Ayurveda Q&A: How to treat insomnia

Dr Gowthaman, Medical Director, Dr Gowthaman’s Ayurveda Panchakarma Center, Chennai, answers readers’ questions on Ayurveda. Get your doubts cleared and see them featured on our FAQ page every Tuesday.

This week’s answers:

1. hello sir, i am 31 yrs old n i have a problem of insomia.i m not able to sleep whole nite, i am taking a alopathy medicine,but still the problem is smae, my BP is normal n i have also thyroid problem but its normal now.i m also taking the medicine like folic acid and iron tablets.pls suggest me ayurvedic medicine for what to do to overcome from sleepness.i want to cre completely as its very irretating not able to sleep.thanks
seema prajapati

Hi Seema,
Sleep is a natural phenomenon of giving adequate rest to the body and mind. When this natural phenomenon is disturbed it leads to sleep disorders. Causes for insomnia are an irregular sleep-wake schedule, physical disorders, anxiety, and stress etc.

According to Ayurveda, sleep is one of the supporting pillars of life. Along with diet, sleep is important for good health and well-being. Ayurveda does not dictate eight hours of sleep for everyone, the amount of sleep you need depends on your mind-body constitution or Prakruti. People with Kapha constitution need the most sleep – about 8-9 hours in order to feel rested. Pittas are next, with a need of 7-8 hours. Vata can manage with 6-7 hours of sleep.

In Ayurveda, insomnia is known as Anidra. Aggravated vata, pitta dosa is the main cause for insomnia. The Ayurvedic treatment of insomnia focuses on balancing the aggravated Dosa through herbal medicines as well as customized diet, lifestyle treatment plans. Besides that, relaxation of mind is also important part of the treatment.

Types of Insomnia
-Difficulty falling asleep (sleep-onset insomnia): Commonly, people have difficulty falling asleep. In Ayurveda it’s called vathaja sleep disorder.
-Difficulty staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia): Older people are more likely to have difficulty staying asleep it’s a pitta type sleep disorder.
-Early morning drowsiness: you wake up feeling dull and lethargic; it’s a kapha type of insomnia.

Ayurvedic Herbs for Insomnia
– Jadamamsi is a natural sleep inducer; it can be taken 1tsp at bed time with milk.
– Vacha root is another effective drug; it can be taken along with Amla, Brahmi powder at bed time.
– Grind some fried cumin seed to a fine powder. Mix them with the pulp of a ripe banana. Eating this at night induces sleep.
– Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Thagaram,poppy seeds are some other Ayurvedic herbs for treating insomnia.

Ayurveda Therapies for Insomnia
Rvita approach for insomnia – For insomnia only sleeping pills does not give permanent relief, Ayurveda recommends a holistic approach which intend to solve the root cause for the insomnia. Doing holistic treatment with Pancha karma Treatment, yoga, meditation and life style recommendation.
– Sirodhara: It’s a very effective treatment for insomnia. Traditionally In this therapy medicated oil is poured on patient’s forehead from specific distance and for specific time frame, milk also used for this treatment. It brings relief to most of the associated factors of insomnia such as anxiety, stress and calms your mind.
– Abhyangam: This full body Ayurvedic massage with medicated oil relaxes the body and removes tensions, and induce sound sleep. Head massage with Brahmi oil is very effective for insomnia.
Pada Abhyangam or Foot Massage with Ksheerabala oil provides relaxation to the body and mind helps good sleep.
– Thalam: In thalam Herbal powder is mixed with medicated oil and is applied on the center part of the head.Thalam is the best treatment to cure variety of conditions like insomnia, stress, tension, and different mental conditions. For good sleep Ksheerabala oil mixed with Kachurathichoornamis used.
– Meditation and yoga: Mind is very significant in insomnia treatment. The mind and body are intimately connected, creating peaceful feelings in the mind is will help us to stay calm and away from anxiety and depression which are the major causes of insomnia. The meditation improves in sleep quality.

Lifestyle Recommendations
– Give yourself an oil massage before your morning shower. It helps calm the mind.
– A warm bath or shower before bed has a relaxing, calming effect.
– The Meditation program has been found to reduce insomnia, as well as stress and anxiety.
– Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day—even on the weekends.
– Exercise is great but not too late in the day. Avoidexercising closer than 5 or 6 hours before bedtime.
– Avoid caffeine and nicotine. The stimulating effectsof caffeine in coffee, teas, and chocolate.
– Relax before bed. Take time to unwind. A relaxingactivity, such as reading or listening to music.

