Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category

Melatonin: Benefits & Uses

waking up from healthy sleep


  • Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which helps regulate your circadian rhythm
  • Taking a melatonin supplement may be helpful for people who are experiencing sleep disorders due to various environmental or social factors
  • Aside from promoting sleep, melatonin supplements may help boost cardiovascular health, manage fibromyalgia, lower the risk of gallstones and decrease the symptoms of tinnitus

Sleeping is an essential human function, and at the heart of it is your circadian rhythm, also known as your body clock. It’s a natural, biological timer that helps your body recognize sleepiness and wakefulness over a period of 24 hours.

By sticking to a regular bedtime schedule, such as sleeping and waking up at the same time each day, you can maintain a steady circadian rhythm that will allow you to maximize your productivity while you’re awake, and get the right amount of sleep when nighttime arrives.1

Your circadian rhythm is largely dictated by your pineal gland. This gland is located near the center of your brain, with a shape that looks similar to a pine cone, hence the name. It’s estimated to be one-third of an inch long, and is made up of unique pineal cells and neuroglial cells that help support the gland.

Despite its small size, it plays a crucial role in your health because it produces a single hormone called melatonin, which is vital for controlling your body clock and, ultimately, your sleeping patterns.2

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin, or N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a hormone produced by the pineal gland.3 Your brain usually starts secreting melatonin around 9 p.m., which is the time most people go to bed. By increasing the amount, your body begins to recognize that bedtime is fast approaching, allowing you to sleep at an ideal time.4

To do this properly, you need to be aware of your exposure to light throughout the day and especially at night, because melatonin production depends on how much light your body absorbs.

If you stay awake past dark, light emitted by electrical devices hampers your body’s ability to produce melatonin. Ideally, you want to stop using gadgets an hour before sleeping to help increase melatonin production and maintain a steady circadian rhythm. Nightshift workers usually have it worse and constantly suffer from disrupted body clocks, because of their poor melatonin production.

3 Main Uses of Melatonin in Your Body

What is the role of melatonin anyway? Based on published research, it has been discovered to perform three main functions:

Controls your circadian rhythm — Melatonin works as a sleeping aid by normalizing your circadian rhythm by convincing your body to prepare itself for bedtime.5 It’s a hormone that only “signals” your body to prepare for sleep, not one that actually makes you fall asleep.

Functions as an antioxidant — Recent studies have found that melatonin not only affects your body clock, but also functions as an antioxidant that can help support your health. Specifically, it may help different aspects of your brain, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.6 It may even lower your risk of cancer, in some cases.7

Boosts your immune system — Melatonin may benefit your immune system in various ways. In one study, researchers suggest that melatonin may help improve the treatment of bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis.8 In another study, melatonin has been suggested as a potential tool against inflammation, autoimmune diseases and Type 1 diabetes.9

6 Ways to Optimize Your Melatonin Levels Naturally to Improve Sleep Quality

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans are suffering from a sleeping or wakefulness disorder.10 As a result, many of them turn to various remedies, such as behavioral and environmental changes, to get a good night’s rest.11

One of the first things you can do is to make sure that your body is producing enough melatonin. Optimizing your melatonin levels naturally is important because it helps keep your body functioning normally without relying on outside factors. So, instead of immediately relying on melatonin supplementation, here are a few lifestyle changes I suggest you try first to boost your melatonin production:

Avoid using electronic devices an hour before sleeping — Gadgets such as cellphones, TVs and computers emit blue light, and exposure to it tricks your body into thinking it’s still daytime. By avoiding gadgets an hour before bed, your body can produce the melatonin needed to help you sleep at your intended time.

Make sure to get regular sunlight exposure — Getting regular sun exposure in the morning or at noontime helps your body reduce its melatonin production, so that when nighttime arrives, your pineal gland produces the correct amount to induce sleepiness.

Try to sleep in complete darkness — If possible, try to remove immediate light sources from your room to help improve your sleep quality. The slightest exposure to light can interfere with your body’s melatonin production and keep you up later than you need. Keep gadgets 3 feet away from your bed or use blackout window shades.

Remove sources of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom — EMFs emitted by certain devices such as Internet routers can disrupt your pineal gland’s melatonin production. Ideally, you should turn off your wireless router, as well as other wireless devices connected to the Internet before sleeping.

If you need a nightlight, use a low-wattage yellow, orange or red bulb — Low-wattage bulbs with a yellow, orange or red color do not interfere with melatonin production the same way that white and blue bulbs do.

Wear blue light-blocking glasses — This special device can help keep your eyes from absorbing blue light that can affect your melatonin levels. It can be a useful tool to have around the house, especially if you’re constantly surrounded by gadgets and artificial light sources.

In addition, the following foods are known to contain small amounts of melatonin. Making them a part of your regular diet while practicing the aforementioned sleeping tips may help improve sleep quality:12

  • Grass fed meat (lamb, beef and pork)
  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Pasture-raised chicken and eggs
  • Raw, grass fed milk
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Pomegranate
  • Mulberry
  • Tart cherries
  • Grapes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnip
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Radish
  • Beetroot
  • Tomatoes
  • Seeds (Flax, sunflower, fennel, mustard, alfalfa, celery and fenugreek)
  • Nuts (pistachio, almonds and walnuts)

If you’ve already tried everything, including incorporating melatonin foods in your diet, and you’re still having difficulty getting quality sleep, you may consider taking a melatonin supplement. In 2016 alone, 3.1 million adults in the United States turned to melatonin supplementation to help them sleep peacefully.13

Studies Regarding the Use of Melatonin Supplements

Since the discovery of melatonin, various studies have been conducted to discover how using it as a supplement can benefit your health. According to the Journal of Pineal Research, the melatonin secreted by your pineal gland enters every cell in your body and can even cross morphophysiologic barriers.

As a result, not only may it help you improve sleep quality,14 it also has certain anti-inflammatory compounds that may help reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis and hypertension.15

In addition, a study published in Endocrine Journal reports that increasing melatonin intake may help improve your overall health, as this hormone can be an effective antioxidant that can help fight free radicals in your body.16

Another study suggests that melatonin may help obese people manage their weight. The researchers indicate that certain lifestyle factors suppress melatonin production, which results in sleep disruption that can lead to weight gain. By increasing melatonin production, adequate sleep can be reintroduced as part of a healthy lifestyle, along with other positive lifestyle changes, to help curb obesity.17

8 Potential Benefits of Melatonin Supplement

Melatonin may help boost your health in various situations, as shown in the table below. While each benefit is backed up with scientific research, always consult with a doctor before giving melatonin supplements a try:

Insomnia — Melatonin is primarily used to help treat people who have sleeping disorders by inducing sleepiness quicker.18

Jet lag — Melatonin may be used to help treat jet lag by adjusting your body to a new time zone. However, it’s generally recommended only for travelers who cross four to five time zones.19

Heart disease — People who are struggling with heart disease may benefit from melatonin. A study has found that it may help lower your bad cholesterol levels by as much as 38 percent.20

Menopause — Increasing melatonin consumption in menopausal women 42 to 62 years old may help improve mood and stave off depression.21

Autism — Children diagnosed with autism who are also plagued with sleeping problems may benefit from melatonin supplementation. Research indicates that taking the hormone can lead to deeper sleep and better daytime behavior.22 However, I advise consulting your health care provider before giving any melatonin supplement to children.

Fibromyalgia People affected with fibromyalgia are believed to have lower levels of melatonin. A group of researchers found that increasing the melatonin levels of fibromyalgia sufferers through supplementation helped alleviate their symptoms and improved sleep quality.23

Gallstones Melatonin can help lower your risk of gallstones by inhibiting cholesterol absorption across the intestinal epithelium, as well as increasing the conversion of cholesterol into bile.24

Tinnitus — If you have tinnitus, slightly increasing your melatonin may help improve your symptoms. In one study, participants who took 3 milligrams of melatonin supplements every night experienced a decrease in tinnitus intensity after the testing duration.25

Do Not Take Melatonin if You Have These Conditions

Here’s a crucial question you should ask yourself: Are you fit to take melatonin? While there are valid reasons for taking this supplement, remember that it can exacerbate certain health conditions as well. If you’re taking any of the following medications, you should not take melatonin as the mixture can have adverse effects to your health:26

Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs


Contraceptive drugs

Diabetes medications


Taking melatonin while pregnant should be avoided as well, since there’s little knowledge in this field.27 If you’ve recently developed pregnancy-related sleeping problems, I advise you to consider behavioral and dietary changes before considering melatonin or other similar types of supplement.

