MANY people take beautiful gifts of life for granted. Only when arthritis strikes in the knee joints does it occur to many of us that the knees are valuable parts of our bodies. We see deaf and dumb people everyday, but hardly make a tangible meaning out of their experiences. There are people who like to think, but cannot. I have seen the great struggles of autistic people to communicate. They are not deaf or dumb. They just cannot express their thoughts verbally. It is as if a great force blocks them from doing this. What about people who would like to eat but are afraid to do so because their stomachs are ulcerated? Breathing can be a disaster for some people. Ever heard of Congestive Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)? The lungs just cannot function properly, not enough oxygen enters the body through breathing, and the energy of all the cells is at the lowest ebb. Today, I wish to reply to the enquery of a gentleman who asked in a mail to me:

From since I knew myself, I have been acquainted with sleeping disorder the cause of which I didn’t know though I had chronic infection in both ears. Some time ago, I had attack of malaria fever that will not yield to treatment for a long time. After completing my dosage on a day, I had a black out as it were. This complete darkness receded after a while, leaving me behind with very poor vision field. This was six months ago. Ophthalmologists are only genuflecting, unsure of what to attend to. They tried treating me for high blood pressure as first aid. Well, they detected HBP was due to my heightened insomnia at that period. The eyes seem inflamed, taking off from the morning and I have watery discharge. Then the inflammation induces anxiety, and I find it difficult to handle any issue of life. There is this additional depression. The anxiety triggers off independent of my thoughts. I would try controlling it by slowing down my breathing which, meanwhile, has become fast and shallow. But when I get to dozing, the deliberate effort to hold back fast breathing goes off and the anxiety comes back with vengeance. Virtually, no sleeping drug works because the system of the body, as if it has its own mind, disregards all pills to relieve sleeplessness. Can this KALE be of help to restore immune balance, good and sound vision field, relieve headache, elevate body temperature and induce health recuperative sleep?

THIS is a trainload of troubles. In its own little ways, Kale, the meat vegetable, should be able to help with inflammation and high blood pressure by producing the body with alkaline minerals, antioxidants, immune boosters and amino acids for tissue building and repair. (Please see THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF KALE in I believe the matter goes beyond Kale and, in some cases, requires the attention of professional health-care providers.

As a reminder this trainload of troubles or health challenges may be categorised into (1) Sleep disorder (2) Chronic infection in both ears (3) Vision black-out and blurry vision (4) High blood pressure (5) Insomnia (6) Eye inflammation and watery eyes (7) Anxiety (8) Depression (9) Headache (10) High blood temperature.

DOCTORS and medical researchers are learning about sleep and sleep disorders everyday. Their standard bearer, so far, is the CIRCADIAN RHYTHM which many people mistake as the BODY CLOCK. This theory informs us that there is a time frame in which Mother Nature, the designer of our bodies and of our world, expects us to be up and awake, working for our sustenance on this earth, and to be down and asleep, resting our bodies in deep sleep.

Circadian Rhythm

This is a rhythm of physical, mental and behavioural activities in a 24-hour cycle. These activities respond to light and darkness in an organism’s habitat. It does not matter if that organism is human, animal, plant or microbe. The toads in drains around the estate where I live croak at particular times of the day. The cock does not crow at night. Plants literally go to sleep at nightfal, say herbalists, and must, therefore, be harvested when the sun is up an high, to be effective, although some of them are more potent at night if they are linked to the moon or to the stars.

Circadian rhythms are not the same as BIOLOGICAL CLOCKS, according to many researchers. I reset my biological clocks with my mind, if I have anything to do at a time unusual for doing such a thing. For example, if I wish to go and attend an interview for a Nigerian travel passport or the Nigerian National Identity card, I have to be on the queue from about 4:30a.m or 5a.m. So, I have to wakeup by about 3a.m. So, I have to reset my biological alarm to about 3:30a.m. If I register this properly in my mind, I would be woken up automatically by my body at 3:30a.m or thereabout. The study of Circadian rhythm is known as Chrono biology. The biological clocks are related to the Circadian rhythm and drive it. Biological clocks are formed by certain molecules found in every cell. These molecules are governed by a MASTER CLOCK found in the brain. This is a group of nerve cells known as the SUPRA CHIASMATIC NUCLEUS (SCN). There are about 20,000 nerve cells in the SCN, which is resident in the HYPOTHALAMUS. The hypothalamus, temperature regulator of the body, sits in an area of the brain not too far from a pathway of the Optic Nerve from the eye.

