Approximately 90 million Americans now suffer from some type of sleep disturbance. Rejuvenating sleep is an extremely important and fundamental part of feeling great and healthy. Unfortunately, too many of us are plagued with insomnia and miss out on sleep’s wonderful healing properties. You’ll become more inflamed and more insulin resistant simply by getting 6 hours of sleep or less. Your immune system will also suffer significantly if you don’t get enough sleep making you more prone to colds and the flu. This article will explain what you can do (and what you should avoid) to naturally cure insomnia at home.
Get Into the Rhythm
Getting good sleep is all about balancing your circadian rhythm. The best thing to do to kickstart a healthy circadian rhythm is to expose yourself to sunlight before 8:30 am. When you get up in the morning it is time to tell your brain that the sun is out and it is time to get your body and your hormones going. Step outside and soak up some early morning sunrays or do a brisk walk first thing to get you going.
If your work schedule doesn’t allow this, just try to set up your workspace near a window or get outside as much as you can during the day when you’re on break or during lunch.
What About Exercise?
Exercise can significantly improve your sleep quality. The earlier in the day the better if you are going to exercise, but some exercise is better than none so do it late if you have to. Moderate and intense exercise raises cortisol so if you are going to exercise late in the day be sure it is something light and gentle such as Tai Chi, light stretching, gentle flow yoga, or a walk around the neighborhood.
Stay Away From Drama
Avoid watching television before you go to bed as this can disrupt your sleep. Watching the news can trigger negative emotions such as fear, anger, and frustration which will raise cortisol and adrenaline. Avoid intense movies or reading material as this can stimulate your adrenals which will keep you awake. Read some light fiction or learn something that is easy to understand and pleasurable.
Social media is the perfect way to upset your mind and your rhythm. Social media increases the sleep-disrupting brain chemical dopamine with all the notifications, flashes, arrows, videos, ads, links, and inflammatory posts by your “friends.” Even if you don’t have sleep issues I recommend avoiding social media outlets such as Facebook as I mention in this article on how Facebook could be making you sick.
Try and follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. Make going to sleep a ritual and stick with your plan even on the weekends. Don’t stay up late on the weekend and then try to sleep in. This disrupts your consistency and throws off your rhythm. If you really want to change your life and feel better then commit to a consistent schedule.
The hours you sleep from 10 pm to 2 am are the most restorative so get to sleep early enough so you’re out by 10. I go to bed at 9 pm and read very light material such as fiction and then turn out the lights around 9:30-9:45. You’ll notice a big difference in how you feel if you’ve become a night owl by training your body to go to bed earlier. Don’t try and make a big shift right away. Start with 15-minute increments each night until you are falling asleep before 10.
Also wake up consistently at the same time every morning and shoot for about 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Sleeping longer than that may make you feel groggy for the early part of the day so be consistent when you go to bed and when you wake up.
Can Meditation Help?
Begin a regular meditation practice. Meditation can calm the mind, reduce stress, anxiety and help you get clear on what is important so your mind is not racing. I highly recommend www.calm.com to teach you how to meditate. Just 5 minutes a day to start will begin to work and you can meditate up to 20-25 minutes a day if you can. I like to do a “body scan” meditation before bed which relaxes all the muscles of the body.
I get into more detail on meditation and some great resources to help you meditate in this article.
Practice deep belly breathing like a baby breathes for 5 minutes every day. Try doing it in the evening before bed to reduce tension in your body which will help you sleep. You can tap into your parasympathetic nervous system simply by relaxing and doing deep belly breathing. Your parasympathetic nervous system is your “rest and digest” part of your nervous system which is what you need to be activated for great sleep.
Sleep Caveman Style
Your bedroom should be completely pitch-black. No clock radio, lights or outside light of any kind should be in your sleep space. Even though your eyes are closed, your brain is still receiving light stimuli through your eyelids and your skin which can reduce melatonin levels. To illustrate this, try looking directly into the sun or a bright light with your eyes closed and you’ll see a small amount of light coming through. Even if you wear a sleep mask, your skin still responds to light of all types.
