Can herbs and supplements really help me sleep?
Michael J. Breus, PhD, ABSM
Sleep Disorders, WebMD Medical Expert
American Board of Sleep Medicine
There are probably 40 or 50 different herbs on the market that advertise that they really do something for sleep. There are only four or five that actually have any significant scientific data behind them. Valerian is a big one.
Kava-kava is another one, but people have to be pretty careful about kava-kava, because it can have some serious effects on your liver. So if you have any problems with your liver whatsoever, I would never recommend trying something like kava-kava.
Melatonin is another supplement, but it's not an herb.
You have to be very careful about herbs, because they are not regulated by the FDA. So that means that I can make that in my garage, and I can sell it at the local health food store and there’s no purity standards, you never know how they are going to interact with other medications that you may be taking, or they may advance another disease that you have.
So, if somebody is going to go and find a more holistic, herbal supplement to take specifically for sleep, they should always talk to their physician about it. Make sure there aren’t any interactions with it.
Other herbs are interesting. Chamomile tea has actually has been shown to help people fall asleep. Lavender in an essential oil or aromatherapy may help people sleep.