Help for Insomnia in Alcohol Withdrawal
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Barb
Posted on: October 28, 2001

I have had an awful time sleeping, it seems for ever. I am a recovering alcoholic and I need to be careful on what I take. I recently was introduced to 5-HTP one cap at bedtime but I’m trying to figure out what the heck it is. It says 5-hydroxytryptophan (Griffonia seeds) and what is that? I have looked in all my herb books and I can’t find a thing please help me!

I also, on a daily basis, have been taking Kava Kava 850mg., St. Johns Wort 650mg., B Complex, and Potassium Stabilized Glucosamine and Hydrolyzed Chondroitin 200mg. All these are 2 times daily.

5-HTP is 5-hydroxytryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid which converts to serotonin to affect nerve function. It is used to relieve depression and insomnia.

Griffonia seeds are marketed as a natural source of 5-HTP. I don’t know anything about them. You can see product manufacturers claims on by typing in Griffonia seeds. Always beware of product manufacturers claims. Make sure you are taking a product recommended by an authority who knows that the manufacturer makes a good quality product.

Kava Kava is anti-anxiety, a mild sedative and a muscle relaxant.

St. Johns wort is antidepressant, a nerve tonic and antiviral.

Vitamin B-Complex supports the nervous system. Make sure you do not take this late in the day, as it can rev the nerves up, making sleep difficult.

Potassium Stabilized Glucosamine is used for joint pain. The sugars in the product may alter blood sugar, and some people are allergic to it. If you have diabetic tendencies, check your blood sugar after taking it. Unless you have found it helpful in relieving joint pain, you may want to consider eliminating glucosamine.

Chondroitin is used for joint pain. It is poorly absorbed into the body. Unless you have found this particularly helpful, you may want to consider eliminating it.

In addiction withdrawal herbs that support and relax the nervous system are recommended: Valerian, Skullcap, Damiana, Passionflower, Vervain and Chamomile; Skullcap nourishes the nerves and is a relaxant. It is antispasmodic and sedative, helping in nervous stress, sleep, headache and tension. Verbena officinalis (Vervain) is a liver tonic and a nerve tonic. Chamomile is liver supportive, calms anxiety and is antiinflammatory to the intestine. You can take these herbs combined in a tea, 3 to 5 times daily.

Oats reduces cravings and nourishes nervous system. It is best taken as a juice of the milky seeds.

In the diet we recommend high nutrient foods: whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables, organic if possible and a little animal protein (fish is best). Large amounts of non-organic meat add to the detoxification burden, as well as requiring extra energy to digest.

Avoid sugar, white flour products and caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate and caffeine soda drinks) because they increase agitation.

Yogurt with active bacterial cultures is good for digestion and provides calming calcium.

Physical exercise, yoga, dance, relaxation exercises and massage support the nervous system & detoxification.

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