Homeopathy and sleep disorders – some interesting research findings

Difficulty sleeping can be a medical disorder in itself (primary insomnia), or may be experienced as a symptom associated with other illnesses (secondary insomnia). As described below, research results suggest that homeopathy may be able to help with both of these sleep disorders.

A number of scientific research studies have been carried out to investigate,

a)     how well homeopathic treatment can help with insomnia, and

b)    whether homeopathic medicines influence sleeping patterns.

For example, a recently published double-blind randomised controlled trial (RCT) compared individualised homeopathic treatment of chronic primary insomnia with giving patients a placebo.1 In this study the group receiving homeopathic treatment had a statistically significant improvement in their sleep during the four weeks after treatment began – a result which was not seen in the placebo group. An important strength of this study is that the intervention given truly reflected usual homeopathic practice (something which is relatively unusual in homeopathy research studies).

A limitation of the study is that it involved a small number of participants (30 people); a larger scale study is now needed to follow-up on these promising results to find out whether individualised homeopathic treatment is indeed a viable treatment option for this condition, as the study suggests.

A month-long placebo-controlled study carried out at the University of Arizona, found that the homeopathic medicines Nux vomica 30c and Coffea cruda 30c were able to alter the sleep patterns of college students with a history of coffee induced insomnia.2 Results were obtained using polysomnography i.e. sensors placed on the patient to record physiological changes during sleep, such as electrical brain activity, eye and jaw movement and airflow.

Participants were pre-screened to ensure that the key homeopathic principle of ‘like cures like’ was followed i.e. only those whose symptoms suggested that they would be susceptible to either Nux-vomica or Coffea cruda were included in the trial, and each participant received the appropriate matching medicine.

The findings of this US study are similar to those reported in multiple placebo-controlled laboratory experiments on animals involving the same remedies (all in 30c strength); Coffea cruda and Nux vomica have been shown to have measurable effects on the sleep patterns of healthy rats3,4,5 and Nux vomica can effect alcohol-induced sleep time in mice.6,7

Other research studies have also found that secondary insomnia, associated with other fibromyalgia,8 menopause9,10 and ADHD,11 can also improve after homeopathic treatment.

 

References

  1. Naudé DF, Couchman IMS, Maharaj A. Chronic primary insomnia: Efficacy of homeopathic simillimum. Homeopathy 2010; 99: 63-68
  2. Bell IR, Howerter A, Jackson N, et al. Effects of homeopathic medicines on polysomnographic sleep of young adults with histories of coffee-related insomnia.  Sleep Med, 2010; Jul 27
  3. Ruiz-Vega G, Perez-Ordaz L, Proa-Flores P, Aguilar-Diaz Y. An evaluation of Coffea cruda effect on rats. Br Homoeopathic J , 2000; 89:122–6
  4. Ruiz-Vega G, Perez-Ordaz L, Leon-Hueramo O, Cruz-Vazquez E, Sanchez-Diaz N. Comparative effect of Coffea cruda potencies on rats. Homeopathy, 2002; 91:80–4
  5. Ruiz-Vega G, Perez-Ordaz L, Cortes-Galvan L, Juarez-G FM. A kinetic approachto caffeine–Coffea cruda interaction. Homeopathy, 2003; 92: 19–29
  6. Sukul A, Sinhabau SP, Sukul NC. Reduction of alcohol induced sleep time in albino mice by potentized Nux vomica prepared with 90% ethanol. Br Homoeopathic J, 1999; 88:58–61
  7. Sukul NC, Ghosh S, Sinhababu SP, Sukul A. Strychnos nux-vomica extract and its ultra-high dilution reduce voluntary ethanol intake in rats. J Altern Complement Med, 2001; 7:187–93
  8. Fisher P, Greenwood A, Huskisson EC et al. Effect of homoeopathic treatment on fibrositis (primary fibromyalgia). British Medical Journal, 1989, 299: 365–366
  9. Bordet MF, Colas A, Marijnen P, Masson JL, Trichard M. Treating hot flushes in menopausal women with homeopathic treatment – Results of an observational study. Homeopathy, 2008, 97: 10-15

10.  Pellow J. Homoeopathic simillimum treatment of secondary insomnia in peri- and postmenopausal women. Johannesburg: Technikon Witwatersrand, 2002

11.  Strauss LC. The efficacy of a homeopathic preparation in the management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Source Biomed Ther, 2000; 18(2):197-201