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Prescrire Int. 2005 Jun;14(77):104-7.

Management of insomnia: a place for traditional herbal remedies.

[No authors listed]


(1) Insomnia should be treated first with non drug measures; this has traditionally involved the use of herbal remedies. (2) About 20 plants are approved in France in the production of medications 'traditionally used' for minor sleep disturbances. Virtually nothing is known of their efficacy or potential dangers. (3) Most of these plants are suspected of toxicity and should therefore be avoided, especially in view of their unproven efficacy. (4) Littleleaf linden, vervain, melissa and orange flower have no demonstrated efficacy but are safe and can therefore be used. Similarly, there are no scientific grounds for rejecting preparations based on hawthorn or passiflora. (5) Available data suggest that valerian extracts have a modest impact on subjective sleep quality; they are nevertheless more effective than a placebo. Valerian products that do not contain valepotriates have no apparent adverse effects. It is best to avoid high-titre alcoholic extracts and powdered valerian root, and to select aqueous extracts and low-titre hydro-alcoholic preparations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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