Make sure your drapes completely block out all light from your windows. Turn off all electronic devices with lights or cover them. Even those small red and green LED lights on electronics can disrupt your sleep.
Journaling is a great way to empty your mind and reduce anxiety. Write down three things that you are grateful for every night. Also, write down anything good that happened to you that day so the last thing on your mind before bed is all the good things in your life.
Try writing down what you need to do the next day in the evening. This helps to clear your mind because now you know exactly what you need to do the next day and you can put it to rest.
Eat Right for Better Sleep
Covering a healthy diet is beyond the scope of this guide but I can give you a few pointers that relate to healthy sleep.
1. Try eating only protein and fat for breakfast without much or any carbohydrates. This sets the tone for healthy blood sugar for the next 24 hours. An egg and vegetable omelet or a protein shake with greens and nuts are two examples of this type of breakfast.
2. Only eat low glycemic carbohydrates for lunch and dinner so your blood sugar remains stable.
3. Some carbohydrates are required for glucose to get into the brain which carries tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier. This will ensure healthy serotonin and melatonin production at night. If you just eat a lot of protein at night with no carbohydrates then it may be difficult to fall asleep.
If you are extremely tired in the morning and are a “slow-starter” then this can mean a couple of things. The first is that you are insulin resistant and your blood sugar needs work. A fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c are good markers for insulin resistance. This also ties in with adrenal function so be sure to get your adrenal hormones checked.
In order to get good sleep you should avoid the following stimulants:
- Teas that contain caffeine
- Yerba Mate
If you’re going to consume caffeine in any form, just be sure to have it before 2 pm. Also, be consistent with it every day. So if you’re going to consume coffee every morning, for example, be sure to drink it at the same time every day. This will help establish consistency in your circadian rhythm.
It is very important to stabilize your blood sugar from the time you eat dinner until you go to bed. Make sure you eat a balanced meal of protein, low-glycemic carbohydrates, and fat. Bed-time snacks may be OK for you but they must be very small, balanced and not contain sugar or processed carbohydrates.
One example of something good to eat before bed is 1-2 tablespoons of almond butter. This is a slowly digesting food that will keep your blood sugar stable while you sleep.
It Could be Your Mattress
It may be time for a new mattress. Did you know that approximately 1/3 of your entire life will be spent sleeping? That means that one of your single most important investments should be in a quality mattress.
I won’t get into all the details of mattress buying but the above are three of the best choices out there.
Turn Off the Wi-Fi
Get all of your Wi-Fi devices out of your room when you go to bed. A lot of people sleep with their cell phones right next to their beds which have a consistent Wi-Fi signal running into them. This signal may possibly be going directly through your body depending on where your wireless router is positioned. Give your body a break from Wi-Fi signals and you should notice an improvement in your sleep.
What Can You Drink at Night to Sleep Better?
One old school remedy is to drink warm milk. Casein peptides in milk have been shown to reduce anxiety and help people sleep.
Chamomile tea also helps to reduce anxiety but sometimes it has a paradoxical effect and causes insomnia. You’ll know the first time you try it if it’s not for you. Try 1-2 bags of chamomile tea about one hour before bed. You can combine chamomile with reishi tea which works extremely well for some individuals. Reishi is a mushroom traditionally used for immune system health and infections but it also helps to regulate cortisol production which you need in a healthy range in order to sleep. Steep 1-2 bags of chamomile combined with 1-2 bags of reishi in the evening or before bed to help knock you out.
I have gotten great feedback on Yogi brand “Soothing Caramel Bedtime” tea (Amazon.com) which contains chamomile, skullcap, poppy, and L-theanine. It can be found on Amazon.com or at your local health food store.
What About Your Hormones?
When it comes to hormones it’s all about balance. Cortisol levels are greatest earlier in the day and lowest at night which is your normal circadian rhythm. Cortisol levels fall in the evening and melatonin levels begin to increase as the sun goes down.
Too much cortisol from the adrenal gland will cause insomnia and too little will create blood sugar and adrenaline issues that will wake you up. In addition to keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day and at night I like to use adrenal adaptogens and phosphatidylserine.
