Sunday, October 3, 2010

Insomnia, anxiety meds shorten lives

Insomnia, anxiety meds shorten lives

If you're doping yourself to sleep each night the Big Pharma way, you could be medicating yourself right into an early grave. Same goes for those of you who rely on anti-anxiety drugs to take the edge off life.

Because according to a new study, people who take sleep and/or anxiety drugs -- even occasionally -- have a higher death risk.

I don't know about you, but the very idea would make me MORE anxious, not to mention unable to sleep. But if it's any consolation, the study was based on a survey so it's not exactly rock-solid science.

But there's a warning in here just the same, so let's take a look at the details.

Canadian researchers kept tabs on 14,000 volunteers who answered questions about their meds, lifestyle, and health every two years. During the 12-year study period, 15.7 percent of the patients who took a sleep or anxiety med at least once a month ended up dead... versus just 10.5 percent of those who didn't take the drugs.

While the study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry didn't pinpoint exactly why these meds led to the higher death risk, the researchers are pretty sure it's the meds and not the conditions that led to drugs in the first place.

As sure as you can be using a survey, anyway.

That's because even after adjusting for factors such as lifestyle, health, physical activity, and symptoms of depression, they still found a 36 percent increase in the risk of death among drug users.

Now, don't think tossing and turning is any better for you -- because another study found that men with insomnia who don't get enough sleep have quadruple the risk of an early death.

That study, published in the journal Sleep, also found that insomnia combined with diabetes or high blood pressure increased that death risk by seven times.

But don't worry, if you're suffering from sleepless nights, there's plenty you can do -- safely and naturally -- to help you get some much-needed shut-eye.

Therapies that actually get to the heart of the problem (for those who understand traditional Chinese medicine principles, that was a pun).  The heart meridian is called the "emperor" and it rules the meridians with the pericardium "prime minister".  When they become out of balance by some type of excessive stress, whether it be emotional (excessive pressure from a boss or spouse), physical (overexertion from manual labor or exercise, or subluxation from poor ergonomics) or chemical (poor nutrition or food poisoning).  This is where your Shen is seated.  Shen is "spirit" or "essence", nothing we can see, but when it is unseated it may cause common conditions such as depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness, amongst other issues.  

The ROOT solution is to harness your Shen with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, and to correct for any other stresses such as with proper diet or supplements to build back up the nutritional imbalance.  The human body is complex and there is no "magic bullet", but it must be systematically addressed and if one of the three stressors is not addressed then one sets themselves up for failure.

Dr. Tang 

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