Refrain from giving melatonin to children, including babies and toddlers, unless approved by your physician. While a 2016 study found that children with sleep difficulties who took melatonin did not develop any concerns or adverse side effects,28 it’s better to be safe.

10 Side Effects of Melatonin You Should Know About

Some of melatonin’s potential side effects include:29,30

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Short-term depression
  • Irritability
  • Vivid dreams, or possibly nightmares
  • Mild anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Confusion
  • Body clock disruption
  • Dizziness

If you are already taking a melatonin supplement and begin to experience any of the mentioned side effects, stop taking it immediately and consult with a doctor for safer alternatives. In addition, melatonin and alcohol should not be taken together, as it can increase your chances of accidents because the sedative effects are amplified.31

Remember: Consider Optimizing Your Melatonin Levels Naturally Before Taking a Supplement

Melatonin is a crucial hormone that performs few but important functions. Low levels of it can lead to sleep disruption, increase your risk of certain diseases and lower your antioxidant capabilities. However, remember to always try and improve your sleeping habits and environment before attempting melatonin supplementation.

While there’s an abundance of scientific evidence that suggest melatonin supplementation can be beneficial to your health, too much of it can actually make you more wakeful. By primarily focusing on natural strategies, you forego this risk, as well as the chances of developing unpleasant side effects that can further disrupt your quality of sleep. If you do decide to take a melatonin supplement, seek guidance from a doctor first.

Frequently Asked Questions About Melatonin

Q: Is melatonin addictive?

A: Currently, there’s very little information regarding melatonin supplement addiction. However, beware that it can still be abused, although the chances of becoming dependent are lower compared to other types of medications or supplements.32


Q: How long does it take for melatonin to work?

A: The average time for melatonin supplements to work is generally 20 minutes. If you’re about to take melatonin for the first time, it’s recommended that you take it one to two hours before your bedtime.33


Q: Can you take melatonin supplements while pregnant?

A: As of the moment, there is a lack of scientific evidence regarding the use of melatonin supplements on pregnant women, but it’s theorized that it may hamper sex drive, reduce ovarian function and increase the risk of developmental disorders. If you’re pregnant, it is best that you avoid using this supplement and resort to natural remedies to correct sleeping problems.34


Q: Is melatonin safe to use for kids?

A: Melatonin supplements are generally safe for children. According to a study published in Canadian Family Physician, children with sleep difficulties who took melatonin had no concerns or adverse side effects, according to their parents.35 However, consult with your child’s pediatrician before giving them any type of melatonin supplement.


Q: When is the ideal time to take melatonin?

A: Taking a melatonin supplement two hours before bedtime can help you maximize its effectiveness.36


Q: How long does the effects of melatonin last?

A: The half-life of melatonin is very short, around 59 to 65 minutes only.37


Q: Can you overdose on melatonin?

A: Yes. While there are no reported deaths related to overdosing from melatonin, consuming more than the recommended amount can cause side effects, such as autoimmune hepatitis, a psychotic episode, seizures, headaches or skin eruption.38



Besides helping sleep, melatonin is known for protecting the brain. Research has shown starting to supplement in middle age protects against Alzheimer’s, reduces the risk of Parkinson’s, shrinks the size of the infarct area in a stroke, minimizes brain swelling & dysfunction after head injury, and increases the “longevity protein” SIRT1.

  • Melatonin has been proposed as a treatment for numerous brain and neurological diseases as it helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation inside the brain and strengthens the blood-brain barrier.  A leaky blood-brain barrier can contribute to issues like brain fog, anxiety, depression, and even Alzheimer’s.
  • It also increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – which is a protein that promotes survival of nerve cells & helps regular synaptic plasticity.  Mouse studies have shown melatonin relieves symptoms of ALS by preventing cell death and slowing disease progression.  
  • Melatonin is needed for normal eye development, decreases pressure in the eye and lack of it may be a cause of glaucoma.
  • A rat study showed melatonin prevents against cell death in optic neuritis, a manifestation of MS, Lyme, and Bartonella.
  • Regarding tinnitus, (noise in the ears), melatonin was 150 times more effective than other tinnitus drugs in reducing symptoms.
  • Melatonin may help prevent and treat cancer by improving immune function, increasing tumor suppressor proteins, acting against cancer stem cells, and by suppressing cells that block the activity of immune cells. Supplementation also reduced incidence and size of breast cancer tumors.
  • Melatonin concentration is 400 times higher in the gut than the brain and controls behavior of gut bacteria.  It’s been shown to be protective against lesions caused by H.pylori infection and speeds ulcer healing.  It protects and strengthens the intestinal barrier and can help prohibit inflammation in the stomach which can in turn protect against colitis, irritable bowel, and various cancers.














The Endocannabinoid System and the Important Role It Plays in Human Health

Published on Feb 5, 2019

Natural health expert and founder Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Carl Germano, a board-certified nutritionist and phytocannabiniods expert, on how the endocannabinoid system influences human health.
February 10, 2019
By Dr. Mercola


  • Cannabinoid receptors in the human body were discovered in the 1990s, which in turn led to the realization that we make compounds in our body — endogenous cannabinoids — that influence these receptors
  • Endocannabinoid deficiency has been identified in people who have migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory and neurological conditions and a variety of treatment-resistant conditions
  • While CBD has gained the most attention, CBD alone cannot fully support your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). You need the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes as well
  • Hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1938. The latest Farm Bill, signed into law at the end of 2018, makes it legal again; hemp oil with full-spectrum phytocannabinoids may benefit a wide range of health problems
  • There’s an intimate relationship between your ECS and your omega-3 status. Omega-3 fats make your cannabinoid receptors more active, and are used as backbone structures to produce cannabinoids in your body

Hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1938. Thankfully, the latest Farm Bill signed into law at the end of 2018 makes it legal. In this interview, board-certified clinical nutritionist and expert on phytocannabinoids, Carl Germano, discusses the exciting implications of this change.

Now, there’s a difference between cannabidiol (CBD) products made from hemp and those made from marijuana. While many mistakenly believe hemp and marijuana are interchangeable, they’re actually two different plants.

“Both are considered Cannabis sativa by genus and species, but that’s where the similarity ends,” Germano explains. “Hemp has been cultivated for many reasons for the past few thousand years — food, clothing, fiber and fuel. The plant itself contains naturally occurring active compounds called phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is just one of them.

Marijuana, on the other hand, has been cultivated for its primary phytocannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While it has recreational value at small levels, it does have medicinal value.

Nevertheless, many decades ago, hemp got dumped into the definition of marijuana. Hemp was unjustly placed into the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which kind of hampered its access, its ability to have U.S. farmers grow it, or to have even medical or academic institutions study it.

We’ve been in the Dark Ages for decades. Thanks to Israel and Europe, who’ve championed all the research, we’ve [discovered] the cannabinoid system in the body called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

Trump did sign a Farm Bill that finally deregulates hemp. It takes it out of the CSA … It gives the rights of farmers to grow it. It will open up the doors for academic and medical institutions to study it. It will give consumers access to [what is] probably the most important botanical we have on this planet.”

Why Whole Hemp May Be Better Than Isolated CBD

The hemp plant contains over 100 different phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is one. And while hemp has now been taken off the CSA, CBD is still under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for the labeling of supplements and enforcing the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

“With the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), you have several things against CBD. First, CBD was not in commerce prior to 1994, so it could not be grandfathered as a dietary supplement, yet hemp oil has been in commerce prior to 1994, so we’re OK there.

Secondly, DSHEA states that if you want to submit a new dietary ingredient application, you can do so and petition the FDA for an ingredient to be classified as a dietary supplement.

