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Disrupted Sleep and Pain: Breaking the Chain

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Terry Lemerond shares the wisdom of 40 years spent researching & developing more than 300 nutritional and botanical health support formulations. First to introduce many present-day ‘staples’ such as Ginkgo biloba and milk thistle extract to the US market, Terry is also a well-known author, advisor, and educator. This article is reproduced with kind permission from his website © 2011 All rights reserved.


Pain and Sleep: An Intimate Connection

It will likely not surprise you that upwards of 90% of people with chronic pain also have some level of disordered sleep. In an ever-worsening downward spiral – pain begets poor sleep, and poor sleep begets more pain and lack of healing.

To fully resolve this problem, you must address both pain and sleep simultaneously. You must interrupt this self-defeating cycle. In fact, Dr. Thomas Roth, PhD, Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, has stated, “There’s very good data that suggests that disturbed sleep can worsen your pain.”

Poor quality sleep not only causes physical damage and escalates pain, it prevents your body from making key hormones that give you vitality and protect you from illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Health conscious consumers select nutritious food, incorporate an exercise program, and include dietary supplements in their daily regimen, but may devote little thought to the loss of sleep and how it prevents healing and even accelerates the aging process.

… I’m going to share with you information on dietary supplement ingredients that can powerfully address BOTH pain and disordered sleep.

Our Sleep-Deprived World

Before the invention of the electric light bulb, people slept an average of 9 to 10 hours a night. Sleep and wake cycles were determined by sunrise and sunset. Yet many people today are averaging 7 hours per night or less. The availability and demands of activity, communication devices, and entertainment around the clock offer unprecedented distractions from achieving healthy sleep.

Lack of quality sleep is associated with a whole host of physical problems, because many physiological functions that impact our health significantly occur only in certain stages of sleep. Specifically stage four, or deep sleep – is when our body kicks into repair mode.

In one scientific study, it was found that lack of sleep actually slowed the healing of burns.

Additionally, two hormones, melatonin and human growth hormone (HGH), are made almost exclusively during the sleep cycle.

Melatonin protects against cancer, and human growth hormone is Nature’s anti-aging hormone. Impairment of HGH production by reduced sleep cycles speeds up the aging process. It also decreases daytime vitality and physical healing.

• Even one night of short sleep increases inflammatory chemicals in the blood.

• It also increases hunger-promoting hormones, which may be why lack of healthy sleep promotes obesity.

[See also: “Human Growth Hormone, and what does it have to do with ME/CFS?” by Sarah Myhill, MD.]

Chronic sleep loss (insomnia) increases the risk of several diseases, such as heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Professor Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago sums it up best when she states that “Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body.”

Pain Makes a Bad Situation Worse

I think that now you are seeing how pain and interrupted sleep are a deadly duo.

• Pain keeps you tossing and turning all night, and prevents full relaxation into deep sleep.

• Lack of deep sleep keeps you from producing the messengers that direct tissue repair and healing.

• Lack of healing results in more pain . . . and on it goes.

In order for you to feel your best, you need to eliminate pain and improve sleep quality. Let’s start with my recommendations for the most effective, natural pain and sleep support formula I have ever encountered: curcumin, boswellia and DLPA, combined with melatonin and pyridoxal-5-phosphate, or P-5-P.


Curcumin has been touted as the “most anti-inflammatory herb on the planet,” and there appears to be a certain amount of scientific truth to that claim.

This multifaceted compound has proven activity against multiple inflammatory pathways, including COX-2, LOX, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, and NF-kappaB. [See also: “Curcumin – a Golden Gift of Nature with Benefits Still Untold.”]

In America, it is estimated that more than 56 million adults experience chronic pain, with the top five conditions cited being: low back, arthritis, migraine, jaw/lower facial, and neuropathies.

Reducing inflammation is an important relief strategy, which makes curcumin an ideal therapeutic agent due to its ability to address multiple inflammatory pathways with virtually no significant adverse effects.

Unfortunately, there is a challenge in using curcumin for health support… It does not absorb well. Sometimes people have to take as much as 12 grams (that’s 24 capsules a day) to get enough curcumin in the blood stream to have a medicinal effect.

