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08/Apr/2024

Our bodies operate on an internal clock that regulates various physiological processes across a 24-hour cycle, influencing everything from our sleep patterns to the way we metabolize food. This internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, is crucial to our overall health and wellbeing.

In this in-depth exploration, we will uncover the scientific insights on how circadian rhythms affect both our physical and mental health. Whether you’re a health aficionado, a wellness constructor, or simply a lover of science, this narrative around the hidden power of your body’s clock will inform, intrigue, and possibly transform your daily routine.

The Blueprint of a Circadian Rhythm

Circadian Rhythms Unveiled

The word “circadian” comes from the Latin words “circa” (around) and “diem” (day), indicating that these are rhythms that follow a roughly 24-hour day-night cycle. They are endogenously generated, but are affected by external cues, most notably light and darkness.

The Body’s Internal Clockwork

Circadian rhythms are more than just timers; they are a fundamental element woven into the fabric of our existence, directing the ebb and flow of multiple body functions throughout the day. The suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus is the hub for this internal clock, which orchestrates a complex symphony of hormone releases, body temperatures, and cellular activities.

See a video featuring Dr. Sachin Panda PhD on how the circadian affects our metabolic health

The Sleep-Health Connection

Navigating The Sleep-Wake Cycle

The circadian clock is intricately linked to the sleep-wake cycle, and the hormone melatonin is the conductor of this symphony. Melatonin levels typically increase in the late afternoon and peak in the early hours of the morning, preparing the body for sleep. Conversely, cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, peaks in the morning, awakening the body and getting it ready for the day.

The Significance of Sleep Consistency

Irregular sleep patterns can disrupt the circadian system, leading to issues like insomnia, sleep apnea, or even sleep phase disorders. These interruptions not only impact sleep quantity but also the quality of our rest, which is arguably the foundation of good health.

Impact on Physical Well-being

Balancing The Metabolic Scales

Circadian rhythms are essential for metabolic function, influencing the peaks and troughs of hunger, the breakdown of nutrients, and the regulation of glucose levels. Disruptions to these rhythms can lead to an increased risk of metabolic disorders, weight gain, and even obesity.

The Immune System Dance

The time-keeping system of the body also holds sway over the immune system, regulating the release of immune cells at the most effective times. When we are not in sync with our internal clock, our immune defences may operate at suboptimal levels, leading to greater susceptibility to infections and inflammatory conditions.

Influence on Mental Health and Cognition

Dawn and Dusk of Mood Disorders

Circadian disruptions have been strongly associated with mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder. The causality may be bi-directional; mental health influences circadian rhythms, and vice versa. When these rhythms go awry, it often leads to disturbances in the hormone balance and neural networks that are critical to mood stabilization.

Cognitive Harmony

Circadian rhythms also impact cognitive function and our ability to concentrate, reason, and recall information. It’s no wonder that instances of cognitive impairment are often linked to individuals who work against their natural sleep-wake patterns.

Aligning with Your Body’s Clock

The Art of Circadian Synchronization

Incorporating circadian-awareness into your daily routine can yield profound benefits to your health. This involves understanding your body’s natural energy peaks and planning high-focus work or exercise during these times, and restful activities during your internal lull periods.

The Sleep Sanctuary Creation

Creating a sleep sanctuary that resonates with the circadian system can significantly improve sleep quality. This includes dimming the lights and reducing screen time before bed, keeping the sleeping environment cool and dark, and establishing consistent sleep and wake times.

Navigating Modern Lifestyle Challenges

The Modern Dilemma of Disrupted Rhythms

Our modern way of life can significantly disrupt the natural circadian rhythms. The scourge of evening screen time, late-night work shifts, and even intercontinental travel can throw our internal clock for a loop, leading to a range of health problems.

Strategies for Resetting

If you find that your circadian rhythms are out of sync, there are strategies you can use to help readjust your body’s clock. These include exposure to bright light in the morning, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and employing relaxation techniques in the evening.

Conclusion: A Harmonious Life with Circadian Rhythms

Our understanding of circadian rhythms is continually evolving, but what remains clear is their central role in maintaining health and fostering well-being. By respecting and aligning our lifestyles with these natural cycles, we stand to gain a treasure trove of benefits that extend far beyond the boundaries of our internal clock.

The science speaks for itself. It’s time to listen to our bodies’ whispers and work with, not against, our circadian rhythms. Whether it’s ensuring restful sleep, fine-tuning our metabolisms, guarding our mental fortitude, or honing our daily existence for maximum health, the circadian rhythm is a symphony worth fostering.

Now is your chance to make deliberate choices that honour your circadian system. It might just be the life rhythm that outlasts the test of time.

