Bryophyllum- Natural Mood Stabilizer
Bryophyllum, known commonly as Leaf of life, is a multiple use medicine used commonly for natural treatment of mental health conditions and insomnia. Especially for acute conditions there remains a place for conventional antipsychotics like risperidone, haldol, geodon and others but the fact remains that there are multiple side effects from these especially in chronic use. Neurologic effects can be permanent and especially with the newer antipsychotics there is a high tendency to diabetes. Bryophyllum does not have these side effects and is not toxic if dosed appropriately.
Natural treatment of sleep disorders
Bryophyllum is most commonly used in Anthroposophic medicine (which I call Humanized medicine) for sleep disorders. One study showed its excellent effect in patients with cancer- who often suffer from difficult to treat insomnia. Patients noted significantly improved sleep, decrease in use of other sleeping medications, and improvement in the sleep quality scores used by researchers. Dose was 3 to 8 tablets of 175mg bryophyllum per day. It was well tolerated in all dosages in this study. In the United States Bryophyllum is available as a powder in herbal form from Uriel Pharmacy. One dose equivalent of this powder is 1/8th of a teaspoon. Typically doses are taken after dinner and if needed again at bedtime.
Treatment of patients with bipolar, schizophrenia, and psychosis
It is not always possible to entirely eliminate the need to use conventional medications for patients suffering from psychiatric disorders. No one should be weaned without supervision by a physician. In Europe psychiatrists are using bryophyllum to reduce or eliminate the need for conventional mood stabilizors and antipsychotics. My direct correspondence with them reveals quite positive results. One child psychiatrist only uses conventional antipsychotics in exceptional cases and in acute flare ups of psychosis. He is using bryophyllum and other natural medications as the main treatment of the youth under his care. The treatment centers are amazing places- I have personally visited them. The youth live in community with adult coworkers on a working farm. They do many activities together socially including perform in a band, make pottery and paintings. They also participate in school or higher education. This social form and the artistic activities are also therapies that cannot be taken for granted.
Bryophyllum has been used in several other areas with success. It is used as a natural tocolytic (it helps stop contractions of the uterus and prevents preterm labor). Medical trials have found it to be at least equally effective to conventional drugs used for preterm labor- but again without the side effects. Many conventional drugs for preterm labor cause anxiety in the mother, palpitations, nausea and tremors. These side effects come at an already very stressful time. Bryophyllum tends to cause relaxaton. Bryophyllum is used intravenously in these preterm labor cases. Certain hospitals in Europe are more progressive and use these treatments routinely. After the initial infusion is given then the bryophyllum can be given by mouth.
More recently, bryophyllum has been found to be effective in overactive bladder. Again the common medications used for overactive bladder have common negative side effects. Both Detrol and Ditropan are commonly used conventional medicines and these are effective. Most of the time the people taking these medicines are older and this class of medication (anticholinergics) can cause worsening dementia in the elderly. I have often seen this as a reason for hospitalization. The typical story is a well functioning older person with early dementia getting progressively worsening confusion after this medicine was started. Fortunately this is typically reversible but I wonder how many people have worsening dementia and this was overlooked! Bryophyllum may be a safer alternative.
Bryophyllum has also been investigated as a treatment for cancer. It directly causes apoptosis (programmed cell death) to cancer cells. Investigators have seen this with cervical cancer, lung cancer and other cancers. To my knowledge the research in this field is relatively new.
This wonderful herb has anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. These have not been studied extensively in medical trials.
Flavonoid glycosides and bufadienolides are the active compounds found in bryophyllum. These are unique chemical compounds that have anti-oxidant effects and specific effects on oxytocin (involved in uterine contraction and also human bonding).
At recommended doses bryophyllum has consistently been well tolerated in humans. One side effect is drowsiness. In very high doses it can be a heart poison and dosing should be done with attention to detail and only according to directions.
Humanized medicine perspective
Bryophyllum is a succulent plant with thick leaves. It has the peculiar property of being able to reproduce by making new plants at the edges of its leaves. This property is shared by other plants in its family. One relative is called Mules Ears and only makes new baby plants at the very tips of its leaves. Another is called “Mother of Millions” and will make the babies earlier and they will drop off the plant easily. Bryophyllum clearly has strong life forces. It has a leaf with reproductive properties that is reminiscent of the womb. Bryophyllum brings the life body in harmony with the regulatory body (we can also say the etheric body is brought closer together with the astral body). This is actually the opposite of cannabis which tends to separate the higher members of the human being from the physical and life body. Sometimes this has therapeutic potential but it also is known to have at least an unmasking effect, if not a promoting effect towards psychosis in which this separation has gone too far.
The etheric forces themselves are given over to the lower half in the treatment of overactve bladder and preterm labor.
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