Well, if you were to do that today, you would get rejected immediately because the other part of DSHEA states that if Big Pharma takes a natural ingredient and makes a drug that gets approved, it’s hands-off to the dietary supplement industry.

GW Pharmaceuticals has two drugs using isolated purified CBD in it. Therefore, we’ve got several strikes against putting CBD on the front panel, calling it a dietary supplement, and I say, why bother? Because the story is much bigger than CBD, both clinically, scientifically and legally.”

Hemp oil is a food that happens to have CBD in it. But while CBD may not be legally advertised on the label, CBD-containing hemp products can be labeled as having phytocannabinoids — the class of compounds to which CBD belongs. While CBD has gained the most attention, CBD alone cannot fully support your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). You need the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes, which are very complementary to the phytocannabinoids, as well.

“Those of us in botanical medicine understand that the sum of all the parts of the plant is greater than any one single ingredient,”Germano says. “Let’s face it. There’s more than one ginsenoside in ginseng. There’s more than one curcuminoid in curcumin. There’s more than one isobutylamide in Echinacea. There’s more than one ginkgolide in ginkgo.

Well, there’s more than just one phytocannabinoid in hemp. Back in 2011, Dr. Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology1 … wrote about the entourage effect of all the phytocannabinoids and terpenes needing to be present to give rise to full clinical, meaningful benefit …

While CBD may be the most dominant phytocannabinoid in hemp, the others are there in minor in number, but they are not minor in the body as they all participate in nourishing, supporting the ECS, which is the bigger story.”

Understanding Your ECS

While the discovery of the ECS is fairly recent, genetically it dates back over 600 million years.2Cannabinoid receptors in the human body were discovered in the 1990s, which in turn led to the realization that we make compounds in our body — endogenous cannabinoids — that influence these receptors.

It was also discovered that the ECS orchestrates communication between other bodily systems, such as your respiratory, digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems. The ECS does this via receptors found in every organ, including your skin.

“Your ECS is like the conductor of the orchestra. The orchestra are our organ systems. We cannot be healthy, we cannot be well if our ECS does not function well,” Germano says.

“Your body produces cannabinoids similar structurally to the cannabinoids found in cannabis. Your body feeds off of them. If you don’t produce enough to feed every single receptor, various conditions and various illnesses will ensue.”

Two Types of Endocannabinoid Receptors Have Been Identified

There are two primary ECS receptors: cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2). While CB1 is typically thought of as being primarily in the brain and CB2 primarily in the immune system, both types of receptors are in fact found throughout your body.

One of the two cannabinoids your body produces is called anandamide — a nod to the word “ananda,” the Sanskrit word for “bliss,” as it attaches to the same CB1 receptors that THC attaches to. The other, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), is found throughout your body.

“The ECS has been the subject of many scholarly textbooks … Quite frankly, this is something that should be taught from high school to college to medical school. Unfortunately, because of the stigma attached to cannabinoids … less than 13 percent [of medical schools in the U.S.] are teaching the ECS.

I say, ‘Are you insane? This is like saying that for the next 70 years we will not teach the cardiovascular system, as if it never existed.’ We now have to dismantle this medical travesty … The whole thing is about education. This is critical and crucial to our health and well-being.

We have to dismantle the stigma, and we have to start educating ourselves to understand that the ECS is probably one of the most important medical discoveries in quite some time. Understanding the enormity of this system and what it does and what it influences throughout the entire human body.”

Low Endocannabinoid Levels Result in Ill Health

With age, our bodies tend to become less efficient in creating the compounds needed for optimal health, and this holds true for anandamide and 2-AG as well. According to Germano, these two cannabinoids can actually be used as biological markers for certain illnesses and conditions.

Endocannabinoid deficiency has been identified in people who have migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory and neurological conditions and a variety of treatment-resistant conditions. Germano also cites a paper3 in Translational Psychiatry, which found low anandamide levels are a statistically positive indicator for stress-induced anxiety.

They’ve also discovered there’s an intimate relationship between your ECS and your omega-3 status.4As it turns out, omega-3 fats make your cannabinoid receptors more active, and are used as backbone structures to produce cannabinoids in your body.

What do we see in people who have low omega-3 status? We see the same things we see in people who are endocannabinoid deficient: pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety, depression and so on. It is a perfect marriage between omega-3s and phytocannabinoids, which act like a multivitamin for the ECS.

But it doesn’t stop there. Look at bones … the reason we give post-menopausal women estrogen is because it influences the cells that build up bone, osteoblasts, and the cells that break down bone, osteoclasts. What does this have to do with the ECS?

We now know that if you stimulate the CB1 receptors, you start to stimulate the brain-to-bone communication by slowing down the brain from releasing bone-breaking compounds, like norepinephrine. Then when you stimulate the CB2 receptors, it increases osteoblasts, the bone makers, and decreases osteoclasts, the bone breakers.”

Top conditions associated with low cannabinoid levels include:
  • Pain, inflammation and inflammatory conditions
  • Stress, anxiety and insomnia
  • Ocular health
  • Bone health
  • Neurological conditions

“These are all conditions that can be suitably treated with phytocannabinoids,” Germano says. “These are conditions that we see in people who are endocannabinoid-deficient.”

Running Dramatically Boosts Anandamide Level

While runner’s high is typically attributed to the release of endorphins, running also dramatically increases anandamide in the body, and anandamide not only targets the CB1 receptor, but it also influences opioid and endorphin receptors. Not surprisingly then, the higher an individual’s anandamide level, the better they report feeling.

“That makes sense, because anandamide hits the receptors in the brain that are involved in reward and mood,” Germano says. “We also understand that the cannabinoids we produce are quite promiscuous.

They certainly touch the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but they [affect] other receptors as well, [such as] the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT3) receptors, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR), gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, and receptors that control inflammation, pain, reward, anxiety and things of that nature.”

A paper5 published in PLOS ONE also details how various nutrients (such as omega-3 fats), drugs, exercise, chiropractic care, massage and acupuncture influence the function of your ECS.

Your Endocannabinoid System — A Key Player in Inflammation

Curcumin, boswellia, fish oil and quercetin are all well-recognized anti-inflammatory nutrients, but none can compare to what cannabinoids can do, Germano says, especially when the full spectrum is used.

As noted in a 2014 paper6 in Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, the ECS is an emerging key player in inflammation, because it’s intertwined with all of the inflammatory pathways, including the eicosanoid ones that omega-3 fish oils influence.

Germano also cites other research showing that targeting the ECS can ease both inflammatory and neuropathic pain, and describe how cannabinoids act as analgesics. According to Germano:

“You cannot contend with any inflammatory condition unless you’re supporting the ECS. They can be used interchangeably; phytocannabinoids along with curcumin and boswellia and fish oils would be remarkable, as they are complementary to each other by doing different things.

Again, we must address the ECS in any inflammatory condition, whether it be irritable bowel syndrome or injuries — even inflammation in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of all neurological diseases. In 2003, the United States government got issued a patent on the neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids.

At that time, while the government has been telling us that phytocannabinoids are like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and heroin — [meaning they] have no medical value — they go out and get a patent on the medical value.

But that was followed up, and there are many papers that talk all about the anti-inflammatory effects in the brain and in the nervous system, of these cannabinoids … There is nothing else like supporting the ECS with phytocannabinoids.”

Your Endocannabinoid System Also Plays a Key Role in Your Gut Health

You’re probably familiar with the fact that there’s a strong connection between not only your brain and your gut, but also your immune system. The importance of this triad in health and disease prevention cannot be overstated. Your gut not only is your largest immune organ, it’s also your second brain, containing hundreds of millions of neurons.

“We now understand how the gut is involved with communicating with the brain and the immune system, because it has brain cells and immune cells in it,” Germano says. In the middle of this trio is your ECS. It is actually the orchestrator of this tri-directional communication. According to Germano, researchers have also discovered the ECS controls:

  • Motility in the gut
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gut permeability
  • Tolerance to antigens

The ECS also reduces the activity of the stress pathways, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) pathways. Anandamide, specifically, participates in the immunological response in the gut. What’s more, there’s also communication occurring between your endocannabinoid system and your gut microbiome (the bacteria in your gut).