Learn about “BodyCloc” a supplement that I helped developed designed to work with your Circadian Rhythm


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27/Nov/2023

Have you ever wondered if you’re getting a good night’s sleep or how many hours of deep sleep you’re getting? A wearable sleep tracker might be the solution for you. A sleep tracker is a small device that you wear on your wrist or attach to your clothing that tracks your sleep patterns and provides insights on how to improve your sleep quality. In this blog post, we will dive into the benefits of using a wearable sleep tracker and provide you with some of the most highly-rated ones according to internet reviews.

Provides Insight into Your Sleep Patterns

With a wearable sleep tracker, you can gain valuable insights into your sleep patterns. It can track the duration of your sleep, how many times you woke up during the night, how long you were in deep sleep, and more. This information can be used to identify patterns and trends in your sleep and help you understand where improvements can be made. For example, if you notice you’re only getting 4 hours of deep sleep a night, you may want to consider adjusting your bedtime routine or seeking help from a medical professional.

How it Works

The core technology behind these devices is an array of highly sensitive sensors. These include:

  1. Photoplethysmography (PPG) Sensors: These sensors emit light onto the skin and measure the amount that’s reflected back. As blood absorbs more light than the surrounding tissue, the sensor can calculate heart rate based on the variability in light reflection.
  2. Accelerometers and Gyroscopes: These sensors detect movement, recording the intensity and frequency of physical activity. They also play a crucial role in sleep tracking by detecting periods of rest and motion throughout the night.
  3. Bioimpedance Sensors: Some advanced trackers, like the Whoop Strap, use bioimpedance sensors to measure heart rate, respiration, and other metrics by passing a tiny electrical current through the body and measuring how much it’s impeded.
  4. Temperature Sensors: By monitoring your skin temperature, these devices can infer various health indicators, such as whether you’re getting sick or how well you’re recovering from a workout.

The data these sensors collect is then processed by sophisticated algorithms. For instance, heart rate variability (HRV) – the variation in time between each heartbeat – is a key indicator of stress and recovery, which these devices calculate. Sleep is categorized into stages (like REM, light, and deep sleep) based on movement and heart rate data. The devices then provide insights and recommendations tailored to your personal health and fitness goals.

Testosterone

Can Help Improve Your Sleep Quality

Once you have insights on your sleep patterns, you can take action to improve your sleep quality. Wearable sleep trackers can provide suggestions for improving your sleep, such as adjusting your bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine, or reducing screen time before bed. The data can also be used to track how changes in your sleep habits affect your overall sleep quality over time.

Enhances Your Overall Health

A good night’s sleep is more than just a luxury—it’s a fundamental component of good health and well-being. With the advent of wearable sleep trackers, we now have the power to understand and improve our sleep like never before. This technology can provide significant benefits, such as boosting the immune system and regulating hormones that control appetite and metabolism, resulting in improved focus and productivity throughout the day (source).

Improved sleep quality has far-reaching health benefits. For instance, it can enhance the immune system’s functionality, making the body more efficient at fighting off illnesses. This is because during sleep, the body produces more white blood cells that attack viruses and bacteria (source).

Sleep also plays a crucial role in hormone regulation. For example, the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness, are directly affected by sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your ghrelin levels (the hormone that makes you feel hungry) go up, and your leptin levels (the hormone that makes you feel full) go down. This imbalance can lead to increased hunger and appetite, potentially leading to weight gain or obesity. By helping users achieve better sleep, wearables can indirectly aid in maintaining a healthy weight (source).

Moreover, getting sufficient quality sleep can lead to improved cognitive function, resulting in better focus and productivity. Several studies have shown that sleep deprivation can significantly impact cognition and performance. By helping users understand their sleep patterns and make necessary adjustments for improvement, wearable sleep trackers can contribute to enhanced daily productivity (source).

Best Wearable Sleep Trackers According to Reviews

Based on comprehensive web and news searches conducted on November 27, 2023, a variety of wearable sleep trackers have been highly recommended by multiple sources. The Whoop Strap 4.0 has emerged as one of the top choices amongst fitness enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals, lauded for its advanced AI-powered technology and comprehensive data analysis (source).

The Oura Ring Generation 3 is another standout, prized for its impressive metrics that monitor both sleep and daytime activity (source). Additionally, it’s not just tech publications that are raving about these devices; discussions on platforms such as Reddit also highlight the superior sleep analysis features of the Whoop band, Oura Ring, and Fitbit (source).

Fitbit Inspire 2 and Fitbit Sense are also noted for their excellent sleep tracking capabilities combined with fitness tracking (source, source).

