Efficacy of herbal remedies for managing insomnia

Credit: ©2012 Mary Ann Liebert Inc., publishers

Approximately 1 in 3 Americans suffers from chronic sleep deprivation and another 10-15% of the population has chronic insomnia. Sleep disorders can profoundly affect a person's whole life and have been linked to a range of diseases, including obesity, depression, anxiety, and inflammatory disorders. Over-the-counter herbal remedies are often used to treat insomnia, but surprisingly, very little research has been done to study their efficacy, according to an article in Alternative and Complementary Therapies.

People need many hours of sound, restorative sleep every night to maintain an optimal state of physiological and psychological health, but many factors can disrupt sleep schedules and compromise the quality of sleep. In the article, "Sleep... Naturally: A Review of the Efficacy of Herbal Remedies for Managing Insomnia," the authors conducted a search of the Internet and electronic databases to identify literature on herbal remedies that are commonly used to manage insomnia, including valerian, hops, kava-kava, chamomile, and St. John's wort. They found that few scientific studies had been published that reported on the therapeutic potential and safety of these herbal remedies and the results were either inconclusive or contradictory.

The authors concluded that, considering the benefits that a natural management strategy could offer patients with insomnia, additional research is required to assess the effectiveness and safety of herbal remedies as therapeutic agents.

More information: The article is available free on the Alternative and Complementary Therapies website at http://www.liebertpub.com/act.

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