Insomnia

Natural Remedies for Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that is characterized by the disruption in the sleep and wake cycle. This disorder can cause a person to experience sudden episodes of sleep during the day which may disrupt the activities done on a routine. They could lead to problems at school and work places but, these symptoms can be treated with natural remedies. These natural remedies enhance the blood circulation in the brain and protect the brain cells. They also improve the energy levels.

What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by excessive drowsiness during daytime and attacks of sleep. People suffering from this sleep disorder cannot stay awake for a long time which can cause serious disruptions in the daily routine of a patient. The part of the brain that regulates the sleeping and waking mechanisms gets affected causing this disorder. This neurological disorder affects as many as 250,000 people in the United States per year.

Narcoleptics can fall asleep while driving a car, working or even while talking. These episodes can be range from 30 seconds up to even 30 minutes.

For people suffering from narcolepsy here are the natural remedies.

Natural Remedies for Narcolepsy

  • Ginkgo biloba

    The herbal extracts of ginkgo biloba improves the circulation to the brain.

  • Ephedra

    The extracts of this herb boosts the energy levels.

  • Ginseng

    These are natural stimulants and can be taken in tincture or can prepare tea out of this extracts.

  • Guarana

    This herb is also a natural stimulant and the extracts are taken in capsule or tincture form.

  • Gotu kola

    This herb boost the energy levels and has antioxidant properties.

  • Cayenne pepper

    This pepper when added to all the foods, is found to be curing some of the symptoms of this disorder.

  • Rosemary

    This is a circulatory stimulant and can be taken in tincture and capsule form. Tea made of rosemary can also be taken.

Diet

Apart from the above mentioned herbs that can be used for treating narcolepsy, the below mentioned diet patterns can also prove to be of help:

  • Eat a low-fat diet and have plenty of leafy green vegetables and sea vegetables.
  • Eat foods high in vitamin-B like the brewer’s yeast and brown rice.
  • Eat foods high in protein like meats, poultry, nuts, cheese, soy products and seeds.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, natural whole grains pasta and legumes for the evening meal.
  • Foods rich in proteins increase alertness whereas foods high in carbohydrates provide a calming effect and regulates sleep.
  • People suffering from narcolepsy, can follow these simple natural remedies along with medical treatment to control the spell of narcolepsy.

Before taking any type of medications or natural herb extracts, consult your doctor and discuss the ingredients and only then follow the treatment.

Let us now take a look at the causes, signs and symptoms and other medications that are available to treat narcolepsy.

Causes of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is observed a lot in teenagers, and heredity is contemplated to be a major cause of this sleep disorder. The exact causes of this disorder are yet to be clearly understood, although the following can be a few responsible factors-

Brain Chemicals

Hypocretin is an important chemical that is needed for the waking and REM sleep mechanism. People suffering from this disorder have low levels of this neurochemical in their spinal cord. This occurs due to an autoimmune reaction.

Heredity

If any one parent is suffering from this disorder then there are chances that the child also may suffer from this neurological disorder.

Environmental Factors

Some of the environmental factors including stress, exposure to toxins and infections may contribute to the development of narcolepsy.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of narcolepsy may worsen in the initial years and then it may continue for life. They include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone, also referred to as cataplexy
  • Slurred speech
  • Intense emotions like fear, surprise or anger
  • Sleep paralysis where a person may experience temporary inability to move or speak
  • Hallucinations
  • Automatic behavior where routine tasks like making coffee or getting the paper in the morning are performed without awareness
  • Experiencing vivid imagery after waking up or while falling asleep
  • Fragmented night sleep where people suffering from this disorder tend to sleep poorly in the night

Other Characteristics

Some people with narcolepsy have some sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea where the breathing starts and stops during the night, restless legs syndrome and insomnia. People may also act in their dreams at night by kicking, screaming or flailing their arms.

Medications

There is no known cure for narcolepsy. But, the symptoms can be dealt with the help of medical and behavioral therapy. The excessive sleepiness can be overcome with stimulant drugs. Cataplexy and other symptoms are treated with antidepressant medicines. These medications can relieve the symptoms to some extent, but they have some side effects. The main point is to sleep soundly, eat the right foods, exercise regularly and avoid exciting life scenarios to alleviate the symptoms.

Refer to our article on What is the Treatment for Narcolepsy to know about medications in detail.

In case natural remedies for narcolepsy do not have any effect on you then the medications will help deal with the symptoms of narcolepsy-

  • To deal with the problem of sleeping excessively during daytime, the following medications are used – methamphetamine, amphetamine, modafinil, methylphenidate or armodafinil are used. These medications belong to the class nervous system stimulants. These psychostimulants are known increase alertness and wakefulness.
  • Another medication, though not a stimulant, used for treating narcolepsy is Atomoxetine. This drugs is considered to be safe when compared with the stimualants, as there is no risk of substance abuse associated with this drug. This drugs belongs to the class non-stimualting norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.
  • The drug, Selegiline, which is a depressant, and used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease is also soemtimes used for the treatment of this dyssomnia related sleep disorder. As mentioned above, people suffering from narcolepsy can suffer from a lot of emotional stress; this can be lowered by using a depression related drug like Selegiline.
  • Clomipramine, imipramine and protriptyline are a few drugs that belong to the class of tricyclic antidepressants used for dealing with the emotional problems that suffice in narcolepsy. These emotional problems can lead to paralysis or a state of shock in patients and they need to be dealt with using tricyclic antidepressants.

The following are a few more narcolepsy medications that are used for alleviating the symptoms of the sleep disorder-

  • pemoline
  • modafinil
  • sodium oxybate
  • mazindol
  • armodafinil
  • amphetamine
  • codeine
  • venlafaxine
  • clomipramine

The above mentioned medications along are known to cause side effects like gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, headache etc. Hence, the prescribed dosage and the period for which these medications have to be used for must be strictly followed.

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