Narcolepsy Treatment: Holistic Remedies You Can Try

Gotu Kola Tea

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  • Narcolepsy symptoms are permanent and can affect patients as a lifelong condition
  • The constant and severe drowsiness that accompany narcolepsy usually means that cataplexy patients have a hard time staying awake during active hours

Unfortunately, there is still no known cure for narcolepsy. Its symptoms are permanent and can affect patients as a lifelong condition. Despite this, there are various techniques and treatments that can help you alleviate the severity of its symptoms.

The Drawbacks of Conventional Medications for Narcolepsy

The constant and severe drowsiness that accompany this condition usually means that cataplexy patients have a hard time staying awake during active hours. Conventional doctors and health practitioners usually prescribe medications that can help you stay awake.
The problem with these medications is that they cause side effects, and some may even be lethal if taken in excess. Some of these conventional treatments include the following:

Antidepressants. Antidepressants have been used to prevent cataplexy episodes from occurring. While there is no clear process on how they work against this symptom, specialists claim that these medications inhibit the onset of REM sleep.1 Note that the use of antidepressants — in mild cases — can cause dry mouth, nausea, sexual dysfunction and weight gain. In severe cases, they can cause a higher risk for developing mania and bipolar disorder.

Additionally, taking these drugs during pregnancy has been linked to the development of ADHD and autism in the unborn child. The sudden withdrawal from the use of antidepressants can cause severe effects that can affect both your physical and emotional health as well.

Sodium oxybate.  This substance is usually taken before bedtime to promote sleep. The dosage usually lasts for a few hours, and requires a follow-up dosage after three or four hours. This triggers deep sleep and limits nighttime wakefulness. This has been observed to minimize daytime sleepiness and improve sleep quality after a few weeks of treatment.

Note that this medication can cause numerous side effects, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion and depression. It may also lead to the patient becoming comatose and suffering seizures when taken with alcohol or other sedating medications.2

Stimulants. These are said to aid in improving mood and brain function. However, stimulants eventually lose their effect as the body starts getting desensitized. Taking them can cause side effects such as weight loss, dizziness and tachycardia. For patients with heart disease, anxiety disorder and high blood pressure, the use of stimulants should be avoided.3

Natural and Holistic Alternatives to Help You Deal With Narcolepsy

The good news is that there are holistic alternatives to conventional medications that can reduce the effects of narcolepsy. This provides you with a safer option without the risk of exposing your body to toxins and chemicals that can harm you in the long run. Here are a few herbs that you can add to your diet to help you handle narcolepsy:

Gotu kola. This herb reduces fatigue, anxiety and depression. It has been used to strengthen the blood vessels, improve the flow of blood and nutrients into the brain and assist in normalizing your sleeping patterns. Gotu kola is available as an herb extract, supplement and tea.4

Ginkgo biloba. It enhances blood circulation to the brain and provides protection from neurodegenerative damage through its antioxidant properties. Ginkgo biloba is available as extracts, tablets or tea. However, bear in mind that the excessive intake of ginkgo biloba can cause headaches, stomach upset or constipation.5

St. John's wort. The consumption of the St. John's wort herb helps in lessening anxiety and promoting alertness. It's commonly used in extract form, but it can also be taken as tea. The recommended dosage is 300 milligrams, taken three times per day. It should be noted that people have varying tolerance for herbs like this, so it's best that you consult a physician or a health expert for the correct dosage for your condition.6

For pregnant narcolepsy patients, it is best that you talk to a health practitioner before consuming these herbs or other holistic alternatives. Be mindful that some of these herbs may have adverse effects on your pregnancy and endanger both you and your unborn child.

Tips and Lifestyle Recommendations to Improve Energy Levels

To help you deal with narcolepsy symptoms, here are a few tips that can assist you in minimizing its effect on your everyday life:7

Avoid caffeine and nicotine. While some patients ingest stimulants to deal with constant drowsiness, others shun the use of caffeine and nicotine because stimulants can interfere with the natural sleep cycle and aggravate disturbed nighttime sleep.

Schedule naps. Experts suggest that taking scheduled naps throughout the day can prevent you from accidentally dozing off at random times.

Get exposure to natural light. Exposure to natural light triggers the brain to produce both serotonin and norepinephrine, which promotes wakefulness and alertness. Sunlight or lamps that mimic natural light also regulate the circadian rhythm.8

Exercise. Exercising not only promotes a healthier lifestyle, but can also help your body reduce and combat drowsiness. Regular exercise can improve sleep quality as well.

Avoid medications that cause drowsiness. There are numerous medications in the pharmaceutical world that list drowsiness as a side effect, including antihistamines, painkillers and anti-anxiety medicines. If you're affected by narcolepsy, you should avoid using these medications to prevent aggravating its symptoms.

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