The Switch

Light is the switch of the body clocks in the cells, in the SCN as well as in the Circadian Rhythm. Light turns on or turns off the genes which control these clocks and rhythms.

Circadian rhythm and sleep

This is the realm of melatonin and serotonin and dopamine, those brain neuro or nerve transmitters which help to stabilise brain chemistry and which sleep disorder patients are familiar with if their sleep problems have led them to a Psychiatrist.

  SCN, or the body’s master clock, influences the production of melatonin, that neuro transmitter which makes us feel drowsy and want to sleep at nightfall. This is perhaps, why Mother Nature located it near the Optic Nerve. The nerve is a projection from the eye which transmits information from the eye to the brain. At nightfall, the SCN influences the brain to produce more melatonin, and this is what accounts for the drowsiness of sleepiness. The melatonin is produced from another neuro-transmitter called SEROTONIN,  a molecule which carries messages from one nerve cell to another through several pathways. Serotonin helps us to keep awake and works better in this regard, it is said, in the company of Adrenaline, the Stress-cushioning hormone and, in some cases, GLUCAGON as well. Thus, for us to be able to fall asleep or to sleep well and long and deep, we need to have in the brain enough Serotonin to make enough Melatonin. Between 80 and 90percent of the Serotonin in the body is found in the intestine or gastro-intestinal tract. But Serotonin cannot cross the Blood-Brain-Barrier (BBB) and, so, has to be made in the brain through a precursor or intermediate substance called TRYPTOPHAN. Tryptophan is available in food sources such as Turkey, Chicken, Fish, Banana, Yoghurt, Chocolate. Many of these food sources are protein foods. But if a sleep deficient person greedily goes after them to boost serotonin levels in the brain, hoping this would boost Melatonin levels and induce sleep, he or she may be on a wild goose chase. For Tryptophan is a huge protein molecule which would have to compete with smaller protein molecules in the transport vehicles which would take them all across the BBB. For this reason, it has been suggested by nutritionists that protein (and Tryptophan) rich foods be taken with a carbohydrate snack to facilitate easy passage across the BBB for Tryptophan.

End of Problem?

Infusing L-Tryptophan across the BBB into the brain may not automatically bring restful sleep. What if the Pineal gland, in the brain, which is to convert it to Serotonin has been compromised, and there isn’t, therefore, enough Serotonin to convert to Melatonin? Many factors compromise brain biochemistry and processes. The presence of large amounts of heavy metals such as Lead and Cadmium is one of them. Heavy metals are toxic and suppressive of cellular function and health. Chlorella, a green alga, helps to chelate them from the brain. So does Zinc and some other chelating agents. I have seen cases in which L-Tryptophan, Serotonin and Melatonin food supplements do not help some people, who were helped by other remedies which, for orthodox medicine, do not belong to the gold standard solutions of this condition. I have seen some doctors recommend exercise. It affords an opportunity to cast off some Adrenalin and Nor Adrenalin, stress hormones which in high blood amounts, may charge or overcharge the brain for “fight or flight”. These hormones are pumped more into the blood in periods of stress or anxiety or depression. Many studies draw correlations between depression and insomnia and between insomnia and depression, without agreement on which causes the other. It is often said that, when a person is unable to sleep well, he may become unable to perform tasks well because of the loss of vital mental energy. Such a person may suffer from anxiety and, then, chronic fear which may cause stress and depression. Depression, too, may cause over consumption of vital brain substances including Serotonin and Melatonin. Poor blood circulation in the brain, which can be helped by the herb Ginkgo biloba, for example, may deprive the nerves and cells of oxygen, cause them to wilt or degenerate and under work. Insomniacs who have low haemoglobin counts and low Packed Cell Volume (PCV) may need to improve these blood components and see if doing so can help their brain condition. Haemoglobin carries oxygen round the body. Oxygen is life. Potassium extract oxygen from haemoglobin and takes it into the cell. Without enough haemoglobin and potassium, there cannot be enough oxygen in the cell, and such deprived cell cannot work optimally. I have seen, also, cases where blood acidosis may be the problem. Some insomniacs sleep better simply by alkalizing the blood. Liquid Chlorophyll added to a green drink, of say, KALE and SPIRULINA, helps. So does LECITHIN. The brain has a large amount of Lecithin. It helps nerve signalling, among many functions. It provides Choline and Inositol, among these functions. Caffeine burns Choline and Inositol to liberate energy. But this leaves the nerves exhausted. Many of today’s foods and drinks contain hidden caffeine. It is present even in Green tea and Guarana, which many people hail as health-providing.

