

A number of variant forms (alleles) of genes located in a region of chromosome 6 known as the HLA complex have proved to be strongly, although not invariably, associated with narcolepsy. The HLA complex comprises a large number of interrelated genes that regulate key aspects of immune-system function. The majority of people diagnosed with narcolepsy are known to have specific variants in certain HLA genes. Although, these variations are neither necessary nor sufficient to cause the disorder, it appears that specific variations in HLA genes increase an individual's predisposition to develop the disorder-possibly through a yet-undiscovered route involving changes in immune-system function-when other causative factors are present.

Many other genes besides those making up the HLA complex may contribute to the development of narcolepsy. Groups of neurons in several parts of the brainstem and the central brain, including the thalamus and hypothalamus, interact to control sleep. Large numbers of genes on different chromosomes control these neurons' activities, any of which could contribute to development of the disease.

However, scientists have found that human brains with narcolepsy often contain greatly reduced numbers of hypocretin-producing neurons. The hypocretins regulate appetite and feeding behavior in addition to controlling sleep. Therefore, the loss of hypocretin-producing neurons may explain not only how narcolepsy develops in some people, but also why people with narcolepsy have higher rates of obesity compared to the general population.

Other factors appear to play important roles in the development of narcolepsy. Infections, exposure to toxins, dietary factors, stress, hormonal changes such as those occurring during puberty or menopause, and alterations in a person's sleep schedule are just a few of the many factors that may exert direct or indirect effects on the brain, thereby possibly contributing to disease development.


Herbal cures for narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy. Some rare cases of narcolepsy are known to result from traumatic injuries to parts of the brain involved in REM sleep or from tumor growth and other disease processes in the same regions.

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Herbal & homeopathic remedies useful in narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy
 

Narcolepsy is a chronic and lifelong condition, but symptoms can be managed and controlled. One should keep in mind that each person is different, and their response to treatment will depend on the severity of their symptoms. Certain medications, lifestyle changes and alternative therapies have proven effective in reducing the frequency of narcoleptic episodes.

Often symptoms are severe, and narcolepsy becomes so frustrating, that people immediately turn to conventional medication to relieve symptoms. It is also important to control symptoms to prevent the potential dangers involved in sudden attacks of sleepiness.

Medications used primarily to treat narcolepsy include stimulants and antidepressants. Although these medications can help to control the symptoms to varying degrees, they do not address the underlying cause and may cause unwanted side effects.

Natural treatments can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine or as an alternative and may offer people a safer and all-natural option to promote optimal health and longevity. Natural remedies focus on improving symptoms and can also help to support one’s physical, mental and emotional health.

A combination of herbal and homeopathic treatments with beneficial ingredients such as Hypericum perforatum, Schizandra chinesis, Calcium lactate, Magnesium lactate and Vitamin B6 can provide relief for narcoleptics. By incorporating natural remedies into your treatment plan, you will able to maintain regular sleeping patterns and improve your quality of life. It is important not to stop your prescription medication without consulting your doctor or seeking the supervision of a complimentary health practitioner or homeopath.

 
 

Ferrum phosphoricum (D6) (Ferrum phos.) is a homeopathic biochemic tissue salts which supports the absorption of iron in the body. The protective myelin sheath which surrounds all nerve tissue needs iron to supply this vital nutrient to the nerve cells it encases. Iron in hemoglobin also helps to keep all body tissue, including the brain, supplied with oxygen. Regular use of Ferrum phos. can help to prevent dizziness, headaches and restlessness and is of great benefit for those who tend to feel irritable, tense and tired.  

 

Hypericum perforatum (also known as St. John’s Wort) has been traditionally used for centuries to support balanced mood and safely maintain mental wellness and equilibrium. In recent times, clinical studies have confirmed ancient wisdom and Hypericum is one of the most widely studied herbs on the market today. Active ingredients include glycosides, flavonoids, volatile oils, tannins and resins. St. John’s Wort has also been shown to support stable mood during the menstrual and premenstrual periods.

 

Kalium phosphate (D6)  (Kali. phos.) is a homeopathic brain and nerve tonic par excellence as well as an amazing nerve nutrient. Used regularly it helps to calm and uplift the spirit and soothe common nervous tension and everyday stress. Kali. phos. is the most widely recommended tissue salt for soothing worry and distress. 

 

Magnesium phosphate (D6) (Mag. phos.) is well-known as a homeopathic painkiller, Mag. phos. is also of great benefit to the health of the nerves. It acts as a natural anti-spasmodic and a nerve and muscle relaxant and is also frequently recommended for stress headaches.

 

Passiflora incarnata (also known as Passion Flower) has active ingredients which include flavonoids, cyanogenic glycosides, alkaloids and saparin. Like St John’s Wort, Passiflora has also stood up well to clinical studies which support its traditional usage as a soothing and moderating herb. A study in France investigated Passiflora as a natural nerve tonic

   

Herbal & homeopathic products recommended in narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy

MindSoothe for narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy

MindSoothe™

Promote balanced mood, emotional health and feelings of wellbeing.

Product Details

Calm Tonic for narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy

Calm Tonic™

Promotes nervous system health, maintains balanced mood and worry free mind.

Product Details

 

Dos and don'ts & precautions in narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy

Narcolepsy cannot yet be cured, but EDS and cataplexy, the most disabling symptoms of the disorder, can be controlled in most patients with drug treatment. Often the treatment regimen is modified as symptoms change.