2.My sister has multiple stones in her gallbladder size 2-3mm. Kindly tell me the ayurvedic cure of this. Please suggest me some diet and ayurvedic treatment. – Swetha

Hi Swetha,
Gallstones can occur anywhere within the biliary tree, including the gallbladder and the common bile duct. Obstruction of the biliary tree can cause jaundice; obstruction of the outlet of the pancreatic exocrine system can cause pancreatitis.

Size: A gallstone’s size can vary and may be as small as a sand grain or as large as a golf ball. The gallbladder may develop a single, often large stone or many smaller ones. They may occur in any part of the biliary system. Depending on their content, gallstones differ in appearance. Based on their content, gallstones are subdivided into Cholesterol stones and Pigment stones. Cholesterol stones are usually green, but sometimes, they can be white or yellow in color. They are made primarily of cholesterol. Pigment stones are small, dark stones made of bilirubin and calcium salts that are found in bile. Risk factors for pigment stones include hemolytic anemia, cirrhosis, biliary tract infections, and hereditary blood cell disorders, such as sickle cell anemia.

Common Herbs for Gall Bladder stones
– Gokshura (Tribulus terristis): It is one of the best known herbs for removing unwanted toxins from gallbladder and kidneys. It is effective in most urinary tract & gallbladder disorders because it promotes the flow of urine and bile; cools and soothes the membranes of the body; and helps remove stones. It stops the bleeding, and nourishes and strengthens the digestive and reproductive organs. The herb has been used in treating cystitis, renal calculi (kidney stones), incontinence, gout and impotence. It may also have a mild diuretic action.
– Cilantro (Coriander sativa) leaves: It prevents the formation of gall stones and breaks up the chain of gall stones formation.
– Corn (Zea mays) silk: Corn silk has a beneficial effect on kidney and gallbladder reducing stone formation and it also helps relieve some of the symptoms of existing stones. It soothes and relaxes the lining of the bladder, relieving irritation and improving bile flow and elimination.

Yogic Management of Gallstones
Common Yoga postures recommended for Gallbladder stones: Hatha yoga, back stretch pose, bow pose

Diet and Nutrition for Gallstone Patients
– Consume a low fat diet.
– Drink lot of water.
– Foods like artichokes, barley, oat bran, broccoli, dandelion greens, alfalfa and oat bran may be beneficial.
– Non-vegetarians can have fish, chicken and turkey in their diet.
– Red meat and spicy foods are prohibited for gall bladder stone patients.
– Take: Beet, cucumber, garlic and garlic oil, avocados, artichokes, ginger root, coconut, grapes and grape juice, apple, apricots, berries, casaba melons, currants, figs, guavas, lemons, pears, prunes, turmeric, and flax oil.
– Avoid: eggs, pork, onion, fowl, milk, coffee, grapefruit, oranges, corn, beans and nuts, alcohol, saturated fats, hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils.

Home Remedy for Gallbladder Pain
– One common beet root + Juice of half lemon + 2 table spoon of flax oil / 10 ml of olive oil + 10 ml of fresh lemon juice + 5 gm of crushed Garlic – Use this mixture once a day in an empty stomach.
– One bunch parsley + 3 medium zucchini + ½ lb. Green beans + 5 stalks celery – Steam together for 8-10 minutes or partially steam and boil in ½ cup water or the Flax Seed Tea.

Liquids are best during an attack. You could try the Beet Recipe. Many find it helps, but others do better with just liquids. It is wonderful for relief from all sorts of gastric disturbances such as stomach pain, gas, and indigestion. I do not add any fat or salt to this recipe. It can be used anytime but is particularly useful as a three day fast with nothing else but water. It is both nourishing and easy to digest. You can alter the amounts to taste. More beans add more sweetness.

