Narcolepsy is a disorder characterized by uncontrollable urges to fall asleep. In normal sleep patterns, a person begins a period of sleep with an initial, lighter period that is followed by the onset of deep, REM sleep. In narcolepsy, the sufferer immediately falls into deep, REM sleep patterns and has difficulty awakening. This condition can be harmful if the affected person is performing a potentially dangerous task, such as cooking or driving, at the onset of a sleep pattern. The cause of the disorder is unknown, but narcolepsy is considered an illness of the nervous system and is treated accordingly, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Talk with your doctor before using any herbal remedy.
St. John's Wort
St John's wort is an herbal remedy recommended for narcolepsy because of its action as a nervous system treatment, according to Holistic Online. The herb might improve sleep quality and calm the nerves, which can be affected by the disorder as well as the emotional effects of living with the disease. Nutritionist Phyllis A. Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," recommends consuming St. John's wort as a tea. Prepare the beverage by adding 1 tsp. of the dried herb to boiled water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Consume up to twice per day.
Ginkgo biloba nourishes the nervous system in two ways: It protects cells with its antioxidant effects and it improves circulation to the brain. Both of these functions might improve the condition of narcolepsy. The active constituents in ginkgo leaves are flavonoids and terpenoids. Balch recommends not taking the herb if you have a bleeding disorder or upcoming surgical procedure.
Gotu kola is an ayurvedic herb native to subtropical climates and has long been used in India as a treatment for the support of veins. It works by strengthening connective tissues. When veins are strong, blood flow is improved and the brain receives more oxygen and nutrients, which might be an effective treatment for narcolepsy, according to Balch. The antioxidant effect of the herb also might be helpful for protecting nervous system cells. Few side effects result from consuming gotu kola, although a light skin rash might occur.
Country mallow is an ayurvedic herb that stimulates the body and might help those suffering from narcolepsy stay awake. Be careful using this herb if you have a cardiovascular disorder, as it causes a rise in blood pressure. Prepare a country mallow tea by adding 5 tsp. of dried herb to one cup of boiling water. Steep until the decoction cools and consume, according to botanist and herbal expert James A. Duke, Ph.D., author of "The Green Pharmacy."
- MayoClinic.com: Narcolepsy
- HolisticOnline.com: Sleep: Herbs and Herbal Therapies
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing": Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2010
- "The Green Pharmacy"; James A. Duke, Ph.D.; 1997
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ginkgo Biloba
Based in Richmond, Va., Tara Carson has written articles for editorial and corporate online and print publications for more than 10 years. She has experience as an adjunct professor of nutrition at Northwest Christian University and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism and nutrition from Virginia Commonwealth University.