Clinical Applications for Hemp Products

Again, a full-spectrum oil is actually far preferable to product in which CBD has been isolated. Germano cites a 2015 Israeli paper, which compared full-spectrum oil against isolated CBD, and found the full-spectrum oil was in fact clinically superior.

As for dosing, most of the literature demonstrates efficacy of CBD in the several hundred milligram range — but that is for “single magic bullet” isolated CBD. Preclinical studies and any clinicians are reporting that efficacy can be achieved with much lower doses when using a ful spectrum oil — some in the 10 to 25mg CBD range.

“Since CBD is the most dominant cannabinoid in hemp, when you extract oil from hemp, you do have much, much higher levels of CBD naturally in the oil as compared to the rest of the phytocannabinoid family. Providing 10 to 25 mg of CBD is the sweet spot for most conditions in the trade — especially when used with other synergistic ingredients …

People are responding quite remarkably, which [suggests] you don’t need a lot to jump-start the body’s ECS. Quite frankly, when we look at the bell-shaped curve with the isolates, the higher the dose, sometimes you decrease the effectiveness … When you use a full-spectrum oil and you’re getting the other important phytocannabinoid and terpene components, this is superior, and I’ll tell you why.

People have been focusing on CBD, which is the wrong message. It’s the myopic message. Think about it, CBD does not attach to the CB1 or CB2 receptors. If anything, CBD supports the CB1 receptors by preventing the breakdown of anandamide in our bodies and anandamide hits the CB1 receptor.

What about the CB2 receptor that controls inflammatory cycling, pain signaling, insulin sensitivity and bone building? CBD does nothing for that, so we need something of a CB2 agonist. A perfect partner to CBD would be another phytocannabinoid called beta caryophyllene. Luckily, the family of other phytocannabinoids in a full-spectrum oil contains other phytocannabinoids that complement to what CBD is not doing as well.

We must get off this single magic bullet bandwagon. We must appreciate the full gamut of all these phytocannabinoids as a whole, and that they complement each other, because CBD is not the answer to support the ECS as a whole.”

As with most things, too much can backfire. While CBD cannot kill you, using CBD isolate in too high amounts can reduce its effectiveness. Such problems are far less likely when using a full-spectrum oil.

“I don’t foresee anybody really overdosing on the standard dosages that we’re recommending,” Germano says. “Nor when we look at the data that’s been published, up to 1,500 mg of CBD chronically administered over time show that it was well-tolerated, minimal to no adverse reactions on physiological function, psychological functioning and other parameters in the body, including blood pressure. So, CBD is quite well-tolerated in humans.”

Hemp Oil for Sleep

Aside from inflammation and pain, another area where a full-spectrum hemp oil can be beneficial is to improve sleep and treat insomnia. Germano recommends using a full-spectrum oil in a dose that provides 25 mg of CBD.

“CBD at that range does a number of things. No. 1, it reduces excitability in the brain. It can reduce glutamate toxicity and any excitatory conditioning. Secondly, CBD is involved in various neurotransmitters that are involved with a normal sleep cycle.

While it has a calming effect and helps to establish a normal sleep cycle, it’s not necessarily a sedative. You can use it with melatonin. You can use it with lavender. You can use it with chamomile and passionflower, what have you. I would do that towards the latter part of the day, at least an hour or two before bedtime. Lower doses of CBD are more stimulating, so to speak, and more upregulating.”

How the New Law Can Improve Quality of Hemp Products

In the past, prior to the signing of the new Farm Bill, the leaf, flower and bud of the hemp plant could not be used in the production of CBD-rich hemp oil. The oil had to be pulled from the stalk and stem of the plant only — the less concentrated part. With the new law, all parts of the plant can be used, which will make processing easier and more economical, as the cannabinoids are more concentrated in the leaves, flowers and buds.

The law also makes it legal to grow hemp in in every state, so if you wanted to, you could grow it in your backyard. This is something I’m definitely considering, as you can easily juice the whole plant or add it to smoothies.

“Growing it for yourself would be wonderful,” Germano says. “It is a weed. It has a short period of harvest. It grows very rapidly — July, August and September. Yes, the whole plant can be used rather than just extracting the oils from it. All the phytocannabinoids and lipids are found in the oils, but the leaf can be juiced and put into smoothies as well …

In terms of growing and processing it, it’s a rather easy plant to grow, because it is a weed. When we talk about the raw plant, a lot of these cannabinoids are in their acidic form. CBD is in CBDA, cannabidiol acid, form. To convert it to its useable form, the acid has to be decarboxylated.

So, while you may benefit from a lot of the phytocannabinoids [in the raw plant], it’s going to be reliant on your body’s ability to process it from the acidic forms that are in there. Exposure to heat, light, moisture and air will decarboxylate a lot of them as well. The more you process it yourself, the more useable some of those phytocannabinoids will be.

[To process it], you can take the leaf, flower and bud. You can blend it and store it in the refrigerator. Over a day or two of exposure to heat, air, light and moisture, it’ll decarboxylate to some extent and you’ll benefit more from that. How much do you get? Appreciable amounts of CBD may be difficult with just juicing alone …

I don’t want to misquote myself and say the wrong thing, but probably an ounce or two [of raw plant] would do the trick as a healthy plant beverage. Again, you don’t need a lot to jump-start your body’s ECS. It’s not a numbers game. Small doses, you would definitely respond to.”

How to Identify a High-Quality Hemp Product

If you’re not growing your own, attributes to look for when shopping for a hemp product include:

Organic Kosher-certified
Non-GMO Verified pesticide and herbicide free
Full-spectrum phytocannabinoids Grown from certified seeds and not hybrids with marijuana

“I look for companies that are doing the right thing also. That is, they don’t mention CBD on the front panel or quantify it in the Supplement Fact box. Responsible companies talk about phytocannabinoids,” Germano says.

They talk about hemp oil. They talk about nourishing the endocannabinoid system. This is a superior story to just CBD. Those are the more reputable companies that are telling the right story, [and not just talking about] isolated CBD.”

More Information About Endocannabinoid System

Germano has written a book about the endocannabinoid system called, “Road to Ananda: The Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System, Phytocannabinoids and Hemp,” ( which is due out shortly. I am very proud to have written the forward to this book as it is a great resource. Definitely pick up a copy if you want to learn more about this fascinating topic.

“I’m ecstatic to announce that the person who wrote the introduction to the book is Raphael Mechoulam, the father of cannabinoid research and who was involved in the discovery of the endocannabinoid system.

He is well-known in the scholarly circles. There are certainly plenty of scholarly work out there, but we need to get this message, this story, which is enormous, out to the layman and practitioner out there who is really unaware still,” Germano says.

“I’ve been in this industry for over 35 years. I’m a clinical nutritionist by trade. I have not seen any natural compounds this clinically relevant since the inception of this industry. I can tell you that targeting the endocannabinoid system, supporting it, will dominate medicine and nutrition of the next couple of decades.

There are also topical applications for phytocannabinoids, because, again, our skin is one of our largest organs. It also has five to 10 times more cannabinoids in it than we have in our brain. The CB1 and CB2 receptors are there as well.

There are three targeted areas for topical applications. One, obviously, is pain and inflammation, because the CB2 receptors are there that control that. That is something that will blow away any of these compounds in the marketplace today for topical pain relief.

Then we know that certain cannabinoids strangle the sebaceous gland for acne. Certain cannabinoids also influence age spot development and antiaging. [There are] some very interesting things going on in the topical application area.

When we look at the global picture of what is the subcutaneous endocannabinoid system doing, it’s helping to maintain normal cell proliferation, differentiation and immune competence. Oncologists are going to be interested in that aspect.”



If you are a Lyme/MSIDS patient you should see yourself ALL over this article.  We struggle with pain, inflammation, gut issues (motility, permeability, antigen tolerance, pain/inflammation), neurological issues, & insomnia.  Many experience ocular & bone issues as well.  It will be interesting to observe the topical applications of this since so many have pain.

It’s quite amazing that our government has gotten away with pigeon-holing this wonderful plant into the same category as heroin and marijuana for decades.  Hopefully, we will see pricing begin to fall as currently, cost is high.