Sleep disorder literature speak, also, of the havocs of over-eating, indigestion, red meat, dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. Many people are Magnesium deficient. They respond to Magnesium therapy. I often suggest that one teaspoonful of a Magnesium powder brand called NATURAL CALM be added to one or two tablespoonfuls of Liquid Chlorophyll in one glass of water and, if need be, one tablespoonful of T&T Virgin Noni and taken on empty stomach or light breakfast and dinner. Magnesium calms, as does chlorophyll, which is Magnesium-rich, anyway. Where the problem may appear intractable still, there are other brands of magnesium which far more easily cross the BBB and are more effective…but they are expensive.

An insomniac may wish to have his or her electrolyte levels checked. This would involve Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, Calcium and Magnesium. The right balance of Sodium and Potassium creates a healthy Sodium battery which activates the Sodium/Potassium pumps throughout the body. The Sodium battery is like a car battery. If car battery is flat, the car engine will not roar. A flat Sodium battery suggests that the pumping of nutrients in and out of the cells and even across the BBB will be suboptimal. As for Calcium and Magnesium pumps, I often suggest Coral Calcium, which is a natural balance of these minerals and others. I also personally take NATURE MIN, an abbreviation, I believe, for Nature’s Minerals, because of the iodine content for improved metabolism, and because of the Zinc I need for improved immunity and good vision. To all of these, we should add Omega-3 fish oil, which is a brain calmant and an anti-inflammatory, according to many studies.

In the category of herbs which support nerve and muscle relaxation and help sleep, there are many to choose from. Many of them have found their ways into proprietary formulas which are present in the Nigerian market today. Royal Jelly, food of the queen bee, goes well with Aloe Blossom tea. Another is called SOUND SLEEP, which, in its product literature, claims to gently induce “onset of sleep with bio-active compounds” and “help relieve apnea and snoring” as soon as the first night”.

The ingredients are MSM, Chamomile, Passion Flower, Valerian, Scull cap, Melatonin. Another is SLEEP AND RELAX TEA. It contains Chamomile, Passion flower, Linden, Valerian, Spearmint, Lemon grass and Orange.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition. The sufferer may actually stop breathing for split seconds because enough air is not flowing from the nostrils to the lungs. An infection at the back of the throat may have bred inflammation which blocks air flow. Air pressure against this barricade is often the cause of the sound of snoring. The sufferer may feel being pressed down by a force and only manages to get up alive if a limb or finger can be moved. In Nigeria, the culture of superstition assumes witches may be trying to kill such a person in deep sleep. But, in reality, the sufferer cannot get enough oxygen into the body, is, therefore, week, de-vitalised and depressed. If the infection is cleared and sleep apnea disappears, sleep should improve.

Sometimes, this problem begins from childhood when the adenoids are enlarged. The enlargement is caused by infection. The ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) may perform surgery to remove the growth. But this is not advisable because the adenoid belongs to the immune system, and its loss may reduce immune capacity later on in life.

The big ones

One big ones is a psychological factor. Earlier, I mentioned the body clock. When you wish to wakeup at about 4a.m and you tell your body, it rises about then. That you is not your body. It is you, the human SPIRIT which inhabits that body. You have control over your body. When you are sad, your body is sad. When you are happy it is. When anything disturbs you, the systems of your body are disturbed. I could not sleep for about three years when I was jilted at about the age of 30 by a woman I wished to marry. When I learned that I had to dispense with any situation I could not control if i wanted my life intact, memories of her gradually faded in my mind, and I became a happier and healthier person.

Any problem of life we cannot resolve during the day lies in ambush for us at night. Mr. Ade Martins who lives in Lagos is a great authority in helping people understand their challenges and overcome these problems before they get the better part of them.

Another of the big ones is that you change the direction of your bed if you cannot sleep well. It is possible your bed head is not facing the geographic or true North. This is the direction radiations of forces of the earth are flowing towards. These are like currents of a river. If your body is positioned against the flow, it is like you are swimming against a river’s tide. Yet another big one may be the need to change the location of your bed. It is possible your house is located over underground water crossings which are generating magnetic fields that are disarranging the magnetic fields of your cells and body and disrupting your body clocks and circadian rhythms. There are many other big ones, including electropollution and earthing, which cannot be addressed today.