The fragrant way to a good night’s sleep

July 20, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Health

I am not a fan of sleeping pills, except in extreme need and for short term use as their side effects can outweigh the benefits.

There are many natural ways to help sleep from herbal concoctions to specially designed light systems, but now there is an entirely fragrant way that apparently can soothe, relieve anxiety and promote sleep with the same mechanism of action and strength as the commonly prescribed barbiturates.

Just what is this miracle worker? It is the aroma of jasmine from Gardenia jasminoides and has been researched by Düsseldorf  University where they have discovered that the two fragrances Vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) have the same molecular structure as barbiturates.

Who said you can’t make money out of nature? Well it appears that these researchers will as they have been granted a patent for their discovery, as they reported in the current online issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Sedatives, sleeping pills and relaxants are the most frequently prescribed psychotropic drugs and strange as it may seem the difference between calming and hypnotic effect depends solely on the dosage, not on the drug itself. Benzodiazepines, which are now among the world’s most widely prescribed drugs, are given to help relax the body so that it can drift naturally of sleep. Unfortunately, they are not only potentially addictive, but can also cause serious side effects including depression, dizziness, hypotension, muscle weakness and impaired coordination.

The researchers carried out a large screening study in which they tested hundreds of fragrances but it was just the two mentioned that proved to be effective. Of course this is something that serious aromatherapy student have known for many years but it is good to see science catching up and acknowledging that fragrances have a definite, measurable effect on the body. We absorb fragrance throughout skin and through the air breathed in, and the scent molecules go from the lungs into the blood and then transmitted from there to the brain.

The researchers concluded that their results can also be seen as evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy, so all you fans of aromatherapy massage have been vindicated — as if you needed it. So rather than the traditional lavender or camomile that you may have been using to ease yourself into sleep you could now try adding the rather more exotic fragrance of jasmine.

Lack of sleep encourages colds

March 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies


We all know that a good night’s sleep can make many things better, but it can also protect you from catching a cold. The less sleep you get, then the more at risk you are of developing a cold if you have been exposed to the virus according to a study conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University. Sleep is vital to help the body repair and renew itself and a poor sleep pattern can lead to a compromised immune system. However it wasn’t before realised that something as ordinary as our reaction to a cold is dependent on us getting a good night’s sleep.

So how much is enough? In the study, people who slept an average of less than seven hours a night were nearly three times more likely to develop cold symptoms than people who slept eight or more hours a night. Restless sleeper? Well unfortunately you are nearly six times as likely to develop cold symptoms than those who put their head down and sleep right through.

More sleep = Better health

November 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Lifestyle, Natural Medicine

As they get older, many people find they are sleeping less, but that could be a health risk. So to encourage you to try and improve your sleeping habits, if you are currently sleeping fewer than seven-and-a-half hours a night – and are over 60 – then you could be increasing your risk of heart disease.

If you don’t get a full 8 hours plus, then that is associated with a higher rise in overnight blood pressure which increases your risk. This is based on a Japanese study of older patients with hypertension, where they found that the combination of little sleep and elevated overnight blood pressure was associated with an increased risk as well.

Previous studies on the effect of lack of sleep have been done on younger patients and they showed a link to multiple health disorders, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease so they are not exempt either. This is the first study on older patients and shows a particular link with increased risk of heart disease.

If you have trouble sleeping, try a late night drink of chamomile tea, a lavender oil warm bath, or the excellent Bach Rescue Sleep. This is a new formulation that I tried recently and it contains the original 5 effective ingredients of “Rescue Remedy®” plus White Chestnut which is effective against restless mind. I certainly found it to be very effective, though rather too sweet for my taste, and am waiting to hear from the Bach Centre what that ‘sweet’ ingredient is!