The article, and indeed everything I’ve read, stresses that full-spectrum CBD is crucial.

For more:

My entire family has found CBD oil to help with both sleep and pain.  I give the brand we’ve had success with here:  (I am not affiliated with ANY companies).  It is potent.  The company has other strengths as well.

Non-specific Symptoms in Adult Patients Referred to a Lyme Centre

Non-specific symptoms in adult patients referred to a Lyme centre.

Zomer TP, et al. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2018.


OBJECTIVES: There is controversy whether non-specific symptoms can be related to previous Lyme borreliosis (LB). Positive serology can be considered a proxy for a previous or persistent infection with LB. We assessed non-specific symptoms and serology in patients suspected of LB referred to a Lyme centre.

METHODS: Included were adult patients who visited a Lyme centre between 2008 and 2014. Before medical consultation, serum samples were taken and questionnaires on non-specific symptoms completed. The prevalence of non-specific symptoms was calculated for patients with positive and negative IgG serology. Logistic regression was used to obtain odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for an association between positive serology and non-specific symptoms.

RESULTS: Of 1439 included patients, 31.6% (455/1439) had positive serology. The most common non-specific symptoms were severe fatigue (61.4%, 883/1439), sleep disturbances (54.8%, 789/1439), and stiffness of neck/back (52.6%, 757/1439). The prevalence of severe fatigue was 53.0% (241/455) in patients with positive serology versus 65.2% (642/984) in patients with negative serology (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.58-0.94). The prevalence of sleep disturbances was respectively 46.2% (210/455) versus 58.8% (579/984) (OR 0.73; 95% CI 0.58-0.93). The prevalence of stiffness of neck/back was respectively 47.7% (217/455) versus 54.9% (540/984) (OR 0.85; 95% CI 0.67-1.06).

CONCLUSIONS: In patients referred to a Lyme centre, non-specific symptoms did not occur more frequently in patients with positive serology compared to patients with negative serology. Hence, a questionnaire on non-specific symptoms cannot be used for identifying patients with possible “post-Lyme borreliosis symptoms” in clinical practice.



I find it increasingly baffling how “positive serology” on a test that misses over half of all Lyme cases and is commonly known as being notoriously abysmal is still being used for research purposes.  Move on people!  This test is worthless!  

I feel sorry for the sad-suckers who didn’t get a positive.  They were sent home empty-handed to continue suffering in silence.  Notice that MORE of the people testing negative had a considerably higher preponderance of symptoms…..

The sickest patients sometimes NEVER test positive.  

Also, notice the symptoms….severe fatigue, sleep disturbances, and stiff back/neck.  Those are notorious Lyme symptoms!  In fact it screams Lyme (particularly the back/neck issue).  

How about they treat these people clinically for Lyme and then retest?  By giving a provoking agent, it would be interesting to see how many of these sero-negatives turn into positives.

I guess someone would have to use their God-given brain to do that….and we wouldn’t want to have to do that now would we?


THC vs. CBD for Pain: The Differences & Interactions

THC vs. CBD for Pain: The Differences and Interactions


As a natural pain-relief drug, some experts consider cannabis more suitable for your body than the synthetic pharmaceuticals available.

The reasoning behind this is that the body can metabolize natural chemicals better than synthetic ones the same way it can digest natural foods better than processed ones.

Synthetic drugs, as with processed food, can create by-products, which remain as harmful toxins in the body, causing strain on the liver and kidneys. Some (medical) strains of cannabis also provide many health benefits, such as anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, pain-suppression, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Not only studies, but many users strongly support the pain-relieving properties of medical marijuana in anecdotal reports. Different types of strains, however, suit different pain conditions, so before diving into medical marijuana use, it’s important to understand the differences.

Let’s look at the difference between the strains of marijuana available, and what their effects are. With the information below, you can hopefully make an informed choice about whether it’s better to use a high-THC or high-CBD strain for your pain relief.

A Brief Overview of THC and CBD

Cannabinoids are the active ingredients specific to the cannabis plant, and they are the compounds primarily responsible for the healing effects. The two most effective and studied cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

There have been 70 cannabinoids identified to date, and there are several others currently being studied, such as cannabigerol (CBG) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

They are not the only active ingredients, however, and some estimates predict a figure of over 120 active components in the plant. This richness in active compounds is one of the reasons experts consider it useful for treating several ailments.

It is worth noting that THC and CBD also only convert to an effective pain-relieving agent under heat, which is why smoking, vaporizing, or baking it is important.

Most cannabis oils and extracts, designed for direct consumption, haven’t undergone heat treatment. Without heat before ingestion, their effects may not manifest.

The Difference Between THC and CBD

Both THC and CBD contribute to the positive effects associated with marijuana. However, experts only link THC to the strong psychoactive effect known as getting high. This is one of the primary differences between the two components.

The Predominant Effects of High-THC Strains

THC is the primary psychotropic component in marijuana, that is the component responsible for an altered state of mood and perception. This effect makes THC attractive to recreational users.

But THC also contains strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, so it has shown some success in the treatment of pain caused by inflammation, such as arthritis, and cancer.

THC relaxes the nervous system, which helps in spasm-related pain, such as multiple sclerosis. The altered mental state caused by THC can contribute to relieving severe pain in some cases in the same way medicine uses opiates to treat pain.

The Predominant Effects of High-CBD Strains

CBD has received recognition for its anti-carcinogenic qualities. Alongside the lack of feeling “high,” CBD has shown positive anti-inflammatory and pain relief effects. Clinical trials have proven links to suppressing pain receptors from some of the chemical reactions caused by CBD.

CBD has powerful anti-oxidant properties, which also help to support the immune system. Although not considered psychoactive, it can help with the depression, and anxiety sometimes a side-effect of chronic pain.

Cannabidiol Oil and Medical Supplements

Natural cannabis oil supplements are available in capsule and spray forms, as well as oils, which patients can smoke or consume orally. Patients should not confuse medical supplements with the synthetic pharmaceutical varieties, which mimic the effect of cannabis but are not natural. Medical supplements can be pure THC, pure CBD or, so called ‘full-spectrum products’ like CBD oil, which contain ALL the beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant.

The Effects of THC versus CBD in Pain Relief

More clinical trials have linked CBD to positive results for pain relief than THC.

For example:

Chronic Pain. A 2017 report concluded that there was substantial evidence that hih-CBD cannabis-based products are effective for treating chronic pain. Another, separate study published in 2012 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that CBD use can lessen both pain and inflammation.

Digestive Pain. CBD has proven it also can help immensely as a digestive aid and digestive pain as well. Researchers have found evidence, as suggested in Cannabinoids for treating inflammatory bowel diseases: where are we and where do we go? that the endocannabinoid system, digestion and CBD have all sorts of interactions. While research involving CBD to treat digestive issues is still in its early beginnings, the experts believe it has the potential to help with all sorts of digestive issues which often come with pain.

Arthritis Pain. Arthritis, which literally means inflammation of the joints, is another condition that CBD oil may be very effective for. Research published in 2016 in the European Journal of Pain found a dramatic reduction in inflammation and signs of pain, without adverse side effects in rats with arthritis after the animals were given a topical gel that contained CBD for four days.

While some studies have shown positive effects of THC on pain relief, particularly for cancer-related pain, the side effects, like altered mental states, make it a less preferred cannabinoid to CBD. Although THC is more effective in muscle-spasm-related pain.

Interactions Between THC and CBD

When looking to reduce your pain, you don’t have to make a choice between THC and CBD. In fact, it could be wise to combine the two. Researchers have found that cannabis really is a synergistic shotgun in the sense that all the compounds in the cannabis plant interact with each other.

Although the exact mechanisms for these interactions remain unclear, the most effective cannabis-based pain treatments have been found to contain a combination of both THC and CBD. So, if your laws and regulations allow, go for a cannabis-based product which contains both compounds in good amounts. Just realize that THC can produce altered mental states, which can be dangerous while doing things that require proper hand-eye coordination like driving.

Choosing a Strain

There are a large range of chemical compositions within the high-THC and high-CBD varieties of cannabis. These can produce different medical effects.

To complicate the matter, the same product can have vastly different results in different people.