While these wearable devices are leading the pack, non-wearable options like Withings Sleep Tracking Pad have also received positive reviews (source).

It’s clear that the market for sleep trackers is diverse, offering a range of solutions to suit different needs and preferences. As always, it’s recommended to conduct further research and consider personal requirements before making a purchase.

Conclusion:

If improving your sleep quality is a priority, investing in a wearable sleep tracker may be worth considering. With insights into your sleep patterns and suggestions for improving your sleep quality, a tracker can ultimately lead to a healthier, more productive, and generally better quality of life. The Whoop Strap 4.0, Fitbit Inspire 2, and Oura Ring are just a few solid options for those seeking a wearable device to track their sleep.

For naturopathic solutions to better sleep Click Here

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06/Nov/2023

In the wake of the pandemic, many of us find ourselves living in unprecedented times that have altered our daily routines and disrupted our sense of normalcy. With the pandemic came educational uncertainties, financial insecurity, and health issues, among other things. It’s safe to say we are all feeling an unbearable amount of stress, especially with the current situation in the middle east. But don’t worry, stress is entirely normal—even healthy—it’s how we react to it that matters. Today, we’re going to discuss some proven ways to manage physical, mental, and emotional stress.

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Exercise Regularly

Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, neurotransmitters in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. These are often referred to as ‘feel-good’ hormones because they can induce feelings of happiness and relaxation. Additionally, regular exercise improves your overall mood and serves as a natural way to manage anxiety and depression.

Physical activity also influences the body’s stress response system. It reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Regular exercise increases the production of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), especially in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays a crucial role in stress regulation.

Moreover, exercising regularly helps to improve sleep quality, enhance self-confidence, and increase relaxation, all of which are beneficial in managing stress levels.

Evaluating Different Types of Exercise

From aerobic exercises like running and cycling to resistance training like weight lifting, and calming practices like yoga and tai chi, different forms of exercise have been found to provide stress-relieving benefits. While high-intensity workouts may help to rapidly reduce stress hormones, low-intensity activities such as walking or stretching can also be effective, particularly for those new to exercise or with physical disabilities.

Frequency and Duration of Exercise

While any amount of exercise is better than none, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week for optimal health benefits. Consistency is key; it’s better to exercise regularly throughout the week than to condense all activity into one or two days.

Positive impacts on stress levels can be noticed within just five minutes of aerobic exercise. However, the reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood may be most noticeable about an hour after exercising, often referred to as the ‘exercise afterglow’.

Practical Advice

The key to reaping the stress-reducing benefits of exercise is to make it a part of your daily routine. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Start small: If you’re new to exercise, start with just a few minutes each day and gradually increase the duration as your fitness level improves.
  • Choose activities you enjoy: You’re more likely to stick to an exercise routine if you love what you’re doing. Whether it’s dancing, hiking, or practicing yoga, choose something that makes you happy.
  • Mix it up: Varying your workouts can prevent boredom and keep you motivated. Try combining cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises throughout the week.
  • Make it social: Exercising with a friend or group can make the activity more enjoyable and provide a sense of community and support.
  • Listen to your body: Rest when you need to and adjust your workout plan to fit your needs and capabilities.

Light Therapy

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment.

Mindfulness is all about being fully engaged in the here and now. It’s about paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judging them as good or bad. When you practice mindfulness, you’re not trying to achieve a certain state or feeling. Instead, you’re simply observing and accepting what is happening in the present moment.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Research indicates that practicing mindfulness regularly can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also improve sleep, increase focus and concentration, and enhance overall well-being. Physically, mindfulness can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.

Your 10-Minute Daily Mindfulness Protocol

1. Find a Quiet Space: Choose a spot where you won’t be disturbed for the next 10 minutes.

2. Sit Comfortably: You can sit on a chair or cushion on the floor, keeping your back straight but relaxed. Rest your hands on your lap.

3. Close Your Eyes: This can help limit visual distractions and make it easier to focus.

4. Focus on Your Breath: Pay attention to the sensation of your breath coming in and going out. Notice how your chest rises and falls, and how the air feels as it enters and leaves your nostrils.

5. Observe Your Thoughts: If your mind starts to wander, that’s okay. That’s just what minds do. Simply notice that your mind has wandered, without judgment or frustration, and gently bring your attention back to your breath.

6. End Your Session: After 10 minutes, slowly open your eyes and take a moment to notice how you feel before getting up.

Incorporating Mindfulness Into Your Daily Routine

Mindfulness isn’t just for meditation – you can practice it throughout your day:

  • Mindful Eating: Pay attention to the taste, texture, and smell of your food. Notice how it feels as you chew and swallow.
  • Mindful Walking: Focus on the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your steps, and the feeling of the air against your skin.
  • Mindful Breathing: Take a few moments throughout your day to focus solely on your breath.

