Herbs to reduce insomnia and chronic pain. Poor sleep and chronic pain are two of the most common problems many people face these days. These along with low energy are what I refer to as the tri-fecta of modern living!
May is National Herb month and today I’ll be discussing herbs that can help relieve pain and reduce insomnia.
The herbs I am going to tell you about are not ones most people have heard of. In fact I didn’t know about these either until I began to study herbs. Having tried these on myself I have to say I have been simply amazed at how effective they are!
P-A-I-N = a 4 letter word!
Devils Claw: this perennial vine grows in Southwest Africa. The root is the medicinal part that has been used by its native people for over 250 years. It is effective as both an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It has also been used traditionally to improve the appetite, decrease indigestion and heartburn.
Devils Claw works especially well when combined together with Cats Claw, Clematis and Yucca. This combination has been nick named “natures cortisone” by Master Herbalist Dr. Miki Jones, N.D. And, it can be applied topically as well as taken orally for relief from arthritis rheumatism, joint and back pain, to help with fatigue from acid build up and sciatica.
About Cats Claw
According to Web MD there are two species of cat’s claw, Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis, are of primary interest for use as medicine. Medicine is made from the root and bark. Cat’s claw is most commonly used for improving symptoms of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Cat’s Claw is also used for various digestive system disorders including swelling and pain (inflammation) of the large intestine (diverticulitis), inflammation of the lower bowel (colitis), inflammation of the lining of the stomach (gastritis), stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, and leaky bowel syndrome. Some people use cat’s claw for viral infections including shingles (caused by herpes zoster), cold sores (caused by herpes simplex), and AIDS (caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)). Cats claw is also now being used to help those with Lyme disease by many integrative doctors.
Cat’s claw is used for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), wound healing, parasites, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, hay fever, cancer (especially urinary tract cancer), a particular type of brain cancer called glioblastoma, gonorrhea, dysentery, birth control, bone pains, and “cleansing” the kidneys.
Another wonderful herb for pain is White Willow. Willow is known as natural aspirin.
The use of willow bark dates back thousands of years, to the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew on the bark to reduce fever and inflammation. Willow bark has been used throughout the centuries in China and Europe, and continues to be used today for the treatment of pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis), headache, and inflammatory conditions, such as bursitis and tendinitis. The bark of white willow contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). It is thought to be responsible for the pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of the herb. In fact, in the 1800s, salicin was used to develop aspirin. White willow appears to bring pain relief more slowly than aspirin, but its effects may last longer.
You do find white willow in many herbal formulations along with anti-infammatory herbs such as turmeric and boswellia.
~ If you have a salicylate sensitivity do not take White Willow!
For nerve pain I love Scullcap which is classified as a antispasmodic, nervine, anticonvulsant and anxilytic. It is often combined with chamomile, lemon balm and St. John’s Wort for nervous exhaustion. It’s excellent for restless leg syndrome and tremors from Parkinson disease. It seems to work wonders for any kind of nerve pain. The tincture form is the best for topical applications such as these. The herb may also be taken orally. Not too many people are familiar with Scullcap (outside herbalist circles) but is it an amazing herb.
Herbs that help you get your zzzzz’s
Valerian Root is a native plant to North America, Europe and Asia. This herb has gained popularity in many natural sleep formulations due to its ability to act on specific neurotransmitters called GABA (receptors) and its influence on serotonin and norepinephrine. This produces a sedating effect. Other uses are for tension and emotional upset to calm nerves and reduce irritability. Unlike over the counter and prescription sleep aids Valerian has been FDA approved and can be used long-term. 
Another popular natural sleep aid is Kava Kava. This shrub is grown in the South Pacific and was first discovered and for use in the western world (and named) by explorer Captain James Cook. The name means “intoxicating pepper”. It too is mildly sedative, analgesic and acts as a muscle relaxant. It also helps reduce anxiety as it acts on the limbic system and this is also probably why it helps many people with tension headaches as well as those with fibromyalgia.
Kava Kava is contraindicated for those with Parkinson’s disease or tremors. Do not use with prescription tranquilizers. Do not take for depression.
Inflammation and acidity
Because inflammation is present where ever pain exists any comprehensive nutritional program must incorporate an anti-inflammatory diet along with lifestyle change. Replacing offending foods that are stoking the fire of inflammation must be done in conjunction with any herbal remedies in order for relief to be lasting and long-term.
~ I highly recommend Mediator Response Testing – Learn More for uncovering offending foods and chemical substances that are causing inflammation.
Likewise, over acidity is another common problem for people who suffer with chronic pain and so this too needs to be corrected in order for relief to be maintained and allow for the body’s natural healing process to take place. While diet is key, due to low intake of high quality, non-conventionally grown vegetable intake many people have trouble achieving this through foods alone. Very often I find adding colloidal minerals quite helpful in restoring proper acid/alkaline balance.
Herbs are another way we can improve our health naturally and work in synergy with food and specific nutrients to help heal our bodies. Wild crafted herbs, like food have many healing properties and one herb can very often be used for a variety of health concerns.
I have touched on only a few of the hundreds of herbs that can be used to help with many chronic health conditions; these range from COPD and lung problems, skin conditions, memory and congestion problems, sugar dis regulation and thyroid problems as well as cardiovascular and digestive problems. As I have learned how to use specific herbs in combination with food and other nutrients on my self and my family I have continued to incorporate their use in my own nutrition practice with clients.
If you have tried other modes of natural healing and not seen results it’s because you need a more targeted and comprehensive approach. If you are interested in finally resolving your health issues with out drugs so you can change from feeling hopeless to feeling happy again call me and let’s get started today.
 Herbal Therapy & Supplements – A Scientific and Traditional Approach, by David Winston, RH (AHG) and Merrily A. Kuhn, RN, PhD, ND