When looking for a natural herbal form of cannabis, the sativa strain (cannabis sativa) generally has a higher amount of CBD, whereas the indica strain (cannabis indica) contains more THC. However, due to crossbreeding this is not always reliable. Anecdotal evidence suggests that sativa is more energizing whereas indica is more of a relaxant. This observation may explain some differences that are not specific to the THC or CBD content and why many people prefer indica for pain relief. If you want therapeutic amounts of CBD, always go for a high-CBD strain, this can either be Sativa or Indica.


In medical use for pain relief, doctors prefer the CBD varieties of cannabis extract over THC, primarily due to their lack of side effects. Supplements combining CBD and THC, such as Sativix, have shown the best results in adults in clinical trials. Although experts prefer CBD because it has no side-effects, combining both CBD and THC might be the most effective way to treat pain.

Medical marijuana has fewer risks than other pain-relief medications such as codeine. It also offers more benefit while providing similar pain-relief effects. Since the reactions are incredibly variable and risks of any adverse effect are very low, it is best to discuss options for your pain management with a medical professional and begin with a small dose as a trial. Select the most suitable option for your needs, and let the results quickly manifest themselves.

Winston Peki is a marijuana enthusiast and vaporizer expert. Born and raised in Amsterdam He is the Founder of Herbonaut, an informative vaporizer and cannabis-based products site where you can find vaporizer reviews, CBD oil reviews and more.


More on CBD derived from marijuana:




Sleep, Sweet Sleep

Sleep, Sweet Sleep

Sleep for patients with tick borne illness is a hard sought after commodity.  We have insomnia.  Bad.  And, we’d give our left arm just to be able to sleep through the night.

While proper antimicrobial treatment will help if not resolve this it often takes weeks, months, if not years to see results, which means many of us will be walking the halls at night like zombies for quite some time.  This is where things like melatonin, 5-HTP, valerian root, magnesium, CBD oil, taking a hot bath with epsom salts (a form of magnesium), reading a book, establishing a bed-time routine, avoiding blue light from computers and cell phones, and other things can really help us.

The following podcast by Dr. Breus and article by Dr. Jay Davidson are both packed with great info to help educate you on how to sleep better, giving you practical advice and ideas you can try.  In between I summarize the lengthy podcast and give some additional comments discovered from desperation.

116: Dr. Michael Breus – The Mystery Of Sleep • What Is Your Chronotype? • The Best Pillow And Mattress

116: Dr. Michael Breus - The Mystery Of Sleep • What Is Your Chronotype? • The Best Pillow And Mattress

Dr. Michael Breus (The Sleep Doctor) is a Clinical Psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He was one of the youngest people to have passed the Board at age 31 and, with a specialty in Sleep Disorders, is one of only 163 psychologists in the world with his credentials and distinction.

Dr. Breus is on the clinical advisory board of The Dr. Oz Show and appears regularly on the show. He’s been interviewed on CNN, Oprah, The View, Anderson Cooper, and The Today Show.

Dr. Breus is the author of 3 books, Good Night, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan, and his latest, The Power of When which focuses on sleeping to your individual sleep schedule.

For over 14 years Dr. Breus has served as the Sleep Expert for WebMD. He’s been in private practice for 16 years which was recently relocated to LA.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The mystery of sleep
  • How caffeine “energizes” you
  • Sleeping between 10pm and 2am DOESN’T count for double the sleep hours
  • What is your chronotype?
  • Can we change our chronotype or are we locked in for life?
  • The best time to have sex
  • Melatonin is a sleep regulator and not a sleep initiator
  • The Sleep Doctor’s love for magnesium!
  • A banana tea recipe that will improve your sleep
  • Is 5-HTP a useful sleep supplement?
  • Sleep deprivation, how does it harm you?
  • 5 steps for sleeping better
  • Consistency of your sleep schedule is everything… this includes weekends
  • How sleep is like a baseball game
  • Why coffee shouldn’t be the first liquid you consume in the morning
  • Alcohol can prevent you from getting into the deeper stages of sleep
  • The #1 way to improve the quality of your sleep
  • The importance of 15 minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning
  • Dr. Breus’ current evening/nighttime routine
  • The best pillow and mattress
  • How often should you replace your mattress?
  • Never go to bed hungry
  • Are saunas, ice baths, or hot showers helpful before sleep?
  • Dreams and nightmares, what are they?

Related links:

Sunwarrior <== 10% off all Sunwarrior products (free shipping over $100)*
Viamede Resort
Dr. Michael Breus’ website – The Sleep Doctor
Dr. Michael Breus – The Power of When (book)*
Dr. Michael Breus – The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan (book)*
Dr. Michael Breus – Good Night (book)*
Dr. Michael Breus’ free ebooks (including Dreams)
The Power of When quiz – find out your chronotype
Lighting Science

Note: Links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. Making a purchase through these links won’t cost you anything but we will receive a small commission. This is an easy, free way of supporting the podcast.


**Summary and comments**

According to Dr. Breus there are 4 genetic chronotypes. Your type is fairly well established by age 18.  He admonishes you to “embrace” who you are and your specific chronotype:

  • Lions are early risers.  COO’s and leaders often fit here and are linear thinkers.
  • Bears aren’t early or late night lovers.  These folks are the “glue” of society.  They are fun to hang around and are personable.
  • Wolves are night lovers.  They are introverts, artists, musicians, and creative folks.
  • Dolphins sleep unihemispherically (only half of their brain is asleep while the other half is awake and looking for predators). The are highly intelligent but are type-A’s, leaders, and a bit neurotic with OCD and don’t sleep very well.
The PER3 gene denotes sleep drive and circadian rhythm.

Dr. Breus allows his pets in his bed.  Due to the potential for ticks to be brought into your bed (or any other potential bugs)  I would not recommend this.  I’ve heard numerous stories of patients being infected this way.  Fido and Fifi need their own beds on the floor away from and your children.

Another point that is helpful:

  1. Get 15 min of sunlight everyday.  This is challenging in Wisconsin, but he says even standing in front of a window looking out is good.  Let the light into the eyes.  He also mentions a light box as well as the following website which has products such as biological LED light bulbs  A validation study confirmed users were able to fall asleep more quickly and felt more rested the following morning.  There are also energy enhancing bulbs as well.  Both types are based on natural lighting that our bodies need to either ramp down or ramp up depending upon the time of day.

**Brief side note** Light is so important to health.  John Ott was a pioneer in this field.  Read anything he’s written about light but particularly “Health and Light: The Extraordinary Study that Shows How Light Affects Health.”  In one of the studies they snipped the optic nerve in one of a pair of blind twin goats.  The goat with the cut nerve stopped shedding hair as well as other seasonal biological changes.  The other had no change even though it was blind.  This demonstrates the impact of light going into the eye causing chemical/hormonal changes within the body.  Lack of sunlight and therefore vitamin D is being recognized as more and more of a factor in disease.  Have your levels checked annually and supplement if needed.  Most Northerners are low and need supplementation.  Remember, vitamin D is made when sunlight hits the skin.  It’s a hormone activated by the sun.


Note: Originally published 05/24/2014. This article has been revised updated for accuracy.

8 Hours of Rest: 10 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Naturally, Tonight

By Dr. Jay Davidson

Article Summary:

  • Up to one third of Americans suffer from some type of sleep disorder, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. In 2015, the CDC declared insufficient sleep a “public health problem.”
  • Your body needs sleep to restore and heal. Lack of sleep negatively affects all body systems: digestive, nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, and more.
  • Sleeping pills can have potentially harmful side effects, like uncontrollable shaking, memory impairment, dizziness, and difficulty balancing. They can also be addicting and cause dependency. Some experts even declare nightly sleeping pills to be as health-detrimental as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
  • The two hours immediately prior to hopping in bed are most important for developing a strong sleep hygiene routine. During that time, you should avoid stimulating things, put your electronics away, and empty your mind of your impending to-do list.
  • Creating a sleep-friendly environment is vital to your ability to fall asleep quickly. Make sure your room is completely dark (that means no lights from windows or electronics!), play white noise, or diffuse a calming essential oil to help your body relax.
  • Rodents exposed to artificial light during sleep cycle hours experienced symptoms of depression and mood disorders, and scientists believe the same effects are likely in human studies. The good news? After two weeks of darkness at bedtime, all negative symptoms appeared to reverse.
  • Stay positive. Incorporating gratitude or loving kindness meditation can help you improve your mindset and learn not to fear nighttime.
  • If you use electronics at night, invest in a pair of blue-blocking glasses. Blue light from your phone or computer stimulates your cortisol and depresses your melatonin production, making it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Identify the source of your sleep issues, whether it be physical, chemical, or emotional. Apply for a consultation with us if you’d like to work with professionals on getting to the bottom of your sleep issues naturally. While these tips can help, you’re unlikely to completely resolve your insomnia until you identify exactly why it’s happening.

