Posted by bleauberry on May 13, 2012, at 17:22:37
In reply to Chloral hydrate failing for sleep...whats next, posted by uncouth on May 13, 2012, at 12:12:48
Wow this is a really tough one. Sorry you have to go through all that! Hard to tell what's going on. Maybe a current or former med did some kind of change like you said, because I'm pretty sure many of them have the potential to do that. The post ssri syndrome that multiple people experience is an example. Or maybe a street addict who will never be able to function as he/she formally did without daily buprenorphine prescription. Ya know, all kinds of stuff happens.
Anyway, one thing I noticed about the battle thus far is that it has been focused on the symptoms. Totally understand that. Just one night of bad sleep throws me out of whack. Anyway, at this point I think it might be safe to assume that whatever is happening is either so strong that a benzo can't knock it down, or else it is primarily some other sort of circuit that our gaba and antihistamine meds don't get a direct hit. In other words, the cause of the insomnia is outside of the circuits we normally look at, it's something else. That's how I see it anyway.
So there could be a zillion something else's, right? So where do we look? In this case, I'm going on instinct and intuition based on too many years, I would start by assuming it is a problem in the pituitary gland or the adrenal gland or both and that identifying the exact problem through labwork might be helpful and could be unhelpful. Basics should probably be ruled out which some lab tests can do. But even without any testing, malfunction in those gland circuits can be modulated, changed. Maca root is specific for the pituitary. Eleuthero is specific for, well, the whole body but special emphasis on adrenals. Same goes for rhodiola except it has more antidepressant punch.
It would take a whole chapter to describe the multitudes of things these herbs do, how they are able to calm when there is chaos, and how to excite when there is sluggishness, and how they ultimately impact sleep as one of their primary targets. In the early going with any of them, they can actually worsen existing sleep, so that's not cool. But, glimmer of ho[e, when I tried them I was in a state similar to yours, but my insomnia wasn't as bad as yours. Pretty bad daytime anxiety too. So when my integrative doc told me to take these adrenal herbs I was hesitant because they have a reputation as being stimulants. I didn't yet understand....they balance stuff. So anyway, within 2 nights I was sleeping like a log on these supposedly stimulating herbs. Funny. I still take rhodiola because it was my favorite, but it is the one that sort of helped sleep in a way but also hurt it in a way. Eleuthero or I forgot to mention a really good one in your case Ashwaganda, either of those can balance things out with sleep being the ultimate winner.
They take time. Sometimes stimulating early on. By time I'm talking several days to weeks to see any benefit, but probably mostly just acclimating to it in that time framed. The real benefits take like maybe 2 months to 6 months. The herbs work in harmony with the body to bring about change gradually, they are not heavy duty blasts like meds. But they have the potential to ultimately fix things better than meds. Kind of like the turtle and hare thing.
I mention this stuff that might appear weird to someone because all of it ties in directly with the neurotransmitters, enzymes, brain, sleep circuits, awake circuits, fight and flight circuits, all that stuff. If there's a battle between excess adrenaline and excess benzo, I think the adrenaline is going to win...and thus lousy sleep. Obviously not quite that simple, but you know what I mean?
And actually, I'm thinking epinephrine specifically. Again, based on my own experience. My lab tests showed normally expected neurotransmitter metabolites in my urine...serotonin normal, norepinephrine lowish, gaba very high, epinephrine very high, dopamine normal. It appeared that for whatever reason my gaba circuits were trying as hard they could to calm down an excess epinephrine circuit and it wasn't working the epinephrine was too strong. What causes stuff like this? Don't know. Stress? Heavy metals or other toxins clogging receptor sites at glands? Damage to a gland from a pathogenic organism? Was mine due to Lyme, or was it the heavy metals, or was it neither? Don't know. But I do know that those herbs have the potential to bring balance back to whatever chaos is going on regardless of its root cause which we may never know.
We attempt to fix our symptoms basically by experimentation with meds, try one, try another. Every choice is an educated guess, but still a guess. Healing with herbs is the same game, so nothing different there. It's just that with over 2000 years of experience using them as medicines, we have a pretty good idea of what they can do for specific ailments and specific symptoms even if we don't know all the hows and whys.
In terms of meds, I have no ideas. You've already been there done that. SLS knows of some potent benzos that are used in combination I believe. Heavy hitters. But then, I think maybe we already have clues that might not be the right road? Dunno.
So without any ideas on meds, my next move is to say ok then let's find and address the actual problem so we can sleep normally and never even have the need for sleep meds at all. And that, to me, points directly at adrenal and pituitary issues. In other words, overall I think we are dealing with hormone issues here, not neurotransmitter issues, and that no matter how hard we force the neurotransmitters, it won't be enough because the opposing force from the astray hormone is stronger.
Or I could just be crazy. Seriously, they go fine with meds, I would in your shoes take a good look at Ashwaganda and Eleuthero. And experiment with whatever you already haven't. Melatonin? Lemon balm? Passion flower/ Skullcap? 5htp? Magnesium Glycinate? Glyciine? Combos of any 3 or 4 of the above?
It's hard. But I truly believe there is plenty of work to do here and we are by no means running out of options. If we're looking at just things that will sedate a human body, well yeah we might be running out of options. But in terms of providing an opposing force to whatever is pushing too hard inside of us, we got some good potent options to get things grounded again.