If we use the expression “side effect” without prejudice, it could mean “effects of a medical intervention that were not specifically targeted”. And these side effects could be good, neutral or bad in nature, none is implied. But side effects have come to mean “unwanted symptoms caused by medical treatment … Side effects can range from mild, such as drowsiness or feeling sick (nausea), to severe, such as life-threatening conditions. The risk of getting side effects varies from person to person” [from: NHS.co.uk]. When treating sleep problems with natural methods, we tend to get good side effects, such as improved overall health. So how does this come about?
Body Bio-energy Balance
Better sleep is achieved with a better bio-energy balance. So, when working on achieving better sleep, we are working to balance the bio-energies and in particular one bio-energy, vata. But vata bio-energy is not only responsible for sleep, this bio-energy is responsible for quite a few disturbances to well-being, for example, stress, or lack of concentration. (Not all stress types are of vata origin. However, most have an element of vata bio-energy disturbance associated with them.) This body bio-energy balance is achieved by co-creating a better lifestyle with each client, whereby one solution doesn’t fit all. We look at specific interventions to lifestyles, according to specific bio-energy balancing needs. So, in a way, we purposely look to create the maximum positive impact, even if it goes beyond the intended purpose. And the reason for this is that with natural methods, such as traditional eastern medicine, we look to bring the person back to health. This means, very often, an overall increase in health is the side effect of targeting one specific problem.
Adaptogens are natural substances which have an overall, non-specific effect on the body. Lazarev, a Russian scientist, who used the term to describe this non-specific effect that increases the body’s resistance to stress, first recorded the term “adaptogenic” herbs or substances in 1947.
But the concept is a re-discovery and not at all a new invention. This concept has been recorded in Vedic science dated 1200 B.C. and is effectively used in Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the traditional eastern medicine of India today.
Ayurveda can help to address lifestyle damage and is ideally suited to diseases caused by lifestyle damage. This is a group of diseases which in this day and age we are facing in epidemic proportions.
Rasayanas (or adaptogens) are foods and food supplements, herbs or spices which are used in everyday life but, sadly, are often missing from the average western lifestyle. They include basil, ginger, turmeric or liquorice, just to name a few examples. An adaptogen doesn’t have a specific action; it helps your body respond to any influence or stressor, normalising physiological functions. In other words, adaptogens have positive side effects by increasing overall health.
Additionally, traditional medicine places great emphasis on detoxification and the prevention of toxins entering the blood stream. This is achieved by optimising the digestive process. Toxins can enter the body when the digestive juices are becoming weak and ineffective. The food cannot be digested properly. This can also happen with an overloaded digestive system, when stress is impairing the digestive system, eating at the wrong time when the digestive system is naturally low, or eating the wrong kind of foodstuffs. An accumulation of toxins over the years can lead to dis-eases, premature aging and physiological stress, sluggishness, tiredness but not necessarily better sleep, and low energy. By targeting improvement of the digestive process and prevention of toxin accumulation in the treatment plan for our desired outcome, we also prevent future problems and increase the overall feeling of well-being and health.
So, in eastern medicine, such as Ayurveda, we look at co-creating a better lifestyle with each client and bringing the individual body back to health, which will result in a positive overall health effect. The client needs to embark on a journey of health and healing as there is no single medication which will achieve the targeted outcome. Natural methods will not allow a passive approach to health, but then again, you are swapping negative side effects for positive ones as a reward for your efforts.
Sonja Breuer (MSc. ayur. med.) is tapping into a niche solution for improving sleep with Eastern Medicine of Ayurveda and Yoga. The products available are online courses and individual coaching. She encourages people to embrace lifestyle changes to bring about better sleep, leading to greater levels of well-being, energy and performance.
Sonja is qualified with a post graduate degree in Ayurvedic medicine, more than 1000 yoga teaching hours, coaching and mentoring diplomas and energy healing abilities. She has devised online programmes for better sleep: “7 Steps to Better Sleep” and “Yoga for Better Sleep” so you can get started immediately, either before or whilst working with her in person, either online or offline.