You are here now : cureguide > Health Guides > Sleep

Back to School

2013 August 14 by


Time again to buy school supplies and pack off your kids to the first day of the next year of school. Here is a checklist to help set them on the right path this year.

School lunches

Talk to your kids about healthy foods that they will actually eat in their lunches. This is a good opportunity to discuss processed and whole foods choices. Fruits and cut up veges that contain antioxidants and vitamins are preferable to foods that contain chemical additives and added sugar. Explain that corn syrup is not an ingredient they want to include in their lunch choices. Sandwiches with whole grain bread and nut butters or cheese, meats, and veges are a good choice, or wraps that include vegetables will provide some variety. Snacks of dried fruits and nuts or granola bars are also healthy options. Be creative and let your kids suggest possibilities. You might be surprised by some of their new preferences this year.


Schools will urge you to get the latest boosters of various vaccines including measles, whooping cough, and Gardasil (HPV). Don’t be bullied into getting any vaccines that you question. You can always obtain a waiver for any vaccines you don’t want. Research the specific vaccines and decide whether they are right for you. Trust your own judgment once you have done your research. Read the sections of vaccine choice books like the Vaccine Guide to decide where you stand on a particular vaccine.

Learning issues

If any issues around learning skills (reading or writing or math), achievement, or attention came up during the last school year, be prepared in advance to address these with your child’s new teacher. Take a proactive approach to inform the teacher about any concerns you may have. You may want to consider starting some nutritional supplements that optimize brain function. These could include fish oil with at least 400 mg of DHA and Phosphatydilserine ( 100 mg) for attention. Other supplements can be useful for maximizing attention functions if you have concerns. Check out my educational presentations on learning and attention at the CureChild website.

Homework help

Start getting prepared for homework. Establish a homework time schedule taking into account after-school activities. Get some hourly planning sheets so your child can plan out the evening. Have your student estimate how long their assignments should take and write in specific subjects on a time planner. This will make your child responsible for homework estimation and completion.

Sleep schedules

Getting a good night sleep will help ensure alertness, efficient learning, better ability to focus, and success in school. This means at least 8 -10 hours of sleep for your school-aged child. Make some rules about a time to turn off screens and a time for lights out.

Physical exams and health forms

Get all of those forms together for the school year and make sure you have a check-up form completed by your doctor if your packet includes one. For patients in my practice I reserve time in my schedule for those last minute physicals.

Long distance medical care

I am available for Skype or Facetime visits for anyone who lives outside of the San Francisco Bay Area. Send me an email at to set up a consultation. We can discuss your child’s learning issues, or immune function, or any medical problems.


tags: , ,

no comments

Anxiety – Depression – Insomnia

2013 June 6 by


If you or someone you know suffers from any of these upsetting symptoms there is hope beyond antidepressants and sedative drugs. Holistic medicine has excellent safe and effective methods for getting the body and mind into balance to alleviate these symptoms. One effective treatment is to establish a healthy balance of neurotransmitters through nutritional supplements.  

Elevated neurotransmitters

Often anxiety and insomnia are caused by excessive levels of stimulating neurotransmitters produced in response to stress. If high levels of stimulating neurotransmitters like epinephrine, norepinephrine or cortisol are not balanced by adequate levels of calming neurotransmitters like serotonin, then you may suffer from anxiety or experience difficulty sleeping. Targeted nutritional supplements, particularly appropriate amino acids, can help to bring these neurotransmitters into balance.

Depressed serotonin

Depression is often related to a deficiency of the calming neurotransmitter serotonin and possibly deficiencies of stimulating neurotransmitters as well. The amino acid tryptophan and its direct serotonin precursor 5-hyroxytryptophan (5HTP) are converted by the body into serotonin. Taking 5HTP can increase serotonin levels resulting in a greater sense of well-being.

Taking antidepressants such as the SSRI drugs Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Prozac will prevent nerve cells from recycling serotonin making more serotonin temporarily available, but eventually serotonin will be depleted by these drugs and they become less effective over time. Increasing serotonin levels with 5HTP is a more sensible long term approach to symptoms of depression. In addition, antidepressants may have significant side effects such as suicidal and violent thoughts and behaviors.