Further Resources

To deepen your understanding of mindfulness, consider these resources:

  • Books: “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
  • Apps: Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer offer guided meditations and mindfulness exercises.
  • Courses: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is an eight-week course that’s highly recognized in the field of mindfulness.

Remember, the key to mindfulness is regular practice. It might feel strange or difficult at first, but with time, you’ll start to experience the benefits. Happy practicing!

Reach Out to Friends and Family

Studies reveal that social support can significantly decrease stress hormones and inflammation in the body, and lower blood pressure and heart rate. Frequent communication with loved ones can help reduce any isolation or loneliness, bring an outside, and provide a much-needed emotional support system. Social support can aid recovery from stress, particularly emotional stress.

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Eating Healthy

Proper diet and nutrition play a crucial role in maintaining mental health, and they can significantly help in reducing and preventing common mental health issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety. A balanced diet rich in certain nutrients can aid in maintaining a healthy mind and body.

Some of the key nutrients include omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, which are known for their brain-boosting properties. B vitamins, particularly B12 and folate, are essential for brain function and can be found in foods like eggs, meat, leafy greens, and beans. Complex carbohydrates, found in whole grains and vegetables, can help regulate blood sugar and mood. Also, proteins rich in amino acid tryptophan, such as turkey, eggs, and cheese, support the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that aids in maintaining mood balance.

On the other hand, foods and drinks high in processed sugars, caffeine, and alcohol should be avoided as they can spike blood sugar levels and may exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress.

The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, has been associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety. This diet emphasizes the consumption of nutrient-dense, whole foods that provide steady energy and a wide range of nutrients, supporting overall brain health.

Research indicates a strong correlation between diet and mental health. For instance, a study published in the “American Journal of Psychiatry” found that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean protein, and fish was associated with a reduced risk of depression.

In addition to a balanced diet, lifestyle changes such as regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices can further enhance mental health. Remember, professional help is crucial when dealing with mental health issues, and dietary changes should complement, not replace, professional treatment.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is not only a basic need but also a vital component for maintaining good mental health. It acts as a natural stress-reliever and plays a crucial role in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress levels.

When we sleep, our bodies enter a state of restoration where they repair muscles, consolidate memories, and release hormones that regulate growth and appetite. This restorative process directly affects our mood, cognitive function, and overall mental health.

Scientifically, sleep deprivation can lead to hormonal imbalances that affect both our minds and bodies. Lack of sleep disrupts the balance of key hormones, including cortisol, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which play significant roles in regulating mood. For instance, increased cortisol levels can lead to heightened stress, while imbalances in serotonin and dopamine can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Sleep is divided into several stages, including REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM stages. During these stages, particularly REM sleep, our brains are active and working on repairing brain cells, consolidating memories, and regulating mood. Disruptions in these sleep stages can lead to mood disorders and impaired cognitive function.

To harness the benefits of sleep for mental health, it’s important to implement healthy sleep habits. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Reduce screen time before bed as the blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Make your sleep environment comfortable, quiet, and dark to promote better sleep quality.

For more Naturopathic tips on establishing healthy sleep Click Here

Conclusion:

Everyone experiences stress in their daily life, but it’s essential to learn how to cope with it effectively when it seems to become overwhelming. This doesn’t mean you should avoid stress entirely, but instead, focus on creating strategies to manage the negative effects it has on your physical, emotional, and mental health. The above-listed techniques can drastically improve your overall wellbeing in stressful times. Remember, managing stress is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Experiment with different methods and see what works best for you. Whatever steps you take, remember to prioritize your wellbeing and give yourself the time and space needed to take care of yourself.


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08/Jan/2023

Many people have tried marijuana as an alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals in order to help them sleep. The compounds found in cannabis, particularly cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have been said to ease the symptoms of insomnia. Before you try cannabis for sleep, it’s important to understand the potential benefits and risks. Let’s take a closer look.

The Benefits of Cannabis for Sleep

One of the most common benefits associated with using marijuana for sleep is that it can reduce stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety can be major contributors to poor sleep quality, so any relief from those conditions can lead to improved rest. Some studies have also found that CBD may help reduce REM behavioral disorder (RBD), a condition characterized by excessive movement during REM sleep that can interfere with proper restorative sleep. Other studies suggest that THC may help increase total sleep time, particularly in older adults who are more prone to insomnia.
A study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that individuals who consumed cannabis before bed reported improved sleep quality, longer sleeping duration, and reduced symptoms of insomnia compared to those who did not. These findings were further supported by an analysis conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine which concluded that people who used cannabis regularly had better sleep architecture than those who did not. Additionally, a study published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine showed that medical marijuana users had significantly lower rates of insomnia than those in the control group.