Zinc will lower excess cortisol levels so I have people take Zinc with dinner if their insomnia is due to excess cortisol levels.
Progesterone has a calming effect on the brain and nervous system and can work wonders for menopausal women who can’t sleep due to hot flashes and hormone deficiencies. I like to use natural progesterone cream or liquid drops to improve progesterone levels.
Too little estrogen will cause hot flashes and insomnia, however, too much estrogen will also cause insomnia. It’s important to get your levels checked so we know which of the three estrogens your body makes are imbalanced.
If your blood sugar levels drop too low when you are sleeping then your adrenals may release adrenaline which wakes you up and then it’s hard to fall back asleep. Your blood sugar is also regulated by your liver while you sleep so a clean diet void of sugar, alcohol, processed carbs, and caffeine will keep your liver functioning.
Men often ask me what they can do to increase testosterone levels and the first place I always go is improving the quality of their sleep. There is no greater predictor of testosterone levels in men than getting good quality sleep. If a man isn’t sleeping well and consistently well, no diet or supplement is going to really help his testosterone levels.
What About Thyroid Hormones?
If you are hypothyroid then insomnia is a common symptom. Thyroid hormone is important for proper glucose, serotonin, and melatonin metabolism so it can be difficult to sleep if your thyroid levels are low.
Too much thyroid hormone increases your metabolism and makes you anxious so you’ll have difficulty sleeping. It also creates blood sugar and adrenal imbalances which compound the problem.
Supplements That Help You Sleep
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain with many functions. Your body works with natural circadian rhythms related to night and day. Melatonin’s job is to regulate your body’s response to changes in light as well as changes in seasons such as winter and summer. When it becomes dark, your brain responds by producing melatonin to put you to sleep. Melatonin enhances REM sleep which is your deepest and most restorative sleep time.
Melatonin is manufactured through this process:
Tryptophan (amino acid) ==> 5-HTP ==> Serotonin ==> Melatonin
Nutrients required for this process are vitamin B6, SAMe, iron and a folate-derived compound known as THB (tetrahydrobiopterin). If your ferritin levels(iron stores) are low then you’ll have a hard time falling and staying asleep.
Melatonin levels decline with age due to calcification of the pineal gland and many other unknown factors.
The following are research-backed benefits of melatonin:
- Supports Growth Hormone Production
- Stimulates the immune system
- Powerful antioxidant
- Increases lifespan in animal studies
- Improves sleep quality
- Reduces jet lag
- Helps night-shift workers regulate sleep patterns
- Relieves depression and SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
- Protects the brain
- Improves recovery from stroke
- Reduces migraines
- Reduces side-effects of chemotherapy
- Protects the liver from toxins
- Alleviates glaucoma
- Reduces stress hormones
- Reduces blood pressure
These factors may reduce your natural melatonin production:
- Poor sleeping habits such as going to bed too late
- Inadequate darkness during sleep: clock radios, night lights, street lights. Your room should be pitch black. You should be able to hold your hand in front of your face and not be able to see it at all.
- Not enough sunlight exposure during the day
- High stress levels
- Caffeine or alcohol consumption
- High protein/low carbohydrate diet resulting in less tryptophan availability to the brain
- Inadequate cofactors for melatonin production as listed above
- Medications: Aspirin, diuretics, beta-blockers, benzodiazepines
The most effective general dose recommendation is 3 mg, 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep. Dosing ranges from .5mg to 20mg depending on how deficient you are and your unique health history. 5-HTP can be taken with melatonin to enhance sleep quality but the 5-HTP product must contain vitamin B6.
If you are going to take melatonin, I recommend using the absolute minimum dose required to help you sleep. So start with .5-1mg before bed and slowly increase if needed to induce sleep. Too much melatonin can suppress all of your other hormones so be careful.
If you wake up in the middle of the night then you may do best on a time-released melatonin product that slowly secretes melatonin into the bloodstream while you sleep.
Foods High in Melatonin (highest to lowest concentration)
- Sweet corn
- Japanese radish
Potential Danger: Melatonin may exacerbate autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus. Immune-related cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma are contraindicated. Melatonin is also not recommended during pregnancy, breastfeeding or if you are trying to get pregnant. Do not combine melatonin with corticosteroids or MAO inhibitors.