3.Dear Doctor,
My age is 40 years. I am a non-vegetarian and whenever I eat red meat, I develop swelling in my whole body and more on my feet and even breathlessness and then I need to visit my family doctor and after a week long medication I feel better. I also have problems of constipation, indigestion, acidity etc. quite often. Please suggest some remedy.
Thanks and regards,

Hi Suzie,
The symptoms suggestive of you are becoming allergic to red meat. Please check your kidney and liver functions test. Looks like the metabolic activities are too low. How is your cholesterol levels?
Please take the following medications and send me the reports once the blood work is done.
1. Punarnavadi Kashayam + Thiktakam Kashayam – Each 15 ml + 60 ml of warm water – Twice daily 30 minutes before food
2. Hingu triguna Thailam – 1 tablespoon – at bed time mixed with 50 ml of warm water.

4. Pl forward answers for the following:
– Is there any medication for Diabetes Neuropathy?
-How to control cholesterol and triglycerides and improve HDL and how to reduce LDL
-How to control Sugar level in Blood/urine?
-Is there any side effects if we take Ayurveda medicines for the above problems?

Hi Ramani,
Healing the body naturally
Ayurveda Treatment approach is to increase natural healing ability of the body. It may take a few weeks to regenerate the health. After the diagnosis, usually a healing plan with detoxification therapies followed by rejuvenation therapies is carried out. The detoxification therapies are meant to flush out the toxins, which includes pre-purification, purification and post purification phases and include various types of therapies like oil massages, fermented liquid massages, medicinal enemas, herbal purification methods. The rejuvenation therapies are meant to nourish the body, to bring the functional elements back to balance and to regenerate the body. This includes diet regulations, daily regimens, intake of oral medicines and yoga and a stress free life.

Detoxification therapies for Diabetic neuropathy: Pre purification therapies
Pre-purification therapies are the first ones applied to loosen the toxins, open up the circulation channels and get the body ready for discarding these wastes. These methods are highly relaxing for the body and mind. The following pre-purification therapies are usually adopted for curing Diabetic Neuropathy
– Snehapanam is an important pre purification therapy. It is a type of Oleation therapy and consists of oral intake of medicated ghee in empty stomach for a specified number of days. This unique treatment helps flush out the toxins from the body.
– Udwarthanam is a type of body massage using herbal powder. This massage activates the nerves and increases blood flow to the impaired parts of the body.
– Dhanyamla dhara is the continuous pouring of warm fermented medicinal liquid on the body for nearly 40 minutes. The nerves receive a lot of nourishment from this continuous pouring and are very effective for treating all types of diseases affecting nerves.
– Thalapothichil is the application of herbal paste on the scalp of a patient for a specific period of time. Selected medicinal herbs, thoroughly ground and made in to a fine paste, is thickly applied on to the scalp of the person. The scalp part of the head is then covered up with usually banana leaf to allow the medicine to stay on and function well. This stays on the person’s head for almost 40 to 50 minutes giving wonderful relaxation to the mind.
– Thakra dhara is the profuse pouring of specially prepared buttermilk on the forehead of the person for one hour. This cools down the brain, relaxes the mind and reduces stress, tension and anxiety.

Purification therapies
This is the phase of elimination of toxins that were loosened at the pre purification stage. The commonly adopted detoxification treatments for Diabetic Neuropathy are Purgation (Virechana), Emesis (Vamana) and Medicated enema (Vasti)
– Purgation is the oral intake of safe herbal medicines leading to the elimination of poisonous wastes through the anal route.
– Emesis is also known as therapeutic vomiting. It is a treatment that eliminates the toxins and waste products through the upper gastro-intestinal track. It expels and cleanses undigested food. It has been found to be highly effective in treating Diabetic Neuropathy.
– Medicated enema therapy, is the colon cleaning treatment. In this the medicines are introduced through the anal route for the evacuation of accumulated toxins and metabolic wastes. It is highly recommended in the treatment of Diabetic Neuropathy.

Rejuvenation for Diabetic Neuropathy
These are body nourishing therapies to rejuvenate the body and mind after the detoxification treatments. They keep the enzymes in the tissue cells in their normal functioning condition, restore and balance the body functions and maintain the overall health and well being of an individual for much longer periods after the detox course. Rejuvenation phase of Diabetic Neuropathy consists of oral medicines, diet regulation and yoga.

It is important to have a lifestyle that does not disturb natural body rhythms. When we eat, sleep and exercise in constantly fluctuating and disturbing patterns, the body loses its natural balancing cycles and cannot cleanse or heal itself as effectively. Therefore, regularity in our daily routine can be extremely effective in reducing physiological imbalance to avoid chronic disease.

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