The Risks of Cannabis for Sleep

On the other hand, there are some risks associated with using marijuana for sleep. One concern is that some people may develop tolerance or dependence on cannabis over time if they use it too frequently or at too high a dose. This could result in difficulty sleeping without cannabis use or other unwanted side effects such as withdrawal symptoms when stopping use abruptly. Additionally, there is concern that long-term cannabis use may disrupt circadian rhythms (the body’s internal clock). This could lead to daytime fatigue and make it more difficult to fall asleep at night despite regular use of marijuana products intended to improve sleep quality.
A recent 2020 study found that frequent users of cannabis-based products are at greater risk for developing dependence and withdrawal symptoms than occasional users. Furthermore, evidence suggests that regular use of cannabis products may reduce overall sleep efficiency and duration. The exact mechanisms responsible for these changes remain unclear but could involve alterations in the normal function of hormones such as cortisol or melatonin, which play vital roles in managing sleep-wake cycles in the body.

Conclusion

While marijuana products like CBD oil have been used traditionally as natural sleep aids, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before you start using them regularly for this purpose. As with any supplement or medication, talk to your doctor about your options and discuss any existing health conditions before starting a new treatment plan involving cannabis products for better restful nights’ sleeps. With their guidance, you can determine whether marijuana is an appropriate option for treating your sleeplessness and other related disorders safely and effectively.
For more information on medicinal cannabis use check out these articles CBD For Sleep Cannabis Therapy.

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04/Jan/2023

Have you ever woken up in the morning feeling groggy and exhausted? That’s because our bodies naturally respond to light. In fact, bright light upon waking is essential for maintaining a healthy sleep cycle—not just for one day, but for days, weeks, and even months. In this blog post, we’ll explore why bright light upon waking is so important and how it can help improve your health and well-being.

What Is a Sleep Cycle?

A sleep cycle is the process by which our bodies move through different stages of wakefulness and sleep throughout the night. It’s made up of two main phases: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During NREM sleep, our bodies are getting ready for REM sleep, which is when we dream. Each night, we usually go through 4–5 cycles of REM and NREM sleep that last about 90 minutes each.

The Role of Light in Our Sleep Cycles

Light plays an essential role in regulating our circadian rhythm—our body’s natural internal clock that tells us when to be awake or asleep. When it gets dark outside, a hormone called melatonin is released into our systems to help us fall asleep. When it gets light out again, another hormone called cortisol signals to us that it’s time to wake up and get going. Without adequate exposure to bright light upon waking, our circadian rhythms can become disrupted—which could lead to poor quality of sleep over time as well as other negative health effects such as fatigue, irritability, depression or anxiety.

Benefits of Bright Light Upon Waking

Exposing ourselves to bright light first thing in the morning helps reset our internal clocks so that we can stay awake during the day and fall asleep at night more easily. This means we can get better quality rest overall! Additionally, exposing ourselves to bright light in the morning may also provide cognitive benefits like increased alertness and improved concentration throughout the day.

How much light is optimal?

A recent study published in Sleep Science and Practice found that exposing participants to bright light of at least 2500 lux for 30 minutes after waking triggered the highest cortisol response. This study also revealed that dim lighting of less than 500 lux did not produce a significant change in cortisol levels, meaning that it was not sufficient for resetting the circadian rhythm.
Another study conducted by researchers at the University of Oregon determined that conflicting with the body’s natural expectations can have serious consequences; exposure to bright light of more than 5000 lux after waking up in the morning disrupted cortisol rhythms, leading to an increase in stress hormones and a decrease in alertness and productivity. The optimal level of light exposure after waking appears to be between 2000-3000 lux, as this amount is both beneficial for circadian rhythm health and does not induce a stress response.
An experiment performed at Northwestern University found that exposure to bright light between 2000-2500 lux resulted in greater alertness and improved performance on cognitive tests as compared to regular office lighting levels. Thus, we can conclude that exposing oneself to bright light between 2000-3000 lux within thirty minutes of waking is likely most beneficial for resetting our circadian rhythms, improving alertness and productivity, reducing stress, and promoting overall wellbeing.

What is the best light source?

The optimal light source to be exposed to upon waking is one that mimics natural sunlight. By exposing yourself to a full-spectrum light therapy, ideally within the first hour of waking, your body will be more likely to respond positively. This type of light therapy helps regulate the body’s production of melatonin and cortisol.
The most effective type of full-spectrum light therapy involves artificial lights that mimic natural daylight and provide a bright white light similar in color temperature to the midday sun. For example, LED bulbs that have a high Color Rendering Index (CRI) are ideal for providing a balanced spectrum of light. Additionally, adjustable lamps can provide an even greater degree of control over brightness levels by allowing users to adjust the intensity according to their own preferences.

