Natural health: I've started to wake in the middle of the night 

Plus - dealing with dermatological issues
Natural health: I've started to wake in the middle of the night 

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I’ve no trouble going to sleep, but I’ve started to wake in the middle of the night, sometimes for hours. What remedy would you suggest?

Sleep is one of the fundamental pillars of our wellbeing and it’s crucial to our physical, mental, and emotional functioning. Several underlying causes are typically responsible for insomnia, but night-waking tends to be linked with the nervous system.

In many cases, the nervous system is misfiring due to stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue. However, it can also be a case of underlying pain and/or inflammation taxing the nervous system, which can be physically and mentally exhausting.

The Dr Christopher combination Relax-Eze is one of the most effective herbal remedies for addressing night waking. Relax-Eze is made from a synergistic blend of herbs that work to feed and repair the nervous system.

The Relax-Eze formulation uses equal parts of the following herbs: black cohosh, cayenne, hops flowers, lobelia, skullcap, valerian, wood betony, and mistletoe. You can easily make this yourself or have a herbalist prepare it. If you cannot source all of the herbs required, try to find skullcap, valerian, and hops.

You can take the herbal blend as a tea two to three times daily (1 teaspoon of dried herbs per cup of boiling water steeped for 3-5 minutes); for capsules, take 2 x 500mg capsules three times daily; for a 1:1 tincture (equal parts alcohol and herbal mixture) take 1ml, three times daily.

Caffeine from any source reduces serotonin production and disrupts sleep but can also impact digestion, moods, appetite, and cognitive function. Coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and even chocolate all contain caffeine.

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) acts on the brain by increasing serotonin levels, which are crucial for regulating sleep patterns, body temperature, appetite, and libido. It is no longer available over-the-counter, however your body utilises the amino acid tryptophan to produce its own 5-HTP. Good food sources include turkey, chicken, whole milk, sunflower seeds, turnips, potatoes, pumpkins, and sea vegetables.

Serotonin is also a precursor to the production of melatonin, an essential hormone for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin production relies heavily on vitamin B6 as a co-factor to optimise the process, so find a B-complex formula as the B vitamins work synergistically.

I’m in my early 30s and have developed red scaly patches behind my ears which can be very itchy. What would you suggest?

My first suggestion is to get an appointment with a dermatologist to identify the skin issue that you are experiencing. It may be a type of eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, or it could even be fungal in origin. With any skin issue, it is equally important to treat the condition from the inside as it is to find relief through a topical solution.

Getting lots of healthy fats in your diet helps reduce inflammation and irritation and repair skin issues. Ensure you get plenty of the vitamins A, C, E and D — crucial for tissue repair. Most wholefoods are rich in these nutrients — leafy greens, broccoli, peppers/capsicum, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, tropical fruits, dried apricots, herbs, kiwifruit, citrus, berries, mushrooms, eggs, avocado, nuts and seeds, and oily fish.

There is a possibility you have seborrheic dermatitis (sometimes referred to as seborrheic eczema), which is thought to be linked to overproduction of a yeast naturally found on the scalp, Pityrosporum ovale. This is common on the scalp and facial hair and can trigger cradle cap and dandruff — detoxification herbs such as nettle, milk thistle, and dandelion help clear your skin. When taken as a herbal infusion, these herbs will support the elimination organs — particularly the liver — a crucial component of any skin healing regimen.

  • Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard? Email it to
  • NOTE: The information contained in this column is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor.

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