An Unexpected Insomnia Treatment
Monique Hallee BSc.HK, ND
Chris Hergesheimer, BA, MA, PhD Cand

There is a wide variety of natural options for the treatment of insomnia. Traditional botanical medicinessuch as valerian (Valeriana officinalis), hops (Humulus lupulus), and chamomile (Matricaria recutita) are popular,1 as is direct supplementation with substances such as melatonin (which is known to promote proper circadian rhythms) and neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate.2Of course, an important element in the successful treatment of any concern involves treating the cause. This case report highlights an unusual treatment that resolved the issue of insomnia through particular attention to the cause.

A 26-year-old female presented with concerns of sleep-onset insomnia. The young woman was taking school courses while also holding a part-time job. Her stress levels were capable of affecting her symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, as she often alternated between constipation and diarrhea. However, she did not wish to address her gut issues during her visits. For gut health, she had been taking chamomile tea, fish oil, and probiotics.

She also reported heart palpitations and was sent for testing through her medical doctor (including ECG, echocardiogram, and a Holter monitor), all of which came back normal. She was prone to fainting due to orthostatic hypotension. Her blood pressure had been recorded as low as 72/40 mm Hg, but averaged around 80-90/50-60 mm Hg.

The patient practiced healthy sleep hygiene, but complained that she could not shut off her mind at night; it would keep her awake for an average of 1.5 hours after going to bed. She was not prone to waking in the night, except occasionally to urinate, but generally could return to sleep without difficulty. She did not suffer from restless legs or sleep apnea (as subjectively noted by the patient and the patient’s roommate). For sleep, the patient had previously tried various combinations of natural sleep aids, including valerian, passionflower, chamomile, melatonin, L-tryptophan, L-theanine, and GABA. Despite these efforts, there had not been any improvement, so she discontinued the use of all but the chamomile tea, which she found soothing to drink after dinner. Read More