5-HTP is an amino acid that occurs in the human body and is the precursor to serotonin. 5-HTP is currently used to relieve mild to moderate depression, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue. It has been used in combination with lithium for bipolar (manic) depression at a dose of 200mg three times a day. It has also been shown to relieve migraine headaches at dosages of 200 to 600mg/day.
Fibromyalgia sufferers took 300mg three times a day and showed improvement in sleep quality, depression, insomnia and muscle pain. Double-blind clinical trials have shown 5-HTP to improve sleep quality and the time it takes to fall asleep.
Recommended dose on an empty stomach before bed is approximately 50mg to as much as 300mg. 5-HTP should not be taken with antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
5-HTP may enhance the effects of St. John’s wort. Vitamin B6, niacin, and magnesium should be taken on the same day as 5-HTP as they are required for its metabolism.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the main calming neurotransmitter in the body and central nervous system. The recommended dose is approximately 100-500mg before bed.
Inositol is one of the best compounds to increase GABA levels. 1,000mg before bed can really work wonders for insomnia related to GABA deficiency. Inositol also supports serotonin so if you have imbalances in that area inositol can help.
L-Theanine is a non-protein amino acid found naturally in green tea (Camellia sinensis). It is clinically proven to reduce stress, balance mood and improve the quality of sleep. Its mechanism of action is through a direct effect on GABA receptors. The recommended dose is approximately 200mg before bed.
Phosphatidylserine’s greatest benefit is its ability to lower cortisol levels by optimizing the brain’s relationship with the adrenal glands. After only ten days of high doses of PS, research has shown that excessive cortisol levels can be decreased in healthy men. PS has also been shown to enhance brain function and memory, decrease anxiety and depression, improve mood, and enhance metabolism. It is one of the only substances we know of that can resensitize cortisol receptors that have been desensitized from chronic stress. It is also an antioxidant.
It is very difficult for the body to make PS as it requires many nutrients for production. Supplementation is vital for optimizing adrenal function so cortisol cannot have its negative effects on the body and the thyroid. 100mg taken 1-3 times a day in divided doses or just 100mg before bed can work wonders for some people.
Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system and your muscles. It also is important for healthy serotonin metabolism making it a vital mineral for healthy sleep. There are many different types of magnesium but I like glycinate and citrate. Some menopausal women do well with some calcium added to the mix which also helps with sleep.
Dosing for herbs is based on a variety of factors. Consult with your healthcare professional about recommended doses. Herbs can be taken in capsule form, liquid tincture or tea.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian root has been used for hundreds of years in Europe to relieve insomnia, anxiety, muscle spasms, stress-induced heart palpitations, digestive spasms, hysteria, nervous headaches and menstrual pain. Native Americans would boil the roots into a tea to calm nerves. Valerian root induces the release of GABA in the brain which has mild sedative effects. GABA basically calms the brain and nervous system. Valerian also influences serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Numerous studies have looked at the combination of Valerian and St. John’s wort for depression and anxiety. This combination was shown to be as effective as the drug amitriptyline for depression and more effective than Valium for anxiety without any side effects.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Passionflower is traditionally used as a sedative, to calm nerves, insomnia, anxiety, nervousness and as an antispasmodic. Passionflower works well for those who “can’t turn off his or her mind.”
Passionflower actually binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain which reduces anxiety thus helping you sleep. The nice thing about passion flower is that it does not have the side effects that medications do such as drowsiness upon awakening, impaired memory, decreased motor coordination.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile has been traditionally used to reduce tension and induce sleep, to relieve menstrual cramps, quiet upset stomach and relieve intestinal cramping. Chamomile is currently used for IBS, insomnia, indigestion, heartburn, PMS, inflamed bowel, peptic ulcers, intestinal cramping and as an ointment for eczema. Chamomile has the same action as passionflower by binding to benzodiazepine receptors. This is best consumed as a tea as noted above with 1-2 bags steeped for 10 minutes. Drink about one hour before bed.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Skullcap was traditionally used to calm nerves, reduce spasms, stress headaches and for nervous exhaustion. Skullcap is currently used with chamomile, lemon balm, oats, and St. John’s wort for insomnia, anxiety and mild obsessive-compulsive disorder. Skullcap can also help with restless-leg syndrome.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm was traditionally used for digestive disturbances. It is currently used for relieving nervousness, improving sleep, reducing over excitability and has a mild sedative effect. Lemon balm also works well as an antiviral topically on the herpes virus. Lemon can be combined with St. John’s wort for seasonal affective disorder. Lemon balm works by enhancing GABA activity thus calming the brain and nervous system but without the side effects.