New research has focused on approaches to improve curcumin’s absorption and bioavailability, such as binding curcumin to lecithin or blending with piperine (a concentrated black pepper extract).  However, both of these absorption systems have inherent problems. In published human studies, the lecithin-bound complex boosted absorption, but there was only 100 mg of curcumin in a 500 mg “complex.”

This makes dosing confusing and delivers about half as much curcumin to the blood stream as other more robust systems.

The other option, piperine, the black pepper extract, does boost absorption, but it unfortunately interacts with a great many prescription medications, including anti-seizure, anti-hypertensive, heart regulating, and cancer chemotherapeutic drugs. Additionally, piperine may actually increase the absorption of many environmental toxins, such as carbon tetracholoride and aflatoxin, and can cause stress on the liver. Because of these drug interactions and liver-stress concerns, many integrative physicians shy away from a piperine-based system.

There is a newer methodology just recently patented that has been the most successful at safely improving absorption by formulating micronized curcumin with phospholipids and turmeric essential oils.

Published human dose-comparison testing has shown that it has up to 10 times the bioavailability, as well as greater blood retention time, than standard 95% curcumin extracts and 6.3 times more than curcumin blended with lecithin and piperine – without any liver concerns.

Boosting absorption allows people to take a much lower dose, yet derive proven impact on pain and inflammation.

Boswellia and DLPA

Boswellia’s anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing activity is linked to the array of boswellic acids in the extract. Scientists found that every single boswellic acid has anti-inflammatory properties – except one.

One boswellic acid (beta) was actually pro-inflammatory. They found that boswellia’s activity greatly increased when beta-boswellic acid was screened to less than 5%.

Research studies have found that boswellia is especially potent at reducing joint pain associated with arthritis. It does this by inhibiting the inflammatory enzyme, 5-LOX. Together, curcumin and boswellia support reduced activity of the two most significant pain pathways in the body – COX-2 and 5-LOX.(1)

DLPA (dl-phenylalanine) is an amino acid that improves mood-elevating chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine, as well as blocking a nervous system enzyme (enzyme carboxypeptidase A) that intensifies pain signals.

The current theory is that DLPA prevents the breakdown of one of the brain’s natural pain-killing substances – enkephalins – which are in the same family as endorphins. DLPA supplements combine the “L” and “D” forms of phenylalanine, which work synergistically to promote reduced chronic pain and improved mood – two concerns that are interconnected.

And a healthy balance of neurotransmitters is much more conducive to deep, satisfying sleep.

Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate, or P-5-P
There is a special, active form of vitamin B6 that your body can easily utilize called pyridoxal-5-phosphate, or P-5-P for short. This form has amazing healing properties. I frequently recommend it to people suffering from nerve pain, burning feet (diabetic neuropathy), carpal tunnel syndrome, PMS, and edema (water retention), among other conditions. The results for these people have been outstanding.

Inside the body, vitamin B6 has to be converted by the liver to the active form the body needs – P-5-P.  Low rates of conversion from the inactive to the active form of vitamin B6 can have serious health consequences.

By consuming vitamin B6 in the active P-5-P form, conversion is no longer necessary, and the full benefits are available immediately after absorption.

• P-5-P is effective for support of natural pain modulation, but it is also very useful for promoting quality sleep.

• P-5-P is required as a co-enzyme in the creation of the feel good hormone, serotonin. Inadequate serotonin is associated with depression and poor quality sleep.

Melatonin: The Hormone of Darkness

Melatonin is called the hormone of darkness because production is inhibited by light striking the retina of the eye. This is one reason you should keep your bedroom as dark as possible and avoid lights in the middle of the night, because it will reduce the amount of this powerful hormone your body can make.

Melatonin helps regulate your circadian rhythms, which are deeply integrated with your sleep/wake schedule. It is a potent antioxidant, and may have cancer prevention properties. But it is perhaps best known for the impact it can have on increasing REM and stage 4 sleep (the stage of repair and rejuvenation).