One should keep in mind that each person is different, and their response to treatment will depend on the severity of their symptoms. Certain medications, lifestyle changes and alternative therapies have proven effective in reducing the frequency of narcoleptic episodes.

Often symptoms are severe, and narcolepsy becomes so frustrating, that people immediately turn to conventional medication to relieve symptoms. It is also important to control symptoms to prevent the potential dangers involved in sudden attacks of sleepiness.

Medications used primarily to treat narcolepsy include stimulants and antidepressants. Although these medications can help to control the symptoms to varying degrees, they do not address the underlying cause and may cause unwanted side effects.

Certain Behavioral Strategies that Help People Cope With Symptoms are:

Good sleep habits

Good sleep habits are very important for the patient with narcolepsy. Anything that contributes to sleepiness, adversely affects the narcoleptic patient. The most obvious cause of increased sleepiness is sleep loss. Patients should cultivate regular sleep habits assiduously and avoid nocturnal sleep loss as much as possible. Remember, improving the quality of nighttime sleep can combat EDS and help relieve persistent feelings of fatigue.

A few things the patient can do to ensure they fall asleep quickly are:

  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule - Try to go to bed at the same time every night and try to sleep for at least 8 hours. Establish a structured sleeping routine by maintaining a sleeping and rising time as well as having daytime naps

  • Try to exercise moderately - Exercising for at least 20 minutes per day at least 4 or 5 hours before bedtime will not only improve sleep quality but also help people with narcolepsy avoid gaining excess weight

  • Keep the bedroom a quiet area with minimum distractions in the form of TV, computer etc

  • Maintaining a comfortable, adequately warmed bedroom environment and ensuring that it is used primarily for sleeping

  • Try to do something relaxing just before bed such as having a warm bath

Just as importantly, avoid substances which may make it more difficult to fall asleep or which might reduce the quality of sleep such as:

  • Caffeine in tea, coffee and some soft drinks (particularly avoid for several hours before bedtime)

  • Alcohol

  • Cigarettes (avoid especially during the afternoon and at night)

  • Some prescription medications - Discuss with your pharmacist.

Naps as a therapeutic aid

There is clinical evidence that frequent naps scheduled throughout the day can do much to offset excessive daytime sleepiness. It is understood that patients who take 6-10 minute naps spaced evenly through the day experience beneficial effects on their alertness and performance. Hence, to gain greater control over their symptoms, many patients take short, regularly scheduled naps at times when they tend to feel sleepiest.

It is important to remember, however, that guidelines for naps should be established by working closely with the individual patient, paying close attention to the recurring times of greatest sleepiness, their schedule of medication and the demands of their environment. Adults can often negotiate with employers to modify their work schedules so they can take naps when necessary and perform their most demanding tasks when they are most alert. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for all employees with disabilities.

Children and adolescents with narcolepsy can be similarly accommodated through modifying class schedules and informing school personnel of special needs, including medication requirements during the school day.


Herbal medicines for narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy. Suddenly falling asleep or losing muscle control can transform actions that are ordinarily safe, such as walking down a long flight of stairs, into hazards.

Narcolepsy and driving

Safety precautions, particularly when driving, are of paramount importance for all persons with narcolepsy. Although the disorder, in itself, is not fatal, EDS and cataplexy can lead to serious injury or death if left uncontrolled. Patients must learn to pinpoint situations that are likely to be dangerous or sleep inducing. Once patients identify which conditions are likely to cause a cataplectic attack or produce excessive sleepiness, they can begin to exert some control over the possible consequences.

It is imperative that patients avoid driving when sleepiness is imminent. Most patients can learn to identify when sleepiness is increasing and to pull off the road for a brief 'therapeutic nap' well in advance of a reduction in their driving ability. This is a difficult discipline to acquire. Attempts to use willpower to fight off pathological sleepiness while driving can be fatal to a person with narcolepsy. However, diagnosed and treated patients who understand and are in control of their symptoms, appear to be safe drivers.

Remember, people with untreated narcoleptic symptoms are involved in automobile accidents roughly 10 times more frequently than the general population. However, accident rates are normal among patients who have received appropriate medication.

Patient support groups

Finally, patient support groups frequently prove extremely beneficial because people with narcolepsy may become socially isolated due to embarrassment about their symptoms. Many patients also attempt to avoid experiencing strong emotions, since humor, excitement, and other intense feelings can trigger cataplectic attacks. Moreover, because of the widespread lack of public knowledge about the disorder, people with narcolepsy are too often unfairly judged lazy, unintelligent, undisciplined, or unmotivated. Such stigmatization often increases the tendency toward self-imposed isolation. The empathy and understanding that support groups offer people can be crucial to their overall sense of well-being and provide them with a network of social contacts who can offer practical help and emotional support.

Also try to:

  • Spend time outdoors after waking up as this regulates the body’s biological clock.

  • Carry a tape recorder with you to record important conversations that you may forget when you feel sleepy.

  • Practice visualization and relaxation techniques to assist in sleeping better.

  • Reduce stress and maintain an even mood to prevent bringing on a narcolepsy attack

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Herbal & homeopathic products recommended in narcolepsy, daytime sleepiness, cataplexy

MindSoothe™

Promote balanced mood, emotional health and feelings of wellbeing.

Product Details

Calm Tonic™

Promotes nervous system health, maintains balanced mood and worry free mind.

Product Details