GABA and insomnia

Insomnia may be caused by a lack of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). GABA is the primary trigger that gets us to sleep. A supplement that contains taurine and 4-amino-3-phenybutric acid will support GABA production.

Diagnostic lab tests

It is helpful to evaluate neurotransmitter function with a simple urine lab test. This will diagnose specific neurotransmitter imbalances and determine the nutritional supplements that will correct it.

Stress relief

Relieving stress is also an important part of an effective holistic treatment plan for mood and sleep disorders. An exercise program can significantly reduce anxiety and depression and promote sleep. Calcium and magnesium taken before bed have a relaxing and calming effect as well. Lavender as an essential oil or infused in the air or taken as a supplement will also have a relaxing effect. Lavender taken internally (Lavela) has been shown in clinical studies to relieve anxiety. Avoiding alcohol can alleviate sleep disturbance. And, of course, relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep abdominal breathing practice can promote sleep and reduce stress responses and anxiety.

Seeking treatment

Many holistic practitioners and psychiatrists utilize neurotransmitter testing through laboratories like Neuroscience ( Naturopathic doctors are often trained in using these methods.

If you need a practitioner in the San Francisco Bay Area or if you have difficulty finding a practitioner near you, I am available for consultations in my office or online through Skype or FaceTime visits.

Get in touch with me at


Supplements for Sleep

2013 February 1 by


For people who have sleep problems there are several supplements that can be helpful. Falling asleep is a complicated mechanism requiring several coincident changes in brain chemicals. Both the initiation of sleep and the continuity of sleep depend upon a healthy balance of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). It is possible to measure these with lab tests, and if there is an imbalance in neurotransmitters that is interfering with sleep, then this imbalance can often be corrected using natural supplements.

Specifically, in order to get to sleep and maintain a good night’s sleep, stimulating neurotransmitters like epinephrine and glutamate must turn off, and calming neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, and melatonin must turn on. Nutritional support can help to make that happen, and meditation or relaxation techniques can help facilitate sleep onset as well. Various supplements may help sleep in different individuals.

Supplements to improve sleep include melatonin, calcium with magnesium, taurine, 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid, 5 HTP, and theanine depending on the specific issues involved with the sleep problem.

An interesting finding that came out of two sleep studies evaluating the effect of melatonin on REM sleep duration revealed that the timing of these supplements may be important. Many doctors suggest taking supplements that assist sleep just before bed. These studies showed that melatonin was most effective in increasing REM sleep when taken around 10:00-11:00 PM. When melatonin was taken erratically or after 11:30 PM it counteracted the beneficial effects on sleep. The authors suggest that this disruption is due to melatonin’s effect on the body’s circadian rhythms. So the timing of supplementation may be just as important as the type of supplements themselves.


Kunz D, Mahlberg R, Müller C, Tilmann A, Bes F. Melatonin in patients with reduced REM sleep duration: two randomized controlled trials. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Jan;89(1):128-34.


tags: ,

comments (2)

Effective Tips and Supplements To Help Babies and Children Sleep

2012 September 11 by


A great deal of attention has been garnered in the media this week by a study published in the journal Pediatrics showing that sleep training methods used with babies have no negative effects on their later emotional lives. What these articles fail to mention is the large number of studies that show the benefits of parents cosleeping with their baby.

For a different perspective on solving sleep problems see my article published this week on the SAFBaby website.

Effective Tips and Supplements to Help Babies and Children Sleep

Of all the problems babies and children can have, sleep is one that tends to disturb parents the most. When parents lose sleep they can be grouchy, exhausted, and overly emotional. Kids too. But a lot of children resist sleeping. Why shouldn’t they? Playing is more fun. Babies and older children may just have different ideas about the appropriate nighttime schedule than their parents. What is a parent to do?

Let’s start with babies.

How do babies learn to sleep? From their parents’ bodies and their parents’ biorhythms. Sleeping with your baby is the first and best gift you can give your baby to establish healthy sleep patterns. This will also help mothers get a good night sleep. It only makes sense. If your baby is sleeping next to you, then you don’t need to get up and go anywhere. Mothers and babies nurse, maybe change a diaper, and go back to sleep. Parents may be concerned that this easy access for nursing may encourage babies to wake up more often in the night. But getting up and going into another room to nurse is a lot more disturbing for moms…. (Read more)


tags: ,

no comments