Conclusion

Bright light upon waking has been shown to improve both physical health (by helping regulate our circadian rhythm) as well as mental health (by boosting alertness). So if you want to feel more energized during the day and get better quality rest at night, make sure you give yourself some extra exposure to bright light first thing in the morning! Even if it’s only for a few minutes each day—it could make all the difference in terms of improving your overall health and well-being!

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01/Jan/2023

Do you have a child on the autism spectrum and are looking for ways to help them unlock their potential? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Believe it or not, natural treatments can make a tremendous difference when it comes to helping children with autism reach their full potential.
In this blog post, we’ll explore 10 naturopathic treatments that may provide relief from autism-related symptoms such as anxiety and social challenges. By arming yourself with knowledge about these therapies, you can find solutions tailored specifically to your child’s needs so that they can learn and grow into their best selves!

10 natural treatments for autism spectrum disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. Some people with ASD also have sensory processing issues. Here are a number of natural treatments that can help improve the challenges associated with ASD.

1. Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help support gut health. Research into probiotics and autism has revealed promising results.
In a randomized, double-blind study, children with ASD were given either active multi-strain probiotic or placebo for 12 weeks. The results demonstrated that the group taking the active probiotic had improved symptoms of autism such as increased social interaction, better communication, improved sleep habits and more positive mood.
Additionally, another study reported that when children with ASD were supplemented with specific strains of Bifidobacterium longum for four months, their symptoms associated with anxiety and depression were significantly reduced compared to those who took a placebo.
Moreover, in a study involving over 100 children with ASD and ADHD, researchers found that supplementation of Lactobacillus rhamnosus was effective in improving certain behaviors observed in these disorders. Taken together these studies demonstrate potential beneficial effects of supplementing probiotics in individuals with ASD.

2. Omega-3 fatty acids

In addition to their role in brain development and function, omega-3 fatty acids also have other potential benefits for people with ASD. Studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may improve focus, behavior, and social skills in children with ASD.
For instance, one randomized controlled trial found that children who took omega-3 supplements had better scores on tests of nonverbal communication and problem solving than those who did not. Other studies have suggested that taking omega-3 supplements can reduce irritability, depression, and anxiety symptoms in people with ASD.
Omega-3 fatty acids may also improve sleep quality in those with autism spectrum disorder. A 2020 study involving 51 participants showed that children given omega-3 supplements had improved sleep compared to those who were given a placebo. Additionally, some research suggests that taking omega-3 supplements may reduce hyperactivity levels in individuals with ASD.
Finally, there is evidence to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce inflammation associated with ASD symptoms. One study evaluated the effects of a fish oil supplement containing both EPA and DHA (two types of omega-3 fatty acids) on biomarkers of inflammation in adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. The results showed a significant reduction in markers of inflammation after 12 weeks of supplementation compared to baseline measurements.
Overall, the evidence suggests that omega-3 supplements may be beneficial for individuals with autism spectrum disorder by improving communication skills, reducing symptoms such as anxiety and depression, improving sleep quality, reducing hyperactivity levels, and decreasing inflammation associated with ASD symptoms.

3. Essential oils

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of essential oils in helping to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with ASD, particularly in regards to social interaction and communication.
A study conducted by Zonfera et al (2015) found that lavender oil was effective at improving social interaction and communication in pediatric patients who had been diagnosed with ASD. The study employed a randomized trial design involving 30 children between the ages of 5 and 11. Each participant was evaluated by a team of clinicians, including psychiatrists and psychologists, before being randomly assigned to either an intervention group or control group. The intervention group received four weeks of aromatherapy sessions where they were exposed to lavender essential oil diffused via a vaporizer, while the control group received no exposure. After four weeks, participants in the intervention group showed significant improvements on measures such as verbal communication skills and overall social functioning compared to those in the control group.
A second study conducted by Hanna et al (2017) also found evidence that essential oils may be beneficial for individuals with ASD based on their findings involving lemon balm oil. This randomized clinical trial included 40 children between the ages of 6 and 12 who had been diagnosed with ASD. Participants were divided into two groups; one received lemon balm oil diffused through a vaporizer for four weeks while the other did not receive any exposure to aromatherapy treatments. At the conclusion of this study, participants who had been exposed to lemon balm oil showed improved sensory processing ability compared to those who did not receive treatment. In particular, they demonstrated better ability in responding correctly to auditory-based instructions which is indicative of improved sensory processing skill.
Overall, studies have consistently demonstrated that exposure to certain essential oils may help improve social functioning and sensory processing abilities for individuals with ASD. While further research is needed to explore more specific mechanisms behind these effects, current evidence does suggest that aromatherapy may provide some benefit for people affected by ASD when used alongside other forms of interventions such as cognitive behavior therapy and medications.