It’s Sunday night. You’ve already packed your lunch for work tomorrow (a beautiful Cobb salad with homemade ranch dressing), put the kids to bed, brushed your teeth, and set your alarm.

You put on your pajamas and hop into bed, pulling the fluffy duvet up to your neck, snuggling in. You expect to be transported to dreamland within minutes, but it just doesn’t happen. Instead, your mind is designing an incredibly intricate to-do list for the next day, and as a result, you’re flipping back and forth for hours from your side, to your back, to your stomach.

You try counting sheep (has that ever really worked?), listening to meditations, getting up to drink some water, but nothing helps.

It’s 3:13 am and every time you look at the clock, you do the math in your head to figure out how much sleep you’ll get if you just fall asleep right NOW.

Less than two hours.

You’re completely exhausted and would do just about anything to get a good night’s rest.

…sound familiar?

If so, then you’re in good company.

According to the CDC, about 70 million Americans suffer with chronic sleep problems, but some experts claim it’s much higher–as many as one third of Americans have trouble hitting the hay! Sleep deprivation is extremely harmful to your health and linked with a wide variety of diseases and mood disorders.1

Sure, your friends have suggested just taking a sleeping pill, but with all the unwanted side effects (hello, dizziness, daytime drowsiness, balance problems), you’re better off not. Did you know that sleeping pills are classified as sedative hypnotics?

One expert, Arizona State University sleep researcher Shawn Youngstedt, claimed in a recent interview with CNN that taking sleeping pills was just as dangerous, both health-wise and addiction-wise, as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.2

There are better, more natural ways to ensure you get the rest you need each night. After all, every major system of your body depends on it!

Your digestive, respiratory, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems all slow down during sleep, but one stays vigilant: your nervous system. In fact, during REM sleep, the deepest and most restorative cycle, your brain activity is similar to what it is when you’re awake.3 That’s because your nervous system is a beautiful conductor as you sleep, sending signals for your body to secrete hormones, repair tissues, and restore organs.

If you don’t sleep, the body does not have the chance to heal. But instead of reaching for a prescription or pill, try manipulating your mindset, environment, and bedtime routine first to get the shuteye you need. Try these ten tips to start getting better sleep–tonight!

10 Ways to Improve Sleep Infographic
*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you click a product link and purchase, I may receive a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you, and helps me keep the website running for free.


  1. Establish a routine:

    Sleep hygiene is vital, and can be established through a structured evening routine. This means climbing in bed at a similar time every night, but every other habit leading up to bedtime is just as important. Your mind craves consistency, so brushing your teeth, washing your face, drinking water, praying (or whatever your routine includes) in the same order in the evening can signal your brain that it’s time to slow down.

    Experts agree that establishing a routine is helpful for falling asleep and staying asleep. Associate director of Stanford’s Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, Dr. Allison Siebern, suggests it’s not only crucial to go to bed at a similar time each night, but you should also wake up at a similar time–yes, even on the weekends. This is because your circadian rhythm likes patterns.4

    Have you ever experienced a few days of jet lag after flying to a destination with a time change? Did it leave you tossing and turning for a few evenings in a row? Then you can attest to this firsthand. When your body is used to falling asleep at the same time of night, it will be easier to do so consistently… making you happier in the morning, with greater alertness and mental acuity.

  2. Get to bed early:

    Improve sleep naturally by getting ready for bed and lying down before 10 pm at the latest. If you work late hours, feel constantly fatigued, or deal with a chronic illness, your circadian rhythm and cortisol levels can be out of whack. In the evening, your melatonin production should be increasing, while your cortisol levels (a stress hormone!) should be decreasing. If you find yourself getting a second wind around 9 or 10 pm, it could be because your cortisol levels are spiking. You want to make sure to get to bed before that happens, otherwise it will be even harder to fall asleep.

    You might have heard before that every hour of sleep you get before midnight actually counts as two, but that’s not exactly true. Sleep experts do agree, however, that your bedtime and length of time sleeping does matter.

    Head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at University of Berkeley, Dr. Matt Walker, explains that REM sleep happens more often the longer you stay asleep.5 This means the earlier you go to bed, the more chances you have at that important restorative sleep. REM sleep is important for all of us, but especially if you’re battling Lyme disease or chronic illnesses, or if your body needs a little extra immune system boosting.

    When it comes to sleep, those with a traditional work schedule (ie: 9 am – 5 pm) fare much better, healthwise, than shift workers, according to many studies.6 Lack of sleep, circadian disruption (ie: the inability to go to bed early, and when it’s dark), and extended periods of wakefulness are all risk factors not only for health issues, but for increased accidents at work.

    Also, if you’re a night owl and and find yourself dreading the earlier evenings, add something in that you look forward to–something that doesn’t just feel like just another bedtime chore. For example, diffuse your favorite relaxing or sleep-inducing  essential oils, like lavender or cedarwood, or brew your favorite (caffeine-free) tea. That way, you’ll look forward to your routine. Positive mindset is important!

    Still struggling with the earlier bedtime? Reading before bed can be very helpful, but you want to make sure to read a nonfiction book (like a how-to book or biography). Fiction can stimulate your mind too much.

  3. Avoid alcohol:

    Although alcohol will make people drowsy, the effect is short-lived and people will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from falling into the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of its healing.

    Recently, researchers conducted a review of 27 studies connecting sleep and alcohol, and the findings were the same: avoid that nightcap if you want good sleep. Not only does alcohol prevent you from getting as much REM sleep as your body needs to heal, it can also be a precursor to obstructive sleep disorders like sleep apnea.7 And furthermore, for those dependent on alcohol, issues with insomnia are significantly higher than in the general population. Up to 72 percent of alcoholics, as compared to 10 percent of the general population, have chronic issues sleeping.8

    Instead, try some relaxing tea, like chamomile, for your evening drink.

  4. Get Fit:

    Improve sleep naturally by exercising earlier in the day.  This generates more energy during the day and allows for a deeper sleep at night.

    In a 2000 study in Sleep Medicine Review, researchers found that people who exercised enjoyed an overall increase in total sleep, as well as increased slow-wave sleep (SWS). SWS is also known as “deep sleep,” and consists of stage 3 and 4 sleep, immediately prior to REM. In these stages, brain and muscle activity decrease, and you process and consolidate your memories from that day. 9

    And remember that expert who claimed sleeping pills were like smoking cigarettes for your health? His solution to insomnia: exercise. Ideally, get 2-3 hours of aerobic exercise a week, along with 1-2 days of weight training. Bonus if you can do the exercise outside, as being exposed to natural sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm, too.

    Exercise has even been proven in studies to help those with specific sleep disorders, like restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. Start slowly and work your way up to your workout goals, especially if you’re dealing with chronic fatigue. You don’t want to OVER-exercise and burn out your adrenals.

  5. Avoid stimulating things:

    You probably know that stimulation can come in food form, so make sure to avoid eating or drinking anything with caffeine after lunch, such as chocolate, coffee, or soda. But it can come from your iPhone, as well.

    Are you someone who is scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram up until the moment your head hits the pillow? Any kind of electronic screen (phone, computer, television) emits blue light, which increases your cortisol and decreases melatonin, your sleep hormone. It’s best to avoid screens completely for two hours before hitting the hay, but if you absolutely can’t, invest in some blue-blocking glasses.

