Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Manuka Honey Helps Insomnia and Promotes a Restful Sleep

In the U.S. alone, more than 40 million people are chronically ill with various sleep disorders and addition 20 to 30 million experience intermittent sleep-related problems. The consequences of sleep disorders are diverse, serious and can even be catastrophic. Lack of quality sleep has been linked to a variety of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, memory problems and other cognitive dysfunction, depression and other neuro-degenerative disorders.

Many people take both prescribed and over-the-counter medications to promote sleep. In addition to the high expense, there are dangers of dependency and adverse drug reactions, especially if these drugs interact with other medications.

In addition to its other many benefits, Manuka honey can be used as a sleep aid. Drinking a cup of warm milk with Manuka honey before bedtime is an excellent way to remedy insomnia. You can also take two teaspoons of cider vinegar with two teaspoons of Manuka honey is a glass of warm water before bedtime.

The mechanism for this process can be explained by what researchers refer to as the Honey-Insulin-Melatonin-Cycle or "HYMN Cycle". This process begins with the ingestion of 1 to 2 teaspoons of Manuka honey in the hour prior to bedtime.

The glucose portion of Manuka honey is digested and passed into the general blood circulation, producing a mild glucose spike. This mild elevation in blood sugar causes the pancreas to release a small amount of insulin into the bloodstream. This in turn drives tryptophan (an essential amino acid) into the brain, where it is converted to serotonin (a key hormone that promotes relaxation).

In darkness, serotonin is converted to melatonin in the pineal gland. The melatonin signal forms part of the system that regulates the sleep-wake cycle by chemically causing drowsiness and lowering the body's temperature. Melatonin inhibits the release of insulin from the pancreas, therefore preventing a rapid drop in blood-sugar level.

Melatonin also promotes the release of growth hormone by another of the curious and roundabout routes that the human system excels in. The release of growth hormone is controlled by the activity of a growth-hormone-releasing hormone. This hormone is in turn inhibited by another hormone--growth hormone releasing hormone-inhibiting hormone. Melatonin inhibits this last hormone, therefore preventing the inhibition of growth hormone releasing hormone, and therefore promoting the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland. Growth hormone is the hormone governing all of recovery physiology. This is the key first step in recovery or restorative physiology that occurs overnight.

Liver glycogen, the molecule that functions as the secondary long-term energy storage in animal cells, also plays a role. The liver takes up fructose from Manuka honey, where some is converted to glucose and then to liver glycogen, thus providing the brain with a sustained supply of glucose for the night fast.
The production of adequate glycogen by the liver can eliminate the release of stress hormones normally released by the adrenal glands to maintain fuel supply to the brain.

One to two tablespoons of Manuka honey an hour before bedtime will activate the HYMN Cycle. With the consumption of Manuka honey before bedtime, sleep quality is improved, recovery (fat burning) physiology is optimized and the chronic release of adrenal stress hormones is inhibited. The possibility that Manuka honey can be used as a safe and effective sleep aid is an exciting concept that will hopefully be explored further in the future. This old remedy may have a place in modern medicine. Always consult your physician.
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Manuka honey improves, facilitates and lengthens restorative sleep by at least 3 mechanisms. When taken before bedtime Manuka honey ensures adequate liver-glycogen stores for 8 hours of sleep. This prevents or limits the early-morning release of 2 stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. Manuka honey also helps to stabilize blood-sugar levels and contributes to the release of melatonin, which is the hormone required for both the recovery and rebuilding of body tissues during rest.


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