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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Watching Dr Oz Quiz 2/4/12: Sleep

What herb combination did Dr. Oz recommend for sleep during an episode that aired last week?

Kava Kava and Passionflower
St. John's Wort and Valerian
Valerian and Passionflower
Whiskey and Chocolate

Valerian and Passion Flower

Your Answers:
Kava Kava and Passionflower - 6%
St. John's Wort and Valerian - 29%
Valerian and Passionflower - 59%
Whiskey and Chocolate - 4%

Well done WatchDrOz readers! I'm glad there's a sense of humor among you lot! While not a healthy way to sleep, whiskey and chocolate is good combo!

On the January 23, 2012 episode of The. Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz recommended...Valerian and Passion Flower tea to support sleep.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) website, both valerian and passionflower support the production of the amino acid gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA have been shown to promote calming and relaxation.

Both herbs have been used for centuries to help with feelings of tension, calming, and for sleep. Studies of valerian have shown it to be very useful for sleep and other studies showed that it wasn't good for sleep.

UMMC states that the affects of valerian may take several weeks to be felt. There are several forms of valerian many of which can be found in most health food stores. Dr. Oz talked about the tea form, the least expensive, which can be found in tea bags or loose leaf.

UMMC recommends the following amounts of valerian:

  • Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoonful (2 - 3 g) of dried root, steep 5 - 10 minutes.
  • Tincture (1:5): 1 - 1 1/2 tsp (4 - 6 mL)
  • Fluid extract (1:1): 1/2 - 1 tsp (1 - 2 mL)
  • Dry powdered extract (4:1): 250 - 600 mg
  • For anxiety, 200 mg 3 - 4 times per day

Passionflower is considered more mild than valerian. Often, people take passionflower in combination with other herbs such as Kava Kava and St. John's wort to help more specifically focus on a given concern.

UMMC recommends the following amounts of passionflower:

  • Tea: Steep 0.5 - 2 g (about 1 tsp.) of dried herb in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes; strain and cool. For anxiety, drink 3 - 4 cups per day. For insomnia, drink one cup an hour before going to bed.
  • Fluid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol): 10 - 20 drops, 3 times a day
  • Tincture (1:5 in 45% alcohol): 10 - 45 drops, 3 times a day

Kava Kava

From the 1/14/12 WatchingDrOz quiz on arthritis: Kava Kava has been used forever by Polynesian cultures as a daily constitutional drink, ceremonial drink, general beverage. It has been in the light of controversy for going on 10 years, or more, now. In 2002, there was international concern that Kava may cause liver damage.

There were several cases of liver damage reported and even death. Working in the health food industry at the time, we had to post warnings near the product – and the company I worked for still has warnings posted near the product. The controversy comes from the knowledge that Polynesian's have been using Kava daily for generations without reported liver issues, or any other issues.

It is possible that the people who experienced issues with taking Kava already had existing liver issues or were taking pharmaceuticals that effected the liver at the same. That said, it's important to talk to a doctor or pharmacist to determine if Kava is suitable.

In addition to acting as a muscle relaxer, Kava has been used to support a more balanced mood, feelings of tension, and trouble sleeping.

For more information on the controversy surrounding Kava Kava, check out the University of Maryland Medical Center website. The website cautions that Kava “should not be taken for more than 3 months without a 2 week rest period.”

St. John's Wort
From the WatchingDrOz blog post dated 1/25/12: St. John's Wort has been highly researched. It can help support an elevated mood along with strong anti-viral properties and other components to work on the whole body. Dr. Pina LoGuidice explained that it can take 6 weeks for the positive benefits to be seen so it's important to be consistent with use.

St. John's Wort has, what Dr. LoGuidice calls, a laundry list of drug interactions. Women should be especially careful with taking St. John's Wort because it could render birth control pills ineffective. She recommends taking 900mg of St. John's Wort daily for at least six weeks. Dr. LoGuidice will often prescribe St. John's Wort to a younger patient with what she considers low-grade depression.

Photo credit: Carlos Porto

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