Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ambien? Lunesta? I just wanna sleep

Just want to sleep huh lil fella? Insomnia or difficulty sleeping, is a problem for millions of americans. Probably in other countries too. Its causes are varied; stress, biology, chemicals, energy, as are its treatment options. Today a person with insomnia is faced with myriad treatment options. There are the benzodiazepines: your valium (diazepam,) xanax (alprazolam,) ativan (lorazepam). These came first and are very effective. The fact that they can be highly addictive is just one of their shortcomings. Then there are the new wave of sleeping pills: your ambien and your lunesta. Again, very effective but highly habit forming. In as few as 10 days withdrawal effects can be seen when either ambien or lunesta is discontinued. What's an insomniac to do?

Well I'm here to tell you about valerian. This is one of those open secrets the everyone should know about. Valerian has been used for thousands of years to treat insomnia. Sleep disorders in European countries are often treated with valerian as a first line option. The bottom line is that it really works. Valerian's mechanism of action is similar to those of ambien and lunesta. But while ambien and lunesta aggressively attack GABA receptors, valerian works in a gentler manner, inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down GABA. It's really cool.

But be warned. The world abounds with snake-oil salesmen of all kinds. If you go out to buy valerian (which is a good option before you commit to ambien or lunesta) get it from a reputable source. A company called
Jema Pharmaceuticals is releasing a product called Somnera. Jema Pharmaceuticals extracts the active components of valerian and offers a formulation that kicks insomnia right out that door.

Well I'm going to take one and fall asleep watching star trek...

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