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
Lavender flowers and essential oils have been traditionally used with St. John’s wort and lemon balm for depression. It has also been used for insomnia, irritability, headaches, digestive disturbances, pain and topically for burns. Add lavender essential oil to an Epsom salt bath in the evening to help you sleep.
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Hops have been traditionally used as a diuretic, placed in small pillows next to the bed to induce sleep, digestive bitter for nervous stomach and digestive tract spasms, and as a sedative for insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, and tension headaches. Hops are currently used for insomnia-especially those with difficulty falling asleep, restlessness, anxiety, and stress-induced tension.
Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)
Kava works by modifying GABA receptors in the brain, preventing adrenaline uptake and reducing anxiety. Kava was traditionally used to reduce anxiety, reduce spasms, and act as a sedative, diuretic and as a non-alcoholic calming drink. Kava is currently used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and tension. German studies have shown that kava is as effective a treatment for anxiety disorders as tricyclic antidepressants and benzodiazepines without the side effects. Kava enhances REM sleep without morning grogginess and relieves insomnia. Kava also supports serotonin which helps to regulate your mood, sleep, and pain perception. Kava can be consumed as a tea, tincture, or capsule in the evening or before bed.
The FDA had an issue with Kava in 2002 because of liver toxicity in some individuals but this was simply due to the poor quality control of products. This issue has been resolved so just be sure you are only using high-quality organic Kava.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha also known as Indian Ginseng has been traditionally used as an adrenal adaptogen, sedative, anti-inflammatory, nervous system tonic, astringent, diuretic, antispasmodic and to raise low blood pressure. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used as an aphrodisiac, tonic for exhaustion, anxiety, depression, impaired memory and poor muscle tone. Ashwagandha is currently used to support the adrenal glands, for chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, insomnia, hypothyroidism, stress-induced ulcers and male impotence associated with exhaustion and anxiety.
Rhodiola Rosea and Holy basil are additional adrenal adaptogens that help with sleep and balance blood sugar.
Black Cohosh may help insomnia induced by menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings.
Other calming herbs include Jamaican dogwood bark (Piscidia erythrina) and California poppy (Eschscholzia californica).
If your sleep problems are adrenal/blood sugar related then adrenal adaptogens taken during the day and phosphatidylserine tend to work the best.
If your melatonin levels are low then 1.5-3mg is usually adequate but you may do best on a time-released product if you wake up in the middle of the night.
If your GABA levels are low due to intense stress and anxiety then Inositol before bed usually works. Theanine or any of the herbal medicines mentioned can be added as well.
You may not do well on a formulation, however, due to one or two particular ingredients that aren’t right for your brain. In this case, talk to your doctor about what individual compounds may work best for you.
I like HPA Select by Moss Nutrition for adrenal adaptogen support during the day. It contains Ashwagandha and Rhodiola as noted above. I also like the 100mg phosphatidylserine product from Moss Nutrition and their Sleep Select formula. SereniSelect is another great formula from Moss that contains theanine, GABA, and Holy Basil to help reduce the effects of stress and improve anxiety.
I have gotten great feedback on the “Sleep Master Sleep Mask” available on Amazon.com if you don’t have a place to sleep that is completely dark. Remember however as noted above that your skin will detect light in the room.
Additionally, if you can’t sleep due to noise then I recommend the following ear plugs on Amazon.com: Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Ear Plugs (Amazon.com).
A white noise machine is just fine to block out unwanted sounds and I like the Dohm-DS machine (Amazon.com).