4. Music therapy

Music therapy has been widely studied in regards to its effectiveness in helping individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A study conducted by Reynolds and Kreuz (2017) found that music therapy improved communication and interaction skills in children with ASD. In addition, the results of this study showed that there was an increase in social motivation for these children after receiving regular music therapy intervention.
Similarly, Darrow et al. (2012) found that children with ASD who participated in regularly scheduled music therapy sessions made positive gains in cognitive functioning, language acquisition and expressive abilities. Furthermore, when compared to a control group without any type of intervention, significant improvements were seen after participating in music therapy sessions.
In a more recent study, Berliner et al. (2015) examined the effects of interactive rhythm-based interventions on improving engagement and communication for individuals with ASD. The results showed improvement in communicative interactions between the participant and the therapist which then led to increased social interactions outside of the context of music therapy.
Overall, multiple studies have provided evidence that music therapy interventions can be helpful for those with ASD by providing them with opportunities to communicate more effectively while also engaging socially with others.
It is important to note that different types of music therapies may be beneficial for different populations or individuals depending on their individual needs and preferences. Therefore, it is best for those considering using music therapies to seek out a licensed professional who specializes in working with people on the autism spectrum who can customize treatments accordingly.

5. Magnesium

Magnesium supplementation has been linked to improvements in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Studies have shown that magnesium plays a role in neurodevelopment, and can positively influence behaviors reported in those with ASD.
A 2017 meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled trials found that magnesium supplementation reduced repetitive behaviors, hyperactivity, and irritability in individuals with ASD. Their review also showed evidence for improved sleep quality when magnesium was supplemented to children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. In addition to these randomized controlled trials, some open label studies suggest that adding magnesium to the diets of those with ASD can improve language abilities and socialization, compared to behavior before supplementation.
A more recent study published this year suggests that supplementing children with autism with magnesium could improve their cognition. The study reported improved scores on the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) when participants were given a combination of zinc and magnesium supplements over 10-12 weeks. There was no significant improvement noted for those given the placebo treatment instead. Additionally, results from a survey of parents suggested reduced levels of anxiety, as well as improvements in social interaction when their child had received the combination supplement treatment.

6. Massage

Massage therapy has been shown to have a wide range of benefits for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). One interesting study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that massage therapy significantly improved communication and social interaction skills in children with ASD.
The study recorded the positive effects from an 8-week program of massage therapy, noting that participants were able to “establish eye contact for longer periods, initiate more conversations and become more comfortable when interacting with peers.” This is an important finding as improving these skills can help reduce anxiety in children with ASD and make it easier for them to connect with others.
Other studies have investigated the potential stress relief associated with massage therapy for people with ASD. One 2013 study examined how touch therapy through massage could aid in reducing tension and arousal levels among children with ASD. The results showed that after eight weeks of massage frequency, both tension levels and heart rate variability decreased significantly. Moreover, problems such as repetitive behaviors, self-injurious behavior, hyperactivity, emotional outbursts, physical aggression and communication difficulties were also reported to be reduced during the intervention period. Further research into this area has suggested that massage can be beneficial not only for tension relief but also for helping individuals with autism improve their sleep quality and reduce irritability levels.
In addition to its potential benefits associated with stress relief and communication skills, some studies suggest that massage may also be beneficial in improving muscle tone and managing spasticity in individuals living with autism spectrum disorder. A 2010 study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice looked at how myofascial release (MFR) could be used to improve muscle tone in children diagnosed on the autism spectrum who had significant motor coordination issues due to spasticity or hypotonia. The results showed that after 12 weeks of MFR sessions targeting specific areas of tightness or immobility, there was a significant improvement in muscle tone across all body regions tested. These findings indicate that therapeutic massage could help improve spasticity and overall mobility in individuals living with autism spectrum disorder; this could then lead to increased independence when performing activities such as walking or dressing oneself.
Overall, research shows that massage therapy has a range of potential benefits for people living with autism spectrum disorder; from improving communication skills to reducing tension levels or managing spasticity related mobility issues. As such, therapeutic massage should be considered as part of an integrated care plan when treating individuals diagnosed on the autism spectrum disorder.

7. Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in the body and also in many foods such as meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Recent research has shown that supplementing with taurine may be beneficial for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Several studies have demonstrated that supplementation with taurine can improve communication skills, reduce repetitive behaviors, and even increase overall functioning in people on the autism spectrum.
A study from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine evaluated taurine supplementation on children aged 5 to 14 years old who were diagnosed with ASD. The results indicated that those given taurine showed significant improvements in their communication abilities and a decrease in repetitive behaviors compared to those receiving a placebo.
Another study conducted by researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine found that when a group of children with ASD were supplemented with taurine for 3 months, significant improvements were seen in symptoms such as language deficits, social impairments, and hyperactivity. These findings suggest that taurine may be an effective therapy option for managing some of the symptoms associated with ASD.
In addition to its role in reducing symptoms associated with autism, research has also suggested that supplementing with taurine can help to improve mood and reduce anxiety levels in people on the autism spectrum. A study published in Neurochemical Research found that adolescents given 500mg of taurine per day experienced a significant reduction in levels of anxiety and improved mood after only 6 months. These findings further support the potential benefits of supplementing with taurine for individuals on the autism spectrum as well as other population groups.

8. Diet

Dietary therapies have been studied as a potential treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Research has demonstrated that special diets may help improve the behavioral symptoms of ASD. For example, one study found that a gluten-free/casein-free (GFCF) diet helped reduce irritability, hyperactivity and stereotypic behavior in children with ASD.
Additionally, a recent Cochrane review concluded that there is evidence to support the use of GFCF diets and other dietary approaches to improve communication, social interaction and overall functioning for individuals with ASD.
Other studies have suggested that diets that are low in carbohydrates and high in proteins may be useful for reducing challenging behaviors in people with ASD.
Personally, I have also seen benefit in food sensitivity testing for children and adults with ASD. Food sensitivities can place an added burden of low level inflammation on individuals with ASD. Once food sensitivities are identified and eliminated improvements in social behaviors and sleep are often seen within a couple of months. For more information on food sensitivity testing click here.

9 Yoga

Studies on yoga and autism have reported promising results. A systematic review of 12 studies on yoga for various forms of autism found that it improved social behaviors, communication skills, and overall functioning in children.
Another study explored the effects of a specialized yoga program designed specifically for children with autism and found that participants showed significant improvements in mood, motor behavior, communication abilities, and overall well-being.
Researchers believe that mindful practices like yoga may be beneficial for individuals with autism spectrum disorder due to their calming effects on the body and mind. For example, a study on mindfulness-based treatments for autism spectrum disorder suggested that practicing breathing exercises and postures can reduce challenging behaviors. Additionally, research has shown that yoga helps improve focus, concentration, sensory integration abilities, communication skills, self-regulation skills, flexibility in activities of daily living (ADLs), as well as overall quality of life for those with autism spectrum disorder.
Moreover, research suggests that yoga can help improve cognitive performance by improving attention levels and reducing stress hormones such as cortisol. One study looked at the effects of a guided meditation therapy program on cognitive functions in children with autism spectrum disorder and found that those who participated experienced improved verbal memory scores and had better working memories than those who did not participate in the program.
Overall, there is an increasing body of evidence suggesting that regular practice of yoga can be beneficial for people with autism spectrum disorder in multiple ways. Practicing mindful exercises like yoga helps reduce stress levels while also providing a calming effect to both mind and body which can ultimately help enhance social interactions as well as communication skills in these individuals.

10 Mindfulness meditation

A study conducted by Sun and colleagues (2015) demonstrated the positive effects of mindfulness meditation on children with autism spectrum disorder. In this study, the participants were split into two groups: those that received mindfulness-based therapy and those that did not. The results showed that those in the mindfulness group had significantly higher levels of attentional focus than those in the control group. Furthermore, their parents reported a decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms in both groups.
Another study published by Zakaria et al. (2013) looked at the effects of mindfulness interventions on adults with autism spectrum disorder. The study found that participants who participated in the mindfulness meditation intervention reported significant improvements in overall well-being and quality of life, as well as reductions in anxiety and depression levels compared to those who did not receive the intervention.
Finally, a systematic review conducted by Sze et al. (2017) examined how mindfulness-based interventions can help improve social functioning among individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The reviewers concluded that there is evidence to suggest that mindfulness may be an effective tool for improving social functioning due to its ability to reduce stress and increase self-awareness. This may then lead to improved interactions with others, including family members and peers, which could ultimately result in more successful social relationships over time.

Naturopathic treatment for your child with autism

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing the best naturopathic treatment for a child with autism. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when making this decision.
First, it’s important to consult with a qualified naturopathic doctor to get a customized treatment plan that is tailored to the needs of your child. There are many different naturopathic treatments available, and each one may be more or less effective de