    The Uvex Skyper glasses are available on Amazon for less than $10. They’re glasses with orange lenses, which use Spectrum Control Technology to block out 98%+ of blue light. Have to answer some emails before bed? No problem. Just pop these glasses on as you do it, and you’ll avoid disturbing your stress and sleep hormones. It’s worth the small investment to buy these for the whole family.

    Regarding nighttime technology, it’s best to turn off your WIFI completely before going to bed. Unplug as many electronics and circuit breakers as you can. These devices cause additional burden and interference in the body, as they’re loaded with Electromagnetic Frequencies, or EMFs.

    Additionally, ditch the electric toothbrush if you can. We had an EMF expert come into our home and measure the electromagnetic frequencies of devices in our home, and electric toothbrushes were high on the list (along with routers, wireless printers, and air purifiers). And you certainly don’t want stimulating EMFs in your mouth right before you try to sleep.

    Reducing EMF exposure is especially important for those battling Lyme disease or any chronic illness. These electronics are constant 24-hour stressors on your body and immune system, much like living in a moldy household is. Your body needs a break!

    There are two ways you can proactively protect yourself and your family from the detrimental effects of EMFs. One is a personal Hedron EMF Harmonizer pendant that provides shielding on your person, as well as through Bioshield Support. The second is a Hedron EMF Device Shield sticker you can place on any wifi device (like your phone or computer) that helps protect you from the harmful energies and frequencies. This reduces radiation from a cell phone by 99.95%, and even protects you from heat.

    Click the images below to purchase directly from our store.

  6. Create a completely dark room:

    Creating a dark room is important, especially if you work third shift or live in the city where light pollution from nearby buildings enters your bedroom throughout the night. Purchase blackout shades, blinds, or curtains that block ALL the light out. You’ll likely find you’ll sleep better, but your mood might improve, too.

    In 2012, researchers discovered that hamsters that were constantly exposed to artificial light at night showed symptoms of depression–and they suggest the link can be easily transposed to human subjects, as well.10 Luckily, all negative symptoms in the rodents disappeared after just two weeks of a normal light/dark cycle.

    You might notice that you have electronics in the room that emit a small around of light: an alarm clock, a TV, a video game console. Remove any electronics from the bedroom that give off light, or at least cover them up at night. Close your bedroom door if light comes through it, and even put a towel along the base to prevent light from seeping in. Avoid night lights of any kind.

  7. Empty the Mind:

    Racing thoughts preventing you from “turning off your brain” and getting to sleep at night? You might just need to empty your mind.

    Buy a journal and keep it next to your bed with a pen. If you’re finding it’s taking you more than ten minutes to fall asleep (that’s the sweet spot–any less could mean sleep deprivation, and more points to insomnia), simply write your thoughts down.

    If you’re constantly worried you’ll forget to do something the following day, take five minutes at night and create a to-do list. Not only will this help you release worry and fear at bedtime, but you’ll actually be much more productive as soon as you wake up. It’s a win-win.

    If writing’s not your thing, it’s okay to verbally dump your thoughts, too. Take a few minutes to chat with a friend or spouse about everything you’re thinking, instead of ruminating on it.

  8. Bathe in Positive Thoughts:

    Gratitude is an excellent habit to pick up for your mental well-being, and it can help your sleep, too. The most effective times to practice are right when you wake up for the day, and immediately before going to bed. It’s wonderful to open and close your day on a positive note, and this practice will immensely help your mindset, as well. Especially if you’re stuck in a victim loop, feeling discouraged, or feeling like life isn’t fair, then this is a practice you need.

    Write a gratitude list or personal affirmations and read them every night before bed. This creates a large pool of positive thoughts into your mind before going to sleep.

    An example of an affirmation that would work well before bed is “I’m more relaxed than ever before because I choose peaceful, loving thoughts. I release my fears, my worries, and my anxieties.”

    You can also try saying the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    Loving Kindness Meditation is another practice to try for those sleepless nights. Picture someone you love in your head (a family member, friend, or even a pet), and send them as much love and as many good wishes as you can. It’s helpful to pick two mantras or affirmations to repeat over and over, as you picture that person as if they’re right in front of you. For example, “I wish you health, happiness, and safety. I hope you live with abundant joy.” The repetition and positive visualization might just help you fall asleep faster (and hopefully have happier dreams, too).

  9. Get the Temperature Right:

    Your body’s heat distribution system is strongly linked to sleep cycles. Even lying down increases sleepiness by redistributing heat in your body from the core to the periphery.

    When you sleep, your body’s internal temperature actually drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.

    Taking a warm bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime may also help you sleep, because it initially increases your core body temperature. When that core temperature abruptly drops upon exiting the bath, it’s a signal to your body that you are ready for sleep. Any air temperature above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and below 54 degrees will interfere with your sleep, so try to get the thermostat set between those numbers before bed.

  10. Listen to White Noise:

    If you sleep in an area with a lot of background noise during the night hours, this is a must. Using an air filter or fan works great to create a consistent background noise.

    Some people have a hard time adjusting to white noise, so in that case, try a sound machine. Usually, you can listen to rain, ocean, forest, or other soothing sounds that might help you drift off. Just cover up the light from the clock if you’re planning to use a sound machine built into an alarm clock.

    If white noise doesn’t cut it for you, consider listening to some gentle acoustic music. Anything used for background of meditations is great.


Click the images below to shop any of the sleep support products mentioned in this post:




Most of these steps to improve sleep naturally are easy and inexpensive to try, and have benefitted many people. Please understand, though, that sleep will always be a problem if the source is not addressed. If sleep is a consistent issue for you and it has affected your life, please consider working with someone who can help you get to the root cause, such as an emotional, chemical, or physical stress.

Some common sources of insomnia that I see clinically are Lyme disease, mineral or hormone imbalance, or heavy metal toxicity, specifically mercury.  Mercury has an affinity for brain tissue, which is the prime area controlling the body’s sleep cycle and quality.

If you’d like to apply for a consultation with us, we do work with clients virtually across the country and the world. With clients, we focus on nutrition, supplements, herbal and energetic formulas, and more. Feel free to fill out the very short coaching request form and we’ll be in contact with you soon to see if we can help you get to the bottom of your sleep issues, and any other unexplained health issues!

Maximum Blessings,

Dr. Jay Davidson



Lots of great, practical advice to try.  I have to report in on an experiment I’ve undertaken with success, regarding sleep:

I’ve learned through the years I need melatonin, magnesium (lots of it), LDN, vitamin D, and recently CBD oil:  (In this link I give the brand of magnesium that has been very effective for us.  I normally do not list brands as I’m not affiliated with any company and have no desire to go down that road; however, sometimes we need a starting place.  My LLMD sells this type in his office and has great results with it due to the fact it has three forms of magnesium in it – which are reacted magnesium chelated forms which makes it better utilized within the body.)  (Many Lyme/MSIDS patients struggle with depression at times in the journey.  Magnesium will help this.)  LDN has been a game changer for us.  It’s well worth your time to learn about it. LDN works by blocking opioid receptors for 3-4 hours, telling your body to increase endorphins that relieve pain and also activate the immune system by directing activity of stem cells, macrophages, killer cells, T and B cells and other immune cells. It also modulates an overactive immune system so there is less inflammation and release of neurotoxins.

More on CBD/hemp oil:

Group presentation on Hemp oil here:, with product info here:

The CBD oil our family has used with success is here:   http:/

We use the“Therapeutic 2500 plain,” which I believe is the strongest form and probably the most expensive.  It’s 2 fl. oz and I paid $189.00.  Yes, Martha it’s expensive.  My LLMD sells this in his office and my daughter started it first (has immune issues) and said 4-5 drops knocked her out which if you knew her medical history – this is miraculous. All my husband and I took was ONE drop and seriously – within minutes our heads are nodding off.  At one drop this 2 ounce bottle will last a long time.  I was told to only take what is effective and one drop did it for us.  This is where everyone is different and you will need to experiment.

Here’s the latest batch results for 2500 plain:—/ewExternalFiles/Lot_470_02_Plain_2500MG.pdf.

Warning – it doesn’t taste great so if you are really affected by taste you may want something other than plain.