Herbs for Insomnia, Drug Withdrawal, Asthma and Degenerative Disk
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Paul
Posted on: September 24, 2003

My grandmother has asthma and is a smoker. Has been most her life. She did quit for 3 months last year so I know she has it in her. What bulk herbs do you have to help her quit? (I suppose it would be the same for any withdrawls) I should add that I have a heck of a time getting her to drink water and eat fruit and veggies. What do you have in bulk that would make her crave the fruits etc.? What do you have in bulk that will help with my grandmothers asthma?

Which herbals will potentiate the herbs I’m currently taking for my insomnia? (I have had trouble sleeping since coming off a prescription drug.)

I have a friend who wants to get off the valium that she has been on for 26 years. Her doctor has told her she can’t quit taking valium, as it has been too long. What could a person use for easing the withdrawls?

I also know someone who has a degenerative disk in his back. He’s in pain most of the time. What will help him?

For more detailed natural health information on insomnia, drug withdrawal and asthma, please see our website at http://www.richters.com. Choose "Q&A" from the main menu, then enter "insomnia" or "withdrawal" or "smoking" or "asthma" for the searches. Here you will find information on diet and lifestyle, as well as herbs, that are helpful in these conditions.

Lobelia inflata is a deterrent to smoking. It is said to take up the same receptor sites as nicotine. It must not be used in pregnancy, weak pulse or nerves. Large doses induce vomiting, rapid heart beat, hypotension and coma. It is best to start with small doses (3 drops of a fluid extract three times a day) to see what dosage the body tolerates. Maximum dosage of the extract is 10 drops three times a day. The dried herb can be used, but the taste of lobelia tea is unappealing, so I do not recommend that form of the herb.

In asthma, dried herbs that you may use to improve the immune system, and support the digestive and nervous systems include German chamomile flowers and Echinacea purpurea cut roots. Simmer the echinacea gently in a covered, non-aluminum pot for 15 minutes, then add the chamomile and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain, add lemon and a bit of honey if desired, and drink.

For alcohol and drug withdrawal, German chamomile, passionflower (Passiflora incarnata herb) and scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) help to support the nervous system in symptoms of stress, headache, tension and insomnia. These can be made into a tea by adding a cup of boiling water to 1/2 teaspoon of each herb. Steep, covered for 15 minutes, strain and drink with a little honey if desired.

In valium withdrawal, it is necessary to gradually reduce the drug over a period of months. I suggest that your friend consult a natural health care provider who can advise her on this process.

I do not know of any herb that creates cravings for fruit and vegetables. Often people will be tempted to consume these if they are included in tasty soups or smoothies. To make a smoothie, blend one cup of natural, unsweetened yogurt with one banana and 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruit of your choice.

For your insomnia, the herb passionflower may be helpful. It is used specifically in drug and alcohol withdrawal. To reduce cravings and promote sleep it is helpful to maintain a diet that keeps the blood sugar regulated: include a good protein source (like meat or fish) at every meal, consume only whole grains, fruit and vegetables, avoid all sugars and sweeteners, and avoid refined grains in baked goods and pastas. Please see other questions and answers about insomnia on our web site for more information that can help with your sleep.

For a degenerative disk, prickly ash bark may help (see Ash, prickly in Richters catalogue). Prickly ash bark improves blood circulation to the area and helps to relieve pain. A tea can be made by simmering 1/4 teaspoon of the bark in a cup of water for 20 minutes. Strain and drink 1/2 to one cup, three times daily. Arnica cream, applied externally, helps to reduce pain and any inflammation. Your friend should consult with an osteopath for advice.

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