You may notice that you have very vivid and lively dreams when you first use melatonin. That is because of its expansion of the time you spend in REM (or dreaming sleep).

This often tapers off with continued use.

Why Drugs Are Not the Answer!

It is almost criminal that these over-the-counter drugs are being marketed for nightly use. Let’s take a look at the down side of some of these drugs marketed for pain and sleep.

Diphenhydramine (i.e., Benadryl®). This is an allergy medicine sold for its adverse effect – sleepiness. Other side effects include motor impairment (ataxia), dry mouth and throat, flushed skin, increased heart rate (tachycardia), blurred vision, lack of pupil accommodation which can lead to dangerous falls in older adults, abnormal sensitivity to bright light (photophobia), pupil dilation (mydriasis), urinary retention, constipation, difficulty concentrating, short-term memory loss, visual disturbances, hallucinations, irregular breathing, dizziness, irritability, itchy skin, confusion, decreased body temperature, erectile dysfunction and delirium.

Ibuprofen (i.e., Motrin®, Advil®). This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) responsible for over 16,000 deaths per year! Other adverse effects: gastric bleeding, ulcers, confusion, hypertension, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; swelling or rapid weight gain; urinating less than usual or not at all; kidney failure; nausea, stomach pain, low fever, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash; bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness; or fever, headache, neck stiffness, chills, increased sensitivity to light, purple spots on the skin, and/or seizure (convulsions).

Acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol®). It is shocking that a drug Americans think of as “harmless” is actually the number one cause of liver failure, as well as the most common cause of serious overdose in North America! Acetaminophen is especially dangerous with alcohol consumption, and it depletes glutathione, a vital endogenous antioxidant and detoxifying compound. Adverse effects are associated with liver toxicity, and include jaundice, nausea, vomiting, abdominal tenderness, interference with normal blood clotting, weakness, kidney failure, cardiomyopathy, and death.

Potent Combination…

The best answer to the deadly duo of pain and disturbed sleep is a natural solution…[one that is] safe for extended use: Curcumin, boswellia, DLPA, P-5-P, and melatonin.

[Ed note: To learn more, see “Curcumin & boswellia combo beats top arthritis pain med in trial – without the NSAID-associated risks,” reporting on a clinical evaluation of the proprietary extracts contained in Curamin®, a product recently launched in the US by Terry Naturals. The information was presented at the 2011 World Congress on Osteoarthritis in San Diego. Curamin® combines curcumin and boswellia with DLPA, P-5-P, and melatonin.]


Note: This information (© 2011 TerryTalksNutrition, All Rights Reserved) has not been reviewed by the FDA. It is general information, based on the research and opinions of Terry Lemerond unless otherwise noted, and is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any condition, illness, or disease. It is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is always very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.

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3 thoughts on “Disrupted Sleep and Pain: Breaking the Chain”

  1. foreverhopeful says:

    Very interesting !! The sleep deprivation and pain have been my very worst symptoms for the 31 years I have had CFS and FM and now severe MCS. In fact the MCS has worsened greatly each time I have lost a vast amount of sleep.
    But is there a formula on the market please that integrates all these afore mentioned supplements?
    I would be the first to try it!
    I think sleep deprivation, be it caused by stress, pain or whatever is the very cause of chronic fatigue in many people.
    Also, in the UK I am told Melatonin is only safe for very short term use, but I need to use it every night.
    I’d love to know these answers.
    Best Regards, Ann.

    1. pikamom47 says:

      I, too, was interested in one pill combining all the supplements mentioned in the article. I went to the author’s website and found a link to this:

      There is a search button so you can search for a store near you. It also lists online stores as well.

      I have fibromyalgia and have had increasing sleep problems along with increasing pain. I hope this will work for me.

    2. FaithHopeCure says:

      Melatonin can create a dependency and therefore your body may need more to achieve same results. I had a blood test to determine that I am low on this hormone. So I am replacing what I don’t have. I also take a GABA supplement for deep sleep. These are found in the prohealth fibro sleep and the prohealth peaceful Nights. They both work great for me and would much rather depend on these than prescription meds.

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