The successful management of insomnia by an older adult usually involves more than just popping a pill. In fact, using herbal supplements to treat insomnia has limited evidence, as proven by a large number of studies. Yet still many older adults seek a quick solution to their sleeping woes by trying the next thing they hear on TV or read in the back of a magazine. And the use of herbals for insomnia is quite prevalent, as one reference suggests, just over 25% of older adults use an herbal supplement to help with sleep.
If you care to get better sleep, here are three key points: 1) There are only two herbals (melatonin and valerian root) that have any evidence of benefit in the treatment of insomnia, and that evidence is weak and controversial. 2) Some makers of these herbals do not follow good manufacturing practices and sell products that are either contaminated, or that do not contain the labeled amount of product, as is found at www.consumerlab.com, an independent research company that tests herbals. 3) Some of these companies use deceptive marketing practices by duping unwary seniors through pushy phone sales tactics or deceptive internet ordering practices. One company I looked up, that makes an herbal for insomnia, has hundreds of complaints listed on several sites, and Better Business Bureaus has not accredited them. Just choose your company name and put it in Google search, and place “consumer complaints” behind it, and you’ll see what some of these companies do to unsuspecting older adults. The most common complaint is that people ordered the trial sample for $2.99, plus shipping, but then received monthly shipments billed to their credit card. What they didn’t know was the company was not making apparent an “auto-ship agreement” and “monthly purchase obligation” stuck deep in their “Terms of Agreement”, which few people ever read. So my good advice is to NOT order supplements for these three reasons 1) lack of evidence, 2) possible adulterated contents and 3) being scammed. What is best medicine is to actually learn about what you can change in your life to sleep better, without herbals or drugs, and end up with more in your bank account. Here are some useful links, and remember: You must learn and apply the evidence since there is no cure for chronic insomnia in a pill.