Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why does Turmeric Have an Effect on Sleep?

The other day, my cousin Agatha dropped by our shop for a visit. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned that her mom had been taking turmeric powder for general health. The first thing she noticed was it has totally transformed the way she sleeps!  The effect was a bit unusual: she gets sleepy just a few minutes after having dinner, she’s able to sleep soundly throughout the night and she wakes up a bit later than her usual waking time in the morning. And she feels refreshed!

I got curious. How could turmeric affect our sleep?


Turmeric Buds
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Insomnia Natural Cures
There are many theories by experts as to why insomnia or sleep disorders are a challenge to many of us today. I find Sidney Baker's, M.D., explanation in his latest book, Detoxification and Healing to be one of the most logical. Here's what he said: 

"We go about our daily chores without conscious attention to the molecular details of our body's management of toxins, allergens and other waste, but if our sanitation department did make itself known to us - say by making a noise - it would drown out all the comparable noises of walking, thinking and talking. Imagine the machinery of detoxification, mostly in the liver, emitting an enormous grinding, groaning, gurgling sound that would dwarf our loudest intestinal rumblings and belches. Considering that most detoxification goes on at night, the noise of our sanitation department would surely keep us up if were able to give forth sounds comparable to the work it does. As it is, a faulty detoxification system is a common reason for poor sleep (or sleep disorders) . We sometimes reach too quickly for a sedative for our nerves when it is our liver that needs help” (p.141). 

Sleep disorders and the liver: 

Dr. Jeffrey Bland explains how the liver gets overburdened with toxins. He says that there is a relationship between a faulty digestive system and a faulty detoxification system in the liver. So, before you address detoxification of your liver, you might consider first addressing how to regain balance in your digestive system (Nichols, Ed., pp. 105-106). 

Dr. Bland explains further by saying that one of the body’s key means of detoxifying harmful chemicals is the liver’s specialized enzymes; which scrub chemicals out of the blood. This process depends on specific nutrients that must be present for this chemical interaction to take place. Most people lack these essential nutrients in their bodies because of nutrient depleted foods. This is why most people are less able to detoxify foreign chemicals and their liver becomes overburdened (pp. 107-108). 

In addition to handicapping the liver detoxification system, nutritional deficiencies contribute to other health problems. The gut’s mucosa normally shield the rest of the body from many toxins, but is weakened by medications, alcohol, food allergies and auto immune disorders. When the mucosa is damaged, more toxins get through, placing more stress on the liver to detoxify them (pp. 107-108). 

Here are some harmful substances to our health, and specifically to our liver. If you are sleeping poorly or have sleep disorders, you need to examine your lifestyle and avoid the following toxins: 

Aluminum: Enters our bodies through aluminum pots, deodorants, antacids and food additives (Baker, p. 144). 
Lead: THE MOST INSIDIOUS OF TOXINS. Found in artificial sweeteners (saccharine for example is extracted from coal tar and tens of thousands of foods today have artificial sweeteners as ingredients), lead paint, etc., (Baker, p.145). 
Caffeine: Found in coffee, chocolate, or over-the-counter stay-awake pills such as No-Doz (Baker, p. 146). 
Acetaminophen: Commonly found in pain medicines. 
Aspirin. 
Sodium benzoate: A common food preservative (Baker, p. 146). 
Alcohol: Alcohol is not a food It is toxic to the body and the body must burn it to get rid of it. Unlike foods, the body cannot treat alcohol as something to be saved for later and stored as fat. Another reason that alcohol is toxic is that it interferes with the many different enzymes, specifically the detoxification enzymes of the liver. Dr. Sidney Baker, has good advice for all of us about alcohol. He says, “Next time you go past the liquor store, replace in your mind’s eye the sign that says ‘Frank’s Spirit Shop’ with one that says ‘Fungal Toxins Sold By the Bottle” (p. 30). 

There are many other toxins that can affect the ability of the liver to function optimally, but the above toxins are the ones you would want to address first and are most likely to give you noticeable relief. 

Nutritional strategies for a healthy liver: 

Maintain a healthy “gut”: Use acidophilus, bifidus....and other transient and non-transient friendly bacteria in large amounts. Use plant based enzymes with each cooked meal. Take virgin coconut oil for its antibacterial, anti viral, and anti parasitical activity. Use herbs known to be helpful in repairing the intestinal tract such as anise, caraway, ginger, and fennel. (You can make a very effective tea with these herbal ingredients). 

Nourish your body with nutrient-rich foods: blue green algae, sea vegetables (wakame, kombu, hijiki, arame and nori), bee pollen, wheat grass, and fresh organically grown fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. 

Reduce oxidative stress: use antioxidants such as Coenzyme Q10 (abundant in sardines, spinach and peanuts) and wheat sprouts supplements micro-blended with red sea algae and fresh water blue green algae (wild-crafted). 

Eat specific liver friendly foods: Turmeric and cumin. Both have anti-mutagenic agents that supports the liver in the detoxification of carcinogens and helps to block environmental carcinogens. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, radish, cabbage and collard greens because they are abundant with indoles which help the body to produce detoxification enzymes that help to neutralize the effects of harmful chemicals. 

Detoxify your liver: Do the other steps first before you try this liver detoxification drink. Use organic apple cider vinegar, organic whole lemons, organic maple syrup and hot water. Begin with one tablespoon of vinegar, the juice of one half lemon, enough maple syrup to make your drink tasty and hot water (not boiling). Drink this 20 minutes after taking your friendly bacteria and wait another 20 minutes before you eat. Gradually, increase the vinegar to 3 tablespoons per day and continue to drink this mixture for 30 days. At any time if you feel your body is telling you to stop this drink (you’ll actually develop an aversion to the taste), then stop. Your body is getting ready to do a major cleanse. Always listen to your body. This drink may seem like it has harmless ingredients, but vinegar, lemon and maple syrup combined in this drink are very potent liver detoxifiers. 
A couple of final tips that will help you sleep better: 

1) Take some turmeric just before bed time. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and swallow the powder with some water. If the taste is too bitter put the powder in capsules. In a few days, increase the turmeric to 1/2 teaspoon and get to the point where you can take one flat teaspoon of turmeric (four capsules) every day before bed time. Many people noted that turmeric helps them sleep soundly and for those who had sleep disorders, their symptoms were greatly reduced. 

2) Squeeze fresh lemon and add to a glass of water and drink before bed time. Lemon benefits bile formation and therefore supports liver function. 

I hope these health tips are helpful for understanding why some individuals experience insomnia or sleep disorders and what to do so you can again have restful sleep. Sweet Dreams. 

References: 
Baker, Sidney. (1997). Detoxification and Healing. New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, Inc. 
Nichols, Trent (Ed.). (1999). Optimal Digestion. New York: Avon Books, Inc.

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