Knock Out The Blue Light!
Blue light is emitted from device screens, TV’s, and certain light bulbs. Install an app called “Twilight” on Android devices which eliminates blue light and changes the color of your screen to a more reddish tinge so that the blue light from the screen does not create sleep problems.
If you are using iOS devices such as the iPhone or iPad the option to eliminate blue light is built in with a function called “Night Shift.” Here is an article on how to enable Night Shift.
For your computers, I like the free application called flux which reduces blue light and automatically syncs with your time zone.
This color change reduces the frequency of blue light from your device’s screen which tricks the brain so it doesn’t think it is still daytime.
Glasses are also available that eliminate blue light such as the TrueDark Twilight Glasses (Amazon.com) which should be worn 1-2 hours before you go to bed. These actually really work and you’ll start to notice a difference right away. TrueDark also makes Daywalker glasses (Amazon.com) to wear during the day to filter blue and other “junk” lights from messing with your brain.
If you want something cheaper to wear during the day while you’re on the computer I also like these computer glasses from Gamma Ray Optics (Amazon.com).
Ideally, I recommend staying away from computer and device screens all together in the evening. Shut everything down around 5 or 6 and don’t look back.
If you have any electronics in your bedroom that have lights then they need to be turned off or cover the lights with these LightDims to reduce the light (Amazon.com). Even those small red and green LED lights need to be covered.
Certain light bulbs emit more blue light than others. Incandescent and halogen bulbs emit the least amount of blue light. They are the classic soft white bulbs that use the most amount of electricity. Compact fluorescent bulbs are the spiral-shaped bulbs that are energy efficient but they emit the most amount of blue light. The new LED light bulbs also emit quite a bit of blue light despite being the most energy efficient.
Red light bulbs are the most conducive to sleep and pink light bulbs are great as well. Lighting Science makes a pink bulb (Amazon.com) that is designed for healthy sleep. Get all of the compact fluorescent and LED bulbs out of your bedroom and replace them with incandescent or halogen soft white bulbs or go with red or pink bulbs.
Sleep in a Cool Room
One of the keys for many people with insomnia is to lower their body temperature while they sleep. Your recovery ability and your hormones will work the best when your body temperature is on the cool side rather than being warm or too hot.
This can be achieved by lowering the thermostat or sleeping naked. Yes, that’s right, research shows that sleeping naked can significantly improve your sleep and help you overcome insomnia.
Humans didn’t start sleeping in the same beds until the industrial revolution. If your partner snores, makes noises, talks, bumps into you or disrupts your sleep in any way, then it may be time to sleep in a separate bed or bedroom. When you’re asleep it is impossible to interact with your partner so it isn’t like you’re losing any time with them if you sleep somewhere else.
This isn’t something that we should raise an eyebrow to as a sign that something is awry in the relationship. Sleep where you want to sleep in a way that ensures the best possible sleep for you and your partner. Your relationship may significantly benefit from doing this because everything about you will become healthier. Your mood will immediately improve and if you’re a guy your testosterone will increase which means better sex drive.
Don’t Forget to Snuggle
If you sleep with a partner, make sure you get some physical contact with them before you sleep. Physical contact with another human being increases the hormone oxytocin which actually lowers cortisol. If you choose to sleep in separate beds as noted above you can still get your snuggle time in and then make your way to your own space once everyone has had enough.
Intercourse before going to sleep is completely fine because you’ll still get the benefit of oxytocin production.
Even if you do everything you can from a holistic perspective, you may need sleep medication for a short time. Remember that it is very difficult to overcome any health problem without adequate sleep so don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor for prescription sleep medication. The benefits of achieving restful sleep outweigh the potential side effects. But if you follow these sleep recommendations you should be able to get rid of your insomnia.
Insomnia is a sign of something out of balance in your body or your life so be sure to get tested for anything that may be the cause such as your thyroid, sex hormones, adrenals, and blood sugar. Even if supplementation is helping you, it’s still not a long-term solution. Work with your doctor to find the cause so you don’t need to take medication or any of the supplements listed in this guide. They can, however, work wonders in the short-term while the detective work by your functional medicine practitioner is being done.