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HSF: Frequently Asked Questions

Six individually beneficial dietary supplements
which combine to promote healthy sleep.
I have never been institutionalized by the medical establishment.  If I had invested many years of my life, and massive tuitions, pursuing a medical degree, and then obtained a license to practice medicine as a medical doctor, that sizeable investment would be placed at risk if I were to ever suggest anything outside the current officially sanctioned mainstream medical dogma.  No thank you.  I am far more useful to myself―and to you―as an unlicensed and unbiased researcher.

The more I have educated myself about the biology of health and medicine, the more embittered and disgusted I have become as I have witnessed the consequences of the perverse incentives which emerge from the Unites States' profit-driven medical system. While there is unquestionably a valuable place for some of it, the unfortunate truth is that most patients are victims who pay exorbitant fees only to have their health slowly destroyed while the system profits and manifests only the best of intentions. I have learned that we could be doing so much better.
If you want the formally trained and sanctioned advice of a licensed medical
doctor, please go get it . . . because that is NOT what I have, or wish, to offer.
I regard my life and health as my most precious miracle. My intention is to take responsibility for my own health. To research, learn and practice what I need to maintain my health and maximize my healthy longevity. And if sharing what I have found helps others who share my outlook, then I will have given back to this world which has created me. Nothing would please me more.

Please keep the disclaimer above in mind as you consider the following visitor-supplied questions and my “educated health researcher” replies:

I am very interested in the Healthy Sleep Formula and am reading all the information you posted. My question deals with an anti-depressant I've been using for decades: Zoloft. This is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) and since you mention serotonin several times in the discussion of the supplements in HSF, I was wondering if you know what the interaction(s) might be.
Because a significant proportion of our population is using anti-depressant medication of this sort, I wanted to devote some space to explaining the mechanics of such antidepressants in the context of dietary supplementation:

Our brain's neural circuitry functions like 86 billion individually delicately balanced see-saws, with each neuron's activity coupled to and being simultaneously pushed up or down by its many interconnected neighbors. It is the most complex biological machinery known. To keep the whole system operating properly―in balance―its neurochemistry must be tightly regulated. Through decades of research and experimentation we have learned that sometimes that delicate neurochemical balance may be a bit off. And we have learned that we can often do something to improve it.

Serotonin is one of the many chemicals our brains use to interlink neurons, and its effect is generally inhibitory, meaning that it tends to calm our brains to reduce anxiety, cycling thoughts, and obsessive or compulsive feelings and behavior. Broadly speaking, more serotonin makes people more happy, relaxed and less worried. If a person's individual neurochemistry is ever so slightly serotonin shy, their brain may be “turned up” a little too high, resulting in too much neural (nervous) activity.

When neurons fire they emit their particular neurotransmitter, whichever one it might be. “Sertonergic” neurons emit serotonin, which tends to calm the neighborhood. The same synaptic cell wall from which neurotransmitter chemical is released, is also covered with active “reuptake transport proteins”. Think of them as little vacuum cleaner suction holes that are continuously trying to suck up any of their neurotransmitter that's floating about. Therefore, immediately after a serotonergic neuron releases a packet (a vesicle) of serotonin molecules, those same neurons' reuptake transporters begin sucking it right back up so that its neurotransmitter exerts the effect of a brief calming impulse on its neighbor.

With that bit of background, now consider what a drug called a “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor” (SSRI) might do. If an externally supplied drug were to selectively interfere with the vacuuming reuptake of serotonin by its emitting neurons, that less quickly vacuumed-up serotonin would have the opportunity to hang out in the neural synapse longer, thus exerting its calming inhibitory effect longer and more strongly.

This all sounds wonderful, and might lead one to ask why the government hasn't added SSRIs to the water supply the way fluoride once was. The trouble is, to obtain one type of potential benefit we have powerfully interfered with a crucial aspect of our brain's built-in neurotransmitter regulation. While it's true that some aspects of calming our brains can be a good thing, the activities of other aspects should not be inhibited, and undesirable side effects can result when they are. Our serotonin-amplifying SSRI tool is a bit too blunt. It's everything, everywhere, or nothing.

There's one final problem that bears upon the question this essay set out to answer: What's the interaction between an SSRI and dietary supplementation such as the Healthy Sleep Formula?

A crucial aspect of the use of SSRI or MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) pharmaceuticals in the context of dietary supplements is that those pharmaceuticals deliberately weaken the regulatory negative feedback built into our brains to prevent the possibility of excess serotonin buildup. Serotonin is synthesized from the 5-HTP molecule which is, in turn, synthesized from the dietary amino acid L-Tryptophan. The amount of L-Tryptophan available through diet is low enough that there is virtually no danger of overwhelming our less-regulated brain with serotonin. But bottles of L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP remove the dietary limitation. Therefore:

No one taking serotonin-amplifying pharmaceuticals such as SSRIs, MAOIs, or
others should consume any supplements containing either L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP.

You are strongly encouraged to look up the consequences and symptoms of “Serotonin Syndrome” if you are tempted to ignore this caution.

None of the standard Healthy Sleep Formula supplements contain serotonin or any precursor. So it should be completely safe for use by anyone taking pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs. I have deliberately shied away from amplifying serotonin because, in my experimentation, increasing serotonin activity (which is quite simple to do) has resulted in highly entertaining and engaging nights of vivid dreaming. But I never felt completely asleep. The tradeoff for having such vivid dreaming seems to be a “lightening” of the night's sleep and I fear that it might not be fully restorative.

Having said that, I am learning from feedback that melatonin, being a “scary” hormone, is tightly regulated in some non-US countries and is not legally available. It may be that a melatonin-free (MF) variation of the HSF will needed for use where melatonin is unavailable . . . and that MF variant may have no choice other than to rely upon L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP. If so, that MF formula will clearly note that, out of an abundance of caution, no one using antidepressant medication should use the MF variation.

Should these be taken with meals or food? I've often seen notes on supplement packaging saying that this or that should or should not be taken with food. What about these?
The HSF ingredients are intended to be taken together, immediately before sleeping. An evening meal is generally many hours before sleeping, which is too far before sleeping to be effective. The Formula is designed to dramatically improve sleep quality and, specifically, to prevent awakening in the middle of the sleep cycle and then being unable to return to sleep. Many people are reporting that after a nocturnal awakening they are now able to quickly return to sleep. The trickiest part of this is that most of these ingredients have very short term effects. During the initial two or three hours of sleep they powerfully, but briefly, combine to set the night up for success. Within a few hours they are mostly metabolized and removed from our blood stream leaving the time-release melatonin to continue a lonely vigil.
Can I take them only as needed? If I don't initially take them, then I awaken at 3am and cannot get back to sleep, can I take them then?
Unfortunately, no. The Formula does not have a sedating effect. It will not knock you out or put you to sleep on demand. If you do not have chronic recurring insomnia, then this solution is probably not for you because you don't need it. If you do have chronic recurring insomnia then you should prepare for bed every night by taking this collection of supplements and enjoying another wonderful night's rest.
Steve I'm about to buy $77 worth of stuff you have specified and there doesn't appear to be any code in the URL that will get you credit for it. You should do this. You deserve whatever kick back Amazon will give for all the stuff you are causing to be sold.
I deeply appreciate your intention. But doing that would make me feel a bit creepy. While it's utterly true that I would never allow something like a referral to influence my advice, I dislike any appearance of a kickback of any kind. So, again, THANK YOU for your thoughtfulness. Your success with improved sleep is all the repayment I seek.

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Last Edit: Mar 17, 2016 at 14:57 (3,051.60 days ago)Viewed 3 times per day